As I’m sure you already know, on Sunday August 17th 2008, Michael Phelps achieved one of the greatest sporting records of all time by winning an incredible 8 gold medals in a single Olympic games.
Michael’s performance was seen by millions of people around the world and we can all learn a great deal about achieving our own goals by analyzing his accomplishment. Here then, are five secrets of success that helped Michael Phelps to transform his dreams into reality.
Secret #1: Think BIG
The first step in Michael Phelps journey was to make the decision to pursue a dream that many people considered impossible. Instead of thinking negative thoughts and limiting his potential, Michael allowed himself to think big.
“If you dream as big as you can dream,
anything is possible.”
– Michael Phelps
In order to discover your real goals, let your imagination run free to dream as big as you can dream. Resist the temptation to limit yourself with negative thoughts. It is only by freeing your imagination that you can discover what it is that you really want from life.
Secret #2: Break it Down
Having identified his ultimate goal, Michael and his coach created a series of short term goals that would eventually lead him to his ultimate objective. In between the Olympics came the National championships, the Pan Pacific championships and the World championships. Each race of each event was a carefully planned stepping stone that would eventually lead Michael to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming the most successful Olympian of all time.
After identifying your long term goal, take some time to break it down into a series of achievable short term goals. As you move forward, focus on achieving your short term goals one step at a time.
Secret #3: Use the Power of Visualization
One of the most powerful techniques used by elite athletes to achieve their goals is to visualize themselves succeeding each and every day. In his book ‘Beneath the Surface’, Michael Phelps writes, “When I’m about to fall asleep, I visualize to the point that I know exactly what I want to do: dive, glide, stroke, flip, reach the wall, hit the split time to the hundredth, then swim back again for as many times as I need to finish the race”.
Visualizing your goals before you sleep is a great way to program your subconscious mind. The more you visualize your dreams as a reality, the more motivated and determined you will become.
Secret #4: Put in the Hard Work
No matter how naturally talented Michael Phelps may be, the main reason he achieved his goals was because he was prepared to put in the thousands of hours of grueling hard work necessary to compete at the highest level. According to Michael, “In the four years between the Athens and Sydney Olympics I probably took four or five days off and none of those were holidays”
Be prepared to put in the hard work required to transform your dreams into reality. There really is no such thing as getting something for nothing. In order to make your dreams a reality you will have to work hard.
Secret #5: Monitor Your Performance Metrics
Every elite athlete understands the importance of using metrics to monitor their performance and progress. Michael’s coach Bob Bowman constantly monitors and reviews Michael’s split times down to the hundredth of a second. This provides them both with tangible evidence of how Michael is progressing towards achieving his goals.
As you work towards your goals, figure out your own key metrics. For example, if you are studying, record how many hours of productive work you do each day. Or if you are building a business, record how many potential customers you contact each week. Whatever your goal may be, you will get there faster by recording and constantly improving your performance metrics.
While you may not be pursuing an Olympic gold medal, always remember that your life goals are just as important. I’d like to encourage you today to use some of the same techniques Michael Phelps used to achieve his goals. If you can
(1) Think BIG
(2) Break it down
(3) Utilize the power of visualization
(4) Work hard and
(5) Monitor your performance metrics
you too can conquer the challenges that stand in your way and make your dreams a reality.