When we see a top athlete, we see someone who has dedicated thousands of hours to the pursuit of being titled number one. Whether we can understand their drive is one thing, but we can all admire their commitment. How they stay motivated is something we can all learn from.
1. Talk through the stress – A 1993 study of athletes identified 158 unique strategies for coping with stress. The most common (used by 76 percent of interviewees) was ‘rational thinking and self-talk’. You’ve got to learn to coach your mind to work through the tough times and think like a winner.
2. It’s all for love – You don’t persevere for the money. Most, even those at a national level, aren’t even duly compensated. It is the sheer love of sport that motivates them to train and play again and again – and again.
3. Optimism – In a study of Commonwealth and Olympic athletes, “having an unshakeable belief in your ability to achieve competition goals” was a common definition of mental toughness. You need to believe that you have it within you to be the best.
4. Anticipation – Our brains are built with an insular cortex, the more finely tuned it is the better we are at anticipating pressures and adapt to these quickly. It also gets better with practice.
5. Good support – Whether it’s a coach, a parent, a partner or a boss, having solid support is the bedrock of success.
6. Mindful – It’s not only being aware of what you’re doing, but how you’re feeling, how you’re breathing and accepting these without judgment.
7. Thinking ahead – Keep your eye on the prize. Create short term goals to reach long term goals. Small victories keep you motivated to continue improvement.