Past Behavior is a Predictor of Future Results

January 09, 2014 by John Andrew Williams

True or False: Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

True. Well, mostly true. Well, unless it’s false.

Thought of the Day: Seek to know what worked in your past behavior.

Being able to predict the future is a big deal, and companies spends lots of money looking for trends of behavior and past actions as an indicator of what’s to come in the future.

Usually what you did last week is the best predictors of what you will do this week – or the week after that. (Unless you were just on vacation, which I’m guessing you weren’t because you’re reading this blog.) Past behavior is a powerful indicator on many different levels, from stamina to default perspective to basic knowledge.

The prickly problem of past behavior and all the stories that we tell ourselves about how successful – or not successful that we’ve been in the past and what we’re capable of – and our past story can be a challenge to our sense of what we are capable of achieving.

Most of the time, people consider the statement that what happened in the past the best predictor of what will happen in the future a bummer.


Because as human beings we tend to look at all the problems that we have in the present moment yet dream about how the future could be different with all these problems solved.

It’s hardwired into our brains to think about the problems that we have in the present. (Called Problem-Solution Orientation)

It’s also hardwired for us to think about how awesome things can be in the future. (Called Optimistic Bias)

But what if we flipped the statement ‘Past behavior is the best predictor of the future behavior’ from something negative to something positive?

What past behaviors have you relied in the past that have been extremely useful?

What habits have worked well for you?

Also read: Hope and a Plan

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