When focusing on mindset training, we place a large emphasis on setting goals. Maybe your goal is to win Wimbledon, be the first singles player from your high school to win a state title, or maybe its just breaking into the starting lineup. However, it can seem contradictory that another major mindset pillar is to never focus on wins, losses, or making any one match seem special. Rather, you should focus on performing your best. But, if your goal were to win a state title, would that state title match not inherently be just a little special? After all, you have spent months preparing and training for that single match.
It can seem a little confusing, but tennis legend Arthur Ashe was able to shed some light on this issue in saying that, “success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome.” What Ashe meant was that the process of reaching your goal is typically much more important than whether or not you were able to reach your goal. The purpose of a goal is to inspire action and encourage you to perform at the highest level possible. For example, say you are a decently competitive player on the local level. Without a goal, you would likely remain content with your current status, not push yourself to be better, and ultimately remain at the same level. Or, you could set the goal of being the best player in the country, and this could inspire you to work as hard as you possibly can work, compete more aggressively, and reach your true potential as a player. Whether you win or lose the particular matches leading up to and including the national championship are not as important as the work that you put in and the journey towards success.
    Studies have shown that external motivators such as wins, losses, tournament championships, sponsors, and things of that nature are not as strong of a motivating force as internal motivators such as passion and the enjoyment that you find in playing the game. So, when you are focusing on reaching your goals, don’t get too wrapped up in the single matches or tournaments to the point that they become special. Rather, focus on the goal as a motivating force to cause you to push yourself further than you ever thought possible. Focus on the road to success, enjoy the process, and you will find joy in competing!