World-class athletes know about the importance of mental preparation for success. Even when they are physically and technically on the same level as many of their competitors, what makes the difference is their mental preparation.
You too can benefit from the same strategies the athletes use to enhance your performances, in whatever arena you wish to perform in and improve your chances of success.
Are you are looking for that extra edge? Would you like to be even more successful than you already are? Would you like to have some simple and effective strategies that can help? Whether you are aiming for success in work, sports or life, using some basic mental preparation skills will make a big difference … so read on!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
This article will touch on the top three mental preparation skills that will make a difference to your success.
Visualize your outcome
Mental rehearsal, also referred to as visualization or mental imagery, has a very powerful effect on the results you achieve. By imagining what you want to achieve, by imagining what you will do to achieve that goal and imagining the best case scenario.
It is almost like you are pre-programming yourself for success.
Your brain does not distinguish between what is real or what is imagined, so imagine the best possibilities. Just to prove to you how your brain can react, how many of you have woken up in the middle of the night with your heart pounding and being on alert, all because of a dream?
Does your mouth ever water at the thought of eating a great meal? Have you ever reacted when a person has used a particular tone of voice with you?
All of these are regular commonplace reactions in the body that are simply the brain responding to imagined thoughts.
Take your performance situation
Such as a competition, a job interview or even a presentation. When you imagine yourself performing effectively, that things go smoothly and you are successful, you will help yourself when you get to the actual real event. Your brain will remember that you have ‘been there and done that’ so it knows what to do.
Additionally, this mental rehearsal will help to calm any nerves because you are about to do something that is familiar to you. You have already gone through the sequences of events, in your mind, so are familiar as to how you want and expect things to do.
Notice your thoughts
The words we say about ourselves and the thoughts we have can either help or they can hinder your performance. This internal dialogue is constantly going whether you are aware of it or not. To help you improve your chances of success, it pays to be mindful of what this internal dialogue is to ensure that it is always positive and supportive.
Start by paying attention to what things you say to yourself when you are about to perform. Again, this performance can be in any arena in your life where you want to be at your best. As you start noticing these thoughts, ask yourself whether they help or whether they hinder your ability to be at your best.
Often that negative critic can shout louder than the positive cheerleader and it is by noticing what is being said that you can turn down the volume of the negative critic and turn up the volume on the positive cheerleader.
With practice, you will become more aware of those negative thoughts and be able to either discard them because there is no real evidence or basis for them or turn them around so you can see things in a more positive light to help you succeed.
Become more mindful
Mindfulness is becoming an essential skill for all top-level performers as it helps to reduce stress, increase focus and boost clarity of thought. Developing the skill of mindfulness, like many of the other mental preparation skills, takes practice yet once developed can certainly contribute to successful outcomes.
According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad.” Effectively it is present moment awareness.
Everything that happened in the past or might happen in the future is of no concern.
When athletes become stressed, their ability to perform is reduced as is their ability to think clearly about what to do. This is where mistakes are often made. Have you ever experienced a time where you froze and didn’t know what to say or your mind went blank for something like a big exam, an important presentation or critical interview? What has happened is your body has been triggered into that ‘fight or flight’ stress response where survival is the only thing that matters.
Unfortunately that means that your mental abilities are compromised because they are not essential to survival.
By developing the skill of becoming mindful to what is present in the moment, rather than dwelling on the past or fearing the future, you help the body to lower that stress response. In doing so, you are helping yourself to calmly and clearly do what they want to do. You are helping yourself to think more clearly, logically and rationally and helping yourself to perform effectively.
Progress is perfection
All of these mental preparation skills take some practice yet they can make a big difference to your own success. I encourage you to spend some time practicing these skills to help improve your overall success.
Remember, it is not practice makes perfect, it is progress that makes perfection!
Connect here with Watchfit Expert Midgie Thompson
Psychology Today (2016) What is Mindfulness [online] <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness> [date accessed 29/06/2016]