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The Best Predictor of Future Behavior

August 8, 2011

The Best Predictor of Future Behavior

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  This is a well-researched and proven behavioral principle.  It’s a great guide for anticipating how someone might react to a situation, challenging question, or problem.  Including ourselves.  If we want to change, that means that we must make a very deliberate and sustained effort to accomplish what we desire.  Otherwise, we will fall into old behavior patterns which will produce similar outcomes to those of the past.

We must be deliberate because we need to catch ourselves from lapsing into our traditional and now automatic responses before they reoccur.  Those reactions and behaviors usually become ingrained and we do them without thinking.  To override them, we must consciously engage in new behaviors which are not yet intuitive.  They may actually be counterintuitive at first.

To override old behavior paths and blaze new ones, we must walk the new path repeatedly.  That’s how we can supersede our historical behavior patterns and replace them with the new ones.  The new ones need to gain strength and familiarity, and demonstrate they lead to more satisfactory outcomes.  It may take some time and deliberate effort before our new behavior patterns become strong enough to change our old impulses. Repeated practice is essential. Even once the new behavior pattern is established, we must continually guard against falling back into the old one, because that path does not disappear right away.  It is still there and familiar and it will take time before disuse will significantly weaken it.  With sustained effort, it will eventually lose much of its power and recede in our behavioral repertoire.

The good news is that change and personal improvement is possible.  It usually requires work to bring about and it is not a linear path.  Most of us cannot change like flipping a switch.  We will have our successes and setbacks.  By continually working on change we desire, and compensating for the times we relapse into old undesirable behaviors, we can breakthrough to become more like the person we want to be.

What changes are you working on?  What new paths are you trying to blaze?  How can you prevent sliding back into old behaviors?  How can you recover when you do?  How can you heighten your success?

Steve Weitzenkorn

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