"Process" has been top-of-mind for me over the last year or so. When you’re working towards a goal, whether it’s a key race, a promotion at work, or any other target you’ve set for yourself, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in your intended result. Using triathlon as an example, I have definitely caught myself so focused on hitting a particular split for 100-repeats, worried about what power my competition can hold for a 40k, or stressed when a track workout doesn’t go well, that I break myself down as opposed to building myself up towards my goal. There is certainly a time and place for focusing on outcomes. But in a sport like triathlon, and in many other pursuits, all we can do is our best. We have no control over others’ performance.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you three pointers to help stay focused on the journey as opposed to getting wrapped up in the end goal. I have used these strategies both as a competitive figure skater, as a business school student striving to stand out in a high performance environment, and now as a triathlete and found great success. **I hope you find them useful and would love to hear your go-to tactics to focus on the process over the end goal!**
1) Back to Basics
In our quest to achieve the next level of performance in anything we do, it can be easy to forget the fundamentals. I have found that I perform best when I go back to basics, whether it’s reminding myself to keep my elbow up while swimming or to keep simple economics/first principals in mind while trying to crack a complex problem. It can be easy to overcomplicate things. Going back to the basics keeps you grounded and gives you strength to focus when your body begins to scream at you with one mile to the finish line!
2) Start With You
It can be so easy to blame our performance on external factors – for example, not having the latest and greatest equipment – and to focus more on what other people are doing than on our own work or training. We’ve all done it! Whether it’s letting others’ performances get us down, or jumping to the thought, “my break must be rubbing, tires must be a little soft, chain must not be perfectly lubed, or bike fit must be off” when we can’t hit our goal watts. I have found the most success in training and racing when I start with me. That means NOT letting myself get swept up in other people’s tweets about how much or how hard they’re training. It means focusing on what I’m doing and on being even just a little bit smoother, faster, stronger, etc. than I was yesterday. It means starting with the questions, “Did I get enough sleep? Did I fuel right? Did I stretch out and roll yesterday after my workouts?” when a workout isn’t going well versus instantly laying blame on my equipment or on other people, the weather, you name it!
3) Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
I often set a goal and then want to reach it TOMORROW! Forget tomorrow, I want to have reached it yesterday! In the last year, I’ve worked on being honest with and fair to myself – even just the reminder that good things take time helps me keep things in perspective. Sometimes taking a step back to see the big picture can be more effective in the long-run than just keeping my head down and drilling forward at an unsustainable pace.
While I wanted to share these pointers and the power of this mindset because of the positive change they have brought about in my racing and in my life in general, this post took on particularly special meaning with the passing of my grandfather this morning. While it's never considered a "happy ending" to lose someone you love, I do find happiness thinking about the life that my Grandpa Joe lived -- a journey full of love and kindness and grace.
Grandpa Joe was all about enjoying the moment, appreciating what you have, and simply doing your best as opposed to getting bogged down with the outcome, with what others have, and with what the future may or may not bring. He put up one of the greatest fights I have ever seen over the past 6 months, showing the immense strength we can muster by embracing whatever we have been blessed with and focusing on how to make the best lemonade the world has ever seen when life hands us lemons versus comparing ourselves to others and focusing on how far we are from where we’d like to be.
So, while I, Ms. Competitive, always challenge you to strive for goals that scare and push you, perhaps more importantly, I encourage you to focus just as much on the journey to your intended finish line. Please share your story as you do this – nothing better than learning from and being inspired by others!