I was out for a ride the other day and happened to run into a Eric, a 19-yr-old friend of mine. I’ve mentored him for about five years now and he has turned into one strong bicycle racer. He has been coached by another friend of mine and Eric has the strength, desire and potential to be a very good racer in the years ahead.
This Sunday he will be racing in the Category 3 State Championship Road Race. I think he’ll have a very good ride there. I asked him about the race and we talked strategy. I got excited as I talked to Eric and stressed the need for plan to win, not just to do well. All too often, in cycling races and in life in general, I think that a lot of us just hope it will “all fall into place”.
In bicycle racing, however, there are far too many variables for things to just come together. Running is pretty straightforward. You maintain your mile pace, which you have trained for, and you try to hit your goal. Bicycle racing, however, is cruelly unfair. The difference between winning and 20th place is often just a few bike lengths and a total of two or three seconds. Strategy and planning is critical for success.
Not everything in life requires a plan. But often, having a plan makes success much more attainable. And if the goal is not achieved, then at the very least it is possible to look back over the plan. Each plan will have steps and contingencies to meet the goal or get as close to the goal as possible.
As I continued talking to Eric about his plan I stressed the importance of visualizing the plan being successful. In order to achieve his goal of stepping on to the top step of the podium and winning a gold medal he has to believe that he can do it. Since this was Tuesday when we met, he had the next four days to visualize how his race would unfold. If he plays the scenario over in his head many, many times, then execution of his plan will be automatic. The suffering that he will have to endure to meet his goal will not come as a surprise because he will have visualized it before hand. Right down to the point where he throws his hands in the air in victory will be part of his visualization. If he cannot picture himself doing this then how can he possibly bring it to reality?
Whether it is a bike race, job situation, relationships, weight loss, a new exercise plan, vacation or a quiet evening out with a loved one, it is great to have a plan. Sometimes it might be detailed and written out and sometimes it just needs to be in our head. But the benefits are many and the surprises are fewer.
What do you have coming up in your life that could use a good plan? Take a little time to think about how it might play out and then visualize success! There is nothing better than when a well laid plan comes together.