If you've been paying attention at all to the world of personal development/improvement over the past few decades, you have no doubt heard about the importance of routines. If you have not (either been paying attention or somehow just missed this concept), I will bring you up to speed quickly.
Success can not be had without routines. There...now you're caught up. :)
Success is all about moving forward consistently. It's about not stopping; not quitting. But being a normal human being isn't always conducive to doing that. Some days, it's downright counterintuitive.
All of us have some days when we're driven and motivated, and other days when we choose to stay in our pajamas, flip through social media, and eat Cheetos all day.
No judgement, just awareness.
That's why having routines is so important.
A routine is what keeps us going (even when we don't feel like doing anything), keeps us on task (even when we are unmotivated), and makes sure that we move closer and closer to our goals, a little bit at a time (even when we are on our couch covered in Cheetos dust).
While having a daily routine helps to keep you moving forward, there is another kind of routine that can help you conquer those situations that tend to trip you up or trigger stress throughout the day.
Enter your pre-game routine.
Many athletes have a 'pre-game' routine that may include anything from listening to a certain song or playlist before the game, to touching a sign with a quote on it as they walk through the tunnel to the field, to eating a certain meal on game-day.
Some of these routines are very public, such as NBA star LeBron James's famous clapping of powder between his hands right before he walks out onto the basketball court (known as the "chalk toss"), while others are more private, like former running back with the Indianapolis Colts and the St Louis Rams, Marshall Faulk's habit of only wearing black clothes anytime he was on the way to the stadium for a game.
Why do so many high-performing athletes have these routines or rituals? Top athletes utilize a pregame routine to reduce distractions and create a calm physical and mental state. They narrow their focus by getting right into a known routine that creates a performance mindset.
Think about pushing the power button to turn on your computer or phone; it begins a series of tasks that are done in the same order every time that allows the device to go from off to on. Without any of the steps, the device would not work effectively or efficiently. A performance routine is like hitting that power button for your body and brain - it starts a process that culminates in your ability to perform at your best, regardless of the situation.
It's the way you get YOU ready to tackle whatever you need to tackle. The idea is to get into the right headspace that allows you to show-up and do what you need to do calmly, confidently, and competitively.
For some, these routines can start hours or even days or weeks before competition.
But this pre-game concept is not just for athletes.
Everyone from speakers to parents to business leaders to dog trainers use routines to ensure success. Every one of us has moments throughout the day when we need to get our minds and bodies into the right "place" to do what we need to do while staying in control of ourselves.
When you create a routine, your body and brain know what's coming next. When you follow your routine, your body and brain know what to do next. Taking the guesswork out of your day to day life is what helps you to get more done and keep moving forward without getting "stuck."
Whether you are new to routines or not, here is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, routines you can apply to your everyday life. Get in the habit of using this four step approach anytime you are questioning, stuck, doubting, frustrated, confused, losing control or just looking for answers:
1. Sit back
2. Take a breath
3. Just look at the facts
4. Decide if you need or want to do anything right now
The first step instantly takes the tension out of your body, the second step grounds your mind and body, the third step pushes all the 'storytelling' and imaged (made up) thoughts out of the way so you can see clearly and the fourth step calls on you to decide to take action or not.
Life is a game, and whether you're in pre-game warm-ups or in the middle of a 'nail-biter' with the season on the line, this simple routine gets your body and brain into a rhythm that keeps you relaxed as you face things throughout the day...and everything can be done better when you are relaxed! Use it early and use it often.