Turning Big Dreams into Daily Habits
As a Mental Performance Coach, one of my favorite discussions with athletes is about their biggest dreams for their sport. It’s both exciting and inspiring to fantasize about the possibilities! How fast can I go? How far can I run? As runners, we tend to fixate on these high expectations for ourselves. While these types of goals can certainly enhance our motivation, they can also feel intimidating and distract our attention from where we need it most. Please don’t misunderstand me… I am a dreamer encouraging others to dream big and be optimistic about what you can accomplish! After all, that famous Les Brown quote tells us to “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land amongst the stars.” But we need to take these dreams a step further and consider whyyou want it and how you plan to get there.
We all have a why for these big dreams. I encourage you to reflect on this and truly understand what makes a goal or dream important to you. Personally, my why has always been to challenge myself so that I can inspire success in others. Every goal (e.g., time & place goals) I set or accomplishment (e.g., OTQ) I chase is me living out my why. When a marathon gets tough and the doubt begins creeping in, my why pulls my attention away from the discomfort and encourages me to focus on how I can help others during and after the race. It's bigger than me!
The why is important, but we also need to have the how. What can I do day in and day out to get closer to my goal(s)? Focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves. These process goals are simple (but not always easy) and mundane but they add up with weeks, months, and years of consistency. Try to set two process goals for each of the following areas of performance: physical, nutritional, and mental. These goals should be specific, 100% within your control, and simple actions you can repeat over time. While the process goals will vary depending on your race goals and any coaches you train with, here are a few of my personal examples:
Physical Process Goals
- Execute my coaches training plan each day by running the prescribed efforts in workouts and recovering on the easy runs.
- Spend at least 10 minutes per day foam rolling.
- Complete a running form drills routine 3 times per week.
Nutritional Process Goals
- Consume at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Center each meal around a high carb food (e.g., rice, pasta, potatoes).
- Cook at least 80% of meals at home.
Mental Process Goals
- Spend at least 5 minutes each day in mindfulness mediation.
- Maintain my training log and highlight my top workouts and races.
- Reflect at the end of each week on how I got closer to my goals.
Hopefully a few examples help get you started! As you read through the list, notice how I never used the words “don’t” or “not.” Every action is positive in direction, focused on what I should do rather than what I shouldn’t. Our brain tends to skip those words! For example, setting the goal “don’t run too fast” will likely have you thinking about “running too fast.” I think we are all guilty of that on easy days!
In summary, dream big and fantasize about all the possibilities! After setting these challenging, yet exciting goals, take it further by considering why you want them and how you will pursue them. These simple process goals often fall off our radar because they take time turn into results. It is easy to become impatient and stop doing something if you don’t see the direct benefits of that action. I can tell you that weeks, months, and years of consistently doing these simple actions will eventually flourish into great accomplishments! It takes discipline to get started, but eventually these actions turn into habits, and these habits turn into a way of life. Focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves!