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As athletes, we often find ourselves juggling various roles and responsibilities. Balancing our roles as spouses, parents, professionals, and athletes can be challenging. To overcome these obstacles and stay organized, we’ve curated three essential lists that will help you maintain the right mindset and effectively manage your time.

Sunday Prep Take some time on Sundays to sit down and plan out your upcoming week. I personally prefer using a handwritten calendar as it allows me to see the entire week at a glance. Dedicate this time to scheduling family commitments, work obligations, and training and racing activities. Although unexpected events may arise, having a plan in place enables you to anticipate major conflicts and make necessary adjustments to your sleep, wake time, or crucial workouts.

Each day, make it a habit to list three to four things you are grateful for. Challenge yourself to come up with different things each day throughout the week. This simple task cultivates a mindset of gratitude, bringing joy and appreciation not only to yourself but also to those around you. If your list includes a person, take a moment to reach out and let them know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. This small gesture can initiate an incredibly positive interaction and strengthen your relationships.

It’s crucial to understand the difference between making excuses and providing explanations. Excuses deny responsibility, while explanations allow for ownership and a deeper understanding of the situation. Excuses often stem from defensiveness, hindering motivation and performance. On the other hand, explanations arise from a genuine desire to be understood. To identify areas that need improvement, create a visible reminder by placing an erasable whiteboard in your pain cave, bathroom mirror or another prominent location. Divide the board into four columns:

  1. First Column: Write down what is not ideal.
  2. Second Column: Is there an explanation for it?
  3. Third Column: Have you made an excuse?
  4. Fourth Column: Assign a priority level from 0 to 5, with 5 indicating the highest priority and 0 signifying factors beyond your control that you shouldn’t worry about.

By writing down what is not ideal, you acknowledge its existence. Categorizing it as an excuse or explanation enables you to take responsibility for the situation. Assigning a priority level helps you focus on the areas that require your attention. Finally, determine how you will deal with each item on the list or, if it is beyond your control, decide to ignore it.

Let’s consider a couple of examples to better illustrate this approach. Suppose you show up for a workout or race and find yourself thinking, “This is just a training race,” “My legs are tired,” or “I pushed myself too hard yesterday.” By making these statements, you’ve already set your mindset for finding a way out. Instead, adopt a positive mindset and affirm that you will be the best version of yourself in that moment.

Another scenario involves a race that didn’t go as planned. You might be tempted to blame your coach for mishandling your taper, complain about poor sleep, or criticize your run fitness. Instead, provide an explanation by reflecting on the decisions you made during the race. For instance, you may realize that you exceeded the recommended power output or started the race at a pace faster than your true capability.

When faced with less-than-ideal situations, embrace explanations rather than excuses. Take ownership, learn from the experience, and invite those around you to hold you accountable for avoiding excuses. You’ll find that having to write down your excuses on a board and confront them for a week often dissuades you from using them, empowering you to press on with a renewed determination and a positive mindset. Embracing this shift in perspective can truly change your world.

In summary, getting organized is essential for achieving success in all areas of your life. By dedicating time to Sunday prep, practicing gratitude, and distinguishing between excuses and explanations, you’ll gain control over your schedule and mindset. Remember to take ownership of the issues you face and learn from them, inviting those around you to support your growth. With these lists as your guide, you can become the best version of yourself in all aspects of life.

So, go ahead and embrace the power of lists. Take charge of your time, cultivate gratitude, and banish excuses. With organization and the right mindset, you’ll unlock your true potential and become the best “U” possible.