The Mental Game: Anchoring yourself in your values not your goals
In the world of sports, the pursuit of goals often takes center stage. Athletes set their sights on winning championships, breaking records, and achieving personal milestones. While goals are undeniably important, they are only part of the equation. In fact, it is often the values an athlete embodies that ultimately define their success and character. Values like hard work, perseverance, respect, honesty, gratitude, compassion, self-awareness, and personal growth are the true cornerstones of a fulfilling and meaningful journey in sports. Here’s why these values are more important than just the goals themselves.
- Hard Work: The path to success in sports is paved with hard work. Hard work, not only towards achieving specific goals, but also as a value, embodies the essence of commitment and dedication. It teaches athletes the importance of giving their best effort day in and day out, regardless of the immediate outcomes. It’s through hard work that athletes build the skills and resilience necessary to reach their goals.
- Perseverance: In sports, adversity is a constant companion. Injuries, poor play, and setbacks are part and parcel of any athlete’s journey. Perseverance, as a core value, encourages athletes to stay the course, to push through challenges, and to come back stronger after defeat. It’s the unwavering determination that ultimately leads to the attainment of long-term goals.
- Respect: Respect for oneself and others is a foundational value in sports. Treating playing partners, opponents, coaches, and tournament officials with respect fosters a healthy and inclusive sports environment. Beyond the competitive arena, the ability to respect others and their contributions is a life skill that extends far beyond sports.
- Honesty: Honesty goes hand in hand with integrity. Being honest with oneself about one’s performance, strengths, and weaknesses is crucial for improvement. In sports, honest self-assessment is the first step toward setting and achieving meaningful goals. Moreover, honesty in competition ensures fair play and maintains the integrity of the game.
- Gratitude: Being grateful for the opportunity to participate in sports is often overlooked but essential. Gratitude for the chance to compete, the support of coaches and teammates, and the lessons learned in both victory and defeat adds depth and meaning to an athlete’s journey. This value reminds athletes that their experience is a privilege to be cherished.
- Compassion: Sports can be fiercely competitive, but compassion is a value that reminds athletes of their shared humanity. Compassion encourages empathy for others’ struggles and triumphs, fostering a sense of community and solidarity in the sports world. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together.
- Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is crucial for personal growth. Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses allows athletes to set realistic and achievable goals. It also enables them to adapt and evolve as they progress in their athletic careers.
- Personal Growth: Ultimately, personal growth should be the most significant goal in any athlete’s journey. Through hard work, perseverance, respect, honesty, gratitude, compassion, and self-awareness, athletes not only excel in their sport but also become better individuals. Personal growth in sports translates into personal growth in life.
While setting and pursuing goals in sports is essential, it’s the values that athletes uphold that define their character, shape their experiences, and determine their long-term success. These values guide athletes through the highs and lows of their journeys, providing a strong foundation for not only athletic achievements but also personal fulfillment and growth. In the world of sports, it’s the embodiment of these values that truly separates champions from winners.
Retirement Dinner Exercise: Defining what you values
Imagine that you are at your golf retirement dinner. You are surrounded by friends, family, coaches, teammates, and mentors; these are the people who mean the most to you in your life and those who have had the greatest influence on you. Then imagine each of those people coming up to the podium to talk about you, to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences of you throughout your life and career as a player. What do you want them to say about you?
Here are some questions to help guide your answers:
What kind of player were you?
What kind of person were you?
Were you a hard worker?
Did you have integrity?
Were you trustworthy?
How did you treat those around you?
What was your attitude toward training?
How did you handle challenges and adversity?
What kind of competitor were you?
Were you in control of your emotions?
How did you handle pressure?
After you have answered these questions, you should be able to come up with a list of characteristics that define your values as a player. Then, imagine these values were how you kept score whenever you went out to play.In other words, rather than keeping your score in terms of the number of strokes played, you kept score based on whether or not you were true to your values. How do you think you would play?
There is a growing body of research that suggests that it is more important for athletes to focus on their personal values. This is because focusing on personal values can lead to a number of benefits, including improved performance, increased enjoyment, and a more positive overall experience.The next time you tee it up, I encourage you to give this exercise a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.