Many athletes wish so badly to be at the top. Their vision is so vivid that they almost can touch it, but what they tend to forget is the very step they need to take in front of them right now. In this blog post, I talk about the importance of taking ONLY one step at a time. Avoid trying to run and jump before you can walk properly, you will fail.
I asked myself why people always think there is some specific magical formula for getting to where you want to be. So, I started reading, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and the common theme that all of the speakers had was, you just need to take one step at a time. One of the examples that specifically caught my attention was the story of a climber. A climber who is on a mission to climb Mount Everest can do all the mental preparations, never miss one day of imagery exercises, and see themselves so vividly at the top of the mountain. However, to get to the top, they first need to make it to basecamp one and slowly move one foot in front of the other until they reach the very top.
Now, if this example wasn’t clear enough, let me share another story of a long-distance runner. A long-distance runner does not think of how to complete a 20km run following, “okay, let’s lace up the shoes and go 20km right here.” A long-distance runner sets up a strategy for every km/mile before they lace up their shoes and start running. Different runners have different layouts, although the most common one is to plan for a successive increase. One lap/km at a time is mentally more manageable for the brain to comprehend than 20km at once. They then break it down to, for example, 150-180 steps per minute instead of 25-30.000 steps at once. So the secret is making it easier for the brain to comprehend.
What can I do then?
Now you might be thinking, “but you’re talking about visualization and seeing yourself at the top, and now that’s wrong?” No, it’s not wrong. My point is that the step right in front of you is the most important one, and that is the one you should put your focus on right now but have your end goal in the back of your head. Still, do not focus on your end goal during competition, as that might take your attention and focus away from the task you have to dial into right now. However, the focus should always be 100% on the step you’re about to take.
For example, if you are a basketball player, like me, you know that the mornings start in the weight room, and evenings are for the court. So, my focus every morning is lifting and not thinking about what basketball practice will be like 8 hours later that day. The same goes for gamedays, do not count the days until you are going to play, but focus solely on the day that you are in right now. One step at a time.
Meaning, put all of your energy, effort, and commitment into the next step. Avoid thinking much ahead and what is coming up or what has passed. Then, surely you will set yourself up for that long-term goal that you are chasing. Also, that long-term goal will present itself sooner if you only focus on the step you’re about to take right now. Think like a runner, one step at a time, one becomes 100 in less than one minute and so it continues.
Until next week, think of what “one step at a time” means for you, and write it down on a piece of paper.