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Staying on course to reach your performance goals is sometimes challenging, so making sure you don’t get distracted or derailed is key to success. Follow these simple guidelines to help stay on course:
1. Thoughts need to match your goals.
Many athletes complain to others or become critical of themselves when things don’t go as planned. For example, a golfer has practiced putting with a coach over several weeks and starts to gain consistency during his practice rounds. He then plays in the regional high school round and misses an easy putt. He immediately thinks about how stupid he must have looked and begins thinking a host of stressful, negative thoughts: “I am back to being a bad putter”, “I cannot screw up the next hole”, “I will never be good at putting.” If he continues this type of thinking (adding stress hormones) and his goal is to do well on the next hole, then his thoughts and desires do not match. His brain is confused about what he wants: to dwell and picture the mistakes or to refocus and picture success. He is thinking too much and not in a way that supports his goal. He needs to acknowledge that he had a bad shot, but by the time he walks to his next tee shot he needs to change his thought process and use words in his head that help him focus-words that match is desire. The mental tool that is needed in this situation is called switch thoughts.
2. Write daily goals on paper.
Rehearse your goals and write action steps each day to help you reach your goals. Write the goal at the top of the sheet, then write at least two or three steps you will take that day that related to the goal. Henriette Anne Klauser wrote a book, Write it Down, Make it Happen. She discusses how we are more likely to reach our goals if we write them out. Think of this like your grocery list. You write what you need to get and then go to the store. You think you remember but before you leave you check it and see an item you listed. It is this visual reminder that gives us that added edge. It reminds your brain to focus on a task and get it done.
3. Visualize or feel the emotion of confidence.
Take a few moments each day and imagine how confidence feels. Where in your body would you feel this? Some picture it in their eyes, some in their belly, others in their shoulders. Find a spot in your body and imagine anchoring these emotions of confidence there and spread it. You can do this when you write your daily goals. Feeling confident helps with focus. When you feel that you can do something you are more likely to follow through and even embrace the challenge. But you can also go to this mental and physical “spot” when you are struggling and over-thinking. You can get out of your head and into your body by trying to imagine confidence. Try it! Meeting goals helps to build confidence but confidence also helps you go toward your goals.
4. Keep it simple and build momentum.
If you wake up tired or you cannot get yourself to practice, then keep your focus and daily plan simple for a day or two. A great example is a runner who is tired and her goal was to do a 10k practice run. Maybe it means bargaining for running one minute on and one minute off for 10 minutes. All runners can typically do one minute! After this, the runner starts to think a longer run is possible and now decides a 6k seems more manageable. The point to this is the idea that some days it is best to start simple and build momentum.