Let's back up for a minute before we review the steps toward goal achievement. What got you into bodybuilding? Was it seeing a bodybuilding show? Was it the incredibly huge and muscular kid next door? Your older brother or sister who bodybuilds? Whatever it was, it no doubt fostered in you a deep, abiding sense of passion for bodybuilding.
That's the way all champions begin -- with abiding passion for what they do. With such passion, motivation almost always comes naturally.
Passion is a hard word to define. What "turns your crank" may be different from anyone else. It's easier to describe what passion is NOT:
Passion is NOT need to achieve. Instead, it's a burning desire to exceed ALL bounds! It's NOT commitment to excellence, but utter disdain for anything less! And, it's NOT endless hours of practice. It's PERFECT practice! It's NOT ability to cope. Rather, it's total domination of ALL situations! And it's NOT setting unrealistic or vague goals, because doing so too often prescribes performance limits! Passion is NOT doing what it takes to win. Instead, it's doing what it takes to EXCEED! It most certainly is NOT force of skill or muscle. Rather, it's the explosive, calamitous force of WILL!
If you believe in and practice these things, then for you, winning is neither everything nor the only thing. It's a FOREGONE CONCLUSION! But if, along the way, you somehow stumble, PROFIT from the experience! Then, vow, by the power of Almighty God, it'll NEVER happen again!
So, you see, PASSION is all-consuming. That is what it takes to become a champion, and that is what it'll take for you to achieve your ultimate bodybuilding goals. If you haven't acquired passion, seek it first. Find it. Do not begin without it, for you will be severely limited in your quest for greatness.
Incentive: The Mother Of Motivation
Motivation -- and passion -- begins and ends with incentive. You have to know what you want and why you want it, and achieving it may be reward in and of itself. This is called "intrinsic" reward. "Extrinsic" rewards are such things as money, trophies or prizes. In both cases, the rewards serve as incentive to continue.
In bodybuilding, this may mean that achieving a specific improvement provides the incentive for going after it. More strength, stamina, cuts or sheer muscle mass are various incentives. But they may also be a part of larger incentives such as being liked and admired, being a winner or achiever, enjoying success, shaping a personal identity, gaining peer acceptance, and so on. Recognize incentive as a powerful motivating force, not as something potentially destructive, evil, trivial or shameful.
Steps To Goal Attainment:
- Set realistic short-term goals.
- Short-term goals should lead you to a long-term goal. Allow for occasional setbacks along the way, but regard them as learning experiences, thereby turning those setbacks into something positive.
- Set a training schedule and stick to it.
- Make pain and fatigue work for you, as signs that your all-out effort is helping you attain your goals.
- Constantly challenge yourself in your training.
- Devise your own, personal definition of success. It's what you say it is, not what someone else says.
- Believe in yourself and foster positive aggression in your training.
- Build a strong ego, but a restrained one.
Your Emotional State
Your mind and your emotions are tightly tied together. It's up to you to find a balance between them and exert absolute control over them. Your emotional state plays a large role in your overall training. The way you're feeling inside has repercussions for your behavior and performance on the outside. There are many different factors which go into the makeup of a solid emotional base. Some of these factors are:
- Personal life
- Sexual life
- Family life
- Daily schedule
- Financial matters
- Health concerns, and, most importantly
Your own self-esteem contributes greatly to the level of your sports performance. Self-esteem can vary greatly within the time confines of a single training session, and it can mean the difference between winning and losing in a competition setting. One minute you may hate yourself over an error you've committed on the posing platform or in the gym, and a few moments later you could reverse that feeling completely by performing exceptionally.
This sort of event can -- and often does -- lead to superlative performance throughout the remainder of your training session in the gym, or in your onstage performance. In either case, your mental appraisal of yourself -- your self esteem -- counts for a great deal in your performance.
However common this sort of scenario may be, it is not the sort of thing to be sought after. It would be far better if your self esteem going into the gym or competition was such that ONLY superlative performance throughout was possible. Day after day, month after month, building ONLY the possibility of success into your training by careful, integrated application of science will tend to maintain peak mental attitude and feelings of self esteem.
