Did you know that up to 80% of your day-to-day actions are the result of a habit? Repeating simple behaviors and actions frequently, until they become habits, will determine whether or not we successfully reach our goals.

Having been in the business of health and fitness for over 20 years, both my passion for observing human behavior and my PhD in Social Science have taught me that successful people and athletes are actually hard workers, physically and mentally. Just being talented and spending many hours on training is not enough. Habits play a key role as well.

As a Performance Analyst and Mental Coach I work with sportspeople behind the scenes. I have experienced talented but average athletes being transformed into successful, focused and resilient performers, by being willing to learn and to continuously practice techniques and actions, leading to habits required for a professional mindset and behavior. Adapting these habits into our daily lives can maximize our own achievements.

1. Emphasizing a desired behavior

Magdalena Schauenberger is working out, smiling and raising her hands over her head. Workout; Fun; Fitness; Success; Motivation; Mindset; adidas; GamePlan A; Performance
A simple stretching routine sets you up for a successful workout.

While it is difficult to reduce an often practiced behavior (e.g. checking your phone every two minutes), it is easier to increase a desired behavior [1]. During my sessions with athletes we start by identifying a simple positive behavior that is convenient for them to practice, like stretching and releasing tension after every training session. Repeating the behavior frequently will eventually transform it into a habit, which is performed automatically, resulting in positive side effects. In our daily professions, working first on the important items rather than focusing on the interesting ones can be a good habit to propel us forward and to improve our development.

2. Linking new habits to old ones

It can be difficult to include new behaviors into a daily routine because we tend to forget them. However, connecting a new behavior to an existing habit makes the difference [2]. During my coaching, one footballer started to link the habit of changing his clothes before the training or match to the action of reading his list of personal strengths, and choosing an appropriate strength on which to focus. As a result he was more focused in training, and better aware of his strengths. The benefits of this strategy are not limited to professional sports but can be used in daily life or business as well. For example, if you want to drink more water but are a coffee lover, you might consider combining both, such as drinking a glass of water every time you have your coffee.

People are doing a yoga session in the sun. Yoga; Workout; Performance; adidas; GamePlan A; Fitness; Relax; Balance; Mindset
Why not link your yoga class to an additional 10 minutes of mindfulness. Body and mind will start or finish the day well.

3. Changing our thinking habits

Often competitions in sports or presentations in business are the ultimate highlights. Our positive habits and efforts contribute to our best performances during these occasions. Unfortunately, even athletes often do not enjoy competitive situations; they are nervous and worry about what could go wrong. It helps to understand that the situation itself is not harmful, only our thoughts make it frightening. Establishing new thinking behaviors is the key to improvements under pressure. Being well prepared, developing pre-competition routines, creating mock presentations or competition situations to get used to the stress, and learning how to relax by breathing techniques, already helped many athletes to be able to achieve their best performances under pressure.

A female athlete wearing boxing bandages is arranging her hood while breathing deeply. Combat; adidas; Reebok; GamePlan A; Preparation; Success; Mindset; Energy; Workout
Practice makes perfect whether it's in front of the mirror or shadow boxing in the gym.

Embracing one’s alertness is another positive: the adrenaline helps us to perform at our best. Also, our physical responses to stress (elevated heart rate, sweating, tension etc.) are the same as being excited. Recognizing these signs as “being excited” makes them already easier to handle.

Including strategies from sports psychology into our lives opens up a new set of tools. Practicing some of these habits will have beneficial impacts on our long-term success. Entertaining an athlete’s mindset by trying out some of the habits mentioned above may help us to achieve exceptional success.

Try to change a habit and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

(1) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie: Die Macht der Gewohnheiten: Vermeidungsverhalten lässt sich leichter ändern als Annäherungsverhalten, verfügbar unter: https://www.dgps.de/index.php?id=143&tx_ttnews%5btt_news%5d=1757&cHash=3cc276aaba8e8cf36a9ea8dd6f32f237 (10.04.2017)

[2] PhD BJ Fogg, Stanford University: http://tinyhabits.com

13 COMMENTS

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by Magdalena Schauenberg 07.01.2018
What are the things you learned from athletes which you can transform into your daily life or business success? Looking forward to your ideas!
Reply
by Matheus 08.01.2018
This year is my year, I am planning to open my first business, and to keep me motivated, productive and creative, i set as daily goals and want that become habits: to run or exercise for at least 30 minutes, read a book for 30 minutes and meditate for 10 minutes, and finally record a short video about my walk in the business every day, to my self learning. When I start upload the videos, i share here. Thanks you all. Here to create!
Reply
by Magdalena Matheus 09.01.2018
Hi Matheus!
That sounds great! Sometime even these simple habits can make a big difference in your overall success! Looking forward to your video and hope you will have an exceptional awesome and successful first business year! What kind of business are you starting?
Reply
by Paul Field 12.03.2018
Good article. I often hear top athletes and sports people talking about focussing on what they can control and their performance and not worrying about things outside their ability to change. I’m sure this must help with reinforcing the good habits and not being deflected or reverting to old/bad habits.
Reply
by Magdalena Paul Field 13.03.2018
Hi Paul,
that's a great addition to my article. Worrying about things you can't control (like weather) doesn't bring you any further but it costs energy. Fully agree with you!
Thank you!
Reply
by Mary Brazil 24.03.2018
Love the comments on creativity, motivating ideas
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by Magdalena Mary Brazil 24.03.2018
Hi Mary, it's great to get some motivation and inspiration like this! Love it as well! What are your favourite habits you already have or want to develop in future?
Reply
by John W 01.05.2018
I decided to combine my stretching routine before dance meditation sessions with praying. Instead of counting seconds during a stretch I go through various Christian prayers that I've timed as being as long as I need to stretch for. The prayers set me up for the meditation aspect along with my body being prepared! Works really well.
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by Magdalena John W 01.05.2018
Hi John, thank you for sharing your experience with us! I like the idea that you customized your prayers to combine them with your stretching! Seems to work well for you. Maybe it inspires others to bring some mindfulness in their busy days as well even if we often think that there is no time for these practises. Have a great week!
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by Sophie 13.05.2018
Lol I ddon't not know
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by Magdalena Sophie 14.05.2018
Hi Sophie, if you don't have any idea what you want to change now, this is fine. :-)
Sooner or later you will probably approach a situation in your life where you think you should act or think different to be more successful, efficient or (and) happier. You will realize this, no worries.
Have a great week!
Reply
by Everett Tucker 11.08.2018
I need help very much overweight 6 ft 281lbs and age sixty lower back issue
Sleep apnea ( of which use Cpac )
No consistency in work
Reply
by Magdalena Everett Tucker 11.08.2018
Hi Everett Tucker,
thank you for your comment. I understand that you need help to live a healthier lifestyle.
It's always a challenge to start such a project. Try to be a bit more active each day, walk or cycle. Swimming is an option too. Set small goals each day. Learn to make healther choices for your food as well. Each day a little bit.
Maybe you can check my website for some more tips regarding healthy weightloss. www.magdalenaschauenberg.de
Wish you all the best!
Reply

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