Ruts Along the Way

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Are you currently sidelined or frustrated with where you are right now?

The truth is that these times are all part of the journey. The key to achieving goals is pushing through all the dips, twists and an unexpected detours along the way. Really that’s where we learn what we most need know.

So how can we push through?

We can find a source of inspiration that will fan the fire (the upcoming NFR is a great source of that for barrel racers!) and do what you can right NOW with what you currently HAVE. Keep the momentum moving forward toward your goal and celebrate the small achievements. It can be easy to leot the imperfect conditions stall us out completely but I think if we wait for the stars to align perfectly we won’t get too far. We have all seen people in seemingly impossible situations achieve amazing things because they simply refused to give up!

I hope if you find yourself relating to this that you take a step forward and do one small act to get you closer to where you want to be today!

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Never Give Up,

Chelsey

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Seasons: Everything Is Temporary

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Wisdom is knowing that everything is temporary and life goes through seasons.

I believe that success and happiness should be immediately celebrated. After Tyler died I learned to really live in the moment and be grateful for just one moment of peace or in the joy of a good laugh with friends. Tragedy, loss, and challenges should not drive you to give up. Really, neither one will last. Things are always changing. When we learn to roll through all seasons knowing they are not going to last forever  it is a sign of true wisdom and our growing experience.

When you see people who are very successful that are humble and kind, you are seeing wisdom. Winning lasts only for a day. Quickly that is all forgotten by the world. It is temporary like the summer. It is so important to invest in what really matters and endures.  Which I think is kindness. I think the best use of success is to improve the world around us.

When facing loss, challenges and unwanted change, we could best use those times to learn. We should not let those times push us into complete despair, stopping us from moving forward. We know that winter will end and it won’t be cold forever. Slowly Spring sneaks in and before we know it the whole world is renewed. If we keep moving, we will eventually find ourselves in a totally different place. Good things are always on the horizon, we just have to stay open to them during the hard times. If we let ourselves be defeated and stay down, it is very likely we will be miss the very opportunities that could raise us up and out of that place. We don’t have to stay in difficult times longer than necessary.

Never Give Up!

Be blessed and keep going!

Chelsey

Sports Psychology: Mental Toughness

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PART 2

So continuing on from my first post on sports psychology let’s examine the importance of mental toughness in a successful athlete. It is applicable to life as well, especially when facing serious adversity. A definition from the previous post says:

Mental toughness is a psychological edge that helps one perform at a high level consistently. Mentally tough athletes exhibit four characteristics: a strong self-belief (confidence) in their ability to perform well, an internal motivation to be successful, the ability to focus one’s thoughts and feelings without distraction, and composure under pressure.

When I first started barrel racing I was extremely anxious. I wanted to do well, there were people watching, and I was new to racing. All that made me nervous. When I made my run it would be like I blacked out and I wouldn’t be able to focus or really remember what happened. I just kind of haphazardly went in and made my run. We didn’t go fast and we didn’t get great results.

Today before a race I feel very calm and focused. I sometimes still make mistakes, but I am conscious throughout my run and am in the moment. Afterwards I know what happened, what went right and where I made mistakes. Not to say that videos aren’t still helpful! But it is a stark contrast from when I started.

Making mistakes during a run can also throw riders off. Being confident, keeping emotions from taking over after a mistake and visualizing doing so before a run can aid greatly in recovering and preventing a mistake from ruining a run. Look over this list of strategies for building mental toughness for some tips:

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The website Strong Athlete’s article “Mental Toughness: The Winning SECRET of Elite Athletes” lists five techniques in achieving mental toughness:

1. Accepting Failure

2. Mental Rehearsal

3. Success Imaging

4. Goal Setting

5. Support Team

The support team is a unique component to examine in the formula of success, not just in sports, but in life.

