Jul 24, 2020

In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps broke the world record for the 200 Meter butterfly.  He accomplished this despite not being able to see within the first 50 meters and his goggles were completely full of water at the 150 meter mark. Swimmers dread leaky goggles.  Most would have quit, yet Phelps not only won gold - he set a WR.

How is this possible?

A Duke University study found that 40% of our actions we make each day are habits and NOT decisions.  Having a habit is essentially like being on auto pilot. Your brain doesn’t have to be involved in any decision making.

Phelps stated after the race that despite swimming blind “it felt like I imagined it would”

What he was saying was that he had followed all his routines that day and the leaky goggles was not an issue because the habits tied to how every race and training day unfolded were the same.

If you think back to days which you considered wins, you will most likely find a series of routines that proceeded them.

What are you doing when everything falls into place?

Find it and do more of it.

When I get up in the morning and follow my routine (journaling, reading, meditating before checking my phone/email) I find myself more creative and in a better mood all day.  After every workout/bike ride, I often run straight to my notepad to remember ideas that were sparked.

These kinds of routines are called a Keystone Habit because it leads to a series of other actions.  For me, creating an environment free of technology in the mornings puts the rest of my day in place to be focused and less stressed.

Imagine how much easier your life would be if you had one or two Keystone Habits that put you in a place where small deviations, similar to what happened to Phelps, wouldn’t phase you.

Habits are certainly hard to change so if you focus on a keystone habit (routine) the new habits become easier to acquire.  For example, in my case, social media has become less important than reading because my morning routines inspire me to find more time to disconnect.

Routines are just a sequence of actions.  The more often you follow it, the more automatic they become which is how habits form.  When a habit develops, the brain does not have to work so hard, hence the lack of decision making.

If you make your keystone habit a morning routine, you are essentially creating a “small win” to start your day.  Of course, this sets the motion for more small wins and then it is simply dominoes.

Phelps routines had little to do with swimming and everything to do with his success.

Design BEATS willpower.

Have a great weekend,


If you don’t start your day with intention you are living in survival mode. Benjamin Hardy
Keystone Habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that, in the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, we might otherwise forget. Charles Duhigg

Karl Choltus

Deep thinking Canadian sharing thoughts created in the shower.