9 Easy Steps for Athletes to Break Barriers to Peak Performance
By Loren Fogelman
“Do what you fear and fear disappears.” David Schwartz
When I first started rowing my coach told me I was going to learn to love competing. I just chuckled. He had no idea what I thought about team sports, competing or racing. Sports were not part of my childhood. I never viewed myself as a competitive person.
Beginning a sport at 40y/o was done on a whim. It was not a lifelong desire on my bucket list. Steve, my husband, and I decided to begin rowing in order to share an activity together. Steve and the kids played team sports while I exercised at the gym. I cheered them on from the sidelines.
Once the decision to step out of my comfort zone deciding to row competitively was made, I realized change was going to happen. I uncovered aspects of myself which I didn’t realize existed. Some were positive and others were not very pretty. If I was going to row on a team, there were limiting beliefs I needed to uncover.
There was nothing I could change about the dynamics of the competition itself. What I chose to do was change my perception and beliefs about competing. It was time to become honest with myself. Something was holding me back. Now was the time to face fear and look it in the face.
A disconnect existed between my goals and how I felt about stepping out of my comfort zone. Fortunately I realized my fears were not based upon reality. In fact, they weren’t even logical.
A clear goal, strategy and plan set the stage for my transformation.
1. Identify your goal. What is it that you want so much, you are willing to do anything to make it happen?
2. Focus on the goal. Regularly envision yourself being a success. You reached your goal. Create the story of being a success, making it vivid and real. When you focus on the end result and embrace the feeling of success, your brain begins to make chemical changes which support reaching this goal.
3. Reframe. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to do, set your sights on what you do want for yourself. Move toward a solution instead of away from a problem. Look at how you tell your story. Focus on the positive and make it exciting.
4. Strategize. Outline your plan, but be flexible. Don’t worry about all the steps needed to reach your goal. Focusing too much on the “how” contributes to perfectionism and procrastination, keeping you in fear and avoidance.
5. Step out of the box. Is there a way to reach your goal which might be fun and appealing. If it feels like work, you are less likely to stick with it for the long run.
6. Chunking. Develop a picture of the steps you think you might need to take to reach your goal. These will be your milestones toward successfully reaching your ideal outcome. Include begin and end dates for these steps. Try to make them as concrete and measureable as possible. Instead of saying “I will improve my performance in 30 days” change that to “I will cut my running time by 30 seconds in 30 days.”
7. Get support. Nobody expects you to do it all on your own. Team up with someone else whether it is your coach, another athlete or friend. This helps keep you going even when you might want to give up. Accountability is a wonderful motivator for change to happen.
8. Action. Begin taking action. Focus on the opportunities which are available right now. Thinking of everything you need to do can contribute to overwhelm and avoidance.
9. Celebrate. As you have successes along the way, celebrate them. You are making change. Get excited about the small successes you are having along the way. This contributes to increased self confidence and keeps you going even when it is uncomfortable.
My desire to row was greater than my fear. I had all the tools available to get past my blocks. The opportunity was right to make a change. I had to become comfortable with what had been uncomfortable up until this time.
The motto I embraced was “If it is uncomfortable, than I ought to be doing it.” Being compelled to push my limits created the drive I needed to walk through my fear and resistance. Determination kept me moving forward even when it was uncomfortable. I had reached a point in my life where old excuses no longer worked for me.
Dreams do come true when you have a desire, a strategy and a plan. Step out of the box and get support. Surround yourself with two types of people. First align yourself with people who have already achieved success. Next connect with people who are highly motivated, displaying a willingness to change for the better. Teaming up with others is a win-win situation when you align yourself with other go-getters.
Every athlete and coach knows … you are just one or two smart moves from performing your best ever. Take your future into your own hands. Watch the 5-min training video — “7 Essential Steps to Winning” Expert Sports Performance.com. Be the champion you can be. I guarantee it. Let’s win.
From Loren Fogelman, author of The Winning Point and founder of Expert Sports Performance.com