It is usual practice in sport to set goals, to have a destination ahead – a competition on the horizon that has resonated with body, mind and soul. We are motivated:
‘Can I do that?’
‘I think I can…’
‘Lets find out….’
The process has begun…
What is it we want to achieve?
Are there any parts of ourself that are incongruent with the goal?
Do we know how we are going to do it, what training is needed?
Do we need to make any lifestyle adjustments ?
How long will it take?
Have we set a reasonable time span to achieve our goal?
This practice of questioning applies to team games as well as individual sport.
Good coaching enables the individuals in a team to perform synergistically so that the energy of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual players. In individual sport the more whole and integrated our own energy, the more we are able to perform to the best of our ability.
Having a destination in mind is the first stage of setting off on a journey and, as with any journey, depending on our approach, it has the potential to enrich us, to teach us lessons, to access inner strengths and to help us develop new skills.
It is, however, important that from the outset we hold the goal with light reins.
As long months of hard work begin it becomes necessary to engage in our daily practices towards our goals; training, sleeping and eating for example, in a way that supports us.
As the path unfolds ahead of us if we are engaged in each day, in each moment of each day then we will be more able to enjoy the unfolding journey.
When the path gets rocky or steep, we are more likely to appreciate and discover that this is the time we receive unexpected gifts (for instance we meet a special new friend, perhaps the massage therapist or physiotherapist who is supports us at this time, maybe a fellow traveller on the path to the same destination who we learn from and whose company we enjoy) if we are holding onto our goal lightly rather than gripping tight.
If the going gets very tough, this is the time to look up and remember our destination, to see that we are nearer than we thought and use our knowledge to inspire us to keep going…
Occasionally it feels that we might never arrive, we have had to take a detour, sidelined with an injury or illness or we are just very tired.
It is how we manage these setbacks that contribute to the learning on the road we are travelling.
Mastering our sport can bring us greater ability to master our lives.
As we recognise this we might start to understand what our journey is really about.
We might notice that in creating clear relaxed energy within our system we can stay focused with our attention on the moment we are in, undistracted and clear, playing each shot, processing each move, running each step without tensing up or being worried about our imagined goal.
Of course, on the way to learning how to be present in our sport we are likely to experience a range of emotions such as anger and frustration, or be sidelined with injury or be disappointed in our training and our goal may seem completely out of reach.
If we seek to clear these states and learn how to stay at ease, harnessing our energy towards self management and the releasing of these tensions – if instead we use these challenges to develop ourselves and connect to an inner trust we manifest confidence and are more able to realise our best expression.
If, in fact, we can let go of an attachment to the outcome of the goal; one that we might have been training towards for many months, even years, then we can perform with absolute freedom, experience being ‘in the zone’, and allow out our very best performance.
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About the Author: Julia Chi Taylor
Julia is an ex international distance runner.
In the late 70’s all through the 80’s and into the early 90’s she competed regularly for England and GB at distances from 5k to Marathon.
Some of her best performances include winning the 1985 Dublin Marathon and finishing 7th woman (3rd British woman) in the 1986 London Marathon in a time of 2.36.31 where she was selected to run in the Commonwealth Games. She still competes now as a master over 55, regularly winning her age group in races around the world. She’s was also part of the winning team for the national master X country championships in March this year, 2016.