Habits by the nature of being automatic are rarely something we need to think about, but let’s look at what happens in our brain when we are trying to develop a new habit.
So we are often quick to blame a lack of willpower or some external forces for failing to stick to our habits and goals but neuroscienctists say that we don’t need more willpower what we is more myelin.
There are two parts of our brain responsible for something to become a habit
– the prefrontal cortex where complex decisions are made and
– the basal ganglia which is the processing centre for behaviours, pattern recognition and motor control.
When we start a new habit, our prefrontal cortex is makes lots of quick fire decisions to ensure we are doing everything correctly.
This is why we have to focus so hard and can feel awkward and uncertain in the beginning. Our brain is figuring it out.
As we repeat the activity over and over, new neural connections are built and wrapped with an insulator called myelin to help solidify the behaviour and make it automatic.
After more repetitions, the connections get stronger and more familiar leading us to get better, faster and more comfortable.
Eventually, the mechanics of the habit are no longer conscious decisions that your brain needs to make because it knows the pathway. It’s been wired with myelin into your brain, into the basal ganglia.
To sum it up: it’s not that practice makes perfect. It’s that practice makes myelin, and myelin makes perfect.