In an interview with Matt Whitlock on the BBC following the Olympic Games in Rio, Sarah Montague congratulated him on winning two individual gold medals and a bronze medal for the team, and that his first gold medal was the first ever Team GB gold medal for gymnastics.
She asked him some interesting questions: ‘Did you ever dare to dream before Rio ….. ? After winning the first how did you handle yourself? What did you tell yourself?”
Matt’s replies included: “It was about sticking to the plan. We had a job to do. That’s what we kept to. It was to stick to what we were doing. Focus on preparing for one more routine…”
Focus and planning – two crucial elements of achievement. Studies show that focus is essential to goal achievement. Focus is the ability to direct your attention completely to a specific task or activity. “Being able to control it (focus) gives you a lot of power, because you know you don’t have to focus on a negative emotion.”
It is relatively easy to focus on something that is going to happen in the short term, but not so easy when you are targeting long term goals. This is partly because we lose sight of something that does not happen quickly, our forward vision becomes fuzzy and distracted.
The ironic thing to mention about focus is that it can be distracting – as Daniel Kahneman says “Intense focusing on a task can make people effectively blind “. Daniel Simon’s and Christopher Chabris’s brilliant Invisible Gorilla video demonstrates this beautifully. (Follow the link in our newsletter to watch it). What you focus on can make you oblivious to other things that are happening around you, and that can be a good thing.
The trick is to think carefully and plan what you are going to focus on. The GB swimming team’s plan, guided by Bill Furniss and sports psychologist Bill Beswick, was that “mediocrity was unacceptable” and that the team would do things the “British way”. With careful planning and by setting high standards and benchmarks and aiming for toughness and resilience Furniss drove his team forward to achieve fabulous results.
With firm planning, clear objectives and proper focus, a lot can be achieved. So for some tips to realise your ambitions read on:
Do some serious Visioning – “One of the main techniques I used was focusing on the goal and visualising myself competing in the race before the race started “ – Michael Johnson, Olympic gold medallist sprinter.
Be an ACE Goal Setter. If you need help we can guide you – get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minimise multi-tasking – What you are actually doing is using up energy flipping rapidly between tasks. Set aside the other tasks, allocating specific time for them later, allowing you to concentrate your attention where you want it to be.
Keep it simple – don’t overthink. As you become more competent, the individual components of your competence become automatic. Daniel Kahneman again – “As you become skilled in a task, its demand for energy diminishes”; now is the time to hone that skill and engage the added value.
Set aside time to address concerns – be aware of your concerns and allocate time to deal with them.
Enjoy! – Plan to enjoy your achievements and acknowledge your successes as they appear.