Mountain running

Strong Athletes, Strong Habits

Trying to change existing habits is HARD. Trying to make new ones is HARD. 

But nothing worth doing is easy.

Habit formation is a personal journey of transformation that unfolds through consistent effort over a long period of time. Developing new habits requires a strategic approach rooted in small, deliberate actions and incremental improvement. In this article, we'll explore the science behind habit formation and practical strategies to cultivate lasting change in our lives.

Some Sciency Stuff

Habits are automatic behaviors shaped by repetition and reinforcement. When we consistently perform an action in a specific context, our brains create neural pathways that streamline the behavior. This process, known as "chunking," enables us to execute tasks with minimal conscious effort.

New habits are formed when the behaviors we exhibit feel automatic, and can be completed with minimal thought / conscious awareness. That's pretty cool!

The Role of Consistency

Consistency is the linchpin of successful habit formation. By engaging in small, daily practices aligned with our goals, we reinforce neural connections and solidify new behaviors.

When we perform a behavior consistently, especially in a consistent context, our brains undergo changes through a process known as neuroplasticity. This means that our brain's neural pathways are actively shaped and strengthened based on repeated actions. Consistency helps reinforce these neural connections, making the behavior easier, and more ingrained over time.

Consistent repetition is also a powerful builder of confidence, and positive reinforcement. When we engage in a habit repeatedly and we naturally get better at it, our brains associate the behavior with positive outcomes. This may sound obvious, but it's subconscious. This reinforcement lowers the natural mental friction we produce when trying to continue the behavior.

Let's Not Get Overwhelmed

Attempting to overhaul our lives in one sweep often leads to burnout, frustration, failure, etc. (all the bad stuffs).

Instead, let's focus on incremental change. It’s the same way you’d train for a marathon - do you go directly from couch to 50 mile weeks? Or do we build 10% each week with some physical and mental recovery built in? Start with manageable goals that resonate with your values and build upon them gradually over time.

Some Bite-Size Strategies

Start Small: We should begin with one habit at a time to prevent overwhelming ourselves. Choose a simple action that aligns with your aspirations.

Be Specific: Define clear objectives and establish a structured plan of action. Specify when, where, and how you'll implement the habit.

Consistent Repetition: Repetition is paramount in solidifying habits. Commit to daily practice, even on days when motivation wanes. Building new habits is a contract you've made with yourself.

Accountability: Share your goals with a friend, family member, or mentor to help stay accountable. Alternatively, use habit-tracking apps to monitor progress.

Celebrate Some Success: Recognize and celebrate your improvements! That's the whole point. Reward yourself for consistent efforts to reinforce positive behavior.

Real Life Habits

Morning Routine: Get yo a$% out of bed when the alarm goes off (oof, this is a tough one). Any morning routine that you want to implement is a new habit to be built and helps you grow closer to the athlete you want to be.

Training Commitment: Design a training plan, then stick to it. This will instill discipline, and foster the physical and mental well-being that we runners strive for.

Work Habit: Whether you want to move forward in your career, learn a new skill, or start a business, devoting time each day to building the necessary habits is a literal requirement for success. Small, incremental changes over a long period of time is the way to win. 

Wrap Up

In summary, habit formation is a transformative process rooted in persistence and intentionality. By using the power of consistency, setting achievable goals, and promoting resilience, we can create enduring change in our lives. Remember, it's the cumulative effect of daily actions that paves the way to meaningful transformation.

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