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  • Writer's pictureTom Foxley

Is your mindset exhausting? here's how to fix that


If your mindset is an exhausting emotional rollercoaster, I wrote this for you.


Training like a full time athlete is exhausting enough. Combining it with not being able to live comfortably off sponsorship, running a full time & demanding job, or being a parent is infinitely harder.


You have other exhausting things in your life, and you still have lofty aims.


Yet the constant demands of everything stack up.


And there’s always the inner doubt of “is all this even worth it?”


Part of you wants to give up, but there’s a stronger part of you which desires a life well lived.


Most athletes never reach their potential because they let this emotional rollercoaster take away from what’s important, create self doubt and make them think that anything less than perfection is failure.


You don’t have to live that life. You don’t deserve that life.


Today, I am going to teach you:


  1. How to drop the pressure when you need to perform

  2. How to let go of perfectionism

  3. How to stop being knocked around by your thoughts and emotions

  4. How to regain the fun in training

Dropping the pressure

If you’ve got lofty aims, you’re going to feel a certain amount of pressure. Some is good, too much is destructive.


Yes, pressure creates diamonds. Pressure also crushes performance, passion and happiness. Not only have I experienced this first hand in the military, and in training/competition, I’ve seen it in thousands of athletes.


Great performances come from a place of freedom, not force. Think about how your last incredible performance felt. Did it feel constricted, tight and heavy? Or light and free, like effortless effort?


When I work with athletes who struggle with the pressure, I move them from a place of focusing on the outcome (even of 1 rep in a workout), to focusing on the component parts of success.


The burpee pull ups in 23.2 can be broken down into:

  • Hands on the floor

  • Jump back

  • Chest down

  • Step/jump up

  • Jump to the bar

  • Pull up

To let the pressure wash over you, rather than being drowned by it, focus on the smallest action oriented task you can find.


Letting go of perfection

Perfection really is the enemy of good. Most of the time to succeed as an athlete, you don’t need perfect, you need consistent levels of good enough.


Perfection is an illusion. There will always be smaller ways you can find reasons to ridicule your efforts.


If you’re aiming at perfection, you will always fail.


Progress on the other hand is ALWAYS available. No matter how good you get, you can get better. No matter the setback, you can improve.


Letting go of perfection is a matter of identifying what progress looks like, and aiming at that consistently.


The irony is, by letting go of perfection, you’ll get far closer to it.


Stop being disrupted by your mental state

The difference between a trained mindset and an untrained one, is how much your actions are dictated by the stories which don’t serve you.


To grow, you must learn to put distance between your thoughts, your emotions, even your physical sensations, and you - the observer of those things.


A major milestone in the success of each athlete I’ve worked with is the moment they hear their thoughts dispassionately, rather than acting them out. Or they feel their emotions wash over them without them directing their behaviours.


Similarly, they feel the discomfort of a workout without it knocking them off target or slowing their pace.


There are two awesome ways to practise this skill, depending on who you are:


  1. Free journaling - write whatever comes to mind

  2. Meditation - just watch and observe your thoughts

Regaining the fun in training

At times, training will suck. You’ll be sore, you’ll feel physically exhausted, you’ll be working exclusively on weaknesses, and you’ll get injured.


That’s part of the journey you’ve embarked upon.


But, it doesn’t have to be miserable.


Think about the themes of why you began training in the first place. What was it that was so enjoyable to you?


Was it the adventure of not knowing?


Was it the difficulty?


Was it the ego stroking of doing something more difficult than anyone else, every single day?


Was it the community?


Never lose sight of that. Include that intentionally and you’ll have momentary respites from the emotional rollercoaster.


Wrapping up

As I said initially, training like a full time athlete and balancing it with obligations can be emotionally exhausting.


If your emotions are unstable too, that makes things even tougher.


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