8 Motivational Tips From an Olympian

Photo courtesy of Nikki Stone

With one month to go to the appearance of the world's best athletes competing to reach their dreams of winning a 2014 Winter Olympic medal, there is no time like the present to set our sights on our own dreams and goals.

Do you have something you want to accomplish but you aren't quite sure how to get to the finish line? Have you put off your objectives because you're not sure you have what it takes? Do you feel you are stuck and can't get past a certain plateau? No matter if the achievement is career-oriented, academic, athletic, health-related or personal, we all need the proper tools to reach the achievement.

I was five years old when I told my parents that I wanted to win the Olympics someday. Through 22 years of hard work, dedication and great resilience, I learned how to accomplish my seemingly improbable dream. I learned that these skills and tools I developed in order to win Olympic gold could be translated to any goal I wanted to achieve.

If you have your sights set on big improvements, a valuable change or a meaningful goal, take a page from Olympic medalists' success and try these eight proven steps to demonstrate a true pledge to making it happen:

1 Set a goal:
It's essential to understand the importance of developing long term goals and using these objectives to keep you on track. Make sure the goal is meaningful and truly worth pursuing in the good AND bad times. This activity is, in fact, one that we use as Olympians on the path to stand atop the illustrious medal podium.

2. Believe that you can make a change: It's great to know that other people support and believe in you, but if you don't believe it yourself, it will never happen.

3. Understand that nothing happens overnight:
Neither your family, your career, nor your personality developed overnight. So why should a change in your lifestyle change overnight? Be patient and try to look to the long term.

4. Make sure that you are committed to the outcome:
Don't be afraid to share your goal and put it in writing. Today, either give yourself a challenge or challenge a colleague, teammate or friend to decide on a certain goal with you. Write the challenge down on an index card and tape it to the wall to remind yourself of your goal. This commitment will make you accountable to your goals and responsible for your actions. Read your index card and/or check in with your friend weekly to keep yourself on track. If you aren't willing to put a goal in writing, you probably aren't really committed to achieving it.

5. Have a plan in place to deal with setbacks:
Redirect your failures so they work for you. My neighbor is a pilot and he told me that a flight overseas is off course the majority of the time. The reason it gets to its destination is because the pilot is constantly readjusting to put the plane back on course.

Be a pilot who keeps making corrections to get the job done. Today, pick a project or activity you are working on and come up with three alternate plans in case something goes wrong. As with fire drills in grade school, it helps to plan several escape routes in case of an emergency. Expect the unexpected and you will never be thrown too far off course.

6. Practice for dealing with pressure:
People often lack confidence when it's most important: in the heat of a critical moment, when the adrenaline is really pumping. It's much easier to demonstrate self-assurance when the pressure isn't on. Ask yourself if you have what it takes to perform when you're in a truly stressful situation. How many dry runs have you been through to ensure a resounding yes to that question? If something is important enough to be nervous about, then it's important enough to rehearse repeatedly. Before your next nerve-wracking event, meeting, or call, try rehearsing your performance three to five more times than you normally would. You will be amazed at your self-confidence when you walk into a situation fully prepared. And when your nerves kick in, it feels much better knowing you have rehearsed to a level where you're almost going on autopilot.

7. Have a strong team behind you:
It doesn't take a genius to find the support you need. The real genius lies in recognizing that you need it! Take the time to see if you are letting others in to help you.

Are you one of those people who insist on controlling a situation? How uncomfortable are you in releasing some of that control? Ask yourself why you need to maintain this power. Try to see if you can let go of even part of that stubborn side by asking someone for help or delegating responsibility today for some small task you would normally do yourself.

Notice that someone else's support and perspective can actually enhance the finished product. And may even allow you time to turn your attention toward more important issues.

8. Remember why you are doing this:
We often forget what is most important to us at our core. Today, take the time to remember what you wanted to be as a young child or teenager, and why. Look at your current job, relationship or endeavor and find the parts that resonate with the untainted dreams you had while you were growing up. We often get distracted by money, by what other people think is most important, or by something else on our current path that's secondary. Children naturally act out of their core passions. Find these important elements within yourself to embrace.

Good luck on your path to the top. Whether or not you reach your ultimate visions, remember that it's important enough to try. My grandmother always told me, "the brave do not live forever and the cautious do not live at all." Be brave enough to make that effort and live out your dreams.

Motivational Tips and Tools

As an Olympian, best-seller, inspirational speaker, and Biggest Loser motivational expert, I'm often asked for tips, tools, quotes and activities to help people reach their goals. I like to end all of my blogs with short tools that are driven from actual advice I've shared.

This week's tip:

Try making a resolution at the start of every month rather than every year. Getting through 30 days or so is a lot less overwhelming than 365 days. And this way you can try to accomplish 12 goals in a year rather than one that you give up on after two weeks. And your resolution in February better be to fervently cheer on our American athletes as they resolve to try to be the best in the world!