The importance of habitual behaviour

The importance of habitual behaviour

February 28, 2018

Want to be awesome at something? Turn it into a habit.

Want to quit being a little bitch about something? Stop it from being a habit.

You might've noticed we've got a few favourite mottos, one of those is: "Comfort is a slow death." Well this article is written so you know exactly what we mean by that. 

Guess what bro, that drinking habit, that gambling addiction, that drug problem - you name it, that ruined your life? You did that. The interwebs or the support groups filled with other losers just like you might give you a pat on the back and tell you "everything will be ok." But, harsh reality, the real-world doesn't give a fuck about you if you've given everyone a reason to shun you. 

At one point in time, your brain went - this is awesome, lets keep doing this. So you did, because weakness gave way to habit, until habitual behaviour dug you a hole, revetted it and even put some nice overhead protection on it. Stage 3 of full-retard. 

Here's the kicker, habits can be undone. But not only that, you can use the same science to create habits that will actually improve your life, or physical performance for that matter. And I'm going to point you to the science to show you it's not bullshit.

Sounds easy on paper compared to real life? That's because everything looks easy on paper, obviously. But impossible? Well it's not, but nothing worth it is every easy and here's what you need to know. Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved with "maybe's, I think so's and minimal effort should be enough."

It probably goes without saying that the majority of your day is filled doing things you're used to doing. Some of it by choice, and others because you have to. Waking up at an exact time to get ready for work, making yourself a coffee and so forth. These are our normal habits, no positive or negative to them, you just do them because it has to be done, right?

Humans are creatures of habit, without any conscious thought we simply do things - our brain has accepted certain things, and efficient as it is, off we go on auto-pilot. Ever notice yourself doing something without actually paying much attention to it, and realising half-way through it was just kind of happening?

Did you also know you can change bad habits? That's right, even the shit ones. 

Nothing comes easy. Yes, humans are creatures of habit. But we're also, by nature, lazy as shit. Energy preservation is an innate part of human survival. But, some of our habits develop and stick because we quite simply can't be fucked to do more than the absolute minimum. So we develop a habit of minimal effort. Yes, dedication to continually improving yourself, professionally or physically is a habit. A habit you can create.


Here's some science that nerds in a lab actually put to the test, they then present their findings to other nerds who are experts like them to test that conclusion. And if they all agree with each other, it is then published in a journal. In a nutshell, this is what they call peer-reviewed research. The numbers aren't exactly encouraging, it takes about 2/3 repetitions of bad behaviour to become habit. Ok, so how long do I consciously have to avoid certain behaviour for it to no longer be a habit? Between 6 to 10 weeks.

Get fucked, right? Do something twice and it sticks, but I want to stop and I've got to deliberately focus on it for 6 fucking weeks? Pretty much, the nerds don't lie. There's plenty of peer-reviewed articles out there if you're genuinely interested, and this is just an extract from one of them.

"In one study, volunteers wanting to lose weight were randomised to a habit-based intervention, based on a brief leaflet listing 10 simple diet and activity behaviours and encouraging context-dependent repetition, or a no-treatment waiting list control. After 8 weeks, the intervention group had lost 2 kg compared with 0.4 kg in the control group. At 32 weeks, the intervention group had lost an average of 3.8 kg. Qualitative interview data indicated that automaticity had developed: behaviours became ‘second nature’, ‘worming their way into your brain’ so that participants ‘felt quite strange’ if they did not do them."

Essentially, one group was fat and modified their habits. The other group was also fat, and did fuck all. The group that actually modified their habits, lost an average of 2kg over 8 weeks. The other group lost 0.4kg. A $10 Steak & Chips at the pub weighs more than that. Congratulations.

This is where I make my point.

Comfort is a slow death. And we all need to be reminded that staying comfortable for too long, is slowly killing us. Life is outside of your comfort zone - not in an environment that is crushing your soul, or in the bottom of a bottle.

The options are simple, keep doing what you're doing, or get outside of your comfort zone, create habits through sheer force and determination and suck it up until it pays off. Remember, it takes 6 to 10 weeks to make those habits.

I did. It started a little thing called Skilled Athlete.



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