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How to Keep Yourself Motivated Through a Long Challenge with Olympian Kikkan Randall

Capt. Sophie Hollingsworth - Former Ballerina turned award winning explorer - New Explorer of the Year 2017. Fulbright Scholar. Fellow of The Explorers Club & PostGrad Fellow of RGS.

Have you set off for a major challenge that’s not going to be accomplished in the next week, month, or even year? Keeping yourself motivated through such a long challenge can be difficult, but it’s an essential skill for reaching monumental, never-been-done goals.

Kikkan Randall is our source of wisdom on this important topic. As a five-time Olympian, Olympic and world champion cross country skier, she knows what it takes to perform for years to attain one special goal.

If you have dreams of accomplishing an incredible feat and staying motivated to do it all the way through, read on for Kikkan’s advice!

Set Up Confidence Boosters

When Kikkan set her sights on becoming an Olympian, she knew it was going to be a long jump from 44th place to getting that Olympic medal. Kikkan sat down with her coaches to create a roadmap that would get her that medal within 10 years.

By building benchmarks along the way, Kikkan was able to see progress as she worked toward her big goal. “That big dream of winning an Olympic medal was the motivator that really got me out the door every day,” Kikkan says. “Then I had this plan of how I was going to get there, so it felt achievable.”

Checking off each benchmark along the way gave Kikkan a boost of confidence that helped propel her down that very long road. As you work toward accomplishing a major goal, create lots of check marks along the way that will give you the satisfaction of success months before you reach that final summit.

Show Your Progress

Technology has become more and more important as Kikkan sets new goals. She uses Excel spreadsheets to view her progress by inputting stats whether she had a good result or a bad result. Over time, she could see that even if she performed poorly one week, she was progressing towards her goals steadily over the whole season.

“Even if I was back in 33rd place, I was still making the progress I needed to,” Kikkan explains. “Making the effort to write down my goals, go back and revisit them quite a bit and then be able to give myself metrics to analyze how I was doing, ultimately kept me going on the right path.”

Consider how you might be able to track your progress along the journey to your goal. Measuring your training results might give you the confidence you need as you set off.

Take Control of Your Results

Whenever Kikkan deals with injury and illness, she pulls it all back to focus on what she can control. “I knew that every year I trained was going to add up and keep pushing me forward,” Kikkan remembers. “Maybe it's not going the way I want in the short term, but every day I get out there, I'm adding more training and I'm gaining more experience and I'm learning and growing.”

Despite what her results were, Kikkan knew no one could take away her experience. Every day she was getting better and learning more, no matter what.

When you start to feel down about how well you’re performing, focus on the fact that every step you take, you’re learning and improving. No one can take that away from you.

Focus on Your Contribution

After she won her first Cross Country World Cup, Kikkan was diagnosed with a massive blood clot. All of a sudden, this athlete went from feeling invincible to fearing for her life. Through this challenge, Kikkan used many of the same skills she learned as an athlete to focus on the positive.

Whenever she noticed herself spiralling into negativity, Kikkan took a mental step back and asked herself what she could do at that moment to contribute towards her goal instead of taking away from it. Watching her thoughts, focusing on positive self-talk, reframing the situation and leaning on others for support were big things that kept Kikkan on track. Kikkan went on to win her first World Championship medal eight months later.

What can you do to switch your mindset when negativity comes up? Come up with strategies like a happy playlist, Pinterest break, mindful habits, etc and decide on something you can do that will actually contribute towards your goal.

Make Sure to Simplify

As Kikkan approached her fifth and final Olympics, she made a promise to herself to enjoy the process. She decided to take in all the unique things around her and enjoy time with her team.

“The majority of the hard work had already been done,” Kikkan says. “It wasn't the time to try harder and add in a bunch of extra things. It was more about making sure the process to prepare for each race was what I was used to and executing one step at a time.”

The times where Kikkan performed the best were when she was keeping things simple, focused on doing her best. As you prepare for your challenge, don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Focus on the experience and the process.

Start with Little Goals

Kikkan’s known for saying, “Little goals, small successes, build your confidence as you become the person you want to be.” That is the cornerstone for any challenge she goes after. She sees taking a big step toward a goal and overextending yourself to be a goal killer.

“The real key is having a plan, putting your goal out there, having the roadmap of how you're going to get there, and then taking the small steps,” Kikkan remarks.

Listen to Kikkan Randall on the Tough Girl podcast to hear more about her Olympic experience and the incredible insights she gained along the way!


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Social Media

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Instagram - @kikkanimal

Facebook - @kikkanrandall

Twitter - @kikkanimal


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