From Mr Hudson

In Pastoral Care at the start of this year, students worked on a booklet called ‘Strive’. The booklet looks at four areas; IDENTITY, VALUES, HABITS AND GOALS and directs students to strive for goals, which in turn provides growth through habits.

As parents, it is important that we nurture and assist our children by giving them the right habits/routines in life that will assist them as they build their personal identity.  As it says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

The wellbeing of the whole child; the academic, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, is very important to you and the school and therefore we provide programs to assist students in flourishing. As habits are an essential part of this development, this newsletter article on habits will be written in two parts. This week we will explore “What are habits and why they are so important?” The second article will look at “How to change your habits for sustained success.”

What are Habits?

A lot of our daily actions are automatic. Our habits shape us. Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviours on any given day. Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. 

B.J. Fogg writes, “Your habits, the things you do repeatedly without prompting, have a huge impact on who you are and shape your life pattern. They affect health, productivity and happiness. Twenty-one days seems like a reasonable goal for exercising self-control. If the experts are right, after those three weeks, your new habits should begin to drive your behaviour and your new pattern should be easier to maintain.”

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and your overall identity.  The more often you perform an action or behave in a certain way, the more it becomes physically wired into your brain. This amazing adaptive quality of your brain is known as neuroplasticity.

Your brain forms neuronal connections based on what you do repeatedly in your life — both good and bad. Every time you act in the same way, a specific neuronal pattern is stimulated and becomes strengthened in your brain.  (The Neuroscience of Change: How to Train Your Brain to Create Better Habits, Thomas Oppong)

When we learn to transform our habits, we can transform our lives.

Below is a summary of an article by James Clear to better understand the relationships between goals, habits and identity.

Identity-Based Habits

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviours are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behaviour for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.

Imagine how we typically set goals. We might start by saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get stronger.” If you’re lucky, someone might say, “That’s great, but you should be more specific.”

So then you say, “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to squat 300 pounds.”

These goals are centred around outcomes, not identity.

To understand what I mean, consider that there are three levels at which change can occur. You can imagine them like the layers of an onion

The first layer is changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results: losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change.

The second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level.

The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgements about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level…

If you’re looking to make a change, then I say stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Build identity-based habits now. The results can come later.

What habits have your children developed during this pandemic? Next article we will look at how to build successful habits…

Anthony Hudson
Deputy Principal – High School