Developing a habit can be a challenging task, but it is one of the most important things that you need to learn how to do because your habits will determine your life.
In the world of sports such as football, you will often see substitutes jogging, sprinting, and stretching along the touchline during games. To the fans and spectators, these are normal exercises to warm up the players before they get into the game. However, to the experts, these are important activities that play a vital role in enhancing the player’s performance and reducing the risk of injury.
People often called this the pregame exercise. And in this case, you want to use it to build a habit, I can simply call it the pregame routine.
A pregame routine is powerful because we can use it as a cue to develop our habits. According to Charles Duhigg, the best-selling author of “The Power of Habit” says that habits are performed after the cue.
Don’t Depend on Motivation
Motivation comes and goes. We all know this. I bet that there will days when you feel totally fire up and you take massive action. On the other hand, there will also be days when you feel totally no motivation and you just want to do nothing or lie on your couch.
Therefore, we simply cannot depend on our motivation to get things done. Plus, if you want to achieve outstanding success and produce amazing results in life, you must learn to manage your motivation to build habits that will get you there.
Highly successful people understand this and thus, they developed productive habits, which put them into action every single day to produce the result they want. And this is what you must learn to do as well if you desire to be successful in what you do.
Everyone who goes to the gym wants to lose the extra fat and look fit. Unfortunately, most people cannot endure and maintain their consistency. They are highly motivated in the beginning when they first get to the gym world. After a couple of days or weeks later, most people’s motivation will fade and they don’t get to the gym as often as when they start. As a result, they fail to get the fit body that they desire.
Just like what James Clear wrote in his blog, “The difference between the best athletes and everyone else and what the really successful people do that most people don’t is that it all comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and do the same lifts over and over and over again.”
You have to understand that human beings are always affected by their emotions. Even successful people feel the same boredom and lack of motivation just like you and I. Nobody can stay inspired and motivated every single day. And there is no magic pill that you can consume to make you feel driven.
The difference is that the people who stick with their routine and work on their goals don’t let their emotions determine their actions. Highly successful people find solutions to overcome their boredom and work through their goals regardless of whether they feel like doing it or not.
And this is why you simply cannot depend on motivation alone. You must learn to build habits rather than depending on your motivation to get things done.
Building Habits using the Pregame Routine
This is where the pregame routine comes in. Building a habit is difficult, but developing a pregame routine can be easy. And your pregame routine works to serve as a ‘warm-up’ before you enter the game.
Twyla Tharp, one of the greatest dancers and choreographers in the world said in her best-selling book, The Creative Habit:
“I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.
It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.”
Tharp’s pregame routine to workout in the gym starts after she hailed the cab.
As for me, every weekday morning, I will write about 3,000 words of content. Whether is it meant for the articles on my blog such as this one, or it can be a guest article to be published on other websites. Regardless, I will write 3,000 words or more most of the days.
How do I develop this habit? Well, by using a cue, or a pregame routine to get me into action. Every time before I sit on my chair and start typing on the keyboard, there is one thing that I will definitely do, which is to make a cup of coffee.
Making the coffee and enjoying it has become my pregame routine for building the habit of writing. Even at this point while I’m writing this, I have just finished my coffee. There are days when I feel totally no motivation, sleepy and tired. I just want to lie on my couch and take a short nap. However, once I decided to make the cup of coffee, I will then sit on my chair automatically and start working on writing content.
Everything has become automatic after I carry out my pregame routine.
Like how Twyla Tharp developed her habit of working out in the gym by getting the cab, I developed my pregame routine of making myself a cup of coffee before I start my writing habit each day.
This is just like what Newton’s First Law of Motion suggested: objects in motion tend to stay in motion. And objects that are at rest will tend to stay stationary unless an outside force has applied to it. It is easier for me to perform my habit once I’m in motion.
And you can do the same too.
Develop your own pregame routine to get you started and build the habit that you desire.
Pregame routine works because this tiny action takes your emotion, your motivation, and willpower out of the process. You don’t have to waste energy to decide what to do next. You don’t argue with yourself in your head what should you do, which task to start first, or to do or not to do.
More importantly, your pregame routine allows you to follow the same pattern that you always do. And once you are in motion, things will become automatic. Your habits will kick in because you have cued them.
To develop the habit of working out in the gym:
Just get change. Once you changed to your sports attire, you will automatically get to the gym. Thus, you should commit and focus on the pregame routine of changing your attire.
To develop the habit of writing:
You can do just like what I did. If you don’t prefer coffee, just switch to other drinks. James Clear said that his writing habit will start after drinking a glass of water. You can also play a song to drive you and act as your pregame routine. Every time you listen to that song, you will get into your writing mode.
The key is to get you started. Therefore, your pregame routine must be something so easy to do that you cannot say no to it.
The concept is almost the same as the One-Minute Rule. You create a pregame routine that is so easy to carry out, and when you do it, you kick-start your daily routine and get into your habits.
Motivation will often come after you begin your work. This is why you need to leverage your pregame routine. For example, you can start your jogging habit by putting on your shoes. Thus, simply focus and tell yourself, “Just put on the shoe.” When you start the pregame routine, the rest will follow.
So make your pregame routine something easy to do that you can do it without any resistance.
Another important key to take note of is that you must follow the same pattern every single time. You should know that in order to build a habit, you must do it exactly the same way. If you change the way how you do it every time, it will be difficult for your habit to form.
So what is your pregame routine for the habit you want to develop?