Strong Athlete’s article expands on the support team saying:

Mental toughness can come from within but it can also come from outside. Having the right individuals around you is critical to achieving success. Always surround yourself with like-minded people who are as driven as you are to push hard, be the best, and achieve success. Negative people, or the “haters” as they are sometimes referred to serve no purpose in your life. Eliminate them and there’s nothing holding you back. Having a strong support team such as your family and friends is also great for defining purpose. Not only will you want to succeed for yourself, you will also want to succeed for them and that is a remarkably powerful motivator.

Do you have the right people around you in your support team? It can be very difficult to maintain a positive mentality, even if it comes naturally, if you have the wrong people around you. Being able to recognize and let go of these unhealthy relationships can make a huge difference in your overall success. I learned this after losing my husband, having the right people around you is one of most important things in life.

So, where does your mental toughness stand? Do you see areas where you could improve?

areyoumentallytough

I hope you have a new interest in sports psychology and how it could impact your success, in competition and in life.

Never Give Up!

Chelsey

http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

Sports Psychology: Do You Have What It Takes? Part One

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Welcome Everyone!

Remember in my last blog post “Are You Enjoying the Ride?”  when I shared the quote from research that found that Intrinsic Motivation was more beneficial than Extrinsic Motivation? Here it is again just in case:

“In the end it seems that the one who meets the most goals is not happier than the one who can enjoy the process.”

I have always be interested in people, what motivates them and their experiences. This is part of the reason why I have a degree in Psychology. I am also always looking to improve myself and learn more, especially in working with horses and barrel racing. So naturally it led me to Sports Psychology. I think there is a lot of useful and insightful information coming from this field that not everyone thinks about or is aware of, so I am sharing it with you.

So back to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Why do you do what you do? In barrel racing, work, or how about your life? Intrinsic means simply to come from within you, basically you do what you do because you truly enjoy doing it. Extrinsic would come from outside yourself, an example of extrinsic motivation would be attention from others.

Does it matter what motivates you? Research and Sports Psychology says yes, it does matter. Consider the following:

The main argument and difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation contends that intrinsic motivation is derived from a self-concept, core beliefs, internal need and development opposed to extrinsic motivators which can undermine these motivations. According to Dr. James Gavin, a professor at Concordia University, motives need to be additive in effect, which means the more reasons you find to motivate yourself to engage in a behavior, the more likely you will continue with and persist in these behaviors. External motivators are typically not additive.

Okay, so why does motivation matter? It matters because it keeps us going through losses and difficulties. It matters because it is an important characteristic of mental toughness, which is a huge part of being a successful athlete. One area of research in Sports Psychology is Personality and it’s importance to performance.

Personality

One common area of study within sport psychology is the relationship between personality and performance. This research focuses on specific personality characteristics and how they are related to performance or other psychological variables.

Mental toughness is a psychological edge that helps one perform at a high level consistently. Mentally tough athletes exhibit four characteristics: a strong self-belief (confidence) in their ability to perform well, an internal motivation to be successful, the ability to focus one’s thoughts and feelings without distraction, and composure under pressure.[28]Self-efficacy is a belief that one can successfully perform a specific task.[29] In sport, self-efficacy has been conceptualized as sport-confidence.[30] However, efficacy beliefs are specific to a certain task (e.g., I believe I can successfully make both free throws), whereas confidence is a more general feeling (e.g., I believe I will have a good game today).Arousal refers to one’s physiological and cognitive activation. While many researchers have explored the relationship between arousal and performance, one unifying theory has not yet been developed. However, research does suggest perception of arousal (i.e., as either good or bad) is related to performance.[31]Motivation can be defined broadly as the will to perform a given task. People who play or perform for internal reasons, such as enjoyment and satisfaction, are said to be intrinsically motivated, while people who play for external reasons, such as money or attention from others, are extrinsically motivated.[32]

So as you can see it is important to love what you do! Whatever you are doing, competing, working or just life in general, take a moment to look at what your motivation is. Are you too focused on others? Is it all about the money? Are you happy? Are you reliant on the approval of others? Does your world fall apart when someone else does better than you or gets something you wanted? It doesn’t have to be that way, but you will have to make changes.

