Are you dreaming big enough? Here are ten ways that you can set and eventually achieve bigger goals in the water this season.
As far as dreaming big, there are very few athletes on this planet who exemplify this attitude better than Michael Phelps.
With 18 Olympic gold medals (so far), countless world records, and a steadfast refusal to accept limits on his goals, Phelps has repeatedly shattered the notions of what is and what isn’t possible in the water.
“When I’m focused, there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in the way of my doing something,” he wrote in his book “No Limits.”
Here are a few tips for you to unleash your inner Phelps so that you can dream a little bit larger and smarter this season:
1. Stop worrying about what others say.
One of the biggest roadblocks to accomplishing awesome stuff in the water is the fear that our teammates and peers will laugh at us for dreaming big.
Don’t worry about those in the cheap seats—it’s always going to be easier to judge others and ridicule them for doing big things. All they are doing is making themselves feel better for never trying themselves.
After all, it’s never the fastest swimmer on the team that ridicules you for trying to do big things. It’s the swimmer at the back of the lane who is terrified at the prospect of being left in your wake and not fulfilling their own potential.
2. Make your dreams yours.
It’s hard to look at the amazing accomplishments of the swimmers in our mist and want to do the exact same thing.
This becomes a tricky situation; you want the achievements of others to motivate and inspire you, but you also don’t want to completely model their journey to yours.
You are unique in talent, ability and physical gifts; your dreams—and the resulting work necessary to make them happen—is specific to you and you alone.
3. Have patience.
Bigger goals, and the bigger dreams that fuel them, require patience. They require patience and consistency of effort. They require you to show up day-in, and day-out in the face of excuses, withering motivation, injury, and much more.
This means that you don’t get frustrated at the first sign of resistance. It also means you don’t give up when things aren’t going your way.
No one said it was going to be easy. Have the patience to see through the tough moments.
4. Surround yourself with greatness.
The environment we create around ourselves—the people we hang out with, the websites we visit, the teammates we train with—all leave a small but impressionable mark on us.
Whether that influence turns out to be positive or negative is on you to figure out and control.
When you train with swimmers who have similar aspirations of excellence it’s hard not to be caught up in their wake. Similar to the swimmers who lack motivation and discipline, and who don’t share your ambition; it’s almost impossible not to get dragged down to their level at times.
Choose your environment carefully; it will make dreaming bigger easier or next to impossible.
5. Don’t fear commitment.
Going all in on our goals is terrifying for most swimmers. They fear that if they give their full effort, and then come up short, that they will be shattered and unable to recover.
If you give a full and complete effort you will always be okay.
Win or lose you won’t have the pain and wonder of regret gnawing at you down the line: “What if I had just trained a little bit harder? What if I had showed up for all those extra practices?”
6. Challenge your personal status-quo.
Dreaming big isn’t enough, after all, anybody can fantasize about becoming an elite swimmer. To encourage and make those big dreams a reality you also need to act big.
And how do you not only dream big but act big?
By showing up to practice each day and doing things just a little bit better.
Something remarkable happens when you make this daily commitment to progression; excellence naturally flourishes, and a consistent flow of motivation is unleashed within you, further powering your efforts.
7. Plan big.
When we dream big we need to put into place mechanisms and actions to make them happen. Otherwise we are just engaging in mindless fantasizing, something that can actually end up hurting the likelihood of us accomplishing great stuff.
Don’t be afraid to sit down and write out what you need to do in order to achieve the goals you have. Doing so will help clarify what needs to be done, will give you an idea of how much work lies ahead, and gives you a blueprint for success in the water.
8. Confront the thoughts that are holding you back.
We all have a set of fears and worries when it comes to our goals.
We like the idea of having bigger goals and dreams, but a revolving set of anxieties keeps us from fully exploring them: Am I talented enough? Will I have enough time to achieve it? Am I deserving of success?
An easy way to combat this is to write out the fears you have about your goals. Often enough, simply putting these down to paper can help expose the shaky foundations that these beliefs rest on and help you gain a clearer perspective.
9. Make use of what you have.
One of the most common roadblocks I’ve heard about from ambitious young swimmers is the “when I…” line of reasoning. It’s a classic procrastination tool that swimmers use to justify waiting to act on their big goals.
You might recognize some of the greatest hits that “when I…” has to offer:
- “When I have access to a better pool I will really give everything I have.”
- “When I feel truly motivated I will start working hard every day at practice.”
- “When I get those sweet new supplements I will be ready to truly able to focus on training.”
The reality is that your circumstances will never be completely ideal or perfect. So even though you might not have the best situation, are you still making the absolute most of what you do have?
10. Don’t wait.
There is no reason you cannot start working on those big dreams you have today. Heck, even right now.
There is a lot you can learn from reading articles like this on the internet, but if you don’t put the advice into action than it’s just wasted time reading yet another listicle on your smartphone.
Write out your goals, make a plan, and take action immediately.