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The Olympian Mindset: 7 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Be Successful

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Watching an athlete’s backstory is probably my favorite part of the Olympics. I got chills seeing Chloe Kim win the gold the other day – so inspiring what she’s accomplished and what she’s been through to get to this point.

Growing up, I was a competitive athlete so I know about intense training sessions, overcoming injuries, and pushing your body to the absolute limit. But in the end it’s all worth it when you reach your goal and your hard work pays off.

It makes me think about sports psychology and how the athlete mentality can apply to other areas of our life. Our performance on and off the field is directly related to our state of mind. The most successful athletes aren’t necessarily the most talented – they are the ones who have a strong work ethic, positive attitude, and don’t let fear stop them from reaching their full potential.

This concept also applies to the workplace: the most valuable employees aren’t necessarily the most talented. They’re the ones who are hard-working, passionate, and positive. It’s these people who are also the most successful.

When it comes to achieving success, you may be holding yourself back without even realizing it. Here are seven things you need to stop doing to be successful:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to other people

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain

First, it’s important to understand there’s a fine line between admiration and idealization. There’s nothing wrong with looking at someone else’s success as a way to inspire you. That’s healthy comparison.

For example, when I think about bestselling authors, I’m not envious (okay, maybe a little), but I admire their accomplishments and look at their success as a goal. I don’t beat myself up because I haven’t written a bestseller at this point in my life.

The problem arises when comparison leads to feelings of unworthiness – when we compare ourselves to others who we perceive as having more and doing more, this is what makes us feel like we’re coming up short. The sad truth is that when we have this mentality we end up chasing things (beauty, money, fame) that won’t bring us happiness in the long run.

Focus on your progress and make sure your yardstick of success is of your own making, and not society’s expectations.

2. Stop chasing perfection

“When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.” – Geoffrey F. Fischer

Do you feel like you’re never satisfied with your performance? Are you obsessed with being the best?

Perfectionists often have a distorted view of reality, setting their sights too high and setting themselves up for failure. While it’s good to strive for excellence, perfectionists often take it one step too far – spending too much time on one task, which ultimately makes them less productive.

It’s in our failures, not our successes, that we learn the most about ourselves. If we’re not willing to accept our weaknesses, we will never work to improve those areas, and won’t grow as people.

3. Stop saying “yes” to everyone

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” -Paulo Coehlo

Research shows that being a people pleaser leads to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout.

“We live under this misconception that saying ‘yes,’ being available, always at the ready for other people, makes us a better person, but in fact it does quite the opposite,” according to Susan Newman, social psychologist and author of The Book of No.

Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re being selfish. It means you respect yourself. By setting boundaries and standing up for your beliefs, others will respect you as a result.

4. Stop spending time with negative people

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

I had a friend several years ago who LOVED to vent. We would sit for hours over a glass of wine and she complained about everything going wrong in her life. As her friend, of course I wanted to help her, but it got to a point when I started to feel like her therapist. Her negative energy left me emotionally drained. Not surprisingly, the moment I decided to take a step back and distance myself, I started to feel better.

Many of us don’t realize that who we spend time with influences and shapes who we become. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.

5. Stop overthinking

“Worrying about how things might go wrong does not help things to go right.” – Karen Salmansohn

Do you know our brains produce as many as 70,000 thoughts each and every day? Out of those 70,000 thoughts, 80% are negative.

While it may be human nature to dwell on the negative, you do in fact have control over what you choose to focus on. Thoughts only have as much power as you give them.

When it comes to combatting negative thinking, I find that visualization is an extremely effective technique. Relating back to the Olympic mindset, research shows that visualization boosts athletic performance not only by improving concentration and motivation, but also reduces anxiety and fear.

6. Stop putting yourself down

“What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.” – Buddha

No one judges you more than you judge yourself. Let go of self-criticism. When you feel insecurity and doubt creeping into your thoughts, shift your focus to something more positive and productive.

Ever heard, “Energy flows where attention goes”? It’s not a coincidence that when you’re in a happy, positive state of mind more good things naturally start coming into your life. The same is true if you choose to focus on what’s going wrong and what’s lacking – you will always be unhappy, always wanting more.

7. Stop being afraid of change

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” -Charles Darwin

The fear of leaving our comfort zone for unfamiliar territory causes many of us to stay trapped in a life we don’t want. But before you know it, next week turns into next year, and you are in the same exact place. The truth is, we have no idea what the future holds, but we won’t reach our end goal until we take the first step forward.

Photo by pincusvt

Photo by pincusvt

The Olympian Mindset: 7 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Be Successful

Kaitlin Vogel

From covering health and wellness content to neuroscience to relationships and dating advice, I’m committed to creating content that matters. My goal is for readers to walk away feeling empowered and motivated – whether it’s to pursue their dream job, strengthen the connection with their partner, or follow mindfulness strategies to relieve stress and anxiety.

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APA Reference
Vogel, K. (2018). The Olympian Mindset: 7 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Be Successful. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Feb 2018
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