As an athlete, I constantly strive for progress. At training, if I am not moving forward, I'm moving backwards. If I hit a plateau or feel stagnant, it usually results in me losing motivation. So I do everything I can to find improvement everyday.
The secret is, however, that improvement or progress for me isn't about lifting 10kg heavier than yesterday, or adding an extra somersault or twist to my dives. Those goals are obviously unattainable and expecting large improvements over night simply sets you up for failure and disappointment.
The key for me, is going in to each training session with purpose, and wanting to get a sense that by the end of the day, I became a better athlete than I was yesterday. I have short and long-term goals that are the big picture of what I am working towards, but each day I reflect on something small I did really well to ensure I maintain enthusiasm and momentum towards my big goals.
A lot of my daily goals come down to mindset and focus. Being present in the skills and techniques I am training, so that I am practicing things with purpose and intent. For example, yesterday I did a dive in the water that I hadn't done since before COVID, and I could have easily fallen in to the mindset of "I am a little nervous, and I don't expect this to be very good so I will just put in 70% effort and see how I go." That mindset would of been ok, and I would have done the dive, but to me, that is not a high performance mindset of an athlete trying to improve everyday. Instead, I told myself "I am confident I can perform the correct technique if I commit to the process and back myself. I've got this." Any initial doubt I had in re-learning this dive went out the door and I performed the dive really well.
In other sessions, my small improvement for the day might be getting through my coach's core circuit without stopping, or making a change to my technique that my coach has been asking for, or jumping over an extra box in conditioning. Some days, it also might be just pushing through to the end of my program when i felt physically tired, or mentally drained.
Digging deep and finding a positive out of each training session, has been a great tool for me to feel like I am continually moving forward. Progress gives you momentum and encouragement, and purpose. And it is like a constant reward system for putting in the effort.
You can apply this practice to any aspect of your life. If you have been stuck at home during COVID and feel like you have lost a lot of motivation, routine or purpose, try focusing everyday on one thing you can do to benefit yourself and your happiness every day! Add a 50m sprint to the end of your walk, bake yourself a healthy treat, call a friend and say hi, perform a random act of kindness for a stranger, think of 3 things you are grateful for before you open your eyes in the morning... Whatever it might be, find the small win in your day!
Til next week, Belle