Imagine yourself actually achieving your goals. Standing on top of a podium, starting a business, attaining a leadership role, building that dream house, or whatever cool $#%+ you dream about. What’s that look like? What’s that feel like? If you’re like me, these thoughts make me giddy – and also anxious, nervous, and a little manic. But truth be told, I don’t do this mental exercise nearly enough!
It’s tough. We work hard, we toil, we get into what we’re doing. We’re comfortable and feel safe in the role that we play at our job, or at our league basketball games, or in our neighborhood and among peers. And sometimes it’s can be hard to express our dreams to others (hey, that’s crazy) or take real steps to achieve them (leave the comfort zone).
But, as you probably know, those that choose to put in the work, who take the first steps down that path, and who can overcome the mental hurdles are the ones we usually look up to in the end. These are the elite in life, right? The successful (overnight, ha) business mogul. The rookie tailback sensation. The young guy with the hot car and the speedboat who moved into the nice house at the top of the hill.
Sports psychologists figured out that doing mental exercises to envision yourself achieving success or performing at your highest level goes a long way towards your actual performance. Yes, beyond training your body, you can train your mind. How do you think a pro baseball player stands in there at the plate without hyperventilating in front of 50,000 fans as he faces a hotshot pitcher hurling a 100 mph fastball with a full count in the bottom of the ninth?
Yes, pro athletes have the luxury of having many coaches, access to chefs and nutritionists, and all the perks of sports psychologists and more. So, how can you possibly become elite if you’re a weekend warrior with no hopes of getting drafted unless they build a time machine and even with that…?
Well, more often than not, being elite is a mindset not a physical trait. And greatness isn’t luck. One of the best axioms about this is the saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” This is proven time and again. No one is an overnight sensation. No one is an instant success. It takes work. It takes courage. And most importantly, yes, it takes focus, drive, and the energy to maintain your quest while your body and mind go through all the processes of strengthening, growing, learning, and synthesizing.
And so, I find myself grinding constantly to achieve my elite status in life. It’s earned. A handful of years ago, people would say I was an elite endurance athlete. Stood on the podium a number of times. Competed against the best in the world. It was awesome and something of a dream come true because I think most if not all of us imagine ourselves being a pro athlete.
To train for a huge ultra-endurance race several years ago — the World Championships of Adventure Racing, actually — I had to do some pretty outside the lines stuff. The race was to take place in the rugged, high-altitude mountains of Wyoming. But I lived (and still live) in flat (and ugly, if I must say) low-altitude city of Dallas, TX. So how in the world was I going to prepare for a race that was several hundred miles of trekking, biking, and paddling in the mountains?
Well, from years of learning, training, and synthesizing, I understood that if I could stress my body in extra-ordinary ways, I could simulate the stress of being at altitude. How so? Well, in Texas, we’ve got heat. Lots of it. Smothering, muggy stuff that makes you think about putting on oven mitts when opening the door to the outside. But that’s what I did nearly every day for a few months. No, not put on oven mitts but actually opened the door and went outside to train. And not at random times: right smack in the middle of the afternoon, just when the sun was set to ‘Broil’. And I’d go ride my bike or run for an hour. Or two. Or three.
Yeah. Crazy. But it worked! Now, I had to also similarly train my mind to have the mindset that I could handle the real-deal altitude of Wyoming along with the real-deal steeps. And this was as important if not more so. Thankfully, yes, I was on board with Mdrive at the time and can honestly say it’s been part of a regiment that helps me push my boundaries in all aspects.
So I challenge you to really envision yourself achieving your goals. Imagining what happens ‘next’ as they say. If you can put a plan together or just prepare yourself for when you do succeed, you’ll not only be motivated to push harder and further along the way (it becomes more tangible!) but you’ll also most likely find some new things will open up in believing what you’re capable of.
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