The Mental Game of Winning
Fitness, Figure, Bodybuilding, Bikini Competitors
(applicable to other sports as well)
Every competitor has the goal of winning a competition. The problem is, only one athlete walks away with the overall title. So how do you make sure that every competition you enter, you win? One way to make sure you win is to set up a variety of goals. I like to have the goal of winning, obviously, but I also like to include goals that are within my control.
One of the greatest boosts to self-confidence for sport is feeling like you have control over your process. I like to set goals for my level of conditioning, communication with others during contest prep, mental skill that I want to work on, level of focus in my workouts, feeling joyful about the process, eating my meals on schedule daily, weekly and monthly and more. All of these goals we have control over.
When we feel in control of our process, we get to win every day! The outcome of the competition is almost irrelevant, but I have never had a good journey that did not have a good ending. Creating goals throughout the competition process, whether that be for three months or six months, is a great way to enjoy and win every step of the way. At the end of the day, we are challenging ourselves to become a better version of who we are. That does not get measured for twelve weeks, it only gets measured one time, on one day. Here are some ideas for setting winning goals
Setting Winning Goals
1. Set Outcome Goals: An outcome goal is the result of your efforts. The most popular outcome goal for competitors is to win. I like to make other outcome goals such as surpassing the level of conditioning I was at in previous competitions. Sometimes I like to make outcome goals of meeting a certain amount of competitors at the show that I connect with. Outcome goals are the easiest to set, but keep in mind there are other outcomes to measure besides winning. Shorter range outcome goals include hitting target weight, measurement and body fat markers, being able to do a certain amount of cardio, having a specific amount of strength and endurance for your workout. Most outcome goals can be measured by, you guessed it, the outcome.
2. Set Performance Goals: Much of our performance is in the gym, therefore our pre-performance is very important. Eating our food on schedule, taking our supplements, and drinking the proper amount of water each day are all performance goals so to speak. We have an interesting sport that unlike many others, needs to be thought about throughout the day in order to create success. When we set and meet goals of eating our food on schedule, not skipping meals or snacking, this is the foundation for creating the physique of a champion. We will not get to our outcome if we do not have this setup. I like to make daily and weekly goals for how many workouts I will do, how many cardio sessions, as well as when or if I will have a treat meal. Other performance goals include contest day, how you will do on stage, which can also be broken down into smaller daily and weekly goals.
3. Set Procedural Goals: Procedural goals are perhaps the most overlooked goals. In our sport it is important for our shape to have a certain look to it, for that reason, it is important to create goals within our training that change the process of the workout in order to hit the muscle more effectively. I spend a lot of time with my clients viewing videos of their form, to make sure that not just the exercise is being done, but it is also being done in such a way as to maximize the look of the muscle. This is one example of a procedural goal. There is also a most effective breathing that goes with the workout depending on what you are doing, you can set goals very specific in this way to improve your effectiveness in the gym. It seems micromanaging, but it really is the difference that makes a difference. Everybody works out, but at the end of the day it is how you go about doing it, that matters.
4. Set Short, Medium and Long-Term Goals: When goal setting, many athletes focus simply on the outcome of getting to the stage and winning, but they don’t consider the wins they can be creating every week and every day. Break your goals down into short, medium and long-term goals. For our sport, I find it useful to have daily goals, weekly goals and a long term competition goal. My daily goals will often include for example: 5 minutes of mindfulness, 40 minutes of AM cardio, weight workout, eating my meals on schedule, having a positive attitude, feeling grateful for the process. Those might be my goals for the day. When I nail down the mindfulness for example, I may add the next day 5 minutes of visualization and have different behavioral goals depending on how my day was before that. When I lay my head on my pillow at night and I know I have had a successful day based on my goals; that is a win! I get a trophy. Do that over and over each and every day and I can’t guarantee you will win, but I can guarantee, you will feel like a winner!
5. Visit Your Goals Often and Be Open to Change Them: Having the flexibility to change goals is as important as setting the goal itself. Most often I find we think that something will take less time than it actually does. Be open and flexible to change your show date, increase or decrease performance and process goals and to in general be flexible to re-assess to see if you are still on target for the date you have selected. Many athletes feel like a failure if they change the date of their show. Nonsense! If you need more time, create more time by re-adjusting your goals. There will always be another show, so why not move forward toward your goals with success every step of the way? Win every day!
I am sure you have thought of other goals to include. If you want, create a list of short, medium and long-term outcome, performance and process goals. Then pick the most important one to work on. Once you have mastered that, move on to the next goal, while keeping the previous goal in check. This is a fun way to have a good contest prep, not just for the day of the show, but for the entire journey.
Hanton, S., Mellalieu, S., & Williams, J. (2013). Understanding and managing stress in sport. In J.M. Williams & V. Krane (Eds.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (p. 207-234). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Pope-Rhodius, A. (2016, October 25). Lecture. JFKU
Robinson, S. (2016, October 25). Lecture. JFKU