Four New Year's Resolutions Every Athlete Should Have
December 30, 2013
Year after year I have the same New Year’s resolutions. Jump x distance in triple jump. Win gold at x competition. Make x team. I feel as though this is probably the same case with most competitive track and field athletes. Because our success in sport is a product of the number on a clock/measuring tape, or the colour of the medal around our neck, our life revolves around these things. They become our number one goal, our number one priority. They consume us and we brainwash ourselves into believing that times, distances and medals are head and shoulders more important than anything else. The truth is, there are many things that need to be in place before the numbers and medals that we strive for can ever manifest, so I am proposing that as athletes, we shift our focus for 2014. Here are four New Year’s resolutions that I think all athletes should have:
1) Surround yourself with the right people. We all know the importance of this, yet so many of us still involve ourselves with toxic personalities. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Think about it for a moment and make a list of the five people you spend most of your time with it. Do these people raise you up, or drag you down? Do they bring out the best in you, or the worst? Do they exude positive or negative energy? As athletes, we put a hell of a lot into being the best that we can be in in practice and in competition, and there is really very little energy and time to spare on people who drain you. Surround yourself with people whose goals, morals, and character align with yours, and incredible things will happen. It’s not always easy to realize when people are hindering you, but when you’re involving yourself with the wrong people, your performances will eventually show it.
2) Cultivate an identity separate from athletics. Explore other interests, pursue other hobbies, and try your hardest to define yourself as more than just an athlete. There was a time when I thought of myself as an athlete only, and when my competitions weren’t going well and my performances were not improving, my self-esteem started to plummet. Give yourself associations to latch onto for days when you have a bad practice or a bad competition. Furthermore, when you pursue other areas, you may begin to appreciate and enjoy your “athlete time” even more than you already did before. I know that the days when I volunteer at a play care all morning and then have a few hours of class are often the days when I have my best and most enjoyable practices. A little balance can go a long way!
3) Practice consistent character. Strive for greatness in all areas of your life, not just in the athletic realm. Aiming to be a great athlete rather than a great all-round person is to sell yourself short. You would never skip a practice or give anything less than your everything on competition day – hold yourself to these standards in the other aspects of your life as well. When you do that, all the wonderful traits that you possess in athlete mode – dedication, patience, tremendous work ethic – will become even more instilled in you and your possibilities will be endless.
And above all else, 4) Make happiness your #1 priority. This is a big one, and in 2013 I learned firsthand the importance of making your happiness the #1 priority. When you’re relentlessly striving towards your goals, it’s easy to neglect your basic needs and fall out of tune with yourself. When you get caught up in the numbers, you lose sight of what it’s really all about, and this is when you risk mental and physical exhaustion. When you start to see your commitments as sacrifices, it’s very easy to start resenting your sport – and this is the last thing you want. You’re pursuing your athletic goals, day in and day out, because once upon a time you were a little kid that fell head over heels in love with your sport. Back then you did it because it was fun and it made you happy, and it should be no different now. If you’re not having fun and you’re unhappy, it’s vital to take a step back and reflect on what is happening. Successful people are happy people who absolutely love what they do. If you want to hit those numbers and win those gold medals, first you need to be smiling!
I strongly believe that these are all things that can indirectly help you reach your goals this new year. I wish everyone all the best in 2014!