For as long as I’ve trained, I’ve struggled with getting my mind into the right place, not just make it through but also put in my best effort. I remember as a kid not wanting to go to Rugby practice for no real reason, but putting up a huge fuss about the whole thing. At a young age my parents would force me to go and when I’d get there, everything would be fine but that initial step always stood in my way. Eventually, as a teenager, I was given more rope to do as I wished and I ended up never getting over that first step. I never went back to rugby, despite making the first team in every year group up until my mid-teens. The mindset of letting the first step trip me up has stayed with me all the way into adulthood. A few bad choices along the way lead to a habit and eventually bad health.
Not everyone goes through this, for some people it seems easy, just get up and go but if you’ve been there, you know how self-fulfilling this mindset can be. Your brain says “I can’t” then your body just follows along for the ride. Eventually, the poor choices come back to bite, whether it’s being stuck in a dead end job, poor health or something else the easy path mindset is going to cause you problems. The good news is though that you CAN turn things around and as soon as you prove that to yourself then you are on your way to bigger and better things but it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice. So here are a few of the tools I use.
The first step is always the hardest.
This sounds a little cliché but it is true; getting the motivation to start is always the hardest part but if you can find just one thing to get you moving the first time, then the next time it will be easier. That’s not to say you won’t have struggles again but they won’t be as bad as that very first time. If you want to win the game you first have to step on to the field.
Dedication and motivation are limited and that’s a good thing.
“I’m just not motivated enough.” Sound familiar? That’s the type of thing people tell themselves to justify not starting or giving up but the fact is that you only need enough motivation, drive or determination to see you through long enough for something to become a habit. After that, the habit will do the work for you and it’s only every now and again that you will need to even think about motivation or drive.
Breakdown the goal into smaller tasks, and then smaller again.
Focusing on the big picture has its benefits but if we spend too long looking down the track we can end up demotivated. “This is taking forever.” “I just can’t keep going.” are the words of people who are spending too much time looking too far ahead. Instead, it’s much better, when the goal seems too far away, to look at the very next step you need to take. Navy SEALs talk about just making it through to the next morning before they quit at BUDS, once the next day comes along, the sun comes out and the world looks all the better and it’s back to “I’ll quit tomorrow.”
If it’s longer than a month, it’s just a dream (Mate, you’re Dreamin’)
If you have a goal that is three months away or more away, then reframe that to being a dream. Now take that dream and think about the thing you need to do this week to get closer to that dream, which is your goal. Now take that goal and think about the thing you need to do today to make it to that goal; that is your task. Work your tasks every day and you will end up at your goal and eventually your dream.
Visualise the process, not the result.
Visualisation is a great tool to help you practice the tasks at hand but remember to visualise the tasks more than the achievement. It can be fun to think about what you will look like in a year and it’s helpful to think about it but it’s more productive to think about yourself putting in the time and doing all the things necessary to get you where you want to go because this build into your mind about being the person who does the thing needed rather than just the end result.
Expect to fail
You will fail; this should never be able to surprise you. So plan for it; that day you just can’t resist hitting the snooze button, instead of getting out of bed to hit the gym. Don’t hate yourself and berate yourself, just know you made a mistake and have a plan for what you’ll do next. Plan to walk at lunchtime or hit the gym on the way home from work.
Celebrate your successes
We call these Bright Spots and our clients regularly celebrate the achievements they’ve had throughout the week. If you learn to look at the things you are doing well, not only are you spending more time focusing on success but you are actually programming your brain to see the good instead of the bad. The achievement instead of the amount left to do. Success leads to more motivation and more success.
These are just some of the great techniques to help you fix the holes in your mental game. Give them a go, the more you practice them the better you get. Which techniques do you use? Do you have better ones?