Down the Stretch – Bringing Home the Win in the Final Moments

Icing the Game

Earlier this month you would have read a great blog written by our team mate Kate Nelson on ‘how to avoid choking’. This blog is similar that we are talking about ‘how to ice the game,’ which follows on from the previous blog. However, this topic is slightly different as it looks at how we truly bring home the victory and step up when it matters most. We are taking the conversation another step further from ‘avoiding choking’ to ‘thriving in the pressure moments’.

Sporting analogies aside for a second, this is a really important topic for all of us. How often do you feel (or say to yourself) that you do all the hard work only to let yourself down at the last moment? So many people come to us seeking help to see their goals through to the last moment. This often starts with ‘I am a master at self-sabotage’.

This can be deals at work, trying to go a month without drinking, or forming a new habit. Perseverance is relevant even for those of us who don’t play professional sport. The idea of seeing out a task or goal all the way through to its entire completion is extremely relevant.

Why do we need to Persevere?

This is particularly relevant in the current world we live in. As we begin to exit our COVID-19 adapted lifestyles, we are so close to the finish. However, this is where shortcuts and bad habits can break the good work we have done supporting ourselves, our families and friends during this time.

What I want to share with you this month are some truths and tips. These can help you accelerate through the last 5% of a game, the last portion of the deal, or final days of your health kick goal so you can “grind out the win” and avoid self-sabotage.

1) We all naturally slow down as we approach our goals

It is human nature that as we approach the finish line of any goal we begin to slow down; this does not mean physically but mentally. Our focus, dedication and prioritisation begin to wane, as the likelihood of success becomes ‘certain’. It is human nature to literally take our eyes off the ball.

One way to avoid this is to implement stretch goals. As we approach success, try and extend your goals/desired outcomes further. If you wanted to lose 10kgs in three months, and with 4 weeks left you only have 2kgs to lose, why not see if you can lose 12Kg.

This is called an achievement mindset. It looks to extend and grow our capabilities further at each opportunity. By extending our goals, we are required to continue focus, and review and extend our efforts further. This results in increased performance as we approach the finish line, instead of relaxing.

2) Remember that result is the execution of performance

In a similar vein to ‘taking our eyes off the ball,’ we commonly begin to focus more on the outcome of what we are doing (e.g. what it will be like to win the big deal, or focusing on winning the game) rather than the execution of what we are doing (our performance). This may sound odd, or like common sense to some.

But no matter what we are aiming to achieve, attainment is based purely on how we perform the skills and components required to execute that behaviour. For example, winning a running race is the execution of technique, fitness and race strategy (more so for longer distance races than sprints).

To ensure we perform when it matters most, it is actually about reminding ourselves of the key components of the performance and executing them. Actively work to avoid becoming distracted by the potential outcome. The result is the outcome of execution performance.

Remind yourself in the important moments, what it is that will bring you success. This could be thoroughly reading the report so you are informed, developing negotiation points 1,2 and 3 to ensure you are prepared. Focusing on the keys to your performance will keep your mindset on what is going to deliver success. If outcomes take your attention, they will only distract you.

3) Ditch perfectionism in the bin

An obsession with achieving goals can be only focusing on flaws. This may mean only seeking opportunities that seem ‘perfect’. If we view our important moments in life through this lens, then we are only going to focus on the potential for errors and negative outcomes. This is not a conducive mindset for peak performance, or handling pressure.

This point builds from both point 1 and 2. In particular, that if we begin to focus on the consequences of failure (or making a mistake) we are not focusing on the actual execution of our performance. Any goal or passion that we engage in will always have the opportunity to fail. Failure is simply part of life.

The key to using failure as a positive is to create in your mind WIN-LEARN scenarios, not WIN-LOSE. I have spoken to many athletes on the concept of ‘bouncing back from losses’ and they all share the sentiment. If you take a lesson away from the experience and ideas on how you can improve, then there is no such thing as a bad game. You are still in a better position and better prepared for your next opportunity than you were at the beginning of a ‘loss’.

 

More Information

Our Psych Up! resources in June are focused around Grinding Out the Win. Make sure to stay tuned for our weekly blog post updates, as well as our podcasts and webinars.

For more information about performance psychology, remaining cool under pressure, achievement mindsets or anything else mentioned, get in touch with our team today.

Send us an email, give us a call on (02) 9929 8515, check out our LinkedIn and Twitter or find more Psych Up! resources here.