Knowing How To Improve Doesn't Matter Unless You Build New Habits

Knowing How to Improve Doesn't Matter Unless You Build New Habits

You've read all the diet guides, you've learned all about how to lose weight, but you still have a cheeseburger a day. What good did the learning do? Instead of endlessly learning more, focus on building new rituals into your life. Photo by Juhan Sonin.

As tips site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, we are creatures of habit. We often know what the right, healthy or productive thing to do is, but ignore it because we're just not feeling it. Learning more about how to get better feels good. It gives you a dopamine rush to hear about some clever new way of thinking about your problem. Until you start building new habits, though, you've essentially done nothing:

Knowing is nice, but it's doing that really matters. And here Tal says science can learn something from religion. Religions are big on rituals.

Believers know the prayers but it's not enough to know them, you have to say them regularly. Anything we want to do to improve our life needs to be a ritual — a habit — if it's really going to create change.

When you learn some new clever way of thinking about your problem, it makes you feel better for a minute. When you build a new habit, the effect snowballs forever. Focusing your efforts on building new habits, even if they won't completely change your life all at once, will be better for you in the long run than studying for months before you get started. That's not to say that learning new skills or mindsets is bad, but if you're not applying them, you should probably go back to the basics and apply them before moving on to advanced lessons.

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