Evolution of Your Mental Game


You’ve done a bunch of work. You’ve made some progress.  Now what? 

The truth is, it depends. Your next steps will be different based on where you are in your Mental Game journey, and in this blog I’ll walk you through a few of the common scenarios that I see.

First let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with something critical: you cannot solve the Mental Game. You are always going to have something to work on, whether that’s addressing a weakness you have just uncovered or striving to be at your best more often. That we can always improve is part of what it means to be human, right? We will always, all of us, be a work in progress. 

Yet what makes working on the mental game hard is that progress is not always sequential and it can be hard to spot. There are times when a step backwards or the emergence of a new problem can make you feel like you haven’t made progress at all, when that’s actually not true.  Accepting that each evolution will bring new areas to work on is an important way to minimize the chance you will get derailed. 

Let’s look at some of the most common scenarios I see after a period of progress.

Before Reaching Resolution 

Those of you who have made progress but not achieved resolution are at risk of taking your eye off the ball. You are seeing some improvements and you may begin to either work less in general, or work less on your Mental Game. 

While there are signs your Mental Game is improving, you haven’t firmly moved the back end of inchworm forward. You are not on solid enough ground yet to trust that you won’t see regression in this area. As I shared in another blog a few months ago, the Adult Learning Model requires that you keep skills steadily moving through the learning process so that high levels of performance can be maintained. 

You need to keep working. Don’t get ahead of yourself. This problem can, and likely will, come back to haunt you at some point if you don’t continue to work on it.

Uncovering More Problems

One of the challenges to working on your Mental Game is uncovering lots of other problems you didn’t know you had. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and not being sure what to do next, or where to focus. My suggestion is to choose one of two directions described below.  

Option 1 is to go as deep as possible on one of the problems and see if there are linkages between it and your other problems. Sometimes several surface level problems actually stem from a singular flaw and going deep may allow you to hit many things at once. However, that’s not always the case, and it can be intense to do some of that deeper introspection.

Option 2 is to pick one of the surface problems (e.g. outbursts of anger, frozen by fear) that you have the most command of and try to get some wins under your belt. Build in an area that you’re already strong, gain more experience using my system, and then you can move on to another problem. 

Also, if you have found that confidence is an issue, I suggest working on it sooner rather than later as it is often linked to other problems. Confidence is the base of your mental game, so much like problems in the foundation of a house can cause problems on the first and second floor, weaknesses or problems with confidence can be the primary cause of anger, fear, greed, and discipline or motivation problems.

After Reaching Resolution

Others of you have made real and distinct progress and gotten past your fear or tilt, etc. Those emotions no longer derail you and true resolution has occurred. Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off!

Unfortunately, at this point, you might find that overconfidence is now an issue. This is incredibly common. Emotions like fear and anger can suppress your sense of what you are capable of doing. With those issues removed, you start to perform better and make more money, and suddenly your view of what you can achieve increases rapidly. It becomes easy to get lost in the thoughts and fantasies of what it would be like performing like this all the time and how much money you’re going to make.

Sometimes overconfidence was lurking in the background from the beginning, other times it is a common progression in your mental game. Either way, don’t get discouraged, just go back to the drawing board, and use the system to break down this problem just as you did with the others.

*****

Wherever you are in your Mental Game, don’t give up. However, you don’t have to dive back in and address the next topic right away after a period of intense mental game focus. Sometimes it can be easy to get sucked into momentum, when maybe taking a step back and working on technical expertise may be more important and you should be prioritizing that.

While I am obviously a believer that your Mental Game is critical, I’m also a realist. The mind can only make you so much better and if you don’t have the technical skill to support your next steps, progress can stall.

The question really, then, is what do you need next? From an inchworm perspective, do you need to push your back end forward (improve your C-game) or push your front end forward (improve your A-game or get there more often)? 

Either way, continue to work the process. Use my books as guides, take advantage of the worksheets, check out my webinar series, but most importantly, keep showing up for yourself and identify the next steps to improve.

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