Change Your Perspective for Optimal Performance

I bought a wetsuit this year.  I backed this with the mental justification that, instead of buying a membership to a pool where I’d still have to wear a mask in the building, and make swimming lane ‘reservations’ as if I was going to a top notch restaurant, a wet-suit would enable me to do open-water swimming.  This was a no-brainer for me because I absolutely LOVE open water swimming.  But, living here in Vermont, I realize that, unless you’re a polar bear, a wetsuit will be necessary if you want to get more than a few months of swimming outdoors.  

Then came the promise I made to myself: you’ll start your swimming at the beginning of May. You’ll make it to October.  Then that expensive rubber suit will be well worth the cash you’re fronting because you’re going to get at LEAST two extra months of swimming in. Awesome, I’m committed. Until May 1st came … and it was still snowing. 

My body temp runs a bit warm, but not warm enough to ‘willingly’ get into an ice cold body of water while snowflakes were still coming out of the sky.  But I was determined to get in that water.  I made a promise to myself and I was going to keep it.  It didn’t matter how long I was going to stay in that water, but I was getting in.  I was angry.  “Why the hell is it this cold in May!” The sun wasn’t out, but it wasn’t snowing and I knew that water was going to be cold.  

It didn’t disappoint.  

The wetsuit held up alright, but my hands and feet were numb and my face was freezing.  “This was a stupid idea! You’ll never get these cold water swims in.  Buying this suit was a waste!”  I barely made it 30 minutes before I left, disgruntled, disillusioned, and still kicking myself for buying the wetsuit.

May 7th.  The sun was out and the day was about 10 degrees warmer, but definitely not warm enough for beach balls and water skiing. I was swimming in a bigger body of water this time.  After what happened last week, I was having real reservations about even getting into my wetsuit let alone the water.  That inner critic was filling my head with the feelings of my numb hands and feet, and the pain I felt in my face from the cold water.   I marched down to the water as if I was going to prison.  The last thing I wanted to do was have an experience like I did last week, and here I was reliving it without even getting a toe in the water.  

I put my foot in.  It was REALLY cold. 

I was elated! 

Don’t get me wrong, the water was still freezing.  But it wasn’t what it was last week!   I could feel that inner critic subside as I started to actually believe that I was going to get a good swim in!  Was it possible that I could actually go past 30 minutes today?  The sun was out after all, and it had been a week.  As my perspective changed so did my energy.   I wouldn’t say I dove into the water carefree and brimming with joy over the temps, but I definitely felt a new surge of confidence . There was a smile on my face.  I had gotten the green light mentally … from myself.

In any situation that we find ourselves in our perspective is always just that: ours.  How we think about a situation determines how we feel about a situation.  How we feel about a situation can change our emotional state.  And our emotional state can provide a powerful catalyst to propel us forward or stop us in our tracks!

Here are a couple of suggestions to help you change your perspective, so you can change your performance!

  1. Stop thinking about what ‘should’ be – The number one killer of anyone’s performance is dismissing what is in front of you for what you think should be.  That water was freezing the first time in, and it didn’t get any warmer by feeding myself negative thoughts reinforcing what I wished the situation to be.  What it did do was create more aversion and a mental attitude that was self-defeating rather than performance-supporting.
  1. Bring in the gratitude – Showing real appreciation, even when you’re facing difficulties, can make a huge difference in whether or not you continue to make efforts towards your goals or leave them by the wayside.  Focus down in your mind and celebrate whatever you can find to be grateful for in the attempt you’re making at your goals. If you struggle to find something, practice being grateful for the lessons you learned from your previous attempt.
  1. Remember the ‘bigger picture’ –  Perfection is a fabrication, and nobody goes undefeated in their going after their goals … except those who never try at all.  Whether celebrating your ‘wins’ or dealing with ‘setbacks’, remember these experiences are part of your journey towards achieving your goal.  If you just started your efforts, think about the fact that you got the courage to start going after what you want.  Hold the long-term goal in mind and acknowledge that every step you take, regardless of how each step goes, it is bringing you closer to that goal.

Whatever endeavor you are going after, your perspective can hinder or enhance your performance.  Remember: how we think about a situation determines how we feel about a situation.  How we feel about a situation can change our emotional state.  And our emotional state can provide a powerful catalyst to propel us forward or stop us in our tracks!  Try these tips the next time you take action on your goal.  Share in the comments, below, how it goes; I’d love to hear!

