I will just start by saying that this week has been incredible. I don’t think that I have felt stronger in any previous week during this process, which I find surprising. I always thought it would get more difficult and more unbearable every week I drew closer to competition day, but that has not been the case at all. I read a book which quoted an ultrarunner as saying, “It never always gets worse.” It took me a while to make sense of that saying, but I understand it completely now.
So, last week, I was sinking into doubt and negativity. I didn’t think I was where I should be and didn’t think it was possible for me to be “ready” by the show. I was super stressed out and worried and scared. I was actually in tears on Sunday when I came back from posing class. It was the first time I had posed in an actual figure suit, and it threw me off completely. I lost my confidence, I lost my stage swagger, and I practically forgot everything I had learned about the basics of posing. I was a neurotic mess!
Luckily, my Applied Sport Psychology I class came to rescue yet again. We are studying goal-setting right now. I have learned that there are three types of goals:
- Outcome goals – overall outcome that is related to how you perform compared to your competition (i.e. winning a figure competition)
- Performance goals – personal outcome that is related your current performance compared to your past performance (i.e. increasing your one rep max by 20 lbs)
- Process goals – form and strategy tasks that are usually repeated frequently or daily (i.e. recording your daily food intake or following a supplementation plan)
The interesting thing is, it’s not the outcome goals that keep you motivated. It’s primarily the process goals, and to a lesser degree the performance goals. I realized I had shifted my focus to the outcome goal (how I’m going to do at the competition) and had lost sight of the process and performance goals that will help keep me motivated during the final 4 weeks before the show. So, I created a goal worksheet for myself.
Part I was a mission statement. It sounds hokey, I know, but it is important to create a frame of reference to evaluate whether your behaviors and attitudes are aligned with what you want to accomplish. I plagiarized mine from sayings I’ve seen elsewhere, but my mission statement reads:
Competition or no competition, I always work hard. I enjoy the process, know it takes time, and do my best every day. I don’t make excuses and I don’t accept limitations. I believe that I am capable of achieving anything. I never give up.
Next, I set three outcome goals for myself – a short-term (next 30 days), moderate-term (next 6 months), and long-term (next 2 years). My short-term goal outcome goal is to strut my stuff on stage in the best shape of my life and project more confidence and stage presence than any other competitor.
Performance goals related to my short-term outcome goal came next. Some examples of my performance goals include: burning at least 3,000 calories per week through working out until show day and hitting my competition goal weight of 108 lbs.
Finally came my process goals, all of which are daily until the show. Some of them include practicing posing for at least 15 minutes every day, burning at least 500 calories every training day, and measuring and/or weighing everything I eat every day.
This goal worksheet is now hanging in my bathroom next the mirror underneath a picture of my trainer and Figure Olympia Champion, Nicole Wilkins. Writing your goals down and then putting them in a drawer never to be seen again won’t do you any good. You need to put them some place where you will see them daily.
Something kind of magical happened after I wrote down my goals. The next day, I felt awesome and had a great morning workout – and guess what? In my first workout of two that day, I had already hit my 500 calorie goal. Every single day this week, I have blown past my 500 calorie per day goal, which had happened inconsistently at best up until this week. I strongly believe that when you are clear about your intentions, it is much easier to follow through on them. And when I say clear, I mean written down – not just in your head as thoughts. To borrow a saying from sports psychology, “ink it, don’t think it!”
Although I was skeptical at first, I really do see the value now in goal-planning. It reminds me of what I am working toward – in the long run, in the short-term, and even for that day. It provides a road map for how I plan to get there. If you decided to go on a road trip and drive from here to New York City, you would get directions and an itinerary, right? You wouldn’t just start driving aimlessly and hope you eventually end up where you want to go. Achieving goals works the same way – you need a road map/game plan/whatever you want to call it.
This type of goal-setting strategy has far broader applications than just sports. You can use it for any kind of goal.
Think about it – what would your mission statement be? Do you have clear goals set for yourself and a plan on how to get there? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, I encourage you to give it some thought. It’s been a huge help to me already!