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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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