One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is to strive for perfection. While it might sound like a good idea and an admirable goal, the reality is that perfection is a myth.
Because perfection is impossible to attain and maintain, the more you chase it, the more likely you are to fail and the more frustrated you get, leading to fear of failure and possible self-sabotage. So how do you maintain a high standard without falling into the trap of chasing perfection? Pursue consistent excellence.
How do you perform at an excellent standard consistently?
1. Make lots of good choices.
Champion AFL player and coach, Michael Voss, once said that life is made up of five second choices. Outside of moral choices, there is no right or wrong in terms of choices, but simply choices and outcomes. Every choice has an outcome, and often, particularly during a race, you have a split second to make a choice.
When you make a choice, you are choosing to accept the direct and indirect outcomes connected with that choice. For example, if you choose to miss several training sessions, the outcome is that you will be less prepared for your next race. Simplifying your choices by focusing on one little choice at a time can help you to build your confidence and reduce the chance of feeling overwhelmed by trying to make perfect choices. Keep making good choices and soon you will have consistent outcomes.
2. Have a plan.
Think about how you want to act. What kind of rider do you want to be? What are the actions that characterise that kind of rider? Make a list of those actions and start setting goals and plans around making those behaviours part of your life. Create a routine by continually making good choices in line with those goals and actions.
3. Just do it.
You don’t have to wait until you feel motivated until you act consistently. Act first and then the feelings will follow. Sometimes you have to do the opposite of how you feel, for example, getting up early to train before work when you would rather sleep in. Follow your plan and make good choices, but make it easy for yourself by being prepared and understanding how you work best.
4. Understand that mistakes happen.
Mistakes and failures can be stepping stones to great success if you choose to learn from them and view them as an opportunity for growth. However, if you fear mistakes, that fear can be paralysing and cause you to play it safe, causing you to lose speed at critical moments on the track or to miss opportunities due to wasting time and energy second-guessing your decisions.
For more information about how you can use mental skills to perform consistently, contact Rachel from Mental Notes Consulting on firstname.lastname@example.org to book an individual session.