Success Begets success.
Fear & Self-Esteem
Fear Of Failure:
Fear, depression, anxiety or over-arousal can all lead to sub-par training or competition performance. For every winner, there are many losers, and often the distinguishing feature between the two is attitude, positive thinking and the absence of inhibiting fear.
Fear of the competition, for instance, can put you in a defeatist frame of mind even before the competition begins. If you're so "psyched out" that you consider your opponent unbeatable, then you have defeated yourself. Instead, your goal is to foster belief in yourself, train hard to achieve the means to victory, then realize you have made your belief work for you.
All your success comes first out of belief in yourself. In fact, belief and success go hand in hand. Once you rid yourself of fear, you begin to see yourself as potentially better than your opponent, and that's the key to winning! In a state of fear, you will never see yourself as potentially better than your opponent. So, it's obvious then, that your state of mind determines, to a large extent, whether or not you ever "see" victory.
Fear Of Injury:
Fear of injury is another inhibiting factor. Doubtless you've heard of the "oft-injured" athlete who is forever on the disabled list. Sometimes, when this athlete returns to active play, he/she tends to be slightly gun-shy, afraid of injury, and might even alter his/her style of play to protect from injury. Ironically, playing to protect yourself against injury often leads to it, because you're pulling up, not following through with movements and contracting your muscles irregularly.
The same sort of protective training occurs in bodybuilding. The effects of a torn rotator cuff, a pulled hamstring or whatever injury you may have suffered, all tend to linger long after the injury is healed sufficiently to be trained again. Being careful is prudent. But being unreasonably careful will serve naught but keeping you from your goal.
Fear Of Success:
Picture this scenario. Your best buddy is your training partner. He means a lot to you, and you don't want to embarrass him by showing him up with your superior physique, strength or pain tolerance. Whatever.
Were does this lead? Believe me, this sort of "fear" is not all that uncommon!
Being pals is one thing. But a real pal will recognize (although perhaps not acknowledge or accept at permanent) your superior abilities. Turn your friendship with your training partner into a healthy, constructive, friendly competitive situation!
If you feel that your training partner is holding you back, don't train with him anymore! If you're an aspiring elite bodybuilder, your training program isn't going to match his anyway. Being buddy-buddy to the extent of following the identical training programs rep-per-rep, exercise-per-exercise, day after day is downright stupid.
Other Situations Involving Unreasonable Fear Of Succeeding Are:
- Not wishing to attain your ultimate goal for fear of no longer having anything to strive for;
- Not wishing to be forced to accept the socio-psychological responsibilities associated with being the champion, and
- Not wanting to totally commit to doing everything necessary in order to become the champion.
The first step in eliminating these sorts of fears is to realize that they exist. Then, it's a simple matter of intellectually reasoning as to why such fears exist and how utterly silly such fears really are. A skilled sports hypnotherapist or sports psychologist may be able to assist you in eliminating these potentially debilitating roadblocks to success.
Success in sports performance can be likened to the practice of Zen masters. The concentration is so complete, there is no consciousness of concentration. The player must be one with his sport in order to execute it to his/her optimal ability.
You have no doubt been in a situation where your entire attention was so rapt and absorbed in one thought that you completely blocked out all others. This was probably due to your high concentration level on some thought of great importance to you.
This kind of focus can be a confidence builder.
The more you focus on what you're working to achieve, the less distractions enter your awareness. This lifts you out of the state of mind that can't "see" success. Once you begin to "see" success, you consider yourself potentially better than the competition. Little by little, you concentrate more and more, until you're unaware of anything in your way. You see your way clearly to victory and success.
This is total concentration.
This kind of total concentration comes to those who develop total self-confidence. You must have high self-esteem, high motivation, and be consistent in your training program. You must develop your mind to the point that total concentration is merely a learned response, one you never consciously think about anymore.
Then, apply this sort of laser focus rep-per-rep and set-per-set in your workouts. Apply it in following your daily-integrated training program. Just as success begets success, imperfect practice makes your performance imperfect.
Dr. Fred Hatfield
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