MENTAL ASSOCIATIONS, HABITS, ROUTINES & RITUALS
This is important.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
Creating positive little habits that are consistently performed is imperative for maximum development. A great way to create a habit is to associate it with an action, an object, a time of day or anything specific for that matter. It takes approximately 60 days to make a habit near enough permanent. Once a habit is permanent it is part of your routine and takes little effort to stick to. Building things that benefit our goals and our training is paramount. A solid structure that is consistent has success written all over it.
The example has already been used of using the bath as an association to trigger the habit of visualisation. Here are some other associations and habits I have developed that greatly aid my development.
I associate car journeys to regular destinations with motivational speaking. One of the facilities I train at takes 45 minutes to get to, and i do so early mornings, 3 times per week. On these journeys I listen to motivational speakers for mental positivity and inspiration, this also aids my training session as i go in focused and ready to attack the session. I also make sure i listen to a podcast on the return journey which will be educational.
This takes little to no effort, just consistency but the impact it has had on my training, mentality and mindset is huge.
I used to struggle with getting settled down to go to sleep as i am hyperactive by nature. But as stated in the recovery section, sleep is vital for repair and regulation. This is an issue I have had from being a young child and was determined to conquer it, not just to improve my performance but to prove that i could control it and test my skills at creating habits. To be fair this one took a little while to master, but once i mastered it i managed to make an adaption for when i stayed in an MMA camp in Thailand for 6 months and fell into routine within a week.
Firstly, I used my bed for sleeping only. No eating, no TV in the bedroom not even to read, just to sleep. I make sure the room is at appropriate temperature. Approximately an hour before bed I would switch 3 lights off in a certain order and light a scented candle so i had the association of that smell with bed time. I will spend the next hour doing whatever it is I’m doing, TV, reading or drawing. I then shut everything off and follow the night time supplement part of the routine, brush my teeth and head to bed. In the beginning it might have taken me 2 hours to get to sleep, but I persisted with that routine until i was consistently asleep in under 30 minutes.
When I arrived at the fight camp i was to find a TV in my tiny little room with just a bed, no chair or place to sit. I decided to keep the light switches the same. I would switch off 3 lights and light a candle. The only difference was to watch TV or read i had to sit or lie in bed, so i made the decision that i would watch TV or read whilst lying in bed normally but if i wanted to go to sleep i would get in bed perpendicular and lie cross ways. To my surprise this worked almost immediately and I was sure that my skills in creating habits and associations had just reached the next level. Im not saying you should do the same thing but the story is evidence that the more you practice and adapt this the more transferable it becomes to your entire life.
As mentioned in “The Routine” section the obvious day and night protocol was devised for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. It consumes very little time, is easy to implement and is worth its weight in gold. It combats so many issues and ensures a breeding ground for success and cuts the damage caused by potential barriers life can throw up in our day to day living. This protocol can not be held highly enough and will ensure solid results and stability. Follow it and feel free to add to it as you see fit.
In the neutron section this next one is also covered but again a big one. The eat one, fridge one, freeze one ritual. The idea of cooking 3 meals worth of the same dinner and eating one, putting one in the fridge for some point the next day and freezing one for later in the week is a god send. Its a fail safe way of ensuring you have easy accessible meals on hand, which you know the macros of all the time. Lets face it life gets in the way sometimes but routinely planning that little bit ahead so your not caught out without a meal. For example if you have slept in and running late and the plan for the day is already falling to pieces, you need only reach into the fridge and pull out an easy, pre cooked meal which suits your macros. It just protects that consistency element when all the odds are against you.
Athletes can be superstitious creatures and often carry connections to certain behaviours, objects and actions. If you have something that you feel is lucky, a behavioural ritual that will make you stronger or even an item of clothing that you think makes you perform better… IT PROBABLY WILL. It is not the behaviour or the item, it is the concept. The fact you believe it and your body and mind have associated it with success means it is beneficial. It is wise to try and create association with behaviours and actions rather than objects as these are always available to you. Items and objects can be lost or damaged, where as behaviour is internal.