When we think about an athlete we often picture the person in motion, the sweat, the muscles, the physicality. What we don’t necessarily put our attention to is the thought processes that bring the athlete to life, their mindset, the way they approach the world, the discipline, the strategies they implement over time. Mindset is the secret ingredient that sets athletes apart.
In essence, I see mindset as the hunger you have inside, the drive that pushes you to want to be more, a better version of yourself. But hunger only comes when there’s a dream to chase. Part of developing an athletic mindset is defining this dream so it that becomes your promise of the future.
To break mindset down into its own elements, think of it as having an internal core and an external shell. The mindset of your inner core is the way you see the world, the way you talk to yourself, the questions you ask and the decisions you make in order to feed your hunger. The mindset of your outer shell is how you interact and influence your environment to pull you closer towards your dreams. This external layer is the space where you use resources to support you through your journey.
To help people develop the mindset of an athlete, I use a 4-point framework.
Step 1 – Dream your promise
Defining your promise means taking your life into your own hands, allowing yourself to dream all possibilities and deciding who you want to become. This promise has to be big and scary enough to give you a reason to get out of bed, to desire and inspire meaningful change. Time to dream. Grab a fresh piece of paper and write down the qualities of the future version of yourself. What is your promise? What is possible? Who do you want to be? Stick it on the wall and look at it every day.
Step 2 – Work on your Inner Dialogue
Paying attention to what goes on between your ears helps you understand how you approach life and what you need to nurture, change or let go of in order to fulfil your promise. Ask yourself, what perceptions and beliefs you carry that can stop you from becoming your best version. Do you tell yourself you don’t have the time, you’re too old, too tired, not good enough: these thoughts stop you in the tracks. What is the one thing you can let go of right now to bring about change? What can you tell yourself to feed your inner hunger?
Step 3 – Declutter your environment
What you surround yourself with is your proximity, a reflection of who you are. You can use your environment to help you fuel your athletic mindset and inspire who you are becoming. Think about who and what is around you: are the people in your life helping you in your quest? Do they keep you accountable and cheer you on? And is your home a space that fuels distractions or inspires change? Working on your environment means decluttering, creating your A team and filling your proximity with photos, quotes, books and objects that remind you of your promise.
Step 4 – Master your time
Rituals and routines are the bread and butter of the athletic mindset. Deliberately bringing organisation into your life means being the master of your time, creating a structure that keeps bringing you back to what is important. Sticking to a routine promotes discipline and consistency. When you write down your rituals and routine, remember to carve out time to celebrate the breakthroughs and acknowledge the hard work, realising you are one step closer to your promise.
Those who develop an athletic mindset are on a trajectory towards their dream future. They can see options, think possibilities, apply their strategies and are more equipped to deal with whatever life throws at them. However remember, only you know what works best for you! There is no magic formula. Some of us are more drawn to the inner core, masters of the internal dialogue, whilst others are more inspired by the external, they thrive on words of encouragement from a mentor or support from a friend. It is important to go with your strengths and inclinations and lean in on what resonates and makes you hungry for more.
Written by Brett Lillie.
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