Do you have big dreams and goals you want to achieve? How much work is required to achieve these goals?
Excellence and becoming a champion require hard work. You must master your skills by engaging in quality practice and staying committed to your goals, and then perform at your best by letting your subconscious mind take over.
Here’s how to achieve your dreams and goals, according to How Champions Think by Bob Rotella.
1. Engage in Quality Practice
You can’t learn how to achieve your dreams and goals through wishful thinking alone. To turn your dreams into reality, you must put in quality practice to develop your skills.
Rotella describes several methods for practicing your skills:
1) Create a training plan. Rotella suggests you break down your ultimate dream into realistic goals that you can pursue daily. You’ll then not only have a practical roadmap to follow, but also a way to measure and take satisfaction in your progress. Your plan will differ depending on your aspirations, but it should lay out actions you’ll do to improve and progress to your ultimate goal. For example, if you want to run a marathon, your process might involve finding a coach, following a training program, and setting frequent goals, such as how many miles you plan to run each day.
2) Practice smarter. Although developing a training plan is vital for success, Rotella writes that it’s not enough in the long-term—you must not only practice your skills diligently, but also strategically. Don’t sink energy and time into inefficient study or practice. Instead, evaluate your practice approach: Consider how you can best challenge yourself and strengthen your skills in a way that best translates to the real-world scenarios you’ll face. For example, if you’re preparing for a test, you could quiz yourself with flashcards or ask your teacher for extra worksheets instead of spending hours memorizing facts.
3) Watch the competition. By assessing your competitors and the standards of your field, you can get ideas of how to practice and prepare more effectively. Rotella suggests you compare yourself to people similar to you in skill level and be mindful of what they’re doing. For instance, if they’re practicing four hours a day and you only practice one hour, you should find a way to practice more effectively or put in more hours.
2. Boost Your Commitment
Once you have a training plan to follow, you must adopt a relentless commitment to your goal that drives you to invest more time and effort into honing your skills than others do. Commitment means you work steadily toward your goals and are willing to make sacrifices for them.
According to Rotella, there are a number of ways to boost your commitment to your goals.
1) Reflect on what you enjoy about your craft. It’s easier to be committed to your skill when you’re passionate about it. But, according to Rotella, many people struggle with how to stay passionate. This can happen for a number of reasons—they may encounter a lot of rejection or feel like they’re not improving, for instance. To renew your passion, Rotella suggests you regularly remind yourself about what you enjoy about the work or activity you do.
2) Create good habits. Replacing bad habits with good habits can help you stay committed to your goals. Habits are unthinking behaviors that don’t require willpower. Rotella explains that all habits begin with a cue—something that triggers you to do a certain action. To replace a bad habit, you must recognize the cue and consciously respond differently to it. For instance, finishing dinner might be a cue for you to plop onto your couch for the rest of the night. If you want to work on your novel instead, you must create a new response to the cue. Instead of going straight to the couch after dinner, you might force yourself to go straight to your writing desk.
3. Let Your Subconscious Mind Take Over
When it’s time to put your skills to the test, you may feel pressure and nerves you didn’t feel when you were training. To prevent your emotions and thoughts from interfering with your performance, you must quiet your conscious mind, trust in your training, and let your subconscious mind take over. Rotella explains that your conscious mind hijacks your brain with unhelpful thoughts such as doubts or worries that break up your natural flow. When your subconscious mind is in control, you can focus on your task, stay in the present moment, and maintain your composure after victories and mistakes.
To activate your subconscious, detach yourself emotionally from the outcome of the event and focus on the present moment. Rotella suggests you approach the situation as if you were doing something you don’t care about. For example, if you’re performing at a piano recital, imagine that you’re only singing karaoke with your friends. When you remove the stakes, you can focus on applying your skills rather than worrying about how well you’re doing. You should only judge how well you did later, Rotella writes, as immediate judgment will only interfere with your current performance.
Rotella advises that another way to tap into your subconscious is by smiling. Whether you’re facing down a business presentation, a sports match, or a college exam, smiling relaxes your brain and allows your subconscious mind to take over so that you fully trust your abilities and allow the quality of your training to shine through. In contrast, frowning engages your conscious mind, which makes you doubtful of yourself and your abilities.