Great athletes create amazing performances with unbelievable consistency. Composed, mentally tough, emotionally controlled or simply determined and focused.

Have you set your goals?

Do you know what you want to achieve?

Sharp and clearly defined goals are valued by athletes, business-people and achievers from all sorts of fields. So, goal setting must be a great thing. But our thinking should never stop, we should never be satisfied. Things may be good but there might be an even better solution. So is there a better way that goal setting?

Goal setting is often described as a powerful way for motivating yourself. Thinking about your ideal future and setting goals is assumed to help you choose where you want to go in life. Knowing what you want to achieve focuses your attention and helps you organise your time.

Sport psychologists have found that by putting the problem alongside the solution in one sentence is more effective than goal-setting. If athletes remind themselves daily about the link they will automatically choose the more desirable solution. The planning becomes an automatic solution to the problem.

Playing sports can lead to strong emotional responses, particularly before, during and after competition. There is nothing strange about this since these experiences are filled with emotional challenging situations. Yet we often carry over emotions that we experience in daily life to other situations. An athlete who has had a stressful day at work tends to become more emotional when engaging in sport. An athlete needs to become aware of how to use strategies to up-regulate emotions such as excitement and down-regulate feelings such as sluggishness.

Success shapes and changes our field of action.

  • A tennis ball looks smaller when you are tired (this makes it more difficult to hit the ball).
  • A hill looks steeper if you are carry heavy weights.
  • A problem looks more difficult when you are frustrated.

Teaching athletes to uses proactive coping skills has turned out to be a successful method.

  • Helping them to in identifying barriers to goal attainment
  • Encourage them to reflect on their goals
  • Identify the qualities and skills needed
  • Find ways to prevent or minimise hurdles.

I need to learn to relax because I get anxious and these feelings prevent me from focusing on what I need to do to score a goal, perform Beethoven’s violin concert, to be more focused at work. . .

If category – Consists of emotions and factors that prevents you from achieving

  • Tired
  • Over-excited
  • Lack of focus
  • Too relaxed
  • Too stressed
  • Angry
  • Sad

Then category consists of skills you can use.

  • Imagine myself succeeding
  • Focus of recent techniques or approaches that were successful
  • Tell yourself that you can stay focused, calm. . .

A violin student could say :

If I feel tired towards the end of the piece, then I will focus on making loud vibratoes.

A person having difficulties getting new ideas could say:

If I feel tired, then I will focus on having two good idea by the end of the day.

Repeating these “If – then” statements 5 times a day will reinforce the use of these strategies and the responses will become automatic.

The difficult bit is to write the “If then” statements so a bit of brain workout is needed. If you want some more ideas for reflective thinking, go here to look at our Thinkibility notebook.

Photo: “Inspire On Smartphone Shows Stimulation” by Stuart Miles

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