Mena Tea Garden.jpg

Today is one of these days: it's super sunny and warm outside, I still have piles of work lying in front of me, just finished a course in a gym (indoor), have some more annoying phone calls to do – and all in all, I find it hard to motivate myself. Instead, I'd love to be climbing or hiking outdoors right now or read a good book while chilling in the sun. Of course it's not always like that, mostly I love what I'm doing and I'm motivated to get things done. But like everyone, I have "days like this". 

How can I get out of my negative mindset?

1. What do I want? What's my goal? Where do I want to head to?

Asking myself these questions and answering them for myself puts a structure into my thoughts. In a further step, I also have to ask myself WHY do I want this? WHY is this important to me? All of a sudden, I have a goal I want to achieve, something I look forward to – something that makes all the hard work before worth-while. What also helps is putting yourself in the situation of having achieved your goal – what will this feel like? What thoughts will come to your mind?

2. How do I get there?

However, having a clear goal doesn't mean we actually achieve it. I love the association with hiking up a mountain – to reach your goal, to reach the top of the mountain – you have a long hike in front of you. It might not always be easy or comfortable and sometimes you might think about "turning around" and giving up, but the more we are aware of the "path" and process in advance, the better we will be able to handle the hike. A trick for how to deal with these "steep ascents" is setting intermediate goals. Such intermediate goals can relate to the next training you have and for which you find it hard to get motivated. It can concern upcoming competitions or mid-term training goals. Every journey begins with a first step (Konfuzius). Ask yourself, what does the first step look like that you need to take in order to reach your goal? What has kept you so far from doing this "first step"? And why is this "first step" important for you and reaching your goals? What are the positive consequences and what will you feel like after this "first step"?

Every journey begins with a first step. Konfuzius

3. Appreciate the small steps

Improving your performance is not something that changes over night. Becoming better and getting closer towards your goals is often not visible at a first glance. Changes take a lot time and effort. So first of all, be patient! Acknowledge little steps and little improvements! 

4. Recognise time killers and work on your improvements!

Part of setting intermediate goals is recognising what can be improved in your current schedule. Where do you lose a lot of time? How can you improve your time schedule? Write down all these things and find solutions for your current "time killers".

So, how did I overcome my negative mindset? I'll give you a personal example.

A few weeks ago, we booked our climbing holiday in Rocklands, South Africa. I'm very much looking forward to this – I love bouldering, I love travelling, I love these landscapes, this type of rock with its orange shades, the food is great ("Why is this important?"). My goal is to climb as much and as good as possible. I have several lines I want to project and, in a second step, climb there ("What's my goal?"). Thinking of Rocklands, I get very excited and happy. I went there 1,5 years ago for the first time and absolutely loved it. Just the thought of going there again, fulfils me with joy and happiness ("What does this feel like?"). Obviously, I can only go on a holiday if I work hard before and earn money ("intermediate goals: doing a good job before as a sport psychologist"). So, what does my first step look like which I need to take in order to reach my goal? My first step – for today – is to structure the things I still need to do and the things I want to do, which works best for me by writing a to-do list: What do I need to do? What else needs to get done? Am I already prepared for my upcoming jobs? Another intermediate goal is to train hard in order to be fit for Rocklands. My first step for this goal is making time for training. If I fulfil all my tasks and to-do's for sport psychology in time today, I have enough time to go climbing afterwards. I know that when I had a good training, I'm full of endorphins and happy I pushed myself ("What are the positive consequences? What will you feel like after this "first step"?"). Even if it's hard to push myself today, I know that it will feel worth-while afterwards and I will be proud of having been able to push myself. The reason why I haven't done this first step yet today? Well, I felt tired and the weather has been too nice to be inside. If I think of it – well, I can't control the weather, but what I can control is my attitude. I know that even if training doesn't go as well as on my "best days", every step brings me further towards my goals and just having been able to push myself when I felt shitty in the morning will be rewarding. Last but not least, my biggest time killers: my phone and computer. So I put my phone on airplane mode now to not be distracted during my work. 

P.S. It wasn't my "best" day but it turned out way better than I originally thought it would. I did my best to turn it into a good day. In hindsight, I look back with a smile. Maybe it wasn't that bad after all...

How do you overcome your "bad days"?