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Julie Bradshaw
Is Your Mind in the Right Place?

Over the years I have been both swimming and coaching, the mind-set element of any open water swim has formed a very important basis of successfully completing ‘the goal’. Many choose to spend a lot of time focusing on the physical element of a swim and/or event, and forget the importance of the mind-set.

Let me tell you, when I swam both the English Channel and Manhattan Island Butterfly I really had to be in the ‘right mind-set’. Even the correct training needs you to be in the right frame of mind! Getting up early mornings and pounding up and down the pool in the winter and in the open water throughout the year, I needed to be motivated. So here are a few tips I have selected:

1.    TAKE ACTION – set your goal and let your mind ‘be’ there already now. When you decide to act upon your goals, they start to happen.
“Whatever your goal, close your eyes and where are you now in relation to that goal?” For me every swim I see myself already having successfully completed it. In fact my first ever English Channel solo aged 15, I saw myself ‘sat on the beach having finished’ and that was before I had physically done it!

2.    FOCUS – there will be good days and days when you just feel you don’t want to get out of bed to train! It’s during the more ‘challenging’ times that you really need to focus. So how do you keep motivated? Here is a little exercises I use and pass on to others:
**“Can you remember a time when you were totally motivated…as you remember that time go back to then, step inside your own body, see what you saw, hear what you are heard and really feel the feelings of being totally motivated…and just notice how good that feels…”

3.    MOTIVATION – linked to what I have just said above, it is important to note if you are a swimmer who is motivated towards a goal, or are you motivated ‘away’ from something? For example, in business a person who is motivated to work so that he/she won’t get fired, then once they get far enough away from that, their motivation goes – it is the ‘up and down’ syndrome.  For me I am always motivated by the goal and achieving this which helps my motivation continue.
If you do identify yourself as an ‘away from’ motivated person, then a life coach/change specialist can help you with this. However, just in identifying how you are in this respect, brings it into your consciousness and makes you aware.

4.    EXTERNAL/INTERNAL REFERENCE – You may wonder what I mean? Let me give you an example. When you are in the middle of swimming the English Channel with a few hours to go, do you turn to your crew to give you feedback on how you are doing or do you just ‘know’ within that you are doing well? The same goes for training. Whilst a coach is important in giving feedback it is very important to be able to ‘rely on yourself’ and give yourself feedback based on your own system. My Father has been with me on all my swims. He has known when to encourage yet most of the time, I have a strong feeling inside of myself. This really helps me to keep going regardless
What kind of swimmer are you? Next time you are out there training take a few moments out and ask yourself:
“Are you someone who bases your decisions on what you think is important or based on what others think is important?”
If you are the latter, you will find that you make decisions based on what other people find important. Whilst it is important to have some balance, if you always decide upon what others think is important, then you are likely to need constant supervision when training and can be seen as indecisive!

5.    BELIEF – this is the ‘I can do it’ factor. Many swimmers want to achieve a goal, yet just aren’t completely ready as they have what’s called ‘limiting beliefs’ that are holding them back from achieving what they want to do in life. This limiting belief may be something ‘minor’ or ‘major’ and depending on what it is some techniques may not work. Again you would need a life coach/change specialist.
If you do identify a ‘minor limiting belief/behaviour’ in yourself, then you can always do the exercise above ** (2) and just substitute the words ‘totally motivated’ for a ‘time when you really believed in yourself…’

There are many more tips and exercises for the ‘mind-set’ and I would be pleased to hear from you if you want to understand more. There are relevant links on my website such as:

Good luck with your ventures. I look forward to meeting you on the swimming circuit. Remember, YOU CAN do it!

Best wishes
(Dr. Julie Bradshaw MBE)
World Record Swimmer, Speaker, Trainer, Life Coach, Swim Coach and Psychotherapist

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