Success is not only represented by a shelf full of medals and trophies, plaques and honors, or an acronym behind your name. Success, more than anything, is largely measured by how a person feels. So what does it look like to you to be successful? What does it mean? When you can name or picture what success looks like for you, you can then equip yourself with the answer to the next question: What will it take to get me there?
Athletes are a group of people who typically embody high levels of the motivation necessary to achieve success. Even though we may not all be professional athletes, we can take a page out of their book and apply those mindset principles and characteristics to achieve our own form of success — whether it be in the workplace, the gym or at home. Fortunately, the skills and mindset that it takes to accomplish whatever it is we want most are learned behaviors that anyone can develop.
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Like an athlete repetitively practicing her craft, we, too, can harness the power of consistency to reach our goals. According to the Ohio Center for Sport Psychology, there are nine essential mental skills for success:
- Choose and maintain a positive attitude.
- Maintain a high level of self-motivation.
- Set high, realistic goals.
- Deal effectively with people.
- Use positive self-talk.
- Use positive mental imagery.
- Manage anxiety effectively.
- Manage emotions effectively.
- Maintain concentration.
These characteristics take effort and awareness to develop, but the process need not be complicated. In order to move forward on the path to success, your mind and body must have the endurance and energy to take you to the finish line. The first place to start is exactly where you are. Begin by practicing these simple techniques to help cultivate a positive mindset and an invigorated body to help you accomplish your goals.
Positive mindset exercises
• Begin by standing with your feet just past hip-width distance, with a soft bend in the knees.
• Inhale and bring your palms into fists, and bend your arms at a 90-degree angle beside your body.
• On an exhale, turn your upper body toward the left as you punch forcefully with your right arm across the body, pivoting on your right foot.
• Inhale and return to the starting position, with bent knees.
• Exhale and turn toward the right, punching across the body now with the left arm, pivoting onto the left foot.
• Inhale back into the center and repeat for 10 punches on each side, gradually increasing your pace and intensity.
3 to 5 minutes
• Begin sitting on a chair or couch, lying in bed, or sitting on the floor. (You can alternately practice standing.) Ideally (if you are not lying down), both feet are on the ground and your posture is upright. Place your hands on your thighs and close your eyes.
• Take three full, slow, deep breaths, noticing each inhale and exhale.
• Begin to visualize yourself in the process of accomplishing whatever it is that you want to accomplish. See yourself performing at the highest level.
• Continue to visualize the completion of your goal, perhaps picturing yourself celebrating and even bringing a smile to your face.
• Go one step further and allow yourself to feel the emotions of the hypothetical success. • Continue to breathe as you envision the successful accomplishment of your goals.
• Relax your posture and softly open your eyes. Practice this daily.
Want to learn more about exercising with diabetes? Read “Add Movement to Your Life,” “Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals” and “Seven Ways to Have Fun Exercising.”