People run on habits – that includes schools, teachers, parents and pupils
Did you know that at least 98% of what you are doing right now is an unconscious mindless habit? To begin understanding this, please read aloud the following passage in quotes:
“To make sense of words it deosn’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae”.
What just happened? Some letters are out of order but, despite the misspelling, we habitually recognise the words. What you are doing right now is likely to be a habit. That could be reading, breathing or making a judgement about this article. For around every 50 things your brain is doing you are only conscious of one.
But it is not only people that run on habits. Families run on habits. Teams run on habits. Your school runs on habits.
Our brains (specifically the limbic regions) are hardwired to prioritise our own survival. This is a powerful primal instinct which drives our habits. It means that the type of habits we find easiest to build can be very unhelpful for health, happiness and fulfilling our potential in the modern world.
These instinctive survival habits include:
- Beating yourself up (or rumination on negative thoughts)
- Giving into temptation
For instance, all humans prioritise finding and conserving energy. This means we can easily eat too much high-calorie food, and not do enough exercise. We crave social inclusion, so we worry what our family, friends and colleagues think. And we seek immediate pleasure, so we prefer watching Netflix for hours, rather than a good night’s sleep to prepare us for the next day.
The more we practice these habits, the more unhelpful they become. For example, if you want to get good at worrying all you need to do is practice a lot and you will be a world champion!
Many businesses, social media organisations and media companies have worked out how to tap into these instincts. It could be the smartphone in your pocket, the “buy one, get one free” offers on unhealthy snacks, or the ability to continuously stream films, TV shows or funny cat videos. The list feels endless.
We are surrounded by short-term gratification temptations. This results in more unhelpful habits. Unhelpful habits make it far harder to be healthy, happy and perform to our potential. Life can feel overwhelming.
To be clear, what I am saying is unhelpful habits are the root cause of all well-being and performance challenges, at school and in life. These include:
- Pupils not fulfilling their potential in exams
- Mental health and well-being challenges
- People not managing their emotions
- High stress levels
- Attendance problems
- Pupils not staying focused and motivated
First, help the children, teenagers and adults in your school to understand their helpful and unhelpful habits. Then teach people how to build new helpful habits, step by step. This makes it easier for people to be healthier, happier and fulfil their potential. When we teach people how to analyse their habits, and how to build new ones, these are the outcomes we see:
- Better sleep, diet and exercise
- Improved confidence
- Greater well-being
- Reduced stress
- Boosted motivation and personal drive
- Increased productivity – including developing more balanced usage of phones, internet and games
- Improved concentration
- Learning more efficiently and effectively
- Optimised revision
- Improved exam results
Want to learn more?
Listen to our free Me Power Academy audio Masterclass, ‘Well-being and Performance habits for School Success – the science of happiness and fulfilled potential in life, education and work’.
You can listen to it as a podcast on the platform of your choice.
FREE Teacher Training Offer – build new habits for School Success
If you want to begin helping your pupils to build new habits we are offering each school in the Nexus Education network one free Me Power Academy ‘School Success for Teachers programme’. The usual cost is £189. To claim your free licence contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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