If you have big dreams for your athletic career, it’s essential that you believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re an all-star with a great record or an underweight newcomer with far less experience than the rest of your team, self-confidence has the power to propel you further than your physical abilities alone and it can make or break your chances of success.
Champions know this. Even if they suffer setbacks, slumps, injuries, or big failures, they maintain a positive belief in themselves and their abilities.
Your mind is like a garden. What you harvest depends on what you plant. Plant wheat and it will grow. Plant stinkweed and that’s what you’ll get.
Remember, performance is self-fulfilling. You always get what you expect. If you don’t believe that you can do something, then you will be less determined and persistent in your efforts to accomplish the task. When you run into obstacles (which you are bound to do), then you will be less likely to hang in there and see them through. When you fail to persist, you will persist in failing! Each time you fail you will have more “evidence” or proof to support your FAULTY belief that you CAN’T. Thus you have set in motion the self-fulfilling cycle of losing.
However, if you go into any situation and believe that you CAN do it, a whole different cycle is set into motion. When you fail or run into obstacles, you’ll keep your determination and persist in trying to do better until you are successful because deep down you KNOW that you CAN do it. When you persist in being persistent, it is inevitable that you will ultimately reach that goal. This is the self-fulfilling cycle of winning because each success reinforces your CAN DO beliefs.
Not everyone is born with this kind of self-confidence, but the good news is that it can be learned if you turn your attention in the right direction. Here are five steps to believing in yourself:
1. Don’t listen to the experts.
Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t reach your goal. The ONLY experts that you should listen to are those who support your dream, encourage you and provide you with strategies for getting there.
In 1954 the “experts” tried to tell Roger Bannister that the human body couldn't run a mile in under 4 minutes. In the 60s they tried to tell us that we could never put a human on the moon. For EVERY dream, there are hundreds of “experts” waiting in the wings to explain why that dream “CAN’T” be realized. Find someone who believes in you.
2. Eliminate words like CAN’T, NEVER, and IMPOSSIBLE.
These words are self-limiting. Rip them out of the dictionary in your mind. When you use them on yourself, you will hold yourself back. You do NOT really know what is impossible in your life or in your sport. Make a conscious effort on a daily basis to rid yourself of this kind of self-limiting language. If you’re going to use words like “can’t”, then add a big YET to the end of that sentence! “I can’t do that YET “means that up until now you haven’t been able to, BUT, it’s still possible in the future.
3. Practice doing the impossible on a daily basis.
There are two kinds of impossibles: “impossible” impossibles and “possible” impossibles. The impossible impossibles are things like flying, running faster than a speeding bullet, stopping a tractor trailer going 90 mph, etc. These you can’t practice without serious risk to your life. However, you CAN practice the possible impossibles. These are things you THINK or BELIEVE you can’t do. On a daily basis, begin to challenge those limiting beliefs and move towards these tasks, especially in practice. Maybe you don’t think you can really push through the fatigue that you’re feeling at a certain point, or develop significant upper body strength, make it into the finals, or talk in front of a group, but you probably CAN. Take one of these things and work on it EVERY DAY, even if it’s not something to do with your sport. Self-confidence is a skill that extends throughout everything in your life.
4. Surround yourself with “go-for-it” people.
Make sure that you have people around you on your “team” who totally support your dream and goals. Seek out fellow athletes who really care about personal excellence. Likewise, if your friends belittle you and your dreams, you might just want to think seriously about getting some new friends. It’s hard enough reaching your goals without having people throwing negativity and limiting beliefs in your way. Find people who believe in pushing their own limits and pursuing greatness, that way you’ll both be able to support each other in your mutual quests.
5. Talk to, read about, watch, and listen to people who have overcome obstacles to make it.
You can expand your belief system by reading about or talking to other people who have done the “impossible.” They will provide you with real life examples that anything is possible. If you immerse yourself in books, videos, audio, and personal connections with such inspiring people then you’ll definitely firm up your beliefs that YOU CAN DO IT TOO!
Remember that you really CAN do anything, it just takes believing in yourself and, of course, hard work!