Feeling nervous or short on confidence going into your next competition or race? Someone in our Facebook community recently shared their mental struggle heading into a karate tournament. They were nervous to sign up and intimidated because they felt they hadn’t been doing the sport long enough to compete.

Here’s what I told him and what can help you build confidence for your next competition, job interview, or chance to start a winning streak in life.

Make the Commitment to Grow

Sign up for that race. If you’re sitting on the fence, you’re continuing to give yourself an “out.” Make the commitment to yourself and register. This will release the energy and thought you have about backing out last minute and instead channel them toward productive thoughts and training.

Embrace Gratitude

You GET to do this competition, how great is that? Reframing our thoughts from anxiousness to gratefulness allows us to embrace the overall process and not just the event. The process – our training, the event itself, and the lessons yielded from each – is where we grow.

Many people struggle to embrace the process because they’re solely focused on the one outcome. And every time they reach that outcome, they’re left with a feeling of “that’s it”? because its in that moment they discover how much more important the journey and process of who you are becoming is over the finished product.

Instead of saying “I’m nervous about ______,” change your language to “I’m excited about ______.” Hammer home the message to your own brain that you’re excited about the opportunity to grow, and this one competition is simply a measuring stick to see how far you’ve come and give you insights into new things to train for in the future. It’s a learning experience.

Prepare for the Moment

The difference between nervousness and excitement comes down to how prepared you are. Our preparation is 100% in our control, too. We decide how hard we will train, what moves we will practice, and how much time we will dedicate to repetitions.

How do we get reps?

Through practices and competitions. It’s gained experience every time we do the work. So step into the “arena” of your competition, knowing you’ve prepared for it and that the competition itself is the best way to gain more reps.

Practice Visualization

Visualization is a way to prepare your mind for the moment before it happens. It’s seeing yourself doing the competition repeatedly in your mind before you ever get to gameday. You envision

  • What you hear
  • How you feel
  • What you smell

You create the entire atmosphere in your mind – integrating your confidence and how excited you feel stepping into that field – so that you know what to expect. And the best part? Our brains sometimes struggle to tell the difference between what we visualize clearly and what’s reality – so if done consistently, when you actually arrive to your event day, your brain will have already gone through it numerous times.

Choose to be a Competitor.

It comes down to the choices you make. There are a lot of people who use the nervousness as an excuse to not step outside of their comfort zone. And those same people never experience the joy of growth and improvement.

Competitors by nature choose to compete. They choose to lean into discomfort, knowing growth comes from each experience, and that the only way to get better at something is to get going after it.