How to apply gold medal psychology in daily life
Ever wonder how the world’s top performers do what they do? Seemingly effortlessly, in ‘the zone’, enjoying a flow state?
There are certain principles practiced by champions of their craft, that can benefit you in your daily life.
Here are some key elements of the winner’s mindset, and examples of how you can apply them regularly …
A sports psychologist will help an athlete form goals that are intrinsically, as opposed to extrinsically, motivated. An extrinsically motivate goal may include, ‘I will finish first in the race’ as opposed to the intrinsic goal of, ‘I will set a new personal best on competition day’. There is an extent to which intrinsic motivation allows for a greater aspect of control over outcome.
A more day-to-day extrinsic goal may be, ‘I’ll lose half a stone in a month so I look good in holiday photos’ compared to an intrinsic goal of exercising regularly and eating nutritiously for 4 weeks so that you feel your most energetic on vacation.
Another effective goal setting method includes the SMART model. That is to say, making goals Specific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Realistic and Timebound increases chances of achievement.
Short-term, process-oriented goals are also handy. For a swimmer, this could be ‘improving flip turns’. To apply this to your day-to-day life, maybe start by identifying one point each day, for a week. It could be something like sitting in stillness and focussing on breath for 3 minutes each day, or committing to a daily journal practice for 7 days.
Tiger Woods had spent the year of his life on the course in 2008, largely due to the hours and hours visualizing his perfect swing and succeeding in competitive situations. Such imagining causes the body to reinforce the neural pathways needed to complete the action correctly.
If there are any upcoming situations in your life that create nerves or anxiety, you might want to attempt visualizing yourself in the situation and embodying the best possible outcome. When doing so, take the opportunity to imagine the scene from two perspectives. Firstly, as though you are living it, first person, from within your body, then secondly as though you are a spectator, detached from your current self, and watching your body go through the process of success.
Self-talk and Confidence
A relentlessly positive, reinforcing, encouraging inner monologue is necessary to triumph in the realm of sports performance. This principle helps no matter what circumstances you are in.
Mohammed Ali repeated that he was ‘the greatest’ so often that he and all others believed it.
Having positive affirmations as part of your daily self-improvement routine is basically a must these days. A handy exercise, featured in Kay Porter’s book The Mental Athlete, is to write a list of the positive and negative things you say to yourself before an important occasion. Becoming aware of the words that pass through the mind during these times is helpful in identifying patterns that are conducive to functionality or otherwise. When you find yourself uttering negative statements internally, check it and change to a positive alternative.
Relaxation and Concentration
‘Flow State,’ The Zone ‘… These are states where peak performance occurs without even thinking.
Practicing Mindfulness may sometimes feel easier said than done, but taking time to meditate and literally allow the brain to clear will pave the way for more calm and considered decision making as you navigate life.
Breathing techniques such as these (link) help to induce a relaxed state.
Coping with / avoiding Injury
Rehab and Prehab are now terms commonly used in physical exercise circles. The importance of maintaining a supple physical frame with balance and strength helps stave off unnecessary absences from the field of play.
In daily life, harnessing ‘lifestyle prehab’ techniques such as sleep routines and healthy eating patterns along with plenty of breathwork and mindful movement will allow greater success in unexpected areas throughout life. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and a healthy mind leads to a healthy life.
Here are some goal-oriented questions for you to ponder …
1 – Think of a goal. If you had this goal right now, how would you be different?
2 – Imagine having achieved your goal. What do you feel? What are you saying to yourself?
3 – How will taking action towards your goal impact other people in your life?
These affirmations will help inspire your peak performance …
“I acknowledge my strength and learning gained in the process of going for my goals”
“I trust and believe in myself”
“I acknowledge myself and my abilities”
“It is easy for me to let go of the past and look forward to the future ”
“ My mind and body are at peace ”
What the winners say …
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is true strength ” – Jessica Ennis, British Heptathlon Gold Medallist
“A champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fall” – Serena Williams, 23-time Grand Slam Tennis Winner
“It is not about just winning the rounds, it is not just about winning the fight, it is about winning every single second of your life” – Ronda Rousey, Women’s UFC World Champion