EVALUATING YOUR STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
By Chrissy Zmijewski
With degrees in both psychology and social work, coaching my clients focuses just as much, if not more, on their mental state, attitude, and goal strategy, as on diet, exercise, and supplementation. Talented athletes in every sport struggle without the right mindset. They may choke under pressure, feel defeated by not reaching their goals, or undermine success with a less than ideal training/competition plan.
Your training strategy needs to include your nutrition program, your workouts, your supplements, your rest/recovery strategy, your approach to leaning out, and your game plan regarding which competitions to enter. The competition season can be a long one, with many opportunities to compete from March or April all the way until November or December. Without a balanced approach, you can end up over-trained, over-dieted, and mentally exhausted even before the season is finished. With an intelligent plan, your season will not only be a success, but will also help you stay balanced in mind and body throughout the year so that you can make it to the championships at the end of the year, if that is what you desire. In order to come up with the strategy that is going to help you the most this training season, you must start by evaluating the goal(s) you set for the upcoming competition season.
“…you have absolutely NO CONTROL over the outcome of any competition…Regardless of your best efforts, your competition may have shown a bit better.”
What is it that you want to achieve this year? What is your big goal? Do you want to get up the nerve to get on stage for the first time? Do you want to enter a different division? Do you want to come in with a leaner or more muscular physique? Do you want to find a more balanced approach to training and competing so that you can participate in the sport you love and still have time for other things in your life (like children, new job opportunities, moving, getting married, etc.)? Do you want to place first or win your pro card? All of these are goals that I discuss with my clients. Some are better than others, in that some you have more control over the outcome and a better chance of success.
No doubt that winning is enjoyable, but you have absolutely NO CONTROL over the outcome of any competition. There can only be one winner and only a few pro cards given out. Regardless of your best efforts, your competition may have shown a bit better. If you did your best to prepare for the competition, the outcome speaks nothing about your efforts. There are too many factors at play, many of which are outside of your sphere of influence.
If your only goal this year is to win or to earn your pro card, there is only one way to succeed. Everything else is missing the mark. Can you imagine working hard for hours a day for months on end exercising, planning meals, honing your mental state, etc. only to feel like you failed at the end of the year because you didn’t place first or win your pro card? That doesn’t sound like fun to me, and yet that is the story for thousands of competitors each year because their goals were focused on outcomes in which they have no control. Competitors leave organizations, quit the sport, or even quit training all together because of discouragement. These actions and the attitudes that accompany them are usually due to a goal that is based on the outcome and not the overall process.
“It is these ‘little’ successes that are going to fuel you for greater and greater heights and the ones that will matter the most, even years after you are done competing.”
I highly encourage my clients to set goals that they have control over. They can control whether or not they complete their workouts, meet their calorie goals, practice posing, and do weekly assessments with me about their progress. Each day and each week they have opportunities to succeed and meet their goals. Success, then, can happen much more often than just a couple of times a year at a competition. It is these “little” successes that are going to fuel you for greater and greater heights, and the ones that will matter the most, even years after you are done competing.
The strength and discipline it takes to prepare for the competition and the journey of transforming your mind, body, and life are so much more valuable than an ego-stroking trophy. If this sport is about bettering yourself and your health, the trophy is just a by-product and a bonus to all the hard work you have done. If you have transformed yourself and your life, isn’t that really what matters—being the best YOU that you can be? A win on stage is just a moment in time. A transformation of your body and mind is something that lasts much, much longer.
Your first priority is to set a goal in which you have control over the factors that determine whether or not you reach that goal. I did that very thing for myself a few months ago. After pushing hard last year in many areas of my life, I was worn out. My body needed rest, I was put on medical leave, but being the driven person that I am, I still wanted to participate in the sport that I love so much. I decided that my goal this year was to HAVE FUN! I would focus every aspect of training and competing on enjoying myself. While I still have to diet and be disciplined, each day and each workout was focused not on how I could go harder or push myself more, but how I could have the most fun. My attitude is definitely something that I can control moment to moment and day to day. As long as I am having fun this year, I am considering it a successful competition season. Winning would just be icing on the cake!
“One of my mentors recently told me, ‘If it was easy, if you had everything you were looking for right now, the journey and life itself would be meaningless.’”
This approach is by no means an excuse or a way out of hard work or dedication. It is about working from a smart and empowered standpoint. It is about choosing a target in which you can control and/or directly affect the outcome, adjust your aim as you progress, and acknowledge all of the efforts and attempts along the way. One of my mentors recently told me, “If it was easy, if you had everything you were looking for right now, the journey and life itself would be meaningless.”
We are here to learn. We are here to experience. Mostly, we are here to BE. While this may sound a bit philosophical for a bodybuilding article, I cannot neglect the role that the mind and motivation have in every endeavor. If you do not know where to begin, ask yourself this question: If there were no pro cards awarded, no trophies, and no sponsorships, what goal or vision would you set for yourself this year? Why is that goal so important to you?
If you do not know the answer, then you are at a perfect place to mentally inves-tigate the “WHY” behind what you are doing. If your “WHY” is not meaningful enough for you, any distractions or disappointments will lead you astray. How-ever, a strong “WHY” will help you through your doubts, disappointments, and setbacks. It will motivate you to get up when you have fallen down, and ultima-tely, it will help you formulate a plan that will allow you to succeed. If your mind is set right, anything is possible.
Your journey and competing is more mental than it is anything else. Start with your “WHY” for this year or for competing in general. Then, work your way backwards and decide on what you will need to commit to in order to meet that goal.
Periodically, evaluate your goal and determine if your strategy, or even your goal, needs to change. Regardless of what your goal is, start each day reminding yourself of the “WHY.” Your training plan and the passion that fuels your goal will take care of the rest, and regardless of the outcome, you will have succeeded! NMI
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Chrissy Zmijewski | Contributing Editor “Chrissy’s Corner”
Chrissy is a Professional Bodybuilding and Figure competitor with the IFPA, as well as an author and fitness model. She specializes in fitness, nutrition, and contest prep coaching with her international business, Goddess Athlete. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org