We make goals and then we procrastinate. We make a list of all the ways we can accomplish said goals, but we never follow through. We have hit a wall in our athletic journey, how do we get through, over or around it?
Let’s start with what deters you from accomplishing your dreams, goals and other aspirations? If you’re an athlete you either have to love the training sessions or at least you’ve learned how to live with them. They come with the territory of being an athlete. The biggest detractor is either you start caring less about the sport you’re in, or you have negative feelings or thoughts toward it. You don’t have to be an athlete to have negative thoughts towards your sweat sessions. Does the gym have a bad aura about it? Does this particular exercise remind you of that time you twisted your ankle? Try to find the source of your negativity and change it. If it’s the exercise, do something different.
Try to be optimistic. As cliche as it sounds, a positive attitude reaps a positive outcome. When you go out there onto the field or in the pool and you lay it all out there, there is nothing more satisfying. Even if you didn’t win, you can tell yourself that you did your very best. It’s easier to bounce back from a failure if you have a positive outlook on what happened. If you lose, you know what you need to work out in order to get better.
Still hit a wall? Talk through what your troubles are. What is stressing you out, is it too many things on your plate at once? Try writing them all out and face them one at a time. It can be overwhelming when you see a list of things to do, but when you focus on one thing, then soon enough your entire list will be crossed out. Think rationally about what you need to do in order to get all of your things done. If you want to get to the championships, you need to keep training to qualify. As an athlete, you see others out there doing things that you’re not doing so you compare yourself. It creates a negative thought in your mind, but realistically you can’t change anything about that person, you can, however, tell yourself to train harder to compete against that other athlete. Get rid of negative thoughts.
Be one step ahead of yourself.
If I asked you to run a mile in eight minutes, do you think that’s crazy? For an average person, it seems fast for a mile, it can be overwhelming thinking about how quickly eight minutes can pass. A lot of people would give up before even giving it a good try. We fail before we even try because it creates immense pressure on ourselves. We tell ourselves that we failed because we didn’t even try versus the alternative of trying and failing. It almost makes us feel better knowing that we didn’t make that eight-minute mark because we didn’t try. How do we stop the negativity in our minds? The mind is a powerful instrument in our success or downfalls. Why not try to run that mile? Focus on one lap and then the next, soon enough the mile is over and who knows, maybe you actually made it in the eight minutes. If not, at least you tried and now you know that it’s not nearly as awful as it sounded when I told you to first run.
I’m no athlete, but I do know that practicing mindfulness is beneficial. When you’re out there competing, you’re not doing it for your parents, family, your country or anyone but yourself. You got yourself through those early mornings and late night practices. You pushed yourself to the edge and felt the soreness that nobody else can experience. Focus on you, when you’re out there. Your strokes in the pool, your movements when you’re hitting that ball or whatever equipment you use in your sport. If you’re in the gym, your coach isn’t lifting those weights, you are. Mindfulness is a state of flow through your mind and body. We can only live in the present moment.
If you still hit a wall, think about your coach, parent, spouse, or friend. Or maybe you have a workout partner or group, think of them to help you break through the wall. Keep them close, they can push you through your tough times. Get someone who won’t let you give up easily, but don’t keep them around if you feel as if you’re being punished for no reason. All great athletes have a positive support system for their success. They should support you through your journey and know when you need to be pushed to be better. Don’t let them bully you into an extreme work out. Push your friends and those around you to be better too. Everyone should lift one another up.
If all comes to a halt with you and a wall, think about the next big event you have. As an athlete, there are too many competitions to even keep track of. If you feel yourself hitting the wall, try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you want to be on that Olympic team, well you’re going to have to get through this practice. You’re going to have to swim your very best in order to compete against the other athletes who have their eyes on the prize. It’s acceptable to feel this way sometimes. You don’t always have to be smiley and ecstatic about going to practice at the crack of dawn. Remember that you chose to do this and reminisce about the feeling of what it will be like when you stand on the podium having your country’s national anthem blaring through the stadium.
The mind is an amazing thing.
It reminds us of where we are supposed to be at the end of our athletic journey. Not everyone wants to be an Olympic gold medalist, some of us just want to feel good about ourselves. Think about how good it will feel when you’ve reached your goal. You can dream of a new one after that and another one after reaching that one. We look ahead at what we want and that is where our minds are powerful. It keeps us from giving up when we’ve hit a wall. We get over, through and around it by trying. We don’t turn around and walk away from the wall unless you’re getting a running start to jump over it. There is only one way to go when you want to achieve greatness and that is forward.
Written by Kelly Chen