The Irony Of Our Habits
November 3, 2020
The life we experience today is a lagging measure of our habits, both good and bad. Putting it differently, the life we desire in our future will be a function of our current habits.
Your financial position today is a lagged measure of your past financial habits.
Someone’s physical and mental health in the future will be a lagging measure of your present lifestyle habits
Your knowledge is a lagging indicator of your learning habits.
The problem with habits is that they don’t have any impact in the present moment.
Good habits often come with an immediate pain of some sort and a delayed gratification or benefit.
- Doing 100 curl-ups today will not get me the flat stomach I desire. That potentially can be the delayed gratification for the immediate physical pain of doing the curl-ups.
- Even if you do all activities on time without procrastinating, results will take time to manifest. The pain of discipline at the moment is more compared to the benefit that may come much later in the future.
- You resist the temptation to splurge, and you save money today. You indeed will not become a Millionaire because of the saving today.
Bad habits, on the other hand, always deliver immediate gratification with some delayed pain.
- You may eat Pizza and Burgers every other day. Your weight on the scale will not go up overnight. The pleasure is immediate, while the pain of weight gain is insidious in the future.
- If you delay working on an essential future agenda to watch a TV Show, nothing terrible will happen today.
- Giving your boss an excuse for an unfinished agenda will provide you with the instant gratification of managing perception in the immediate term while pushing the pain of potentially losing credibility to a later point.
It is easy to have a consciousness about the good habits you want to develop because the link to your goals and outcomes is straightforward. E.g., I know that sound financial habits will help me achieve my financial goals. Or, I know that doing curl up’s every day can help me gain a flat stomach.
It is the negative habits that we need to be careful about. We are often unconscious of them. They creep in insidiously because the negative impact is only seen in the future while the pleasure is immediate. Once the instant gratification kicks in and the bad habits take root, it is tough to pull back. Benjamin Franklin said it well. “Bad habits are like a comfortable bed. Easy to get into and hard to get out of.”
Good habits take effort, while Bad habits sneak in on you.