Beginners guides

Mind games

This is my 100th blog post, who would have thought I had so much to say? It was really hard to decide what to write for the 100th post. You sort of feel it needs to be something worthy to mark a milestone, but what? I had absolutely no idea until I saw my cousin, who must be about 30 by now, write on her wall on Facebook ‘is it too late to become an Olympian?’ I haven’t spoken to her but I guess she is enjoying the Olympics and inspired by the superhuman achievements of the athletes.

My first thought on seeing that though was ‘no it isn’t’.

Well if you want to be a gold medal winning Gymnast, taking up Gymnastics in your 30’s might be stretching your chances a bit but there are plenty of sports you can take up and get good enough at to compete on the world stage if you put your mind to it. That’s the theme of this post. How you get to choose how life pans out for you if you really want to. You can moan about what life has dealt you or you can take it by the scruff of the neck and make something amazing, great, good, or even just comfortable or at the very least stress free if you want to.

We have all been issued with our own unique set of circumstances from day one and plenty of outside influences have interfered with our plans along the way but ultimately it is only down to us what we make of them. It doesn’t really matter what you want out of life in a way as this is about making the very best of the resources you have and the best of those is what is inside your head. You may be fat, thin, pretty or plain, clever or dim but you can still work towards getting something good from life and you must as you only get one go at it.

I use myself as an example; it’s the one I know best. I was born and grew up in remote New Zealand. I had none of the ‘opportunities’ people might refer to if you come from a more privileged background. We lived in a very straightforward community in rural New Zealand, going about life on the farm in a largely unremarkable fashion. But I wanted to do something big and clever. I had no idea what that might have been at the time.

My Dad was all about physical accomplishment and while I was ok at sports, I was never that motivated to try really hard as I found it all a bit of a bore. I was never going to excel at athletics because I couldn’t be bothered. I was quite good at Rugby but I don’t like being cold and wet so was never going to be an All Black contender, that’s not how my mind works. I wanted to be creative and clever, I learned early on what I enjoyed most was using my wits to get what I wanted. Out thinking people not from a simple intellectual level but out witting people and being witty and clever as opposed to smart. I wanted to do something with that. My brothers wanted to play sport, so they did.

This is the thing you see, if you want to win a Gold Medal at the Olympic Games or play something at international or even just a properly competitive level, you have to fundamentally have the physical wherewithal to do so, but so much of the greatest achievements we have seen have been won in the mind. Great sports people are all supreme physical specimens but some have a more winning attitude.

If you wish to go down this route then you need self-belief and commitment to what really matters to you more than anything else. If you want to go to the Olympics but are too big or old to be a gymnast or a sprinter then take up horse riding, learn to fence, become a crack shot with an air rifle, learn some Archery and take on the Korean guy who although being blind is an Olympic Archer, so just be a little bit realistic, some people aren’t made like whippets or weightlifters.  Learn your sport and then get the winning mentality. Look at those rowers; they had gone way past where regular athletes give up as they think they have given their all. Your all is in a place in your mind after your body thinks it’s done all it can.

The people who never realise their dreams are only held back by themselves if they have any ability at all to achieve the goal. For example if you just cannot sing then give up pretending and do something other than singing. If you can sing, make sure you are in front of the people who can influence your career. Put yourself about, don’t just sing into a hairbrush in your room and don’t wait for X-Factor. It’s a sad reality that you don’t have to have any talent to be famous any more thanks to some vacuous ‘reality’ TV programs. But people who actually matter, rather than people with nothing better to do than watch television during the day, will think so much more of you if you are fantastic at something and went about achieving it by working for it.

I go back to myself; this is about you making choices to do something you want to do rather than accepting what you’ve got.  Because of a number of reasons I didn’t graduate from school with any of the qualifications I needed. I had wasted my education so once again I was going to have to be clever instead of smart. If I was smart I would have paid attention in school.

You can read about the detail in my life story above here if you are interested but this isn’t about the detail of my life. This is about you deciding what matters to you the most and setting about realising it.

If what matters to you the most is ridiculous because of physical things preventing you from getting it (like you have no legs or can’t speak) then think of something you really want instead.

