Willpower & Habit Changing Techniques
OK, we have all established some habits that need to be changed – however you are still feeling slightly stuck in your old routine. What you need is a little bit of willpower and some habit changing techniques.
Developing willpower is vital for success and personal growth. This applies to major long term goals, but it’s even more important to apply willpower to your simple everyday tasks. These day to day tasks are the ones that over time will compound and determine who slides backwards, who stays stagnant, and who powers forward to success.
First thing to remember is everything adds up: every negative thought repeated over and over, every evening nibble on that biscuit, every half-hearted effort on the bike. Each one on its own is not that bad, but all put together these actions are the reason we don’t get results. Flip this scenario on its head and instead we take small steps that add up to a big positive change. By doing this, you are programming a machine of healthy habits, one that won’t even miss the old ways in the slightest!
Next step is to be realistic on how much you can change at once. The most effective habit changes develop in a gradual way, so outline a few key habits you will focus on. Remember like muscles get stronger by resisting the weight of dumbbells, habit changing skills also strengthen with repetition and time.
Next tap into your main senses: visual (sight), auditory (sound) and kinaesthetic (feel). You need to see something that motivates you and make it really big, bright and bold in your head. Then you need to hear positive thoughts, even have a script ready to fight any negative thoughts. Or pick a great song that just puts positive thoughts in your head. Then you need to think of a time when you overcame a challenge and felt satisfied and proud of your achievement. Think of how that made you feel and anchor that feeling in your memory, so you can bring it back into your head when you need a little help.
Now we are ready to set up an inner strength ritual. Many athletes have routines and rituals because it puts them in the mental state of a “fighter” – ready to take on the challenge ahead. This ritual puts them in autopilot and their body reacts to the challenge based on this ritual.
Here is an example -a morning routine that equals a good day:
Get up drink a glass of warm water with lemon and remind yourself how today is going to be a healthy day.
Write down what needs to be done (even if it’s the same thing everyday) and see yourself doing it.
Visualise carrying out this new healthy routine on a movie screen then switch to another screen where you see the end results that you desire (newer, fitter you).
Visualise how you will handle obstacles and then visualise how satisfied you will feel once you have overcome the challenge.
Put on a positive song in the morning that reminds you of a time where you overcame something you thought you couldn’t.
Eat a healthy protein breakfast and visualise all the great things it’s doing for your body as you eat it. Appreciate it.
Stretch, jump, smile (think Rocky pre-fight)
As a tennis player I personally think of Nadal and how many rituals he has: from pinching his bottom (I mean readjusting his shorts!) to lining up all his water bottles perfectly. It works for him so who cares what it is. Whatever your “game day” ritual is, repeat it with good positive thoughts, visualisations and sounds (back to your music again).
So get practising! But remember any set backs are only tests to see how well you will bounce back. Progression not perfection!