If you are involved in any sports or activities and particularly if you have been for a number of years, you’ll be aware that you can go through phases. Phases of high intensity, high motivation, high performance and similarly low motivation, low intensity and low performance.
What is significant here is that these changes are a natural ebb and flow. Changes in circumstances, life duties, family, friends, work and finances can all influence your participation.
Acknowledging this you can begin to recognise that sports or your activities are a big part of your life, a big part that can have a huge influence on you, create opportunities, offer success and become a part of how you see and identify yourself in the world.
But…they are not your whole life. yes, you cannot imagine life without them or you feel low when deprived of them but they are one segment of your whole life.
This is not in any way meant negatively or to diminish the importance of your chosen pursuits, in fact quite the opposite.
If you took a few moments to establish and connect with your priorities in life, how many would you list? As we grow older and life events open our eyes, we get afforded opportunities to establish what is important to us. It may be your lifestyle or your family, your partner or your friends. It may be your career or your service to others. It may be to be healthy, o be injury free and to be able to enjoy life. Whatever is on your list can help you connect to the any things that make up your happiness, give you a senseof grounding in yourself and life.
Your Psychological Needs
In our lives we have to address our psychological needs as well as everything else. In our pursuits this concept is as valid. Addressing just physical needs for example may leave you feeling out of sorts and not fully content.
The psychologist Glasser stated that we have 4 Basic Psychological needs, Love and to be loved, Power, Freedom and Fun. When these needs are met, we can enjoy a sense of stability and psychological well being. If some of these needs are not met or are lacking, there can be a sense of being out of sync, feeling disconnected. Our psychological needs are no different to our other needs-Its like if you had not had a good meal in a few days , you may feel slightly lacking in nourishment, a part of you would be craving and signalling to you to source a healthy meal.
Obviously at certain points in your life sacrifices will need to be made and some areas may not get addressed as well as others but in the overall ‘big picture’ it would be important that you feel you cater for everything well.
Can you see how your pursuits serve these psychological needs or how you can address them in other aspects of your life around your pursuits? This perspective can remind you of your original motivations in your pursuits, you original intentions and help you to make better serving choices and decisions.
Having this clarity, this sense of knowing why you are involved in your pursuits can help feed back into your efforts. It can help you see past specific set backs, obstacles, losses or failures to remind you of that ‘big picture’ concept.
To do specific sports or activities for a lifetime there must be an acknowledgement of the internal rewards you receive, the aspects of growth you feel, the positive effect on your psychological well being, your view of yourself, confidence etcWhen you can see all of this, no matter what the results are on paper, your endeavours are worthwhile and integral part of you. If you are solely chasing numbers, it can be fun, but it can be short lived an unsustainable.
Standing back from the details of winning or succeeding helps you to see why you might continue something indefinitely and how that can be possible and with that sense of ease you will actually have more energy and enthusiasm without pressure and you'll find your performance improves.
'I've yet to see a guy lose his card/status or form from under practice. they all lose it from over practice, making golf the most important thing in their lives, losing perspective....the simplicity and joy from the game is lost and its a straight downhill from there.'- Paul McGinley
Heart and Mind
Our pursuits, sports or activities can be passionate fuelled endeavours. By their nature they pull on our heat strings and this can be a great thing. We love our chosen activities.
There is an importance in being smart, in not getting ruled by our hearts. We may love chocolate or cake but eat it all day everyday and we can feel sick!
Recognising the value of your mindset can help you make smarter choices for training, it can help you assess, evaluate and plan more clearly. It can also help you to walk away or re focus when needs be. Listening to your heart is important for sure, and it brings us great joy in life, its just a matter of not being ruled by the heart to the detriment of everything else.
Remember to play
At the end of the day, we need to play and have fun in our lives. We need to feel power which can come through succeeding and achievements and we need to feel a sense of belonging which can come from our teams or communities. When we address all these needs we will feel at most ourselves, settled and content.
When you find the ego gnawing away at you with negative feedback, when you feel pressurised to perform despite your better judgement. When you feel at unease with yourself or situations it is time to reassess, to remind yourself of what is important.
When you are most grounded in yourself and your choices, your pursuits and your whole life will flow with greater ease and success.