About six months ago I took up running and have found it to be really
helpful for beating stress and improving my overall fitness. Six weeks
ago a friend of mine invited me to take part in a competitive race –
something I’ve never done before – and I accepted the challenge.
However, now that the race day is looming, I’ve been crippled with
self doubts and worries that I won’t be able to complete the distance.
During my last few runs my mindset has been terrible and I can’t seem
to silence the voice in my head that keeps telling me that I can’t do
it or that I’m too tired.
This is something that affects a lot of competitive athletes (not that
I’m saying I’m one – far from it). Overcoming a negative mindset can
make the difference between a good athlete and an award-winning one.
And not just athletes – it applies to all walks of life. Having self
belief and a positive mindset can give you the confidence to realise
your dreams and achieve all the things you want to do in life.
I’ve been doing some research into how to master your mindset, and
here are some things I’ve discovered.
Know your goal
It’s hard to be completely motivated if you’re unsure of what you
want. Get a clear idea in your mind of what you want to achieve. You
might want to become fitter for example, but in order to motivate
yourself, write down some goals, like being able to run a certain
distance or lift a certain amount of weight. This gives you a goal to
work towards. Likewise, you might hate your job and want to find one
that’s more inspiring, but you need to work out what that is first.
For example, I spent years wishing I could quit my job and go
travelling but it wasn’t until I decided exactly where I wanted to go
and how I was going to do it that I was able to work towards making it
Use a mind mantra
Whilst I’ve been out running, I’ve been guilty of allowing a negative
voice in my head to take control, telling me that I’m too tired or not
fit enough to run the distance of my upcoming race. What I’ve found to
be useful is to combat that negative voice before I even start
running. I start out telling myself over and over that I can do this,
I feel strong, I can win. It becomes like a mantra that I say over and
over, and I think my body actually starts to believe it. Whereas when
I tell myself that I’m too tired and can’t go on, my body believes
that, and in turn my muscles give up.
Visualise your success
Visualisation is a great technique used by many athletes as well as
successful business people. If you are facing a daunting task ahead
and your self belief is a bit shaky, try visualising what is going to
happen before you do it. But – here’s the important thing – visualise
it all going perfectly well, exactly as you want it to happen. Don’t
start imagining all the things that could go wrong! So, for example,
if you have a driving test coming up, visualise the whole thing from
start to finish. From getting in the car, to doing up the seat belt,
turning on the ignition and driving smoothly and confidently down the
road. See it all the way through to the instructor telling you that
you’ve passed! When you come to do it for real, your mind will feel
like it’s been there and done it before.
Find your triggers
Music and imagery can be powerful triggers in helping to boost our
self belief. You might have seen athletes during the Olympics
listening to songs on their headphones just before they embarked on
their event, and I’ve read that many of them choose specific songs
designed to train their mindset. I’ve tried this with my running and
I’ve found that songs with inspirational lyrics or energising beats
can really give me a boost. Similarly, when I decided that I wanted to
go travelling, I cut out pictures of all the places I wanted to go to
and stuck them on my wall as a constant reminder. It focused my mind
and made me even more determined that I would get to those places.
Lastly, ban words such as ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ from your vocabulary.
Next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t do this”, take a pause
and tell yourself that you can. To quote from one of my favourite
‘trigger’ songs: “You can do anything that you set your mind to.”