Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Professionals are the architects of their habits.
Amateurs are victims of their habits.
Imagine two versions of yourself in 5 years.
¿How would your life look like if you keep repeating the same bad habits every day?
¿How would it look like if you stick to good habits consistently?
It’s very hard to realize the impact of our bad habits on a daily basis.
We think there is no connection between habits and our mental and physical state, we see them as a consequence not as a cause and we tend to blame other things when we are not feeling well.
We neglect them and then we are surprised when we find us in a hard situation and we don’t even know how we ended up there.
If you go to the gym today you don’t expect to see any changes in your body tomorrow. If you don’t study today, or grind or learn from your mistakes, you won’t lose your bankroll tomorrow.
But these actions become your habits and it’s very easy to see how they will impact your life over a year or five years if you don’t change them.
You ARE what you DO.
(Not what you know you should do…)
The habits that you repeat (or don’t repeat) every day are the most important factor that will impact your health, wealth and happiness. Managing your habits means controlling who you are and the quality of your life. It means taking responsibility of your life instead of being a victim of circumstances. It means deciding, going to the attack. It means being proactive, instead of waiting forever.
It is very easy to lie to ourselves and think that our bad habits won’t have any consequences.
We don’t study, don’t improve our mental game, don’t prepare our sessions, don’t control our tilt…and think that it’s okey…that we will do it tomorrow.
“Tomorrow I will have time, tomorrow I will feel motivated, tomorrow I will work hard.”
Tomorrow…next week..next month…never.
The reality is that we are lying to yourself. The mentality that makes us postpone the important now is the same one that we will have tomorrow, and we will do it again and again. Postponing directly means “never” because the only moment that exists is right now.
And time compounds the benefits (and losses) of our habits. It’s like investing money.
For example, the consequence of not studying over time is to get stuck, to not learn, to fall behind. And it’s something that happens gradually, almost imperceptibly. Tomorrow you won’t be a worse player if you don’t study today, but in 5 years it will be the difference between having quit poker or being a professional.
The consequence of not improving your mental game is tilt, killing your winrate, suffering, getting frustrated, losing your motivation, being results oriented,…
The consequence of not taking care of your body is worse health, worse body, lower energy levels, higher chance of diseases, lesser life expectancy,…
The consequence of not preparing your sessions is leaving your performance to luck, adding more variance to the game, having an inconsistent decision making, which lowers your winrate and increases your suffering and mental vulnerability.
Why is then so hard to do what we know we should do but so easy to become addict to the bad habits?
Because every positive habit that has the potential to change our lives long-term, does not give us any immediate results. Their benefits are delayed.
Our brains are not able to understand cause-effect when they’re separated by time.
On the other hand, all “bad” habits, or the habits that don’t help us progress towards our goals, are very easy to acquire because they directly affect the chemistry of our brains: the immediate gratification.
They are the easy path, the comfort zone, the shortcut, the law of least effort: social media, porn, videogames, fast food, netflix, tv,…
These things give us short-term pleasure, we immediately feel it, so we stick to them. But long-term they take the life that we want away from us and they destroy the opportunities that we take for granted.
Now that we know why…what can we do to stick to the good habits even though they don’t have immediate rewards?
The first step is to change your mentality. Accepting the facts we’ve just talked about and not doing anything is being a victim. You have to stack the balance to your favor by internalizing the real cost of immediate gratification and the cost of not doing what you know it’s best for you. Internalizing that tomorrow does not exist and that postponing is a habit in itself. TODAY is the day when your objectives are accomplished, not tomorrow.
Tomorrow does not exist.
If you want to become a professional you should act like one TODAY, it can’t wait. The cost is too big.
The second step is to establish systems that help you stay in the path of your goals. Taking responsibility and creating strategies. One of them, simple and very effective, is the “habit tracker”.
The habit tracker
The habit tracker is a simple way to keep track of your habits every day.
You make a list of the habits you want to repeat, read the list every day, and at the end of the day mark the habits you completed.
At the end of this article you can download our Pokermind’s Habit Tracker, which looks like this: