Do you find that your results always fall short of your expectations? Or that you never really perform as well in races as you do in training?
Let's look more closely at expectations, what they are, and why they can be so damaging...
Expectations. We all have them, in fact we live our lives by them. We feel elated when they are met, and utterly crushed when reality falls short. If expectations are potentially so damaging why are we addicted to creating them?
When I was racing Mountain Bikes I frequently fed back to my coaches that "I just didn't have it today", or "I was awesome in training only a few days ago, but fell short for the race" fairly often I'd feel "I just didn't have any confidence today". Looking back, it was my expectations which crippled me. I was literally weighed down by the extra pressure I was putting on myself to WIN, to be the "next big thing", and yes you guessed it, exceed "expectations".
I ended up carrying around these expectations to every race, they were right there with me, in warm-up, on the start line, in the single-track, the climbs, everywhere! I brought them right into the thick of competition. I allowed them to build to urgency, "I have to", "I've got to", "I need to". This urgency built into pressure, and nerves; "What if I don't win?". I gave my expectations too much control. Now completely distracted, my focus was miles from where it should have been. Instead of being fully present in each pedal stroke the "expected" end result became bigger than the performance itself, and my old friend "fear of failure" turned up. Great! Too scared of not meeting expectations my body would clam up, literally shut down and stop working... No points for predicting how this story ends, but the phrase "didn't meet EXPECTATIONS" springs to mind.
I'd go as far as to say it's human nature to create expectations, so how do we harness them and prevent taking with us to the start line?
Reality is those goals, and to a certain extent, expectations are a useful tool for us (as coaches and athletes), to help with the day to day difficulties of training. They help us set structure, hold us accountable, and help connect the dots between the "WHY" and day to day training.
They should, however, be seen as a training aid only, much like a Garmin or Trainer. Try to make the distinction between "expectation"- (a strong belief something will happen), and "confidence"- (a belief that PROCEEDS execution and is VOID of expectation). By creating confidence through a structure, daily feedback from a coach and a personalized process you will find it much easier to pack this in your pocket for a race and give "expectation" the boot.
This process took me years to figure out and the net result is I'm now racing "free". I'm able to give more each performance, and even better, the enjoyment is there! At CINCH we have a number of mindset tools to help with exactly this so if you'd like to learn more please get in touch.
This article was written by CINCH coach, Sophie Johnson.
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