Every four years the Olympics sporting bandwagon appears and I decide to throw myself on top of it with semi-tragic results. First comes the, ‘why didn’t my parents force me to practice gymnastics for 14 hours a day at the age of 3?’ This is followed by the, ‘I could change career and become an Olympic archer easily…’ and the *critiques gymnast who takes a step forwards when landing her triple spin whilst eating a family-sized bucket of KFC*. The culmination of this two-week ordeal is my decision to buy excessively colourful sportswear and join a running group, only to embarrass myself in public, retire from sport and return to my carb-filled life.
But the Olympics doesn’t simply represent sporting triumph. It also demonstrates the strength of human spirit, sheer determination of competitors, the desire to break records and make history, as well as the importance of unity. We can learn a lot more from the competitors and their mind-sets than the sports they represent and their achievements.
This week we’re focusing on just that- their mind-sets and personalities- and how we can learn from these Olympians in order to forge our own success.
So, how can one adopt an Olympian mind-set?
This may seem a little obvious, but if you lack determination, drive and ambition you’re not going to achieve your goals. Without determination, your goals are merely dreams rather than achievable end results.
Cycling-god Chris Froome, who last week won his third Tour de France and looks set to achieve success in the Olympic time trial event, attributes his success to his ‘hunger’ and ‘determination’, suggesting that ‘it’s about the body only up to a certain point’.
Being determined and driven means that when your body tires you’re still able to release another gear and continue moving forwards.
Break-up your goals
Rebecca Symes, a sports psychologist currently working with the British Paralympic team, suggests athletes break up their goals into three areas.
Area 1- ‘outcome goals’. These are long term targets such as winning a gold medal or reaching a final.
Area 2- ‘performance goals’. These are more specific goals which have a deadline such as running below three minutes by a certain date.
Area 3- ‘process goals’. These are much smaller goals which make up an athlete’s daily routine. They could be ensuring enough fluids have been taken on board or that they’ve had enough sleep before a race.
By segmenting and breaking up their goals athletes are subsequently able to work towards larger, long term targets as they have developed a process to follow with deadlines and requirements. If they follow each step, they will achieve the result they hope for. This increases motivation and resilience levels as they feel confident of their success.
Practice flexible dedication
Flexible dedication means that you are able to set long term goals, but are aware that issues may arise along the way and obstacles will have to be overcome. It means that you are resilient in times of difficulty and are able to be flexible and change your plan.
Let go of stress
Everyone feels pressured from time-to-time, but mishandling pressure and feeling stressed can negatively impact your performances and relations.
If you are worried, anxious, stressed or upset you will lose sight of your goals and exacerbate your problems.
Focus on the now and the steps you can take to reach your goals. Surround yourself with positive people and protect your sense of well-being. Rest if you have to and create coping strategies for times of high-pressure.
Now this is much more easily said than done, but being confident really is key to success. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. You’ll subsequently lose motivation and energy.
Symes suggests three ways to cement your confidence:
a) Being in control of what you’re doing
b) Feeling connected to those around you and developing a support network
c) Using past examples of success to boost your motivation
Bounce back from failure
Everyone has setbacks, but your ability to bounce back and be resilient is vital to you achieving success.
Don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong- accept that mistakes happen and you are not always in control of situations.
Persevere and dig your heels in. This will increase motivation, morale and confidence.
Practice ‘flexible thinking’ in which you view your situation from a neutral third-party perspective and think how they would react to events around you. Additionally, visualize your success and achievements and build a strong mental picture of the process you will adopt to reach your end goal. These techniques will make you more resilient.
Evaluate your performance
After every success or failure it’s vital that you evaluate your performance. Now, I’m not suggesting you overly criticise yourself- that’s not healthy. Instead, think about the areas you did well, what needs to be improved and what you will do next time the situation occurs. Ask those around your for feedback and advice and predominantly focus on the positive things you hear!
Written and edited by: Henry Aspinall
Sources: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/how-to-get-into-the-mindset-of-a-winner-lessons-from-olympic-ath/; http://www.personalbestconsulting.com/article-38; http://www.peaksports.com/sports-psychology-blog/bjoerndalen-the-mindset-of-an-olympian/; https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwj3hZ-j7bbOAhUHahoKHfk2DeAQjhwIBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.britannica.com%2Fevent%2FBeijing-2008-Olympic-Games&psig=AFQjCNHC6rR9xrDHpXSuQ7L8JPJU3OdjAg&ust=1470918672576704;