The Difference Between Skills and Habits

We often think of skills and habits as the same thing.

I mean logically they both describe some elements that underly our being.

Habits make up almost everything we do every day, down to which shoe we tie first and which sock we put on.

While skills, on the other hand, highlight what we’ve been learning and what we’ve learned in the past.

Let’s talk about the difference and commonalities of skills and habits, and how they actually can help each other.

What Is A Habit?

A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition. (1)

That is the definition of a Habit.

Some unconscious (being a keyword) pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

Which is an incredibly important point to understand when we are talking about habits and skills because that means that it isn’t something that we think about when we do them.

That’s why we always put socks on the same foot and tie the same shoes first.

Unconscious activity is controlling these habits.

People who think about habits normally think about a few different “good” habits:

  • Waking Up Early
  • Exercising
  • Eating Health
  • Planning

Those are often some of the most positive habits that I hear people talk about all of the time.

There are so many more habits that can be ingrained, but that’s a topic for another day.

When something becomes a habit, that means that they are now subconscious actions, and not what a skill is considered to be.

What Is A Skill?

Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience (2.)

A skill, on the other hand, is a bit different.

Instead of being the subconscious action created through repetition, a skill is something that comes with training and experience.

This is where the line between skill and habit starts to blend because they are so similar.

“acquired through frequent repetition” vs. “acquired or developed through training or experience.”

Meaning that by repeating something over and over again you are strengthening neural pathways which make your brain subconsciously fire these patterns, which are habits.

Skills on the hand come about through conscious behavior that is either an experience or intentional training.

When we think of skills we think of:

  • Sports
  • Artistic Endeavors
  • Productivity
  • School
  • and so much more

Now, what’s the difference?

Skills Vs. Habits – What’s The Difference?

It may not be completely obvious.

Habits are subconscious efforts that we do solely from repetition, while skills are trained and something that we do intentionally.

Meaning that skills aren’t just happening, like per say, playing sports. I’ve never just started running a 40m sprint because it is a skill (unless I’m trying to impress someone.)

Yes, this is a weird subject to talk about, but its something that we need to clarify.

Because in the long-term knowing the difference can give you power.

Skills Contain Many Habits and Habits Can Be Skills

This is almost like the square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square geometric law.

When we think of skills, we need to realize that they contain many habits.

Let’s take soccer as an example.

If we learn improper foot mechanics, those become ingrained in us, and with that, we continually neglect our foot posture and end up not performing as well as we could in that skill of playing soccer.

On the other hand, if we never develop the skill of playing soccer than we never develop the habits of going to get physical activity, waking up early for training and even the foot mechanics we talked about earlier.

Which is also why it’s important to focus on the quality of the skill, over quantity of practice.

What About Higher Leverage Skills?

Well, one higher leverage skill is the ability to create positive habits.

Yes, that is a higher leverage skill.

When you learn how to program yourself with habits, it becomes easy to immediately commit to something without feeling overwhelmed and start on the path to a high-quality life.

This, like the skill of learning (which contains habits of where to look for the best information), takes time to learn but is so important.

That’s it for today.

What’s your favorite habit and skill? Put them below.

Thanks for reading,


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