Mental challenges are part of the territory for anyone who wants to reach a high level of performance. Athlete, Author, Artist: we all have to crash through psychological barriers on the road to success. In an article called, “How to Think Like a Gold Medalist,” JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a sports and performance psychologist, offered some helpful advice on overcoming three major mental challenges:
Negative Thinking: We all hit down times — Low periods when we question our ability and whether we have what it takes to get where we want to go. When You find yourself saying, “I’m not good enough,” or “I can’t do This” — instead of going down that road, ask yourself: What good can I extract from this situation? What tools and resources do I need to shift to a better direction? Asking the right questions can help you move forward instead of dwelling on your shortcomings or circumstances. The more actively you reverse your negative self-talk, the easier it becomes to find opportunities in adversity.
Burnout: Working day in and day out, we can begin to feel depleted. Along with eating and sleeping well, Dahlkoetter Believes it’s important to Plan major breaks from intense activity. She suggests Recharging by Taking a few hours or days away whenever you can. If that’s not an option, then take a “mental vacation” for 5 or 10 minutes. Breathe deeply and Visualize yourself relaxing in a peaceful setting — at the beach or in a garden. Meditation can also help.
Fear: For Olympic contenders, a decade of training can lead to a few minutes in which everything they’ve worked for is on the line. Now that’s pressure! The fear that kicks in can be paralyzing. To get past this barrier, focus on the basics — go back to what you know. Think about your skills and training and how well prepared you are. See yourself achieving the result you want over and over. Then focus on the moment. Forget the past or the future. Decide the next thing you have to do and do it. And then do the next thing. Tick them off one by one. Taking positive action dissolves fear.
Let’s see if we can use these tips as we move ahead this week. Write on!