“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
Do you ever wonder why Olympic athletes spend so much time training? Certainly they have to develop the strength, endurance and flexibility they need to excel, but they also have to hone their technique to the point where they can do it without thinking.
Athletes get feedback from their coaches about their technique and then practice the new approach over and over again until it’s automatic. Great practice leads to great habits.
You can make significant strides toward your dream if you know how to build the right habits.
I would like to focus on a particularly excellent book on the subject: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by New York Times reporter and Harvard Business School graduate Charles Duhigg.
Duhigg explains that 40-45% of the “decisions” we make every day are not actually choices. They are automatic behaviours. He then outlines how every automatic behaviour – every habit – has three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward.
You might think that changing a habit means focusing on the routine – the behaviour we keep repeating. But we actually need to focus on the cue (what triggers the habit) and the reward (what we get out of the habit).
Looking at the reward of a habit helps us to sort out why we do it. What do we get out of it? And is the reward moving us closer to achieving our dreams?
The key idea here is to look at your habits and then spend some mental effort finding a new way of handling yourself. Understanding cues and rewards can help your break habits that are getting in the way of improvement.
We fall into habits because we are programmed to conserve energy. No one can sustain a heightened level of mental focus and attention all the time. We need automated processes. But we also need to make sure that our habits are helping us achieve our potential.
Today's POWER-UP: Identify My New Habits and Routines
Take some time now to identify a few habits or routines that you want to build this year. You can use The Dream Setting Workbook. Or you can fill out the form below to send me your notes. This will help us to give you some tips and feedback on how you're doing.
Dive Deeper: Learn from the Pros
Check out these daily habits of the top athletes in the world and how you can apply them to your life.