If I had to take a wild guess, the #1 single trait that almost all people would wish for, is to be more motivated to chase their dreams. I'm sure you'd agree that there's no better example of awe-inspiring motivation than the dedication of an Olympic athlete.
Recently The Atlantic listed 7 things that Olympic athletes do to keep themselves focused all the way to gold. I loved this because it shows that they are not superhuman or have any special powers that you or I don't have, they simply think differently and comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Here are a few techniques to improve your focus and concentration. They well help reignite your mojo on those days when your inspiration and motivation has worn off:
- Love—or at least accept—the grind
Studies of college-age swimmers and professional rugby players have shown that, more so than physical exhaustion or even defeat, the biggest factor in predicting burnout was the athlete’s own devaluation of the sport—caring about it less or attributing negative qualities to it.
Successful athletes were repeatedly described as being intrinsically motivated and “loving” their practice, not just their competitions.
- Be optimistic
Yes, it’s a cliche. But researchers interviewed 10 Olympic medalists and their coaches and all of the athletes and eight of the coaches described the athlete in question as being “optimistic/positive.” By comparison, only two of the athletes described themselves as “intelligent” and only four called themselves “organized.” Zero athletes called themselves nice.
You don’t have to be an especially pleasant, smart, or even detail-oriented person, it seems, as long as you’re irrepressibly Pollyanna-ish about your own abilities. Other studies have shown that an optimistic outlook helps Olympic athletes bounce back from defeat. Meanwhile, negative moods tend to hurt performance.
- Practice mindfulness
Olympic athletes have to be remarkably motivated in order to do what they do. Recently The Atlantic looked at some of the top-performing Olympians to see what motivates them. From the list: Mindfulness is loosely defined as the nonjudgmental focus of attention on an experience as it occurs. Some researchers think being mindful helps athletes achieve a state of flow, or feeling fully immersed in an activity.
Athletes who experienced flow said they felt time going by more quickly or a sense of effortless control. French swimmers at the national level told researchers that while competing, “I had the sensation of being in control of what I did, so everything seemed easier” or “I wasn’t aware of time anymore. Everything went very slowly at the beginning . . . and everything went so fast after.”
Elite golfers who had been trained in mindfulness techniques, such as greater awareness of breathing or accepting emotions without judgment, all increased their national rankings, compared with only two golfers in the control group.
Even though most of us will never be Olympic athletes, shooting for our goals and dreams sure can feel like an Olympic event at times. There's no denying that staying motivated and focused is damn hard work, but it is possible and it's absolutely worth it. Practicing positive self-talk, acknowledging what's going well, surrounding yourself with people who inspire and uplift you and continually moving your goals posts all go a long way towards achieving your target.
Get all seven motivational tips here and next time you're procrastinating or lacking motivation, use the lessons and the wisdom of Olympic athletes to motivate you to keep reaching for your dreams and turning what you once thought was impossible into the possible.