The clock is ticking. It may be your body clock, your career or the clock ticking away the seconds of your life to date. Reflect on how many times you’ve started something and not finished it and then have a think about why that is. Was it a matter of circumstance at the time or a lack of motivation, passion or drive; or was the goal too overwhelming and you couldn’t see the forest for the trees? Five-time Olympian Natalie Cook knows just what it takes to get you motivated, create new habits and get you on the road to that big dream you have your heart set on. Natalie can share the key to motivation with you so that you stick it out during the tough times and fulfil your dreams.
Think big and strategise
So many people underestimate the power of the mind. Too few people have really tapped into it to use the mind for good with regard to instilling self-worth and focus. Natalie had a big dream. It wasn’t just to train hard. It wasn’t just to train hard enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team. It was to train hard enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team, to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. Would you have tapped out at the ‘train hard’ step of the process because the extent of the end goal was far too massive and exhausting to consider? You’re not alone and many do let it overwhelm them. The trick is to strategise. Break down that huge dream into smaller bite-sized pieces and schedule in milestones. This will stop your mind from completely freaking out and actually make the goal a lot more achievable. You will find your confidence will soar as you reach each milestone, as will your motivation and focus.
Quick fixes don’t work, but embarrassment does
‘“Quick fixes” don’t work. Change requires new habits; and habits, bad or good, develop over time. Build and nurture the good ones!’ Natalie Cook
Make no mistake, training your mind to think a certain way is no mean feat and takes persistence, consistency, time, guts and embarrassment. Natalie’s coach, Steve Anderson, truly believed that confidence was a key factor that separated the winners from the rest of the pack. When he set challenges to really put Natalie’s feelings and thoughts on the line, he wasn’t joking.
‘I had the girls barking and crowing like roosters in the middle of South Bank, Brisbane, with people watching … There’s something almost embarrassing about going all out. But champions don’t care. They respect themselves; they respect their work.’ Steve Anderson
The aim was to break down the barriers causing the embarrassment and ultimately show that you can control that part of your mind that worries about what others think. He had Natalie do crazy things like this regularly over time until nothing fazed her. Her focus was clear, her motivation solid and any dream stealers were told not to bother.
Create simple yet long-lasting habits
Creating and sticking to new habits when current ones are entrenched in your mindset can be very challenging. To keep you motivated and on track, place images (such as posters, screensavers or fridge magnets) around the home or put together a dream board to constantly remind you why you are changing your habits and to help keep you focused. Why not change your password to resemble a key word linked with your goals, or get into the habit of laying out your gym gear the night before, or even putting your alarm clock in another room to make you get out of bed in the morning. Take a look at the words and language you use frequently. Are they negative or positive? Make a conscientious effort to refrain from using wishy-washy words like ‘try’ or ‘maybe’ and replace them with a firm ‘I will’ or ‘yes’. You’ll be amazed at how different you feel. The key to motivation is in part continued improvement towards your goal and all these small habitual changes can help you stay focused and motivated. Once you have conquered breaking bad habits and creating new ones, and know what this feels like to achieve, you’ll find this technique can be applied to almost anything in life
‘I was searching for permanent change: the type of change that would not only win me a gold medal, but would allow me to seek and achieve excellence in every endeavour in life.’ Natalie Cook
Visualise and live it
Have you ever thought long and hard about a new car you want to buy? You picture the sleek design, you can smell the leather seats and the new car air freshener; you can feel the seat warmer in the driver’s seat and the sun streaming through the sunroof. Then, as if by coincidence, you begin to notice that exact model of car everywhere on the roads and see ads for it on TV. It’s as if you’re a magnet to it or that the universe is trying to tell you something.
‘I got up every morning with, “I want to be an Olympic gold medallist” and one day this changed to realising that “I am an Olympic gold medallist”, before it even happened. This is a really unique spin in that, it’s like the chicken and the egg: do you believe in something before you succeed? Or do you have to succeed before you believe. And I think you can believe in it first, and by me declaring I’m an Olympic gold medallist two years before it happened freaked a lot of people out.’ Natalie Cook
Well, maybe it is. By training your mind to use your five senses to help visualise your goal, it will embed itself in your subconscious. When Natalie had her heart set on winning gold, she purposely bought gold jewellery and other gold items to constantly surround herself with, to the point where she felt like she’d already won a gold medal. Let Natalie inspire you to find your own key to motivation, to help you start on the road to achievement.
‘As a human being you’ve got unlimited potential. You can put effort on you, and by concentrating on you and developing you, you can transform your life no matter where you are right now.’ Les Brown