Any elite athlete will tell you that having skill isn’t enough to reach your best, let alone become a professional. We’ve all witnessed athletes with incredible abilities, but without the required dedication to establishing new and improved habits through consistent practice and accountability, they never achieve their potential. The reality is that successful athletes begin their journey by creating successful habits. An ongoing desire for better habits, coupled with daily practice and execution, will create the momentum needed to achieve your goals.
So, how can we develop habits that serve our purpose, align with our goals, and ultimately give us the best chance for success? Here are seven ways to begin changing your momentum to actualize your potential:
1.) Small Wins Lead To Big Changes
While it may be tempting to completely overhaul your habits all at once, this can lead to being overwhelmed, burnout, and reverting back to your your ways (i.e. Comfort Zone). Because of this, it’s important to keep it simple and gradually gain confidence from each small win. Over the course of time, these small victories add up and lead to big changes. Your level of self-belief will increase with each of these successes, which reinforces your desire to take bigger steps in not only maintaining healthy habits, but also building new ones in the process. The crawl, walk, run approach is a proven method, so take action today - no matter how small the habit seems to be.
2.) Adjust Your Attitude
If you haven’t heard the quote “Your attitude determines your altitude,” take a moment and repeat it aloud to yourself. In fact, go a step further and write this quote down on a piece of paper and place it somewhere easily visible as a daily reminder. Most athletes aren’t even aware of how much their thoughts and attitude, whether negative or positive, influence their sports performance. Negative or destructive thoughts have been shown to increase stress and anxiety levels, which ultimately result in poor performance. Be mindful of your thoughts and reframe your situation when noticing your attitude isn’t constructive.
3.) Wake Up Early
Rolling out of your warm and cozy bed can without a doubt be a tough task - especially when it’s still dark outside. But here’s the thing, if you want to create a competitive advantage, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Now, it’s important to note that sleep is incredibly important for recovery, so be aware of what your body needs. With that in mind, if you’re going to wake up earlier, choose to go to sleep earlier. Coach Jim Valvano said "There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It's up to you to decide what to do with them.” Far too many athletes use the excuse of “I don’t have enough time to train,” but what they’re really saying is “It’s not a priority.” This mentality is common with average or good athletes, but you don’t want to be just good, right? Remember, excuses produce poor results.
4.) Meditate Daily
The late Kobe Bryant, who was a 5-time NBA Champion and Hall of Famer, made meditation a daily routine as part of his training. In fact, every morning he started his day with a 15-minute meditation to clear his mind, enhance his focus, and prepare to maximize the day ahead. Aside from the obvious benefits of reducing stress and anxiety, meditation increases the gray matter in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain responsible for focus, and reduces the reactivity of the amygdala, which is responsible for stress and fear. Simply put, meditation is scientifically proven to help you gain confidence.
5.) Own Your Mistakes
Most athletes don't want to believe that success is a choice because that puts responsibility in their own hands. Instead, it’s easier to blame coaches, teammates, or our circumstances. But this type of mentality won’t serve you in any capacity because it can lead to loss of motivation and learned helplessness, which is the belief that we can't change the course of negative events and that failure is inevitable and insurmountable. By owning your mistakes and being accountable, you will drive personal empowerment and results. Successful athletes believe that they alone are responsible for their success and failures. And because of that, they control the narrative of their sports careers.
6.) Reflect Regularly
Reflection is one of the most underused, yet powerful tools for success. By practicing this weekly, you’ll be able to clearly identify what’s working and what’s not. The ability to make adjustments is part of a growth mindset, but it’s difficult to make the necessary changes if you aren’t willing to look at yourself in the mirror and ask thoughtful questions. This exercise can be like any other new habit in which you start small and grow from there. At the end of this week, take a moment to reflect on what you want to achieve in your sport and write down a list of which habits are helpful versus harmful. Once you’ve accomplished this task, make the necessary adjustments moving forward.
7.) Don’t Buy Into the Naysayers
This can be a tough one, especially if your longtime friends and/or family members aren’t supportive of your dreams, but that shouldn’t deter you from finding those who will empower you with encouragement. More often than not, those who say you can’t achieve your goals, are simply projecting their own insecurities and limitations onto you. It’s easier said than done, but you can’t let anybody hold you back from unlocking your potential. They’ve made the choice to not believe in themselves, and now it’s up to you to make a choice of your own. Some athletes have coaches and/or friends, while others only have an unshakeable confidence in themselves. Whatever the case may be, use this as fuel for the fire that burns inside of you - and remind yourself “Why not me?”
Interested in learning more? The Restoic App is available on iPhone and Android devices and is proven and trusted by thousands of athletes at the high school, college, and professional levels.