A shift in perspective

Gabriel Louw, 400m SA u20 Sprinter. Photo by Backtrack Sports

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of BackTrack or EC Active.


We all have goals we want to achieve, right? Whether a remarkable accomplishment or a personal challenge, to assist us on the journey of achieving these goals we have most likely been encouraged to create S-specific M-measurable A-action oriented R-realistic T-time-bound goals, to write them down, place them in an area where you can see it daily, or visualize them as if it is our reality. But let’s be frank, as much as goals provide motivation, serve as a means to track progress and are catalysts for change, it is ultimately the shift from the goal to the process of actualizing the goal that keeps us moving toward (and beyond) the goal in a more fruitful spirit.

For many of us, the notion of going and never getting to the destination may feel a bit disheartening. Competition is growing stronger, injuries and niggles come and go, and our efforts might seem futile, perhaps like a hamster’s wheel. We want to achieve the goal, we want the victory, and by default we tend to be forward-looking, goal-pursuing and result-focused. Why? I’d like to believe we are wired for a discontentment with the present. After all, it is the results that do the talking at the end of the day, isn’t it?

But solely focusing on the results, and especially numbers (times, distances, positions etc.) can end up defeating its purpose when it leads to an obsession resulting in overthinking, doubting and discouragement which can actually distract you more from giving your best efforts and getting the work done. It also becomes automatic to tie one’s emotions to your results. Be careful of becoming overly ecstatic with a good performance or overly disappointed with a relatively “bad” performance as both can cause one to lose discipline and forget about the process. When you commit to the process over the result, you allow yourself to stay grounded in your efforts.

The process is what you do on a daily basis to ensure your goal will be reached. It is about the journey of consistency and perseverance. Yes, you might show up to two training sessions a day, but with what mindset and attitude did you show up? Was it one to appreciate the coach’s insight and effort and get the best out of yourself in each session? Or were you more concerned with getting the session done, what you have to do afterwards or socializing with teammates? Focusing on the process involves being responsible for your own determination, an optimistic mindset, having great work ethic and self-discipline to be able to execute the tasks of every day to the best of your ability because you understand that results are a product of the process.

Adopting this shift in perspective allows you to eliminate the noise and factors which are out of your control, and puts you in control. It allows you to enjoy the present moment more. Instead of waiting to celebrate your goals, every day you put in the effort to improve is worth celebrating. It encourages you to be a learner of yourself as well as of your sport. It also allows you to benefit from whichever result

you get as long as you gave it your best effort – “what did I do well and why?”, “what can I improve and how?” – building your confidence in yourself as well as your process.

To quote Robert Collier: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”


Written by Courtney du Plessis