Pillar #2 of my book The Fitness Curveball is focused on building healthy habits.
We all have habits.
The question is, is more of yours working for you or against you?
In reality, there’s always a mix. Some habits are positive, some neutral, and some negative.
The key is to get more of your habits working for you and less working against you.
Sounds simple, right! So why don’t more people do this?
Most commonly, it’s because people believe habits are hard to make and break.
The truth is liberating! We are already good at making and breaking habits.
Think about it. We created every habit we rely on now. Plus, we are constantly updating and building new habits in every area of life.
The issue is that most habits aren’t consciously created to serve a specific, positive purpose in our life. They end up being unconscious adaptations to the stimuli around us each day. They lead to a life of reactionary tactics, cruising on autopilot, endless frustration, and unfulfilled potential.
While this reality check may seem like a lot of “doom and gloom”, the flip side is awesome!
When we understand the process of habit creation and how simple it is, we become empowered to use it to our advantage. This is especially true when combined with a growth mindset and worthwhile goals.
Let’s dive in and see how it works.
“The Habit Loop”
Habits are created through a simple concept called “The Habit Loop”. Here’s how you can apply this powerful model in your everyday life to ignite your potential and supercharge your results.
As mentioned, habits are great when they work for us. Our brain is extremely good at processing information and distilling our conscious awareness down to only those things that need immediate attention.
Habits are one of the ways we take the extra load off our conscious brain. Think of habits as the “standard operating procedures” (SOP) for the thoughts and actions you do most often.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this system means we can also end up creating habits that work against us or that persist even if our needs, situation, or environment changes.
Often, simple awareness of The Habit Loop can help us better harness it for our needs.
Put simply, The Habit Loop is instigated by a “trigger” (aka stimulus or cue). This trigger produces a desire for a reward and leads us to take a particular action (usually with little conscious awareness) to produce that reward.
The reward reinforces the fact that the action was worthwhile and makes it more likely to be repeated in the future, often with even less conscious awareness. We may not even be aware of what reward we are getting.
The brain often associates a particular action with the satisfaction of a specific physical, social, emotional, or psychological need. On the surface, this link between the various steps of the habit loop may not be clear, but that doesn’t negate the dramatic impact it can have on our life!
The Change Process
Ok. While all the science behind habits may be nice, it doesn’t really matter unless you have an exceedingly easy way to eliminate or create a habit. Here’s the change process simplified.
As you can see, at the fundamental level, changing habits can be as simple as inserting a new routine in place of the old habit. The trigger and reward are the same (so is the craving for that reward). Easy peasy!
Now that we know HOW habits are created and changed, let’s look briefly at what habits are most important to have in place for health, happiness, and living a high-performance life.
Foundational Success Habits
After several decades of coaching high performers in sports and business, there are a few “gateway” or “keystone” habits (I call them “foundational success habits”) that set the stage for almost everything else you do in life and the performance you produce.
Each is categorized by a particular part of your day (Morning, Daytime, Evening), and what you need most for success to raise your performance at those times.
The first foundational success habit is a solid morning routine.
At my company FRESH!, we call this the FRESH! Start Morning Method™.
While we have a specific format that can take as little as 5 minutes, the essence is that you strategically allocate time each morning to “get your head screwed on straight”. This means caring for your physical and mental health, optimizing your mindset, and setting yourself up for a successful day.
The second foundational success habit is strategically energizing yourself and creating focus throughout your workday.
There are several types we refer to at FRESH!: Energy Accelerators, Focus Finders and Pattern Interrupts.
The specific strategies used for each type are customized to your unique needs. They all revolve around boosting energy and focus while overcoming and minimizing distractions.
The final foundational success habit is a solid evening routine.
We call this one the Evening Wrap-up Ritual™, and it’s dedicated to helping you wind down your day in the most effective way possible. This involves getting you ready for a sound, restful sleep and set you up for success the next day.
While I guarantee you already have routines in each of these areas, I can tell you from experience that most people’s routines and habits in these categories are either neutral or working against their desired outcomes.
Learning these simple yet exceedingly powerful concepts is at the foundation of most success you will accomplish in work and life.
If you would benefit from a step-by-step success plan in each of these areas. I encourage you to check out Pillar #2 of my book, The Fitness Curveball. It’s part 2 of a 4 book series to help you hit a grand slam in health and happiness, no matter what life throws at you.
Following these foundational success habits will build your resilience, performance, energy, focus, happiness, and satisfaction in life.