I went about being clever to make a better life for myself and using my wits and the few skills I had I made a bit of a career and an interesting life from nothing. I’ve had a pretty good life by and large, so much so that I wrote a book about it. It’s interesting to me and hopefully my family and possibly one or two others.

I know though that despite the things I know I am quite good at, I fundamentally like an easy life so don’t have the mind-set to achieve anything really great physically because I cannot be bothered with all the hard work and long hours in the dark and the rain. I’ve also felt I could probably never do anything really good creatively because I’m just not that clever and I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to do.

Or so I thought. One thing I love the most is to be creative and clever as I said earlier. I have wasted that skill most of my life and It’s time I did something to practice what I am preaching here. My goal from here is to finish my novel and ideally for it to be a film as well.  I’ve got my little novel mostly sorted now in terms of the story so it’s just ready for me to fill in the words. As for the film? My novel could be a film but I need to put it into something that makes sense for the movies and then write the script. I think they call it screenplay. It’s something I’ve never tried before but I can write, apparently. I love books and movies and I know I have the ability to create at least the story. I can write the novel and screenplay myself but I’ll leave the actual filming of the movie to other people. It’s going to be my Olympics because I couldn’t be bothered at all with going to the gym. I hate the gym. I like sitting in the warm, so I’ll go down the novel and movie route instead.  Let’s see what happens.

So above all get it into your head that if you want something to make your life better than it was yesterday then you need to set a plan of action in place and look at it in bits rather than just ‘I want to be famous’ or ‘I want to win an Olympic medal’ or ‘I want to be rich’. Get what you actually want to do right in your mind though. The mind is where the winners and losers differentiate themselves. Those that see themselves as losers are only losers because they are telling themselves so; they are taking a status quo and accepting it rather than making some tough decisions to make their life better. Some of those decisions will be tough because you are changing a state of mind. The winners just have a head start on a state of mind.

I’ve talked about this before but I’ll say it again because it is true. It’s in your MIND! Example; All of society tells you that stopping smoking is about the hardest thing in the world to do and because you hear it all the time you accept it to be so. When the aspiring ex-smoker sets out on that journey they expect with every waking thought that it will be tough. Because they are expecting it to be so hard they think it is hard and sure enough most find it pretty tough. Well it actually isn’t, I know this because I did it and it was easy, I just got the whole thing right in my head before I started. I’ve helped other people do it. It’s easy.

I’ll wind up with a reminder that you can achieve anything you want to do (within reason of course) if you want to do it enough and are prepared to dedicate your life and energy to it. If you are beaten to a gold medal one day by someone better than you at least you got to compete for it rather than sit and watch it on television thinking you couldn’t do it at all. Someone just wanted it more on the day. You may have lower expectations than the world stage and that’s great, but don’t just sit there wishing your life was better.

If you don’t like what your life looks like, then make it better. It’s up to you, no-one else. Decide what you would like or love and get about getting it. Ultimately the only thing stopping you is you and it is your life. Live it, don’t endure it.

Oh and happy blogging centenary to me.

9 replies »

  1. Good reading Sandy 🙂 I’d like to know more about how you gave up smoking (my brother also just gave up after many years, no trouble at all, once he decided that’s what he wanted) …there’s someone I’d like to quit smoking so would be interested to hear your thoughts on it sometime. The fact that “we only get one go at life” resonates more strongly as we get older and I believe in enjoying life and making it a good one, I find a good skip or gallop always works wonders! Congrats on your 100th blog! xxx

  2. Congrats indeed on your 100. And thank you for the pep talk, always need one! Why don’t you write a rival book to Allen Carr’s about stopping smoking? X

  3. Let me know how you get on with the screenplay, I’d be keen to read it.
    As for me, after all my tumbleweeding through life I’ve gone back to my first love, writing for the stage. So part of my travel experience is for the writing, meanwhile, a sad neglected blog is calling my name…

      • Do it anyway. You’ll be pleased you did. And anyway, isn’t fiction just like one gigantic advert?
        I’ve avoided reading fiction for years but I realised that if my writing is ever going to improve (it’s currently shockingly awful) I need to go back to basics and read the classics, the great writers and study, study, study.

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