Today is a great day. I get to work with three amazing teams and three really cool individual athletes. My days at this time of the year are busy because every day inches us closer to winter break and all of the craziness that the holiday season brings!
No matter who we are or whether our lives are dictated by an academic calendar or not, we all look forward to the break the holidays provide. And (most of us 😊) look forward to the festivities and family that make December the quickest month of the year (or so it seems to me!).
Along with all the celebrations, family and friends come changes to our daily routines.
This is the part of the season that gives college coaches pause! We send our players home and keep our fingers crossed that they follow the plans we so excitedly send home with them, so they come back from their break, whether it be 6 days or 6 weeks, as in shape and prepared as we sent them away!
Why do we take pause? Because our success depends on what we do each day....and we can't see what is going on...yikes!
There is no doubt that we all benefit from the joy and diversion from our normal daily routines during the holidays. But sometimes a change to our schedule changes our behaviors in not-so-helpful ways.
Like our college athletes, most of us have some sort of plan to stay on track with our goals through the holidays, but often run into so many other things that seem so much more fun than putting in the work!
As I tell my teams, it is possible to enjoy a break and still do the work to ensure we are our best when it’s time to perform!
Here are two simple ways to keep ourselves on track during the most wonderful, and craziest, time of the year!
In my session this morning with NIU Softball, I was reminded of the importance of keeping our VISION front and center. Our session’s focus was all about communication, giving and receiving feedback and the importance of our relationships in our ability to perform at our peak.
We talked about what keeps us from communicating effectively, how our responses to others build or deteriorate our relationships and how understanding each other helps us communicate better.
What better way to understand each other than to get a clear picture of what makes our teammates tick and why they do what they do?
We spent 30 minutes or so going around and listening to each other talk about why we love the game and sharing our visions. The vulnerability was powerful!
One athlete mentioned a conversation she had with her boyfriend in which he asked her if she even loved playing softball anymore! This question hit her hard. She realized she had been picking things apart and not enjoying her experience because she was so focused on outcomes that she did not see progress or her process.
Her vision? To put front and center her love for the game. She loves softball but her behaviors were not expressing that…at all!
Through this holiday season as well as in every day life, what do you need FRONT AND CENTER?
Do you need a VISUAL REMINDER of who you are so your behaviors reflect your VISION?
The adage “out of sight, out of mind” has been a part of our vernacular since the 1500s for a reason!
As things speed up, as pressure builds, as distractions mount, having your VISION RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU can help you do what you need to do and make time for those behaviors that scream “I am a ____________ and I will be ready to perform when called upon.” You fill in the blank!
Not the creative type that wants to build a vision board? (Canva has some awesome templates, by the way.) No need to be someone you’re not…one picture, one quote, one image of who you want to be or who you want to continue to be can do the trick!
Put your VISION board, picture, word or quote FRONT AND CENTER to remind you that performance is a behavior, and as Aristotle said centuries ago, “WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO!” We are not what we say we are or think about doing. We are what we do!
And I don’t know about you, but I do more with reminders!
My second suggestion to my teams is to write down ONE THING each day that you did to make yourself a better _______ (you fill in the blank). Even rest days can make us better. Experiencing something joyful can, too!
If we are going to get better, we must do things to make ourselves better. Keeping track of these things helps us stay on track and it can serve as an evidence journal, helping us feel more confident as we step up to perform. We can be confident because we did things to GET BETTER!
If there is a day you don’t do something to get better, be sure to follow it up with a day you do. The goal is to keep it to one missed opportunity (which is what each day is) so we are holding ourselves to task…and if we fall off the horse, we get right back on!
Both of these simple activities keep WHAT WE WANT front and center. Put your VISION somewhere you can SEE IT! Seeing is part of vision, right? And when we write things down, we gain clarity and imprint it even more intentionally into our memory!
The last thing I will add is this. When you do things to make yourself better, celebrate them!
When pressure comes, our brain searches our memory for past experiences to help us cope. Since our memories are so tightly tied to emotion, we need to intentionally add emotion to the good things we do. Think about your most vivid memories…I bet they are of the great things and the worst things that have happened to you!
We automatically add emotion to things that embarrass us, frustrate us or disappoint us. We move right past the good things that happen to us or those good things we do…like doing the work to get better. We think “That is what I am supposed to do” and move on.
Realizing we made the CHOICE to get better and celebrating that with a fist pump, a little clap or a “that a girl” to ourselves adds that emotion that gives the good stuff a chance against the emotion-filled frustrations when we need an experience to draw upon.
If nothing else, it sends good chemicals to our brains and makes us feel better! That in itself is a win!
What’s your VISION? How will you ensure your behaviors match WHAT YOU WANT as the craziness comes to town?
Plan it. Post it. Prioritize it and you’ll head into 2024 better than you left 2023!
Manage the excitement of the season and your goals…moment by moment!
P.S. We all need tools to help us be our best. Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at email@example.com and get on my schedule as you wrap up fall and look ahead to the next phase of the season!
Mental Performance Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org • 234-206-0946