Willpower. Discipline. Resolve. These are words that are synonymous with losing weight. They are also words that carry a lot of weight. It may seem intimidating when starting down a path of change, but know that you are not alone. Even Olympians need help in finding their focus.
In the reality of everyday life, it’s easy to get sidetracked from your goals. But with the right set of tools, anyone can stay in tune with where they are now and where they want to be tomorrow.
Olympians have years of hard training before the games become a reality. To stay focused on an event that is four or more years away, many athletes take to journaling.
Here’s how you can do it: Grab a pen or pencil and something to write on and give yourself at least 10 minutes every morning to write down your long-term and short-term goals. At the end of the day, write down what actions you took to accomplish those goals.
Long-term goal: To lose 30 lbs and run 3 miles straight.
Short-term goal: To eat healthy food all day and walk 1 mile today (and every day this week.)
Daily Record: I ate three healthy meals and snacked on fruit. I ate half a donut today at work, but stopped myself from eating the whole thing. I was hungry mid-morning and hadn’t brought anything healthy to snack on, so the temptation was too easy. I went to the grocery store during lunch and bought some apples to keep at my desk. I walked for 20 minutes after work and I’m not sure how far that was. I need to measure a route in my neighborhood that is at least a one-mile loop.
In this entry, two goals were recorded to remain focused on the achievement desired. The daily record showed the reality of decision making throughout the day. It’s an honest look at the good and not-so-good choices that were made. There is also a note about two obstacles found: not knowing how far the walking route was and not having healthy snacks on hand. By identifying your daily obstacles, you will set yourself up to take another positive step in the right direction tomorrow.
Olympic athletes visualize their goals. They see themselves winning, beating a record time or pulling off a high-risk trick before they step onto the stage. This act internalizes the positive focus of performing at their personal best under any circumstances. You can do it too. Here’s how:
Create a collage with inspirational images and words that motivate you. This could include a person running or walking their dog. Write words that inspire you on the board like healthy, happy, and strong. Include any other imagery that makes you excited to make positive change for your body. Place this story board where you can see it several times a day and snap a picture of it on your phone. This way you can carry it with you while on the go. When you are out in the world and challenged by a choice, look at the photo on your phone or close your eyes and visualize your story board. Bring your mind back to focusing on your goals and not on old or bad habits.
According to Olympic sports psychologist, Joan Dahlkoetter, the three P’s of performance are positive images, power words and present focus. Here’s a breakdown of the P’s and how to incorporate them into your toolkit for finding focus.
Positive Images: Much like visualizing your achievements, picture yourself accomplishing the goals you want to attain. Instead of saying “I hope I don’t screw up today”, say “I’m doing great and making healthy choices.”
Power Words: Talk about what you want as if it is happening. This shapes your train of thought to see what it wants in real time. This is a great tool for sharpening your focus when you are in stressful situations. Say you’re asked out to a dinner meeting at a restaurant that serves your favorite giant pasta bowl. Instead of going into the situation thinking “I’m going to get off track” think “I’m having a great time with friends/clients/coworkers and I enjoy healthy eating.”
Present Focus: Concentrate on what is happening right now, because you can only work on right now. You can’t go back and fix the past. You can’t be certain of what’s ahead, but you can act for positive change in the present. This technique can also be used to help you move on from discouragement.
Find your Olympic-level focus by making time each day to state your goals, reflect on how the day went, visualize your success and stay present. Believe in yourself, use powerful, positive imagery and words to train your mind to think like a winner. And remember, when your mind is focused your body will follow.
What tips do you have for finding focus every day?
Author: Maggie Henderson