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The Power of Pink...and a Plan!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #118 – Watch or listen HERE.

I can’t let the month of October go by without a shout-out to remind all of my female readers or those of you who have a woman in your life that you want to keep healthy to follow breast cancer screening guidelines! At 32, out of the blue, I found myself in a club no one wants to be in.

Had I not listened to my body and had my first mammogram, I may not be writing this today.

But thanks to the great medical professionals at the Cleveland Clinic, a great plan and attitude, my goal of living to a healthy 100 is still in my sights!

I still remember sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of much older women who were talking about their mastectomies and prior mammograms. I was thinking “what am I doing here? I am as fit, strong and healthy as ever, this is craziness.”

But I knew. I knew before the results were back. I knew I was going to hear news I would not comprehend at first. I just knew.

The waiting is the hardest part, and your mind doesn’t go to the best-case scenario at first…that’s for sure!

So, to the doctor I went to get my results. He came in.

He started talking. He told me the results of my recent biopsy were malignant and he kept talking. Unfortunately, I stopped listening. He asked if I had any questions and left.

Fortunately, I snapped out of it and quickly went to the door and asked him to come back in so I could take notes to share this information with my loved ones…and so I could listen this time.

I gathered the info, left the office, got in the car to drive home and called my parents.

As I was driving, my dad answered, and I asked to talk with my mom. He was a bit worried, and it came out as a “caring” irritation and he said “why? What? What is going on?” in his best and not-so-nice coaching voice!

As I was telling my mom the news, I went into automatic action mode, kept driving, and finally realized that I was driving home, but I hadn’t lived in that home since leaving for college. I was driving to Akron, not Berea.

The months that followed were interesting, to say the least. They entailed trips all around the Cleveland Clinic, with as many as 5 appointments in one day where I lost 5 pounds by my last weigh-in (not enough water, too much walking or nervous energy…or their scales are off, not sure how that happened). I spent time sitting in the waiting room with people who were fighting for their lives.

It was overwhelming at times.

Then, the options came. What treatments would I take? What surgeries would I have? At the time, I remember wishing I was a kid so someone would just tell me what to do.

But that wasn’t going to happen.

I had to decide. I needed a plan.

And that was the turning point. Setting a plan helped me regain control. Setting a plan helped me maintain my attitude. It helped me manage my emotions and it guided my behavior.

It helped me keep things in perspective. It helped me make subsequent decisions with clarity and conviction.

It changed everything about my approach to dealing with my diagnosis and everything else that life threw at me during this time.

In times of stress, we don’t rise to occasions, we fall back on habits. This is why I was driving to Akron, to a house we didn’t even own anymore, as I explained the doctor’s notes to my mom. I was driving to a place I could drive to without conscious thought; a place that was comfortable and familiar.

We want to be comfortable. This is why I stopped listening as the doctor shared my diagnosis. Listening was not comfortable!

We want to stick with the familiar. We want structure. But sometimes, setting up our structure is scary.

How do we decide what is best? How do we decide what will help us succeed? How can we be SURE?

We all know we can’t be sure! Nothing is certain except death. It used to be death and taxes, but now it seems that depends on how rich and famous you are 😊!

No matter what we decide, we may not win. Variables may change. Circumstances may call for adjustments.

But, if we have a plan, we can better prepare ourselves for whatever comes.

When I decided to have a mastectomy, I knew that would reduce my chances for reoccurrence, but it wasn’t a guarantee and I had no idea how I would feel about it once it was a done deal. But once I made that decision and others for my treatment, I narrowed the list of unknowns and prepare accordingly.

This is not so different than what we do as we prepare to perform. There are always choices. As I was talking with one of my top-tier tennis players last night, she was explaining to me a series of frustrations in her last match. Her opponent had a kick serve that was riding up on her and her returns suffered. She explained that she had three options for her return. She could step up and take it before it kicked too much. She could step back and be patient on it until it fell into the sweets spot of her swing or she could manage it from her normal position and work to get it back over the net in the center of the court, taking some pace off if it and preparing for the next volley to set herself up to win the point.

We talked through each scenario and measured them against her strengths. She made her decision on how she will face this should she meet her again this weekend and then she went on to visualize her approach, priming her body and brain for the next time. She talked about what could go wrong and how she can adjust should new variables present themselves, but ultimately, she made a decision. She has a plan. She already feels more confident and comfortable looking to the future.

She doesn’t have to spend time worrying about how she will fix it or replay the frustrations in her head. The images she now sees are those of a well-played shot and who wouldn’t perform better with this picture in her head?

Whether we are facing a killer kick serve or an unwanted diagnosis, looking at options, comparing them to our strengths and making a plan can help keep us from falling into the overthinking/over analyzing state which is often our default in times of stress.

We must think to move forward! But too much thinking, continuously researching (this was me pre-decision), re-hashing, ruminating and catastrophizing only holds us back. It is very difficult to think and act at the same time. Case in point, try thinking about what you need to say next when you are actively sharing information with someone. You can’t talk and think ahead at the same time or you will stumble over your words in the present!

Sometimes we just need to decide on our plan of attack and commit to it. Second-guessing it in the middle of the play is certain to decrease our chances of success. Sure, we need to be able to adjust, but planning frees up that ability because we are ready to act…or adjust…not thinking about or second-guessing every step along the way!

To be our best, we must COMMIT BIG, ACT BIG and PLAY BIG, even if we want to drive to Akron and be comfortable. Because the truth is, what feels comfortable in times of stress will not be comfortable on the other side- then we will really second guess our actions…because they weren’t based on well-designed plans!

So, if you are 40 or over, decide now to schedule your mammogram. It may save your life.

In not-so-dire situations, check your options. Decide what works with your strengths, then make a plan and adjust as necessary. You will free up mental space to see and do more when variable change and opportunities arise!

Lastly, consider donating to support breast cancer research. One in eight of your players, your female family members or your player’s mothers (and maybe fathers) will be affected by this disease. Early detection is key! It saved my life! Make your plans now!

And before you go, read about how visualization helped me through my journey as well!

Manage the moments and have a great week!


P.S. Mental training tools make a difference. Contact me at any time to talk about how we can help your athletes through my 5 Minute Mindset™ program and customized team sessions to help them make the most out of the opportunities in front of them! Email me at or call/text 234-206-0946.

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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