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Performance Psychology Blog: Behaviour Change - getting to that next level

I was reminded the other day on what it takes to get to that next level or effectively change our behavior. Our mindset really needs to change and the narrative in our head.

My personal experience of this took place over 20 years ago as I entered my final year of university, I lost 4 stone in weight and pulled out all the stops in my third year to achieve a 2:1 grade. I really had to tap into something deep in my soul, tuning into my inner mojo. For me this was making my mum proud and finishing university with a good grade to help provide for her. On reflection your personal psychology is very important and surrounding yourself with the right people.

Funny enough the whole journey started with a run with my university roommate on a Friday night, don’t ask why we were running on a Friday night. During the run we reached a hill, which we called the “bike path”, this led into a park. At the time the hill felt like a mountain, fast-forward a year later and I would be sprinting up that same hill. But that Friday night as I got to the hill I was sure I wouldn’t make it up to the top, images of collapsing halfway up flooded my mind. The lactic acid had flooded my body, I was coughing and snot was running down my nose, I looked like a hot mess. My friend turned round to me and said if you make it up the hill, you will lose all your weight. Very simple, “make it up the hill”. He ran off ahead up the hill.

The run up the hill must have taken an eternity, all kinds of thoughts whooshing through my mind. I said a silent prayer to myself, making my peace with my God that come what may, I would make it up that hill for my mum. I reached the top barely able to stand, my friend came up to me hit me on the back congratulating me with the words “you took your time”. I took that to mean well done.

The remaining 3-mile jog back home in the darkness was the most exhilarating run of my life. From that day, my whole mindset changed, exercise became an integral part of my soul, almost like breathing. I made small changes like taking stairs instead of using the lift, and seeking opportunities to walk as my mode of transport. Just over three months later I had lost 4 stone in weight and graduated with the highest dissertation grade in social science department.

On reflection what I took from that experience was that to make any big shift in your life, firstly tune into your soul, find that thing you are willing to die for and tap into it. The rest will sort itself out.

Have clear goals, mine was to lose as much weight as possible before the end of my university degree and achieve a 2:1 grade, so over a period of 4 months give everything I had.

Break the task down into small challenges, like running up a bike path, and making the commitment to push through the pain.

Surround yourself with friends willing to tell you the harsh truths everyday, this helped me embrace the need to change and put it into action.

I developed a can do approach to everything, changing the dialogue in my head and embracing hardwork and constantly seeking opportunities to engage in hardwork.

The biggest part was discipline and consistency, getting into a routine of good eating habits and showing up everyday to give all I had.

Nothing in life comes easy, make hardwork your friend and be willing to take your licks. Pain is the feeling of your dreams becoming reality. Anything worth having is going to take all you have to give.

Remember to slap a big smile on your face while you’re doing it.

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