The University of Iowa Strength & Conditioning

Rituals & Habits

Rituals & Habits

Motivation is a dead end. Sounds ridiculous right? Successful people struggle with motivation, but they still make progress when they feel “blah”. How? Extraordinary people build rituals and habits around important actions. So even when they feel un-motivated, they are still moving forward. Building habits pays compound interest. In financial terms: compound interest is interest added to the principal of a deposit or loan so that the added interest also earns interest from then on. Here are some ways to take action to build rituals and habits.

1.)   Prioritize - do not waste decisions or stress over decisions with inconsequential outcomes. Too frequently we stress over small decisions with little or no payoff, causing mental fatigue. Do not stress over what to eat for breakfast or what color socks to wear.

2.)  Make important decisions automatic – making the decision to get 8 hours of sleep, get in that freezing ice bath, plan your meals for the week, spend 6 minutes on the foam roller post practice. Actually, these should not be decisions. Specific actions like the aforementioned ones should be part of your life. Just like brushing your teeth, make the key decisions in your life automatic. Automatic decision making saves time and energy.

3.)  Plan – if you know you have a big practice, test or event coming up, plan it out so that you are not depleting your willpower going into it. Look at it like the physical preparation that goes into training and simply taper off things that drain your energy.

4.)  Framing – how you interpret success, failure, and challenges shapes how much willpower you spend. The harder you are on yourself when you fail on a goal, the more likely you are to fail again. Do not change the goal; change the action plan to attain that goal.

Take daily ownership to assure you are taking appropriate action towards building habits. Some days, motivation is abundant. When those days arrive, you will be able to better recognize opportunities and seize them with ease due to the reserve of habits you have already deposited. 

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