Do you love the Winter Olympics as much as I do? Now that the XXIV Winter Olympic Games in Beijing are in full swing, we can again see true living legends in action.
The Olympics are not just sporting events where the competitors reveal their exceptional skills. It's the goal of a lifetime for many athletes who have trained vigorously for countless years to perform in front of a multimillion-dollar audience and, of course, more importantly, to win. Have you ever wondered what they have actually gone through to participate? As well as what intense perseverance and motivation it would take to help you overcome yourself each day to achieve a goal, just like an Olympian does.
In reality, Olympians and successful people have more in common than you may think. At the very least, both outstanding athletes and exceptional businesspeople (including professionals) can visualise their goals and don't give up on them. You can do all of this too! Athletes have several tricks up their sleeve which helps them overcome obstacles and maintain their enviable perseverance.
Work in the "flow"
Psychologists describe a flow state as completely concentrating your attention, allowing you to accumulate maximum internal resources. I would describe this state as believing you can achieve absolutely anything.
This is no joke! The state of flow originates in sports. Athletes refer to it as their determined and concentrated mindset, which easily helps them achieve optimal results. And you, sitting in the office, thanks to the flow, will be able to quickly discover a way out of a crisis situation or easily solve a specific problem just as quickly.
How do you achieve a flow state? Start by removing all distractions, from noisy colleagues to your mobile phone, and then analyse your own emotions. You must be calm and free of negative feelings like irritation or sadness (otherwise, it will not work). The key to achieving a flow state is the ability to enjoy your work. Start with this, and gradually you will find a path towards your own personal inner flow. It's easy to achieve a flow state; however, it's harder to keep it going over a long time.
Have a dialogue with yourself
In 1993, a group of psychologists investigating exactly how Olympian's cope with enormous pressure interviewed seventeen figure skating champions. The vast majority of them reported that they were helped enormously by rational thinking and internal dialogue. Firstly, they would look for their sources of stress and negative feelings, eliminate them, and take control of their emotions.
Internal dialogue is an extremely useful thing that I also practice too. If you feel that you are on edge, facing difficulties, and do not know what to do, then try to answer the following questions in detail and with complete honestly:
- Where are these thoughts/feelings coming from? Are they objective?
- Is there a chance that I can overcome this difficulty? If yes, what is stopping me?
- What result will I achieve when I overcome this problem?
- Why is this so important to me?
- What makes me feel more confident? What can I do now to get that confidence back?
The most crucial thing is not to listen to your inner critic during your internal dialogue! Remember that thoughts like "Yes, it won't work anyway" do not belong to the real you; however, they belong to your inner critic who must be immediately stopped.
Create mental images
Yes, it sounds cliched. However, it really helps athletes win and produce incredible results every day. The reason for this is that visualisation, or creating a mental image, causes a surge of positive emotions, which, in turn, provides you with the resources you need to move towards your goal. In addition, according to "Psychology Today's" 1996 Athlete Brain Activity Study, the brain is just as active during physical training as it is during visualisation. This means that both have the same positive effect on an athlete's brain.
Mental images impact the brain's cognitive processes, which increases the efficiency of motor skills, concentration, and memory. It also reinforces the flow state or helps you to achieve it. I would like to emphasise that visualisation is not just about thinking about your dreams! You also need to involve all of your senses during visualisation. What do you see, hear, and feel when you finally reach your goal?
Set Measurable Goals
American speed skater Dan Jensen, who won Olympic gold in 1994, once said: "The higher your goals, the harder you will work." I, too, will never stop saying this; indeed, nothing is impossible if you have a particular goal. Although this goal must meet certain criteria, it must be achievable and measurable. How do you know that you have reached your goal? How realistic is it when viewed objectively? Perhaps you should break your goal into smaller steps?
Olympic swimmer and three-time gold medallist, Gary Hall's advice, is to always write down your goal and hang it up somewhere you can see it every day. Specifically, he places his goal on the refrigerator door or on the mirror he looks into every morning whilst washing his face. When Gary was sixteen years old and preparing for his first Olympics, his coach wrote all of Gary's goals on a swim board where he practised different swimming techniques during training. According to Gary, it eventually helped him get into the Olympic team, as he simply could not forget about his goal even for a day.
The courage and determination of the Olympians are enviable because they are willing to move mountains for the sake of their dreams. However, you, too, can achieve so much if you enlist the support of loved ones, have the appropriate techniques, and of course, the right knowledge. No wonder they show the Olympic Games on all TV channels because they inspire, motivate, and set a wonderful example to follow. So, get motivated too, and move forward towards your goal!