After ten years of working as an equestrian sport competition coach and two years training and working as a performance psychology consultant, I know that change is difficult. It is challenging to correct an athlete’s incorrect leg position on a horse once the body has formed the habit of holding it the wrong way.
Likewise, it is even more challenging to change the way an athlete thinks about themselves once the mind has formed the habit of thinking a negative way.
In our current climate, many of us have had to change the way we do things overnight. Whether these changes involve thoughts or actions or both, for most of us, this has been difficult. In short, underlying these challenges is the fact that changing the way we move, behave, or think requires changing our habits.
In the past, I was guilty of underestimating the power of habits on our behaviour. I knew making the change was difficult, but I did not fully understand why.
Since I have had the opportunity to focus on the psychology behind habit change through my work with Adaptas, this process has become much clearer to me. It has also given me the opportunity to equip myself with effective tools to help my clients understand their own learning and make lasting changes.
I now understand that habit change is a foundational element of learning in sport, business, and life.
A habit is a deeply ingrained pattern of thought or behaviour. In fact, more than 40% of our daily actions and decisions are ruled by habits. They are both incredibly useful and terribly inconvenient. From an evolutionary perspective, habits keep us safe and free up our brain to tackle complex problems. However, these same mechanisms can get us stuck in unhelpful patterns of thought or action. Because so much of habitual reaction is sub-conscious, we often do not realise how the habit is controlling our thought or behaviour.
I believe that learning about habit change allows us to become more meta-cognizant, to see our own thoughts and reactions from another perspective. Once this has occurred, we can effectively make use of habit change techniques.
Right now, as we continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our lives, many of us are trying to use this time to do things differently. Pay attention to the old habits you may have left behind and consider what new habits you might be forming to support these new behaviours. If you have been struggling with change, try to figure out what old habits may be holding you in old patterns of thought and action.
This is the strength behind the Adaptas approach: by including information about learning and habit change, I can now empower clients to take control of their thoughts, decisions, and outcomes.
In conclusion, It is truly amazing to see the positive difference this makes in peoples’ experience of making changes in work or sport and the impact this has on their performance and well-being.