Ask yourself these 2 simple questions
Before I get started, I’d like to take some time to introduce myself and share what I am hoping to accomplish through this monthly blog series with CSI STARS
I am a professional athlete—an alpine ski racer, to be more specific. Born and raised in Toronto, skiing began for me as a family activity. At a young age, my parents would drive my two sisters and I a couple hours north of the city every weekend during the winter to ski at the Craigleith Ski Club. Together, we grew a passion for the sport, eventually leading to many missed days at school because of travel for training and competitions throughout the winter.
When I was about 14 years old, I started to show real talent and potential as a racer and we decided to focus as much energy as we could on the sport. I moved up through the ranks and eventually at 18 years old, I qualified for the Canadian ski team and have been a member of the team for the last seven years. At 21, I raced my first World Cup and have been travelling year-round as a full-time athlete since—competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and three World Championships.
Business and sports have a lot in common
This year I’ve partnered with CSI STARS in hopes that through our relationship, I can provide insight into what it’s like being an Olympic athlete and how I can relate my experiences to the business world and everyday life.
Regardless of the profession, we can always work to learn and improve based on the experience and knowledge of others—even in unrelated fields. Business and sport may seem very different, but the daily struggles of a professional athlete can be very similar to that of a working professional. With the right application of skills, your potential for success can increase exponentially.
In this installment, I want to share with you something I have personally been experimenting with and working hard to develop in recent months — Preparation.
Several months ago, I started working with a new sports psychologist. One of the first things he asked me was, “On days you leave the house and feel mentally and physically prepared for training or competition, what is your routine from the moment you wake up?” Since then, I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong answer to this question; each individual has their own way of easing tensions before starting their workday. I started to explore this question by making a list of all the things I enjoy doing from the time my alarm goes off until I leave the door. Here’s what I found…
I am a sports fan, so regardless of where I am in the world I like to sit with my cup of coffee and check out the scores and news from the previous night in pro sports.
I am active on social media, so I scan my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds while having breakfast to catch up with friends and family around the world, or read the news.
Typically, I am preparing for a day of physical activity and for my body to be prepared, I need a minimum of 10 minutes of light stretching to be sure I am feeling limber. During this time, I often put my headphones in and listen to songs that motivate me or generally put me in a happy mood. Some days I choose songs that really amp me up while other days I like to relax to something more low-key.
Finally, I need to be mentally prepared. This is a step that is new to me and has been, hands down, the most influential step to my daily success in recent months. I sit for 10 minutes and meditate, using an app on my phone called “Headspace” (I’ll expand on this below). After I’ve completed this entire routine, I feel prepared and ready to tackle anything on my plate that day.
I challenge you to ask yourself these simple questions:
- How can I be best prepared for a productive workday?
- What steps can be taken to improve my morning routine?
Timing is everything in this process
I used to think I only needed 45 minutes to wake up and get out the door. Being an athlete, sleep quality/time is extremely important, but I often found myself feeling rushed. In experimenting with my routine, I’ve figured out that I need a minimum of 90 minutes to feel completely engaged mentally and physically to proceed with my day. Believe me, this isn’t always easy. There are days where I need to be out of the house before 6am to hit the slopes, which means waking up at 430am. But in the big picture, what is going to affect your day more—losing 45 minutes of sleep or being mentally prepared to be your best self that day? The way I see it, sleep can wait—success can’t.
Earlier, I mentioned my practice of meditation. I know, I know, this may start to sound very hokey pokey! Trust me, I felt the same when my sports psychologist recommended (more like forced) I try it. But, the results speak for themselves!
Over the last three months I’ve challenged myself to be consistent with this practice. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I can say that it’s probably the single most important step in my routine to be fully prepared for my training and competitions. Being mindful and aware of my thoughts and how my body feels has allowed me to free up the ongoing clutter of worries and doubts that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. There are mental tools and techniques, such as visualization, focus or noting, that I utilize regularly throughout my day.
I have never felt more comfortable standing in the start gate with all the pressure on me to perform and execute my game plan on demand. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I strongly recommend downloading the “Headspace” app and working it into your routine with an open mind. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from being a little bit more mindful regardless of what they’re doing with their day.
What is YOUR routine?
I encourage you to take the same challenge I did and experiment with it. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it — consistency is key and I promise that you will feel better and your work performance/output will increase!