Habits: Notes


While moving back to Vancouver from Victoria for my third year at UBC, I came across some notes I had scribbled on some post-it pads. I liked some of the wisdom scribbled on them, so figured I would write a blog article with the notes I had scribbled and what implications this may have to your athletic career. Also, with school around the corner, setting up some good habits is always a good use of your Tenergy. 

Author’s note: I essentially wrote this article for myself so that my little post-its notes can be documented and then thrown out. The quotes and subsequent musings are things that I want myself to remember while going to school, but also while developing my business and improving myself as an athlete. I hope that you may also find them useful.

I’m pretty sure that most of these notes come from the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. If they don’t, they also come from “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal (no relation to the Hogwarts professor).

Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, sense of well-being, stronger skills with sticking to a budget. 

I remember this to be striking. Something as simple as a habit that represents organization and discipline can cause a positive spill-over effect to other aspects of your life. As such, I began making my bed every morning…but also started paying attention to other tasks that represented organization and productivity in my life. One thing that I learned in the book was that it requires the same mental effort to maintain a habit that is productive as a habit that is unproductive. It’s the changing of a habit that is effortful. So someone who routinely makes their bed every morning puts very little mental effort into making their bed…but so too does someone who routinely DOES NOT make their bed every morning. So why not go through effort and use your TENERGY to put in place habits that will serve you over the long run.

-Routines are the organizational analogue of habits

-The best agencies understand the importance of routines

-There are no institutions without institutional habits. Deliberately designed or created without forethought

These notes refer to companies and groups of people. They are relevant if you are a leader of an organization or if you are just a cog in a large organization. This is because if you understand that routines within an organization are similar to the personal habits of individuals, you can take the steps to be critical of them and change them. Again, just like habits, once routines are in place, they require very little effort to maintain but usually require large amounts of energy to change. Being very careful about which routines are established will benefit an organization in the long run. Working to change routines that provide a net loss to the organization may be worth it. Even spending the time to identify what routines are in place may be worth it because you will be able to identify if the routines are serving your organizations goals…and if not, you can take the steps to purposefully establish new routines.

-Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage

-Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favour another small win

-Small wins fuel transformative change by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns of change that convince people that bigger achievements are possible

This ties into self-efficacy theory which states that the best way for someone to improve their self-efficacy (self-confidence on a specific task) that having the experience of doing gives them increased self-efficacy. The next best way to improve self-efficacy is through vicarious experience, so seeing someone else accomplish a task. So the whole small wins thing can help people increase their self-efficacy. Increased self-efficacy leads to improved performance on tasks, and the cycle continues.

Self-Discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellect

This seems obvious when you think about it…self-discipline is the application of intellect to a bunch of very hard tasks at school. Intellect cannot accomplish anything academically without its application. Larger amounts of intellect may make the amount of effort to accomplish tasks less, but the self-discipline will ensure that the tasks get done. This ties into the power of habit, because self-discipline is the ability to maintain productive habits, and to do the hard work necessary to change unproductive habits. I believe that this self-discipline vs intellect relationship is also likely a correlation we would see in athletics, job performance, etc..

-I believe that if you tell people that they have what it takes to succeed, they’ll prove you right.

I’m not totally sure which book this is from, but it seems like a good piece of advice. I really don’t have any backing evidence or ideas to tie into this quote other than I want to experiment with this idea more and gather further evidence.

-If they feel like they have no autonomy, their will power muscles get tired faster.

Having autonomy in a task is one of the precursors for self-determined motivation. As a leader, you should look for ways to provide options and choices to those in your group. As someone in a group, try to find ways to gain autonomy over your tasks. Do this by becoming a leader, or by improving your relationship with your leader. 


What do these notes mean to an aspiring hockey player? Here are my takeaways:

  • Identify ways to generate “small-wins”. Small tasks that you can accomplish that will build your overall confidence and therefore your game.
  • Establish routines that will lead to your excellence. They require effort to change or establish, but once established require little effort to maintain. Why not choose to establish the BEST habits?
  • Recognize that the routines of your team may or may not be purposeful. As a leader become aware of them and consider ways to improve the team’s performance by thinking critically about the team’s routines. As a player, figure out ways you can create the best routines possible for your team. Examples of these routines may be cool down, warm up, working out, hydration, game prep, etc..
  • Self-discipline may be a better predictor of success than athletic talent. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”
  • Believe in your teammates

Published by

Jason at Train 2.0

2.0 was born from the belief that 1.0 isn't good enough. The way we're approaching coaching, training, and development for hockey needs to be rethought. My own lessons have led me to rethink the way it's being done and I can't help but write about it. I'm writing for my 12, 13, 14, 15 year old self who didn't have this resource. I'm writing for parents who are putting their dollars and trust in coaches who are wasting all of it. I'm writing because I hope it can make a difference.

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