You need to take one more important step before the rubber meets the road. You need to establish accountability.
Again, let me share an example from my own life. I started training Jiu-Jitsu about 2 years ago and as my coach (they’re actually called Professor so be glad that I only ask you to call me coach!) points out all the time when you’re a white belt it’s all about survival. Meaning that I am getting thrown around and beat up by girls weighing 110 lbs soaking wet when I’m weighing about 160 lbs. Needless to say, it’s not always the ultimate thrill to get up early and getting your heiny handed to you. A few times I noticed that I made excuses and didn’t go to practice. At that point, I asked Professor to be my accountability partner and simply send me a text to get my butt on the mat. I now also get little taunting texts from the girls whose practice dummy I am but that’s neither here nor there!
Those texts do help me get my act together and go to bed earlier, arrange my whole day so I can go to practice and still have time for everything else. And they also do speak to my pride to continually improve no matter what I do.
Back to you: What are the steps you have to take to make sure you don’t skip out of your promise?
A daily reminder on your phone?
A (nagging) text from me?
Sticky notes with motivational sayings on your mirror?
A tennis partner who is mad at you if you skip out on them?
Do you need to keep a player’s journal that tracks your success because you’re the type of person who likes to check off things on lists?
Whether you need someone else’s help or you trust yourself once you put certain reminders and motivators in place don’t feel silly regardless of what it is you need. Take a second and imagine how proud you will feel once you reach your goal.
Which brings me to the very last step: Do it! Do whatever you said you were going to do!
Now you really have done all the work to increase your chances of successfully and PERMANENTLY changing a behavior! So go and do it!
When I was in training at Duke our teachers always reminded us to stay flexible. Meaning that you constantly need to assess how you did. I always felt that was very similar to playing a match when you constantly have to see if your strategy is working. If it does, great! Continue with what you’re doing. If it doesn’t work allow yourself to not immediately go into panic mode and change everything or give up altogether. Often times it’s just a little tweak that does the trick. Same with behavior changes. Make sure that you keep the parts of your strategy that do work and brainstorm solutions for the parts that don’t. DON’T discount or minimize small successes. Instead, find those little nuggets of gold and roll around like a little piglet in mud (as we say in German. We’re assuming that little piglets are happy when they roll in mud).
For instance, you wanted to take a 90-minute class with me but you only had time and energy for an hour on the ball machine. Instead of viewing this as a failure highlight that you kicked your inner swinehound (another saying that is lost in translation!) and went on the court anyway.
Many of the previous steps and strategies are part of my Mental Skills curriculum. Your brain works the same way when changing behaviors: whether it is to stop drinking soda or refrain from showing negative body language. Your brain has to be retrained and I know how to help you make changes in your mental game so you stay positive and productive for longer in your matches.