Summer is now here and your OCR season is likely in full swing. You’ve no doubt raced a couple of times, with plans you put in place over the winter paying off, or you’re sitting regretting that extra drink the night before that ‘A’ or ‘B’ race you’ve been working towards.
A common occurrence at this time in the season is a feeling of ‘I’m not where I want to be!’ – this state where even executing your training, nutrition and recovery plans to apparent perfection hasn’t brought about the results you had signposted at the beginning of your off-season.
Feelings of guilt, despair, what-more-can-I-possibly-do, anxiety, determination and everything in between accompany practical thoughts such as ‘the new irock 3s are definitely what’s missing’ or ‘I need a new coaching perspective’ as you seek the satisfaction and reward of achieving the goal you’ve set yourself.
But let me ask you this…have you ever considered that the biggest limiting factor to the success of achieving your goal might just be you and your thoughts around the goal itself?
Expectations – the 100ft barrier to achieving any goal
Without diligent thinking when setting a goal and a plan to get there, we often shoot ourselves in the foot before even taking a step forwards to achieving that goal.
Yes, analysis of past performances, comparisons to other athletes and an optimistic bias to what we believe we are capable of will help define how realistic that stretch goal might be to achieve. But when setting that goal, did you take a moment to manage your own expectations on achieving it?
One of the distinguishing features between top-level athletes and the rest in any sport is their ability to manage their expectations of themselves in pursuit of a goal, and routinely keep those expectations in check throughout their journey.
The best-of-the-best spend less time focusing on the goal itself, instead using that thoughtful energy into what they can control – how they show up to the big moments? What detail can they seek mastery of in their capabilities? What can they do not what do I want?
Always think forwards
There are two really simple ways in which you can knock expectations into touch, keeping you focused forwards and mindfully motivated towards achieving your goal.
The first is to adopt a mastery approach, instead of the goal-orientated approach you employed before. A mastery approach encourages you to be curious about the road ahead. You seek to experiment in training and racing to see what it teaches you about efficiency, speed and power. Mastery also focuses you on what could be done, what is or isn’t happening, thus always orientating you with a positive outlook on the road ahead.
The second way is to recognise that expectation is caused by your ego wanting some of your airtime – airtime that will not help you succeed. Saying to yourself ‘I behave in a way that has no expectations, other than to apply myself to the best of my capabilities’ can leave you with a strong sense of humility alongside the drive to apply yourself fully – a combination that has delivered success over and over again.
So, next time you set yourself a goal, take some time to manage expectation by adopting a mastery approach, and be curious about what the future can teach you – you may surprise yourself with what is possible.