This summer 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu beat tennis legend Serena Williams to become the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam tennis title. This Thrive Global article details five mental tactics she used to win, available to any of us.
My favorite was writing herself a mock check for $3.25 million when she was 15, representing the winner’s check that year at the U.S. Open. She then updated the check each year, as the amount increased, until she received the real check for $3.85 million. Her reaction? “I guess these visualizations really, really work.”
Some people may think visualization is too esoteric or “woo-woo,” but, really, it’s just about brain training and creating neural pathways that make it easier to make the right choices for you to reach those big goals.
You may not have your sights set on winning a Grand Slam, but I would bet you have a big goal or dream you want to achieve. If it’s seemed unattainable, even though you’ve put some effort toward it, you may want to try some of Bianca’s strategies:
Write the check – Bianca likely got the idea from another famous Canadian, Jim Carrey, who wrote his own check for $10 million as he launched his acting career. Writing down your goal actually helps your brain remember just what it is you’re aiming for. People who take the time to describe their goals in vivid detail are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully reach those goals.
Visualize – Bianca did more than just write a mock check, she regularly used visualization to put the tournament cup in her hands. Visualization can “trick” your brain into thinking that visualization is actually real – a memory of a past accomplishment, which your brain then “remembers” and helps you play out again and again. Just 10-15 minutes of visualization each day is enough to make the goal real in your mind’s eye.
Be present (with every shot) – In a high-stakes competition like the US Open, Bianca needed to be present and focused. Her meditation routine honed her focus, which paid off when she was center stage against the crowd-favorite, Serena. Mediation can “strengthen the muscle of attention” by building neural pathways that encourage focus. Whether you’re an athlete or an executive, focused attention will keep you in the game.
Breathe – Deep breathing calms both mind and body, no matter what kind of stressful situation you find yourself in. Mindful focus on your breath goes hand-in-hand with being present, and reduces the “butterflies” we get from the body’s stress response.
“Dream Big and Get Big” – This piece of wisdom comes from Bianca’s mom. When you have a big dream you’ll naturally grow to make that dream a reality.
What’s your big dream? Write it down, with as much detail as possible, and then set aside time each day to see it. As you step onto the “court” to meet new challenges, don’t forget to focus and breathe. Try it for 30 days, and see how you grow toward your dream.
Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash