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  • Writer's pictureAshley Besecker, RDN, CD

The ONE thing you can do to gain an edge as an athlete.

Updated: Jan 4

Back to habits.

I am a huge audiobook fan. It’s the only way I can read books these days. I run 3 companies, I have 2 little kids, a hubby, and plus, myself to manage. Thank you Audible. I can listen while I’m doing half my laundry (you know those clean clothes never get folded), driving, walking, or doing the dishes.

Recently I listened to 2 books recommended to me by a friend that are supposedly great for athletes to read. Atomic Habits by James Clear, and The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. Here’s my take after listening to both, back to back.

Atomic Habits was my favorite. Read/listen to that one all the way through. It helps you understand the science behind habits and how “goal setting” is actually bullshit.

The ONE Thing was a bit disappointing. Sorry, Gary. The audio was a little awkward, and then every once in a while a woman’s voice popped in which threw me off. The best thing I got out of it was how to form a “focusing question”. Which ties in nicely in the creation of an Atomic Habit.

I do not have time for a 20-minute meditation, a workout, to set an intention for the day, and then get to my emails each morning. I’m sorry, my life with a 4 and 6-year-old is not set up for that. I'm exhausted, I can be irritable, fed-up, and stressed out. Occasionally there are periods of calm and a chill go-with-the-flow times. But the first is a more realistic example of life as a working parent with little kids, right?

The development of a focused question in The ONE Thing helps design an Atomic Habit. It’s a great combo. Here’s how it goes.

What is the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

You start backward. Start old school, with the “big goal” in mind. What’s the point? What’s the end? What are you trying to achieve? Then begin to layer the many reasons of why, and the steps of how.


Here’s my first.

Step 1 (huge “goal”): I want to pay my mortgage on my current home every single month without stress.

Step 2 (why): Because I want to keep my house (our dream house that we worked so hard to get) and remove the financial stress from my husband on being the sole owner of this stress. Especially in times of pandemics and financial unease.

Step 3 (why): Because this house is within walking distance of the best school district in our state, has a big backyard, allows for everyone to have their own room, allows for play space, and creates an environment that we want to spend time in, and that feels relaxing, fun and calming.

Step 4 (why): Because of his lower stress, allows for our relationship to become stronger with less tension regarding finances.

Step 5 (still why): Because a stronger relationship with my husband creates harmony in our home with a trickle effect, with more love for ourselves, our kids, and more grace in our lives.

Step 5 (how): I need to be able to make more money in my current job that I love.

Step 6 (how): By getting clear about what my exact sports nutrition services are, and how much my time and services are really worth by doing research in my field and assessing my own 24h day. Then creating my fee based on those numbers, and my goal of stress-free mortgage payments each month.

Step 7 (how): In order to take on clients in the way that I can provide these very valuable services, I need to find extra (consistent) time in my day that allows for flexibility with children and quiet time.

Step 8 (how): Find when this magic time is. After analysis, this must be in the morning before everyone wakes up.

Step 9 (how): Think of a motivation that will allow me to begin waking earlier, beginning to establish waking earlier as a consistent habit. Motivation: write a small post-it note to my family members each morning and put on their mirrors before they wake.

Step 10 (how): Set the tools to make this habit as easy as possible. Sharpie and post-it note pad on my closet shelf where I go first every morning. Set my alarm for slightly earlier than I usually wake, at a time just before my family wakes. Begin to wake earlier, with the motivation of the post-it notes.


The creation of this tiny habit took me 10 steps of peeling the onion, moving backward from something so huge, down to something so tiny. What is ONE thing you can do each day that if you do it, everything else will be easier. You begin to see the trickle-down effect. If I begin to make a tiny habit of waking earlier, as the days, weeks, and months go by, waking earlier will become a habit, which provides me with solo time in the morning. Naturally, I can begin to use that time to habit stack - after the notes, I form the habit of getting dressed and ready. After that, I form the habit of working through 5 emails each morning. After that I stack tiny atomic habits until I have an hour or more each morning to dedicate to my clients that is consistent, allowing me to become more organized and structured, allowing me to take on more high profile clients and provide my valuable service, at a higher price, with consistent working hours.

And that is how writing a post-it note each morning will allow me to pay my mortgage each month without stress.

Give it a try with a huge “goal” or idea you’d like for your own life, and work backward, until you have a tiny atomic post-it note.

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