A Story That Could Change Your Life!

Making the decision to change your life can happen for various reasons. For some, the fresh start of a new year holds enough excitement to push one to introspection and efforts of self-improvement. For others, a difficult life experience such as the loss of a loved one brings the reminder that life is short and that we should live in a way that makes our loved ones and ourselves proud. Regardless of the reason behind making a lifestyle change, there are several keys to lasting and successful change. With my experiences as a former college athlete, I have discovered the top five mental toughness secrets that lead to the greatest successes. These secrets are applicable to every individual, from a teenage boy in high school striving to go to college to a mom down the street seeking to lose the extra weight she put on.

Champions develop world-class beliefs long before they become champions

As a young girl I had always wanted to be the best athlete possible. Following my sophomore year of playing soccer at the Junior Varsity level in high school, I decided that I wanted to be the best player on the high school Varsity team. I sat down one day and came up with a list of things I needed to work on, with individual steps to accomplish each point. I told myself to never give up and stop at nothing short of my goal. The first steps towards working on my goal were to program my mind like a champion, for I knew that if I did that, the rest would follow. I knew that pain or exhaustion would make me want to quit, but that I needed to be mentally strong enough to push through those times. So ask yourself now: are you programming your mind to reach higher and accomplish more than ever before?

Champions believe in choice

Viktor Frankl is a well known psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. In his book Man’s Search For Meaning, he shared, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” At tryouts my junior year for the high school Varsity team, I was told that I was going to play goalkeeper. I was rather upset because I told myself that I had spent hours each day working towards a goal to be the best on the team. In that moment, I made a very important and life-altering choice to make the most of what I was given, though it meant that I would play a position that I hadn’t originally expected. Daily, we reach crossroads of decisions in our lives, some big, some small. Each one of these decisions is difficult, and it is tempting to take the easiest and thus more desirable road of least resistance. But those who will be successful in reaching their goals are those which make the decision to stick with their goals regardless of how undesirable or difficult the pathway might be. Have you made the decision to go to the gym today? Have you chosen to give up unhealthy nutritional practices for the foods that will improve your health in the long run?

Champions embrace conflict for growth

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Junior and senior year for me as an athlete were spectacular, and I achieved the goals that I had set. I wanted to continue my journey as an athlete, this time on a collegiate level. I was fortunate to make it on to BYU’s nationally ranked soccer team, and shortly before leaving I sat down again and wrote down the goals I had for my college experience. In that list I expressed my desire to make the very most of the experience and become a leader and captain of the team. A few weeks later, just a couple of months before leaving home, my brother passed away. The emotional difficulty was almost too much to bear as I left for college, isolated from the support of my family after such an unexpected loss. My freshman year on the soccer team was extremely hard. Every single day I wanted to give up my dream, because it felt like I was being asked to do too much. Yet I pushed on. That year I played a total of 25 minutes. The following year I was redshirted, meaning that I was allowed to train with the team, but not allowed to compete.

I used every single one of those practices that year to develop and fine tune my skills, like a smith who takes time to carefully sharpen a blade. The day before soccer season started my junior year — the year I was expected to finally be able to play — I broke my leg and tore all of the ligaments in my ankle at a team activity. Three years of training, and I had played 25 minutes. Rather than crumble, I chose to see these setbacks as a chance to improve myself so that I would be solidly prepared when the time came. Since I could no longer train physically, I watched. I inspected every detail of how my fellow goalkeepers played, seeing how I could apply their strengths into my own game when I could once again play. I improved who I was as a player even though I didn’t touch a ball a single time that season. Do we ever go through difficult experiences in life that have the power to set us back in our goals? Of course we do! We must not surrender our power to choose, however. Use those sources of conflict to launch you further down the road to your goals! Learn how to be stronger mentally, and to rise to new heights when all else is telling you to quit.

Champions know the power of persistence

Life will do it’s very best to hit you hard. Challenge after challenge seemed to be piled onto my plate, weighing me down and making me think that my goals would not be able to be accomplished. But if there is one valuable lesson that I have learned in life, it’s to never, never, never give up. I stuck with my goal. I persisted when all seemed to tell me no. But every day I decided to expand, again and again and again. For if we have only the characteristic of perseverance in this life, one this is certain: we can outlast, out fight, and out work every possible setback or challenge that comes our way until we come off conqueror. Don’t ever give up on your goals. Persist until no roadblock can resist.

Champions are aware of their limitless potential

I never gave up. Within a four-year period I experienced loss, moving away from home, injury, and not being rewarded for all of my hard work. But because I persisted, I was finally given my opportunity. In 2012 I was named captain before our season even began, an honor considering I had only experienced 25 minutes of playing time. What I did have, however, was confidence. I had trained endlessly, day in and day out. My teammates knew what I was capable of doing as a player because they had seen me at practice working my hardest every day. I knew of countless examples of times when I had exceeded expectations in my performance. I knew I had conquered more than most of my friends would experience in their lifetime. I knew I could do great things. That year we finished 2nd in the country at the end of the regular season. I was named as a Scholar All-American, conference keeper of the year, and various other awards that I had once dreamed of. But I knew that my potential was limitless from the first minute that I stepped onto that field because I had seen myself accomplish hard things. All of us have had moments in our lives when we have done something extremely well, above expectations. If we have had those moments once, if we have done something amazing or overcome an obstacle, why not do it again? We all have the limitless capabilities of greatness within us. Why not let it shine?

Ascend the ladders of your dreams today. Choose to rise, not fall. Choose to live, not die. Shift to your triumph. Today, shift to your triumph. Persist until nothing else stands in your way. You have unlimited potential. And when you tune to these five mental toughness secrets to success, you cannot fail.