In the last post, I discussed the importance of making sure you’re staying focused on each and every repetition that you execute, if you’re goal is accelerate your technical development. That process is facilitated by asking two simple questions, that help you stay focused on what you need to achieve, so that you can make progress, one swim at a time.
Last time, I described the nuances of asking the questions what did I do well?. Today, we’ll discuss the other questions, what could be better? No matter how effective you were, there is always opportunity to improve.
What could be better?
While staying positive and focusing on your successes is a critical aspect of continuing to improve, you do need to acknowledge where you need to improve. While we could frame these areas for improvement as ‘mistakes’ or ‘weaknesses’, you’re better off framing them as opportunities for improvement.
Rather than focusing on what you did wrong, focus on the opportunities for further improvement. While this may seem like just playing with words, it’s a critical distinction. By focusing on what you did wrong, you’re focusing on mistakes and reinforcing failure. By focusing on what you can do better, you’re framing it in the context of an opportunity to perform better. There is something to gain.
As mentioned above, creating change is an inherently frustrating process. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, and there can be extended periods of time between significant accomplishments. If you can make that process as palatable as possible, it’s a lot more likely you’ll continue to pursue your goals. The more enjoyable the process, the more likely it is that you’ll stick through the difficult parts and get to the successes.
When working with opportunities for improvement, there is a challenge that needs to be overcome. If it wasn’t a significant challenge, it wouldn’t be an opportunity for improvement as you would have already addressed it. To overcome a major challenge, you want to create most favorable conditions for success as possible. Maintaining a positive outlook on what you can do better starts from an assumption of success. You’re stating what you can do better. That implies that you CAN do better and that you will do better. Rather than listing all of the skills and abilities that you lack, you’re recognizing what you CAN do better right NOW. It’s actionable and you’re assuming success. You’re not hoping to accomplish a skill. You’re going to do it. That makes a big difference in terms of your motivation and commitment.
It makes sense to focus on what you believe you can change. If you believe you should work on your breathing, but you don’t believe you can actually fix it, it’s a waste of time. Focus your time and energy in an area where you believe change is possible. Remember, your progress is determined by what you actually do, so focus your energy on what you’re actually going to do.
Lastly, this process puts you in control. You are making the choice on what to work on, based on your expectation that you can be successful. When you’ve made the choice and you feel like you have control, you’re much more likely to give a full effort, and that’s going to be critical to be successful. While it may seem insignificant, something as simple as the way you communicate with yourself about each repetition can be the difference between success and failure.
Next time, I’ll show you how to put theory into practice, make decisions, and act on the information you’ve acquired.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.