Are you stuck in a rut? Whether or not you have a competitive advantage strategy in place, you may occasionally get off track and feel stuck.
For example, one of my clients, Richard, plays on an elite travel baseball team. After we discussed what he wanted in his sport, we identified one of his key hitting goals, and created a strategy for him to commit to working toward it. To help him stay on track, he used the power of intention as one of his competitive advantage strategies. This worked very well for Richard, until one day he found himself stuck. For some reason unknown to him, he was unable to sustain his strategy and motivation to move forward. So, what did he do? Like many people in Richard’s situation, his solution to fixing the problem was to try harder. He trained longer and more intensely, even when he was exhausted. This did not work, and it only made the problem worse. Why? Because by trying harder, Richard was unknowingly reminding himself of the problem and thus making it worse, versus using an effective strategy to get back on track.
Like Richard, you may sometimes find yourself off track. To help get back in your game, here are 3 tips that may help you sustain your competitive advantage:
Tip #1: Recognize there is a reason you are having a tough time.
You may have spent countless hours and sleepless nights trying to figure out why you are stuck and what you can do about it, thinking over and over about the problem. Despite your good intentions, this will not work. There are many driving forces beyond the reach of your conscious awareness that may impact your ability to stay motivated and moving in the right direction. These include deeply ingrained habits, beliefs, and thinking processes, and they exist on the subconscious level. These underlying mental processes may be causing the rut. Sometimes it’s just that you are exhausted physically and mentally because you have been pushing yourself too hard. Sometimes it’s a little of both.
The first step in freeing yourself and moving past being stuck is just to be aware that there is a reason. There is no need to search for the reason although sometimes this will surface on its own. Simply the awareness, and acceptance, that there is a reason (that you may never quite pinpoint) can help you make your way out of the rut, because you have shifted your perspective away from focusing on the problem itself. This brings us to the next step in sustaining your competitive advantage.
Tip #2: Take an intentional break.
Bernard Lagat is one of the best American runners ever. He is a thirteen-time medalist in World Championships and Olympics including five gold medals. A key part of his success as a runner includes one off day at the end of every hard training week, and an annual 5-week break. Yes…a 5-week break! During these times his mind is on anything other than running. He relaxes and restores himself mentally and engages in enjoying activities such as watching his favorite TV shows, playing with his children, stretching, and getting massages. Bernard says “rest is a good thing’, and it is how he avoids burnout. It keeps him physically and mentally healthy, and just as importantly, motivated.
Unlike Bernard, many of us have bought into the concept of hard work vs. smart work, and have confused smart work with more work. Our culture tends to reward those who do not use all their paid time off and work nights and weekends. The message is that if we are not working hard, we will be beaten by the competition. This is simply untrue. The truth is, when we keep pushing ourselves through fatigue and ruts, it works against us and we are unable to perform at our best.
This second step is all about backing away from pushing harder, and taking an intentional break mentally and physically. Go for a walk in nature, go to a movie, meditate…anything that takes you out of your normal routine. Taking a breather helps you reconnect to the reason you are doing what you are doing in the first place. For my client Richard, this meant reconnecting to why he plays, and loves, baseball. Similarly, for you, an intentional break allows you to reassess what is important to you. Breaks also give your body and mind the rest they need for optimal performance. This was true for my client Richard. Once he backed away from trying harder, he gained renewed energy for the sport he loves, things started to improve, and he got back on track.
Tip #3: Revisit your competitive advantage strategy.
Once you’ve recognized that you are stuck, have backed away from pushing harder, and have taken an intentional break, you are then in a great position to more objectively assess what next steps to take to reach your goals. In other words, this is a great time to revisit your competitive advantage strategy from a fresh perspective. Determine if it is still working for you, or if you need to make some tweaks.
If you are like many people who know their goal, yet do not have a strategy in place to get there, see our previous post, 4 competitive advantage strategies, for some tips.
For more information on how to optimize your performance, contact us for a free consultation.
There is no better time than NOW!
Your mental coach,