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5 Ways Sport Psychology Can Jumpstart Your Life

5 Ways Sport Psychology Can Jumpstart Your Life

Imagine you are watching the NBA Finals, there is 1.5 seconds left, and your favorite team is down by one point in game seven.  There is enough time for one last shot and your team is in-bounding the ball. I’m guessing you know who you would like to take the last shot. Every team has their own fan favorite superstar. Whether your sport of choice is basketball or another sport, we all know how great athletes look and are aware of the mindset they embody. If you were to list the mental characteristics, it would read something like: motivated, determined, courageous, resilient, focused, and so on.

Would you like to embody some of these qualities? I bet you would. The truth is, there is no reason you can’t. That’s exactly what the field of sport and performance psychology does. It teaches athletes and everyday people how to harness their inner mental toughness. Performance psychology is a key component in my work with athletes, performers, and executives. On some level everyone is an athlete, perhaps your sport just happens to be financial trading, or making million dollar sales, or writing a best-seller.  We all have an arena in which we strive to be a superstar. We can all take something from sport psychology to jump-start our performance.

Here are 5 easy to follow strategies you can begin to use today to unleash your inner athlete.

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1. Know your endgame

In sport, as in life, one of the biggest keys is knowing the end result you want and having a crystal clear vision of where you want to go. It’s very difficult to go after something if you don’t know what it is you’re going after. The more detailed and vivid your goal, the better. While goal-setting is nothing new, it’s a very powerful tool when done consistently. The field of sport and performance psychology has done some of the most rigorous research on goal-setting of all fields. We’ve demonstrated positive results of setting goals time and time again.

Knowing your endgame will not only increase your motivation, but also help you delay gratification. Once you know where you want to go, start breaking your long-term goals down into manageable daily actions that are process-focused. Great athletes focus on what they can control. Setting daily action-packed goals will help you stay focused on what you can do to ensure your long-term results come into fruition.

2. Train and refine

Perhaps you’ve heard “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” This is so true! If you want your goals to turn into a reality there will typically be a price to pay. Almost every world-class performer I have worked with and researched has trained exceptionally hard to get to the top. When pursuing your goals, expect there to be hard work, expect tough choices, and expect there to be a price to pay.  The more you put into your training, the better your results will be down the line. The hard work you do now will prepare you for the future, especially if you map out your goals and make an intelligent plan for how to get there. Perhaps, your hard work isn’t training extra hours in the gym. Maybe it’s making extra sales calls or getting additional education instead. Persevere!

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The caveat to working hard though, is just working hard isn’t usually enough. If what you’re doing isn’t working then learn and modify. All great athletes are flexible, knowing how to change their strategy to get to the end result. This is crucial to improvement. Training hard won’t always be enough to get you to the promise land. You need to train hard and train smart.

3. Seek experts and great coaching

There’s two paths to achievement: sometimes you create your own path, and sometimes you use the path of others to help guide you. Devising a success plan on your own can be challenging. Sometimes, you need another perspective, like someone who has either gotten to where you want to go or who is an expert. This is why coaching and mentorship can be so valuable. Every top athlete has sought advice and wisdom at one point or another. Coaching can speed up your learning curve. It also gives you an opportunity to make less mistakes and learn from the mistakes you make.

4. Embrace every experience.

World champion athletes embrace the positive as well as the negative. They build confidence from their successes and learn from their challenges. It’s no secret we work hard and compete to experience wins and successes. So, when one of those successes comes – enjoy it!

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Unfortunately, to experience winning means you have to put yourself out there and make yourself susceptible to losing. The good news is, the majority of top athletes admit they learn more from their mistakes then from their triumphs. To become a top performer in your field, you need to cultivate a perspective toward learning and growing. You can’t always be in control of what happens to you, but you can control the meaning you take from an experience. There will be times when the results don’t go your way and you experience setbacks. The way you respond to these setbacks will help determine when you reach your long-term goals, so learn to respond appropriately. Next time you experience a setback ask yourself, “What is the lesson here? What can I learn from this?”

5. Develop a winning mindset

A winning mindset can be described as motivated, engaged, resilient, confident, and focused. There are many strategies and principles to developing these characteristics and attributes. The truth is these skills can be learned and enhanced. A central component to the field of sport and exercise psychology is helping to develop these attributes by teaching skills like relaxation, visualization and imagery, thought-management, focus-enhancement, as well as many others.

I would encourage you to start small and decide one area of your mind you would like to develop. Perhaps you want to be more positive or learn how to manage your anger. Once you decide on an area you wish to improve, you can do your own research or seek the assistance of a sport psychologist. Sometimes, you can even learn to enhance these skills indirectly. For instance, yoga and meditation can be a great ways to learn mindfulness and energy control.

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No matter the route you take to using sport psychology on your quest to self-improvement, remember that a winning mindset can be developed. Take pride in your mindset, after all you own it.

Featured photo credit: Cyclist Racing Through Paris For Tour De France – Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on April 16, 2019

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

When was the last time you did something for yourself?

Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

So how can you make that happen?

Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

Listen to Yourself

The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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What is your purpose?

Have you ever thought about this question?

Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

Seek Out Continuous Education

Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

It’s Super Practical

Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

“Knowledge is choice.”

Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

Habits Make Your Time a Priority

How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

Your Well Being Comes First

We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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