If you would like help lessening your fear and anxiety, reaching your goals, breaking habits, or creating new ones, I’d love to work with you.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

Part 4: Find The Bullseye in Your Memory!

We’re not talking about darts or “X” marks the spot (no pirate’s treasure chest). The thing is, emotions are not just something to tray and govern when they come around by the off chance, they are something to cultivate! Positive emotions like confidence, joy, connection, or hope can fuel your efforts and strengthen your resolve when you decide to go after anything in your life. Visualization is a powerful method for cultivating the emotions you want in order to center yourself to succeed.

Just to give a quick review, over the past three blogs we’ve talked about the power of visualization to cultivate emotion for yourself, how to visualize our memories to get the emotions that we want, and how to use our imagination to enhance those memories, ‘boosting’ their potency to generate more of the emotions that we want. Finally, we left logic and reason behind, and decided to create emotions solely from our imagination! We learned to go after the feelings that we want, not judge ourselves for whatever imagery or whatever came up for us as long as it gave us the emotions we wanted. 

Over the years, the number one question I’ve gotten from people I’ve coached in doing any kind of emotional visualization exercise is always, “Where do I start?” You think there would be a simple answer, right? Some people start at the beginning of a memory, while others leave memory altogether and focus solely on visualization from their imagination. The thing is…

There’s no one right starting point when we are using visualization to create emotions within ourselves.  But, if you are choosing to visualize using a memory, the best place that I know to start is always the bullseye.

When we recall an event, the bullseye is the first thing that springs to mind for us from that memory. We remember it easily. It’s rich in detail, filled with vivid color, with sounds, and images that are strong and easily accessible. 

I have a fantastic memory of getting the game ball when I played highschool football, complete with my entire team standing up and cheering for me in the locker room, and my coach saying amazing things about me. Do you know where that memory’s bullseye is? It is when my hand grabbed the door of the locker room right before I entered the scene of the memory. That’s right. no cheers. No game ball. In fact, I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself at that moment because I thought I was just returning my pads and a helmet after having a season-ending injury during a football game. 

But, there was incredible emotional energy within me as I stood at that door. Every single time I think about this memory I always think about my hand grabbing that door handle. Then a flood of all the imagery, sounds, sights: friends shaking my hands, pats on the back, coach’s voice, the game ball in my hand…all of it comes. But it all starts with me remembering my hand on that door. 

Have you ever had someone tell you about a wonderful memory that they had where they met their spouse or their sweetheart, the incredible time that they had, and how it was one of the most important memories in their life? If you asked them what their bullseye was, what do you remember most, they would most likely say something like: it was waiting in the line at the airport to get their bags checked. 

A bullseye can come before, in the middle, or even at the end of your memory. You know it is the bullseye because it opens the flood of emotions that you’re seeking. A bull’s-eye is like a powder keg ready to explode and you, as the author of your memory, are brought right back to that very special moment and everything that happened every time. Let’s talk about how you find the bullseye for yourself in a memory that holds the emotions you are looking for. When you identify the bullseye, then you will have an easier time calling that memory to mind for yourself any time you want to tap the emotions it creates within you. 

Let’s Practice  

Find the bullseye in any memory to squeeze the most joy, connectedness, love,confidence, or any other awesome emotion for yourself as efficiently as you can!

Decide on the memory – When deciding on the memory, make sure that it’s going to give you the emotions you’re looking for. When you bring it up in your mind, the emotion(s) you want should be right there with it! You may have to try several memories out, and that’s normal.  Once you have the memory that’s giving you the emotion you want…

Focus on the first thing you thought of when you recalled that memory –  It may not have been an ‘all important’ part of the memory, but it’s your starting point! Don’t worry if it seems trivial, it’s just where you are going to pivot your focus from.  

Now do a 360 pivot of your memory – Two things are going to be able to allow you to get the most emotional charge from your memory. The importance you give it in your mind, and the length of time you are able to hold it! You want to be able to rewind, go forward, and basically take a 360 view of everything that has happened. The richer the detail the better! Dive deep into your five senses recalling sights, sounds, tastes, textures, smells, everything that surrounded you and was part of that memory. By doing this, you are filled with the emotions just as if what you were recalling was actually happening in the moment. This exercise enables you to step forward into whatever challenge you are facing with the emotional center that will help you succeed.

