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Nine Ways to Live the Lifestyle of a Champion

Nine Ways to Live the Lifestyle of a Champion
Living the lifestyle of a champion

    Most people recognize a champion only when he steps up the podium, but he actually has become a champion far before it. In fact, he has become a champion years before that glorious moment. Why? Because to reach that moment, first and foremost he has to become a champion in his daily life. He has to train hard for years, control his diet, and deny a lot of pleasures to prepare for the contests. While other people can live whatever way they want, he must live a disciplined life. Most people only see him in the glorious moment, but it is this lifestyle that actually brings him to the podium.

    Our life is similar. Do you want to be a champion in life? Then there is no other way:

    Live the lifestyle of a champion.

    The way you live daily determines what you can achieve in life. Do not hope to achieve great things if you don’t want to pay the price in the first place. Live the lifestyle of a champion, and years from now people will recognize you as a champion when you step up the podium.

    Here are nine ways to live the lifestyle of a champion:

    1. Have a clear goal

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    First of all, you should know what you are aiming for. An athlete who clearly aims for Olympic gold medal will live differently from those who do not have any clear goal. Your goal will inspire and motivate you throughout all the hard work you need to go through.

    2. Aim high

    Having a clear goal is important but not enough. Your goal should also be challenging to inspire you to do your best. It should be both realistic and difficult enough to get you out of the comfort zone and push your limits.

    3. Make a plan and do it

    Besides having a clear goal, a good athlete has a clear plan for his training and contests. He knows what kind of training he will go through to prepare for the contests. Similarly, you should have a clear plan on how to achieve your goal. What kind of skills and knowledge do you need? When and how do you want to acquire them?

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    4. Cultivate your motivation

    The journey to mastery is long and difficult. You need sustained motivation to walk it. Otherwise, there is no way you can go through the years of hard effort needed. You can’t depend on others to motivate yourself, you should be able to motivate yourself. Your goal (point #1) is a powerful source of motivation.

    5. Train hard for long time

    You need to have superior skills and knowledge to achieve your goal. There is no other way to have it but by training hard for long time. Study shows that people typically need 10 years of effortful study to become an expert on something. It is this kind of training that you need to go through.

    6. Go beyond your comfort zone

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    Not all kinds of training will give you the improvements you need. The study I quote above says that you need to do effortful study to become an expert. Effortful study is the kind of study which entails continually tackling challenges that lie just beyond your competence. It takes you out of your comfort zone to increase your capacity.

    7. Go one mile further

    A champion won’t just do things like anybody else. Instead, he tries to add a little more to what is expected. He walks the extra mile to give superior value. This certainly is not easy, but developing this attitude will put you ahead of the game.

    8. Have competitors to motivate you

    A healthy dose of competition is important to make you move forward at full speed. Without competition, it’s very likely that you will do less than your actual capability. Competition keeps you alert to continuously improve yourself.

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    9. Put your skills to the test

    Training is not enough, you must join real contests.Test your skills and knowledge with real challenges by jumping in and actually doing what you intend to do. Do your dream job, start your dream business. Put yourself out there to really hone your competence over time.

    Donald Latumahina is an avid learner who blogs about personal growth and effectiveness at Life Optimizer. Read his articles on 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others and The Art of Arbitrage: The Key to Living Smart.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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