I want to be clear about something. There is no get rich quick or hack here. When I say guarantee success I mean over the long run. That does not mean there will be no trials. Life will punch you in the face and that is when you need to lean on your habits more than ever.
I spent 10 years building positive habits as a track and field athlete and had no idea what I was doing. Then in the last 5 years, I started waking up early to make being an entrepreneur with a full-time job a bit easier.
When I looked back I realized so much of my success came when I was getting up early and building habits that would help me for years to come.
You can’t work hard until you get used to being present every day. People push themselves to grind too. First, get into the rhythm of being there.
How Can Habits Guarantee Success?
Your habits are who you are. If your habit is to read every day then you’re a reader. If your habit is to sit on the couch and watch TV all day, well you get my drift. You are your actions. You are not your desires or your intentions, you are what you do every day.
Anyone can create one poem but that does not mean that is who you are. Consistency is what allows you to enter into the realm of identity. If you want to be a track athlete you have to show up and run every day no matter how you feel.
What you end up realizing when you see successful people is that it looks easy. It looks so easy because they rely on automatic behaviors we call habits. A basketball player is not thinking about which direction to go or which hand to dribble the ball in. When you are great, it all happened based on habits.
Your goal should be adopted all the habits that make success a sure thing. For example, almost every single successful person I know or learn about reads books. When I noticed this I decided to start building my library that day.
Building Habits Through My Track and Field Habits ?
The first thing I want to do is give you a picture of the habits that played the biggest role in me becoming an Olympian. It was not about talent because once I got to the NCAA I did not even feel talented. Everyone was fast as hell. There was something different.
- Show up
- Morning workouts
- 10 PM bedtime
- Similar food for lunch and dinner
- Self-treatment every night before bed
- Show Up for Training Ready to Work
Step 1 is always showing up. I will stand by this until the day I die. You can’t work hard until you get used to being present every day. People push themselves to grind too. First, get into the rhythm of being there.
I would rather someone show up daily and go through the motions then someone inconsistent. I ingrained this habit from a young age. The missing practice was never an option. Once that commitment to start a season was there I was finishing it with everything I had.
Morning Workouts ?️
When I was in high school I had to get up early to get to school in the morning. I lived outside of Toronto and to take the bus from my house I would need to pay two bus fares which I hated. To get around this my mom would drive me five minutes into the city and then I would take the bus an hour.
I remember my peers being in shock about how early I would get up. The idea of being up at 5:30 in the morning and not getting home from track practice until 8 was too much for some to bear. It made me an animal.
I never took advantage of waking up in the morning when I was in high school. What it did though was give me a psychological edge at the time. I felt like I beat everyone to the Gold each day.
2012 was an Olympic year and my Junior year at Iowa State and I decided to switch to lifting in the morning. I would wake up at 4:30 and get my butt up to eat and head out for a long day of training and school.
I was ready to start mastering the morning. The habit of getting up early would give me time to not rush in the morning. I was up early and there was nothing to do but focus on the important things that needed to be done. By lunchtime each day I was accomplishing more than most people get done in a week.
10 PM Bed Time ?
Do you know hard it is to get to bed at 10 PM in college? I remember going to bed feeling like a loser. Everyone else was partying, meeting new people and I was sleeping to try and recover for the next day.
This habit taught me about standing out and sticking to your guns. Going to bed was not an easy thing to do because there was way more reason to stay up. In the long run, staying up was full of distractions.
To succeed, you have to be willing to get ostracized. When you don’t go with the crowd, the crowd will hate you. People will do everything to peer pressure you, but you must your ground. Prove you have the grit to succeed in the long run.
Eating Similar Meals ?
The reason that eating similar meals was so awesome is because I found what worked and I stuck with it. I did not have to spend almost any mental energy, figuring out what to eat. That was a waste of time to me. I knew what I was going to eat each day, and I could focus on other things and make eating and cooking a habit.
Self Treatment ?
This habit is the one I think made the most significant difference. I injured my back at the end of high school. That injury followed me to Iowa State and then because of a hamstring injury. I was that exciting recruit that was always hurt. It sucked!
I finally accepted responsibility and stopped blaming other people for my problems. The result was me spending time studying how to take care of myself and making sure that I did it EVERY DAMN DAY!
Listen there was no exception on this. My prerogative was to stay healthy, and I realized it came down to doing the little things. Every day I did something to take care of my legs in the treatment room.
Stretching before bed
and whatever else it took.
I did a little bit every single day, and it added up to me staying healthy.
You have to see where you want to be. When I was 7 I remember driving to Grove City, PA for a shopping trip with my parents. I decided that day I wanted to Live in the USA and I did not know how! I knew America was my home.
The same thing was true with track and making the Olympics. I knew it would happen, and I made sure to see it happening every day. I could even see it when I was hurt, and things were going horrible.
Using your imagination is so powerful. You can use your mind to put yourself anywhere. You can be in the worst prison in the world close your eyes and visualize that you are on vacation on a beach.
I used visualization to see what I wanted but also to make victory feel normal. Being great was not something that I was not used to because I had seen it a million times.
It’s Only a Matter of Time
When you have habits like the ones I had above, it was only a matter of time before I broke out. The same is true for anything you want to do.
Maybe you’re not an athlete, but there are still people who have succeeded before you. What habits did they rely on? Building habits into your life is a long term game. If you don’t think that is true, the chances are that you did not hold on long enough!