Practice Makes Permanent

Everyone’s heard the age-old adage that “practice makes perfect.” When I was in middle school, I had a physical education teacher who disagreed. His motto instead was that “practice makes permanent.” 

With that in mind, today we’re going to focus on the key principle of the brain and specifically Hebb’s Principle that tells us that neurons that fire together, wire together. It’s about the power of repetition in practice, and how changing those habits is hard but by using the “practice makes permanent” M.O., you can change that narrative.

There’s no doubt, it’s hard to quit doing something. To go cold turkey. When we take the willpower approach, we struggle.  It feels like you are being deprived, and the more you think about how you can’t engage in the habit, the more you want to. The survival brain takes over and seeks the reward so it can finally relax. We might have the mentality when quitting that ‘all will be right with the world and we can try again tomorrow.’

[WATCH: ATOMIC HABITS: HOW TO GET 1% BETTER EVERY DAY] 

The myths of mental toughness get in the way here, too.  

The 1st myth: You have mental toughness or you don’t. Failure equals that you have no courage or willpower. You concede to that thinking and assume that there is no way to fix it because you simply “don’t have it.” ou are screwed.  No way you can fix it cause you just don’t have it. 

Hebb’s principle gives us a path forward. Charles Duhigg, who wrote the “Power of Habit” broke it down this way:

There are 3 parts to a habit.

 1) Trigger – A reminder of something.  

2) Routine – Steps we take in response to the trigger.  

3) Reward – the payoff we receive from the routine.

Make a list of your habits – the performance killers and the performance boosters. Apply the trigger, routine, reward loop. Performance killers usually protect us from vulnerability and fear – a reward or secondary gain. Performance boosters push us towards vulnerability and fear – overcoming it is the reward.  

Then make three lists.  

1) Habits I need to start doing more often.  

2) Habits  I need to add.  

3) Habits  I need to stop. 

One of the best books for developing new habits is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. I have read it numerous times and it has helped me to develop more effective habits.  Bonus PDF: A highlights list of basic habits that lead to mental fitness. Learn more through our own personal coaching sessions or online training classes.