Practice Makes Permanent

1. Practice Makes Permanent.jpg

First Move principles teach us how to use our bodies safely and effectively to avoid physical strain and injury.

These principles apply in all aspects of our lives be it work, home, sport and recreation. This article builds on the practice principle from last month. We discussed how important practice is to change a habit. 

But how do you remember to practice?

The issue is many of us have the best intentions to commit to practice but ‘life’ gets in the way and we forget.

Neuroscience is a recent discipline that has allowed us a great understanding of the workings of the human brain. 85% of the decisions we make are in our subconscious brain – that is we work on automatic for the majority of what we do.

The subconscious brain is quick and efficient and allows us to go through life day to day without analysing everything we do.

The conscious brain kicks in when we come across a new or unfamiliar experience. The conscious brain is slow and requires a lot of energy.

Take learning to drive a car. We rely on our conscious brain. It’s new and requires concentration. This means we can only practice for so long – and the ‘brain becomes exhausted’.

We continue to practice – it starts to feel ‘natural’. It no longer takes as much effort and concentration. This activity is now embedded in our subconscious brain.

It is only when we go into an unfamiliar driving experience (e.g. new city, opposite side of the road or unusual weather conditions) that we have to revert back to our conscious brain and the effort this requires.

Learning to change how you move is no different than learning to drive a car. It requires practice – before it feels natural and ‘embedded’ in your subconscious wiring.

Research results are varied but recent findings indicate it takes 66 days of deliberate daily practice to change a habit.

How do you remember to practice moving your feet to avoid twisting when your brain is wired to revert to its ‘default’ of concrete boots?

To succeed you need to find a cue to practice.

The cue will be different for all of you but here are a couple of examples. 

Every time:

  • You return from a break (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea) commit to practicing the habit you want to change (moving your feet)

  • You do a certain task (e.g. unstacking the dish washer at home) – commit to practicing the habit you want to change (moving your feet).

There is no point fighting the way the brain is wired. Work with it and you will reap the rewards.