Laura Flynn Endres
Crush Goals like Michael Phelps
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
Everything we do in Get Fit Done trains our physical bodies.
And here’s a fun fact: Even if you don’t enjoy doing the habits - exercise, eating right, drinking water, and so on - and even if you only perform at a B or C-level consistency, you’ll make progress and get results! We’ve proven that time and again in the game.
Now--- to truly be in it for the long term, we need to train our MINDS. That, my friends, is the hard part.
You know what I mean. A lot of you go through the motions, but all the while, you’re beating yourself up that you don’t exercise at an impressive level, or you’re focusing on how much you don’t want to do the things (pout, stomp), or you’re hitting the proverbial snooze button and procrastinating until you, “oops, ran out of time…. I’ll for sure do it tomorrow, though….” AGAIN.
In fact, I bet many of you spend more time thinking about the things you did poorly than the things you did well.
If that’s you, this post may help!
Michael Phelps, 23-Time Olympic Gold Medalist
Phelps spent an inordinate amount of time visualizing every part of a race. Visualizing it as if he was watching a movie. He became one of the best swimmers of all time because he mastered the power of his mind.
He rehearsed vivid scenarios in his mind. Not only successful races, mentally rehearsing everything going right and winning, but also what to do when things go wrong - for example, if his goggles started to leak. He’d visualize adapting to that problem so he would know what to do and be able to instinctively do it rather than panic in the moment.
He saw the path to success, and he saw how he’d adapt when things didn’t go as planned.
The purpose of visualization is, according to sports psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais, “to create such a lifelike experience that your body believes that it could be real.”
In fact - and this is my favorite part - studies show that the brain is not able to differentiate between a real memory and an imagined (visualized) memory.
This means if you visualize yourself getting up the minute your alarm clock goes off, putting on your workout clothes, and crushing a workout enough times, you’re training your subconscious mind to obey and it becomes easier and easier to do.
Visualizing is related to role-playing, planning ahead, list-making, and setting goals. All of these are tools in our habits toolbox.
We role-play when we practice a speech we have to give to a group.
We plan ahead when we mark our calendars with scheduled events.
We make lists of chores to do, errands to run, and groceries to buy.
We set goals for our careers, for our education, for our workouts, and our habits in the game.
But visualizing is the easiest tool - because all you have to do is close your eyes and watch the movie!
I wish we’d visualized what to do before we met a bear while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
We “knew” what to do. Most people “know.” We even talked while we walked that very day, 45 minutes before the encounter, about what works (be big and noisy) and what doesn’t (bear spray).
And yet, when a bear stuck his head out from around a patch of bushes and looked right at us, what did we do?
The opposite of what you’re supposed to do.
We turned on our heels and speed-walked away while muttering, “shit shit shit omg omg omg” in hushed tones.
Even though we knew what to do, nothing had prepared us for the true panic that would set in when it actually happened.
I’m here to tell the tale so obviously it worked out in our favor, but clearly I need to do more to prepare for such an encounter. I felt the tingles of shock for several hours after that encounter, even though the bear lumbered off in the opposite direction.
Remember the days before cell phones? If you don’t, I’m sticking my tongue out at you right now, whippersnapper.
::: Everyone under 30 googles “what’s a whippersnapper.” :::
When you made a plan to meet your friend at the mall? In front of Orange Julius? And then that one time your friend didn't show? And you waited… and waited…. And you realized you didn’t know what to do? Do you stay in that spot, the designated meet-up location? Do you find a payphone? But she’s not at home, so where do you call? Did you get the time wrong? Did you get the meet-up spot wrong and maybe she’s waiting for you in front of Sbarro’s instead?
You didn’t have a plan. But you can bet you were going to come up with one for the next time that happened.
Every evening or every morning this week (whichever works best for you), I want you to VISUALIZE practicing the habits of the game - exercise, nutrition, water, checking in for accountability, and your additional habit(s).
Set an alarm in your phone to remind yourself. When the alarm goes off, stop everything you’re doing, and mentally watch how your plans will unfold given the schedule of the day.
Every day is different, so it’s easy to fit your workout in on some days and harder on others; it’s easier to adhere to your nutrition goals in the first 3 days after grocery shopping than it is at the end of week when you’re running out of food or the weekend temptations are looming.
VISUALIZE yourself successfully practicing each habit and visualize yourself adapting to the challenges of that particular day and getting everything done anyway.
We think the thing that’s wildly impressive about Michael Phelps is his race time.
What’s wildly impressive about Phelps is everything he did to get there.
And that, my friends, is how we can crush our goals, just like Michael Phelps.
Play the next game! Let's crush goals like Phelps together!