The Power of Winning Habits!

The countdown is on … it’s the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London tonight! All the athletes are about to ‘strut their stuff’ after years of dedication, perspiration and preparation!


Can Michael Phelps do it again?

I’m reminded of the magnificent accomplishment of eight gold medals, won by Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics in 2008!

  • That accomplishment set a record for the most gold medals ever won in a single Olympic Games.
  • He’s won 14 career Olympic gold medals; the most by any Olympian.
  • In terms of total career Olympic medals, he’s ranked second after Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina. She won a career total of 18 Olympic medals over three consecutive Olympic Games.

The question this time around is … can he win another four medals to equal Larissa’s record … five medals to beat it, or six or more to blitz it?

How does Michael Phelps do it?

William James, the famous American philosopher once observed that 99 per cent of human activity is done out of mere habit. I received great insight into the power of the right habits which have been crucial to Michael Phelps’ success in the recently released best-selling book ‘The Power of Habit.’ Author Charles Duhigg endorses William James’ observation … by documenting how our habits shape our lives, and how we can shape our habits.

Michael Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman believed in the power of the right routines and habits that made Michael the strongest mental swimmer in the pool. The habits had nothing to do with swimming. It was all about creating the right mindset, through habits of visualisation and relaxation. Once those few core routines were in place, all the other habits like sleep routines, stretching, diet and practice schedules seemed to fall in place on their own.

How to change any habit once and for all!

Despite years of constantly trying, some of us keep struggling without success in some areas of our lives. At the source of losing weight, saving money, being more productive, or achieving extraordinary success, is a habit. Habits are the root driver of our behaviour. Duhigg shows us there is more to a habit than just a routine. For every habit we have, there is a cue (trigger), a routine and a reward which acts as a feedback loop. At the heart of every habit is a craving. Neuroscientists have discovered how you can identify the cue and interrupt it, which breaks the loop and a new habit can be formed.

An example could be that you are trying to lose weight and have the following pre-dinner routine:

  1. When you arrive home every night, you walk straight into the kitchen and drop your bag. You are craving for relief from the stresses of the day (the cue).
  2. You reach for the wine bottle and glass. You pour yourself a glass of wine and assemble a plate of cheese and crackers (the routine).
  3. You put your feet up and relax on the couch sipping your wine and snacking as you watch TV (the reward).

When we get a cue (trigger), the idea is to channel that same craving into a productive pattern. Whenever you drop your bag you could make a cup of tea or coffee or have a conversation with someone (the routine) and put your feet up (the reward).  It’s all about keeping the same cue and providing the same reward … inserting a new routine is what makes it work. Viewing life as a series of habits gives us access to creating a series of new routines. Being able to identify cues and create a new routine will result in shifting your patterns in the direction of empowering life choices. It’s a highly recommended read: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

5 simple steps to start building your muscle with any new habit

Set yourself your own Olympic Challenge:

  • 1. Choose a habit you want to change.
  • 2. Define the desired result you want in that area.
  • 3. Review your current behaviour by recognising the craving, cue / trigger, routine and reward.
  • 4. Implement the new habit with a new routine every day.
  • 5. Never give up!

‘Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again.’ – William James

Implementing the new habit every day enables you to have small wins. Your small wins each day will create the bridge to living your Ultimate Champagne Life!


Please read more from Maree at her blog


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