If you do any kind of meditation practice, it may be good to consider giving over five minutes of that practice to finding your bullseye and pivoting around it. If meditation isn’t your thing, no problem! Consider when you walk, exercise, take a shower, any time you have where you are alone and can focus down to bring up that memory’s bullseye, and develop its ability to give the emotions that will help you accomplish whatever is most important to you! 

If you would like help lessening your fear and anxiety, reaching your goals, breaking habits, or creating new ones, I’d love to work with you.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

Fail Your Way to Your Success

I’m caught in self-doubt. Anyone who has ever put themselves out there, done a new, more difficult, or challenging course has had that moment during their taper where their inner critic, that voice in their heads that judges them harshly, reminding them of all the mistakes, goofs, and blunders they’ve encounter over their training. 

The biggest mistake I made? On the longest training run, which was just last week, I failed to utilize that time on course to try all kinds of different foods (because, honestly, you want to have ‘choices’ in the culinary department when attempting 100 miles). I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m going to have self-doubt anyway.  I’m going to wonder if I did enough training, but at least I have my training log to reference.  But, during my run, when I felt my stomach go off around mile 30, instead of slowing down, focusing on my heart rate, and just trying some different foods and being ok with whatever happened, I stuck with what worked. Or, more truthfully…what didn’t.  “The foods I was eating at least weren’t making me throw up,” I thought to myself.  But honestly, the goal was not to run a 55 mile training run without throwing up. The goal was to accomplish the distance, try new foods and learn.  

I simply didn’t want to take the risk. To have things go from bad to worse.

So, I watched my time instead of my heart rate, ran through aid stations when I probably should’ve taken a seat for five minutes and tried a new food. I should’ve tried different things besides peanut butter and jelly, because that old standby was not working. I should not have an Ensure shake every single hour of those 11 hours of training when I knew that my stomach wasn’t a big fan of them at 10 miles in. Then why did I stick with what wasn’t working?  I didn’t want to try something and have it be worse.

One of the biggest obstacles that we face with any challenge is how we deal with making a mistake. Most of us will stick with something that we know isn’t working simply because it has been tried and tested and worked at a time before we changed what we were doing. The reason for this is simple:

Setbacks don’t feel good.

The shame of goofing up and answering a question wrong in front of others, the embarrassment of reaching for something out of your comfort zone and falling on your face…in the mud…while it’s raining. The self-judgment that goes along with publicly making a mistake or messing up in front of others, or even just ourselves, when we put ourselves out there doing anything and it doesn’t go well… It simply sucks. But, if we’re honest (which can be a tall order when wanting to make a change), are we really saving ourselves emotional pain by not putting ourselves out there? Avoiding change, allowing our goals to sit in the dark corners of our minds, unrealized, comes with a price. A price to what we pay for trying. That price is uncomfortability.

It is true that when you go after the things that are most important to you and you fall a little bit short it feels emotionally difficult. It can rob you of your confidence for a minute, or longer and cause you to self-question. But here’s a secret:

No one feels avoids uncomfortability when they don’t try either.

Your inner critic tries to tell you that if you just leave things the way they are that you will be better off. But, if you’re honest with yourself, aren’t you already feeling regret, or shame, or disappointment for not going after the things you want or trying to make the changes in your life that could lead you to greater success? Most of the time we’re already feeling regret, self-judgment, and fear of being stagnant in our lives.  The pain of allowing setbacks to permanently stop you from attempting what matters most to you can linger like a chronic, life-threatening disease that takes its victim only after years of ‘playing it safe’ has silenced their heart.  

I have one long run left to do next week. It’s a night run. I probably should’ve done more of them, but I’m going to make this one count. I’m going to practice with all kinds of food that might help me reach my goal of completing 100 miles. I’m sure some food won’t work out, and there is a very good chance I’ll be suffering from the mistakes I make along that training run. But a consistent effort that keeps my emotional heart beating is better than a flat line before I even walk on the course. So, I choose the uncomfortability that comes from the attempt, rather than apathy.