“It is not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed. It is the things we do not. I assure you I’ve done a lot of really stupid things, and none of them bother me. All the mistakes, and all the dopey things, and all the times I was embarrassed — they don’t matter. What matters is that I can kind of look back and say: Pretty much any time I got the chance to do something cool I tried to grab for it — and that’s where my solace comes from.”
— Randy Pausch
By now you should have a better understanding of what motivates you — including your big “why,” or purpose. You have a specific set of performance standards that you can work on implementing in everyday training and racing. You know how to set SMART outcome goals and work backwards to develop your process goals.
You have a better understanding of the limits of performance and the power of mental skills to improve performance. You are developing your mindfulness and attentional control. You have strategies to develop your mental toughness, leverage your self-talk, and use mental imagery.
You know how to prepare for your race to optimize arousal and allay pre-race anxiety. And you know how to close the loop of the goal-achievement journey with a post-race debriefing.
Although it’s the end of this course, it’s only just the beginning of your mental skills training.
Developing mental skills is an ongoing process that is never complete or final. It’s not like the skill of tying a shoe where there’s a clear delineation between having the skill or not. Mental skills are always a work in progress. We never simply “have them” or not, but are always working to develop them, to improve them, and to implement them more effectively.
Even with consistent mental skills training, there will be times when you struggle and fail. Imperfection is part of what it means to be human and mental skills training will not make you immune to failure, but it will allow you to harness failure to more effectively set yourself up for success.
You may not always reach your outcome goals, but mental skills training will make you a better athlete in the process of going after them — and, if done with the right intention, a better person.