If you really enjoy what you are doing, just keep going! Keep nurturing those intrinsic motivations and surround yourself with positive people. Be careful to not be drawn into that extrinsic world by others!

Do What You Like and Like What You Do!

AAA

Never Give Up!
Chelsey

Are You Enjoying the Ride?

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In response to my last post I had a friend share some additional information regarding goals including an article and review from someone who had done their master’s thesis on goal setting. Some very interesting stuff! One thing caught my attention and had me thinking from the article review below:

I seldom write comments on any article, but I especially liked this one as it actually corroborates a lot of information in current goal setting research. I wrote my masters thesis in self-concordance, the degree to which a person sets goals that are congruent with ones need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (the three contributing factors that make a goal either intrinsic or extrinsic), and in the end it seems that the one who meets the most goals is not happier than the one who can enjoy the process.

Why do we set goals? Why do we want to achieve them? Because it makes us happy? Does the process matter? Is winning what it is all about? I’m going to talk about this in relation to competing with horses, specifically barrel racing but it could apply to many other life goals or sports.

The process of winning at barrel racing includes many hours of riding, training, tack maintenance, truck and trailer maintenance, hours of hauling to events, horse health care, feeding, watering, hoof trimming, grooming, working on improving our riding skills and  not to mention the money it takes to do all this! It can take a lot to get to each race! Though the amount of work put into each thing surely varies from person to person, barrel racing can be a tough sport and after all that work and preparation we have less than 20 seconds in the arena to show for it. You get one chance and it is over quick!

It got me thinking about the reactions that come at the end of those competition runs. Of course if you have a good run and win money most people are all smiles. Hit a barrel or a slow run and the reaction definitely varies from a shrug and a pat for the horse to yanking and cranking on the horse and someone in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Then there is the interaction between those who won and those who didn’t. There are those who gloat and go on and on about themselves and some competitors who can’t genuinely congratulate someone else that did well….but then there are also those winners who simply say thank you and return a compliment and those who can have a bad run, congratulate those who did well while confidently looking forward to working on their mistakes and the opportunity to do well at their next run. I would say the latter are the definition of “good sportsmanship”.

Do these reactions say anything about us or what our motivations are? Is it possible that our goals can make us unhappy and that if we are not enjoying the ride, it shows? Do we think to ourselves “I will be happy when win”? Can we lose sight of why we started and actually get so lost in competitiveness that we start to not even enjoy what we are doing?

I think yes, we can be too ambitious and focused only on goals/winning. And yes, it can take the enjoyment out of the “process” and I think we can lose sight of what a privilege it is to even own horse! As well as the responsibly we have as their caretakers to put them before  our pride. How sad would it be to lose sight of that special bond that grows between horse and rider and the awesome feeling when everything comes together when you are training and not competing?

It makes me think back to high school and studying Shakespeare’s plays. I remember Shakespeare’s warnings about the dangers of unbridled ambition. Our ambition can catapult us to great heights only to continue on and ruin all we have achieved if not checked.  Certainly the dangers of hanging our emotions and self worth on these things alone are easy to see. We will end up unstable emotionally and easily discouraged if we face challenges and losses if our self esteem is based on just the win.

So what is my experience with this? I would say so far I have enjoyed the ride most of the time. If I was down or unhappy with my competition runs it didn’t last long. Perhaps it is because my life changed so much and I know how it feels to lose what is REALLY important. I realize that every day is a gift and today should be enjoyed as we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I love competing and I have goals, don’t get me wrong! I like to see my studying and hard work pay off as much as the next person! But goals don’t dominate my journey or happiness. I am grateful for what I have and how far I have come. I think that I value being content and happy so much today after feeling such intense loss and sadness that it would be unlikely that I would ever let goals or ambition ever take any of that away or minimize the blessings I already have. But just in case, I am glad this came up and I can make sure to keep it in mind.

Are you enjoying the ride?

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Never Give Up! Chelsey