All through our lives we are told to develop good habits. We have seen many great achievers attributing their success to their habits. And what are habits? Routines performed over a such a long time that we do it without even being aware of it. And to form a habit that eventually helps achieve a goal, one has to develop a routine and follow it until it becomes a habit. However, there is a problem with habits – over time, you lose full awareness of what you do in your habit mode.

In sport, players develop methods which help them succeed in their chosen role and excel. Successful methods become habits over time. However, even successful habits  sometimes cause grief under altered circumstances. For example, in cricket, batsmen like Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh have a stylish stroke play which looks most elegant. Their bat comes down in a rhythmic fashion and they present the full face of the bat to the ball, and they have a gracious follow through. It is looks so habitual and normal that when they sight the ball and hit, it looks marvelous. However, if there is well disguised slower ball, they find it difficult to change their bat speed or check their stroke and end up lofting the ball for an easy catch.

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Let us look at another example and that of Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin was known for his classy cover drives and many watched him just to see his cover drives. However, in a test series in Australia, when he realized he was failing early in his innings playing the cover drive, he decided to cut it out completely and went on to score 200+ batting for nearly 2 full days. Now, we all know how quickly a batsman needs to react on the pitch while playing a ball. And all players play more instinctively, which comes through rigorous practice. To be aware of one’s instinctive / habitual play and alter it as needed is mastery and wisdom.

Compared to these examples, what we need to go through may look simple. A friend of mine was keen on developing a strong bond and be a good parent to his son. After a lot of reading and discussion with friends, he believed the key is to spend time with the kid on a regular basis. Since he was never in control of his time in the evenings, he decided to wake up early in the morning and take his 13 year old son for a run. He used the time to share all his wisdom with his son. His son, after the initial enthusiasm, started hating these morning runs and avoided using every excuse he could think off. Persisting with the routine was becoming impossible and ineffective, forcing a re-look at the routine itself. Many times we do not even realize that our habits & routines are not helping and continue the ritual for years or give them up too easily. The key to improvement lies in objectively reviewing effectiveness and evolving the routine.

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So, what does that tell us? In our life, we may be developing habits / routines towards achieving our goals based on our knowledge and guidance available to us at that time. However, it is very important to review our progress regularly and tune our routines. If a sport, which has a fairly well defined set of rules and conditions continuously throws up challenges requiring even masters of the game to rethink their approach, imagine your life and your goals!