Now is a great time to work on your 2019 goals

I’m often in high demand at the start of a new year, when ambition and inspiration is high. But I’ve learned over the years working with top performers of all stripes that New Years is not the optimal time to start setting big annual goals. You have too much enthusiasm which can cloud your judgment, set your sights too high, and inevitably when the first obstacle arrives the plan can get derailed. You need a more measured and realistic (but still ambitious) approach.

Rather than waiting until January 2nd, 2019, why not start thinking about what you want to achieve next year, now? Now is a great time to start making, and adjusting, those big 2019 goals with a cool head and plenty of time to really decide what you want to get out of next year. You’ll have breathing room to really plan out what you want to do, rather than rush it all out in January.

It might even help you close out whatever goals you currently have for the rest of this year. Having something to look forward to, as well as a way of taking stock on how this year has gone, might be that spark of inspiration you need to steady the ship for the next few months.

If you’ve had a productive/successful year it’s easy to start sliding by saying to yourself that you’ll start working hard again next year. But what you do now, can actually help make next year a level better. Or perhaps your 2018 goals are not going to happen. Start thinking about how you can set yourself up for a better 2019 now, and still make the rest of this year more productive.

I have some big things in the pipeline and have struggled managing all of it, when my client work has never been busier. It’s a juggling act that I’m going to work harder on the rest of this year, see what I can learn and find a way to make 2019 an even better year.

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How Team Liquid Qualified for World Championships

Some of you may not know, but for the past 5 years I have been the mental game coach of Team Liquid – the biggest esports organization in the world – and I was recently featured in one of their videos about the work I did to help the League of Legends team quality for the World Champions in Korea next month. It’s a cool look into my work with them and you’ll notice similar themes to things I talk about in poker, trading and golf. 

Understanding how emotion affects performance

Charles-Barkley-1aAre you a better golfer when you are angry? Do you make terrible trading decisions when you are bored? Are you more productive when you are happy, or sad? Why do you choke under pressure when other people thrive on it?

As a performance coach, my main job is usually to help people overcome emotional barriers that are preventing them from executing their skills to the best of their ability. In poker I help people overcome tilt, which is when anger overwhelms their decision-making. In golf I help people eliminate the ‘yips’, which stops them performing under pressure. In trading I help professionals avoid forcing bad trades, which happens when they become undisciplined. I also help elite athletes and professionals overcome all sorts of issues including fear of failure, low motivation and decreased focus.

These issues all sound varied and independent of each other. However, at their core, all mental game issues affect performance in the same way, and therefore can be fixed in the same way. It all comes down to how I view emotion and how it relates to performance. Many sports psychologists treat emotion like it is the enemy, something that should be numbed. The problem with this attitude is that while you may succeed in the short term suppressing negative emotions, you will also suppress the positive emotions that help you perform in the zone.

Until you embrace emotions, you will never perform at your peak.  Continue reading