Achieving Your Goals like an Olympic Athlete
February 15th, 2014
I’ve always loved the spirit of the Olympics and have already seen so many amazing stories come out of the 2014 Olympics. Despite some controversies, I’m focussing on the athletes and the incredible training and determination that has made them the best in the world. There is something so inspiring about people who push themselves to the limit physically and mentally.
While there is no question that genetics plays a role in becoming an Olympian, it also takes perseverance, a laser-like focus, a support team and a commitment to your goals. The rules athletes follow to achieve success can be followed by anyone to achieve their own goals.
Olympic Athlete’s Guide to Achieving Your Goals
Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.
– Bo Jackson. (The only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports.)
Nobody gets to the Olympics by accident. Everyone there has set a high goal for themselves that they worked relentlessly to pursue. If they had made a smaller goal, they may not have worked as hard or pushed themselves as much.
The Lesson: Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and dream big.
Have a Laser-Like Focus
Athletes are extremists. When they’re training, it’s laser focus.
– Hope Solo (Two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer)
For the most part, athletes only focus on one sport. Becoming world-class means that you must become the best at your chosen sport or profession. Many Olympians are great athletes and could do very well in other sports but the only way to get to the highest level of performance is to focus on one area.
The Lesson: Pick one area to excel in and direct your focus to becoming the best in your field.
Choose Quality over Quantity
Athletes are selective in the events they compete in. Athletes like runners could run a race every weekend but instead choose to conserve their energy and focus on key events. They choose to focus on quality over quantity. Instead of trying to win multiple events, they focus on the ones with the biggest return on investment. For you this might mean trying to land a bigger account rather than chasing dozens of smaller accounts.
The Lesson: Don’t be satisfied with multiple small wins, channel your energy into high-value activities.
Learn from Others
All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.
– Bill McCartney (Former Football player and coach)
Athletes study past Olympians to see their techniques and strategies. They have coaches who impart their own experience and can give a second opinion. While they must put in the work, they often rely on someone else to schedule their training and give them realistic goals to work towards.
The Lesson: Study successful people who you want to emulate and consider hiring a business coach, mentor or joining a networking group.
Find Something You Love
“The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.”
– Peggy Fleming, (Gold medalist in figure skating in 1968)
While the training may be gruelling, athletes know they are lucky to be able to pursue their athletic goals full-time. While they may not love every single minute of training, overall they have a deep passion for their chosen sport. I don’t think there is anybody who could push themselves as hard as Olympic athletes do for something they didn’t absolutely love.
The Lesson: Pursue something you love and will make all the hard work worth it.
Strengthen Yourself Mentally
“All the physical comes from the mental.”
-Clara Hughes, (Six time gold nedalist)
Top-level athletes have very similar physical strengths. What often separates the top of the podium from the other finishers is their mental strength. This mental strength allows them to push past their physical limits and allows them to focus solely on their task at hand.
The Lesson: Practice willpower, concentration and perseverance to become strong mentally.
Learn to Compete With Yourself
“This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows.”
–Olga Korbut, (USSR gold medalist in gymnastics)
Athletes cannot control their competitor’s training, the conditions or the judges’ decisions. The only thing they can control is the work they put into the event and try every day to be better than they were yesterday. Rather than focussing on things out of their control, they put their focus on training themselves to be the best they can be.
The Lesson: Focus on the things you can control so you are prepared when opportunity knocks.
“I have been visualizing myself every night for the past four years standing on the podium having the gold placed around my neck.”
Kieren Perkins, (Two-time Gold Medal Winner in 1500-metre freestyle)
Many athletes use visualization to help them achieve success. They mentally practice and visualize their upcoming event. They also envision themselves atop of the podium so they can truly believe it is possible. Before a difficult surgery, I’ve used visualization to practice the steps in my mind.
The Lesson: Picture yourself after you’ve achieved success so you have more faith in yourself and so you can see what steps you need to get there.
Preparation is Key
It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.
– Paul “Bear” Bryant (Former Football player and coach)
Athletes train for years for a few minutes or even seconds in the spotlight. Getting to the Olympics takes countless of hours of hard work, sweat and preparation. It is those moments at 5 in the morning, training alone that make a champion. In addition to sport-specific training, athletes must carefully monitor their nutrition, sleep habits and cross-train to be as strong as possible.
The Lesson: Break down your big goal into small daily habits that will propel you to success.
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