Three ways professional athletes crush their goals

The majority of people fail. It’s so true that the people at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there. All you have to do is look at how professional athletes crush their goals.

1)    Just Do It:

professional athletes crush their goals

Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2632 straight MLB games without missing a single day. When Derek Jeter asked him the secret of playing every day, Cal replied, “ You know Derek, I just…I just play.” The record didn’t drive Cal Ripken, The Ironman of Baseball…He just showed up and got better.
Any goal is worth pursuing! Whatever your goal is, just do it! Go get it, period! Don’t let the fear of not reaching your goal get in your way. Just be prepared to show up every day and work hard for it.


2)    Never Give Up:

professional athletes crush their goals

Diana Nyad, 64, achieved one of the most amazing feats in 2013 and reached her lifelong goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida. Nyad, completed her goal of swimming the 110 mile arduous journey on her 5th attempt that spanned across several decades.  She told the crowd after she was finished, One is, we should never give up” and “two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams.”

Is this familiar? We miss a workout or a goal and we get down on ourselves. We slowly slip into missing another one and before we know it, we have given up. Research has called this interesting phenomenon, Adherence Violation Effect, which means that one missed exercise session leads us to abandon future exercise habits.

Don’t get discouraged, just pick up where you were and keep going!

 3) It’s Not About You:

Juilo Jones, NFL wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, doesn’t set personal goals. Instead, “It’s all about the team.”  He doesn’t set personal goals for the same reasons we don’t, “I don’t want to limit myself.”

Often, instead of setting goals, what we actually do is make deals with ourselves. We make deal statements such as  “If I, then I” or “If you, then I” and in the process, limit ourselves. For instance, “If I work out four days this week, then I can eat that entire cake” or “If you clean your room, then you can have the car.” These are deals, not goals, and they undermine our success. Professional athletes crush their goals by NOT making deals with themselves.

Instead, focus on a team or family goal. When we focus on others through our goals, we follow through more, because the goal isn’t about us. This is how professional athletes get it done. NO ONE gets there ALONE! 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

In my first book, Mental Toughness Training for Golf:, I wrote that one way to lose confidence is to compare yourself to others. I felt that we should fight our urges and focus only on getting better and comparing ourselves to our own level of improvement. Even the majority of articles are about how to stop comparing yourself.

 I was wrong.

Our natural tendency is to already compare ourselves, in fact, since the age of about 6, we started doing it all the time. We are in a constant state of evaluating to those around us in all areas of life.  This type of beauty contest comparison is what causes internal strife because we often end up in a state of “I’m not good enough.” Not matter how good we get, there is always someone better. Even if we are the best, it’s not for very long.

So, we need to fight the urge NOT to compare ourselves and simply find healthier ways to do it. Here are the 3 unhealthy ways that we compare ourselves.


1. We focus on the differences

“We judge others using their highlight reel, while we judge ourselves by what happens backstage.”

We regularly find differences between others, even our competitors, about why they are better than us. Or, we find differences about why we are superior. Both of these are unhealthy because they put us in a position of inferiority or superiority. We are relying on our comparison to feel confident about ourselves. On the other hand, noticing the similarities between others puts us in a state of equality and forces us to pay attention to what we can control.


 2. We become envious

“We need to focus on our ‘why’ and others ‘how’.”

We find someone who is better than us or has something we desire and we get envious. We think how awesome it would be for us to have that talent, status, or car. We may even ponder “why” they deserve it. This type of comparison puts us in a state of negativity and reinforces the belief that we are not good enough.  Instead, replace the envy, and use that individual as a model. Focus on “how and “what” they did to achieve that goal and how we can do the same.


3. We notice only people better than us

“Develop an attitude of gratitude.” 

In the interviews for my 2nd book, The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness, I came across people who had lost a child. It is the most difficult thing any parent can experience. I interviewed different parents who lost a child at birth, 2 months, 2 years old, and 20 years old. Each of these circumstances were different and painful, but it put into perspective that no matter how bad we have it, someone has it worse. When we focus on the things we are grateful for, it develops an attitude of gratitude. Once we begin to count our blessings, it also gets tough to stop.

The Hinge-The Importance of Mental Toughness Dr. Rob BellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with  athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His 2nd book titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness was JUST released. Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact here



Most of my life, I have been a sport obsessed honk, not only playing, but also following every sport, in every possible venue.

For instance, as a kid, I used to watch EVERY SINGLE match of Wimbledon on HBO during the summer. I just assumed that the best win, end of story. As a kid, I had no idea that there was a mental component to winning or even playing consistent.

In 1992, my beliefs changed. Reebok had launched a campaign titled Dan or Dave, who is the best athlete in the world? Who will take home the Gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics? The competition was between Dave Johnson and Dan O’Brien, two USA decathletes.

However, even before the Olympics began, during Olympic trials, Dan O’Brien was leading after the 1st day of competition and on record-setting pace. However, during the 8th event, the pole vault, Dan O’Brien stunningly failed in three attempts, scored zero points, and drifted to last place.  He said, “it was like a dream, I wanted to turn to somebody and say, “Do something.”

Our Mess Becomes our Message…

However, he also said something I’ll never forget. During his weakest moment, he said “I pity anyone who goes against me in the next four years.” I was so intrigued that anything like this had happened that I began to follow his career, even cutting out the newspaper clipping from that day!!! It was his Hinge moment, because our mess becomes our message… [ I took his picture holding this framed 1992 newspaper article that hangs in my office.]

It became my Hinge as well, because Dan O’Brien began to see a sport psychologist to help with his mental preparation. He admitted that there were too many variables in his preparation and he needed to become more mentally tough. Well, in 1996, he won the Gold medal in the Decathlon in Atlanta and set the all-time record.

I knew from that moment I wanted to help athletes feel the greatest joy of performing well when it mattered the most. I would become a Sport Psychology coach.  I’ve been blessed to be with my athletes during the most intense times. For more information on Dan O’Brien and his journey, check out his awesome book.