During the grind of being a student-athlete or professional athlete, there will be times when you feel like you’re overwhelmed and stressed out.  You’ll feel like your goals are so far away from where you currently are and become discouraged when you feel that you’re not making much progress towards achieving them. There will be times when you feel like you don’t know what to do to improve. Although it can be hard to see the forest through the trees, overcoming these obstacles is as simple as learning about the things that successful athletes don’t focus on.

One of the actions that you can take to reboot and refill your motivational tank is to identify things that you’re doing on daily basis that are wasting your time.  That’s because time-wasting tasks are the things that are getting in the way of your daily progress. And by identifying and eliminating time-waster, you will see that you will start to move forward with enthusiasm towards the short term and long term goals that you want to achieve.

Now, when identifying your time-wasting tasks, you need to be aware of one thing. You need to separate the emotion from the process and understand that your problems aren’t unique.  Everyone in the world, especially today, is trying to find a way to limit distracting habits that take our time away from improving. Once you understand that your problems aren’t unique, you need to realize that there isn’t any extra time during the day for you to mess around and waste time.

Why are these bad habits that successful athletes don’t focus on so important?

Well, its simple. There are 10,000 other athletes out there that want the exact same thing that you want out of life. What you need to realize is that in order to beat your competition and be at the top of the mountain, you have to have a relentless work ethic and make the most of your time on a daily basis.  You have to train hard, study hard, and work hard – but most importantly, you have to do it efficiently.

In order to work efficiently, you need to dissect and analyze your days by the hour to look for hacks that will allow you to manage your time more efficiently. So, write your day down and highlight all of your “down-time”, then add that up.  If you have zero down time, we would like to congratulate you. You’re either the most efficient athlete to ever walk the earth or you’re such a big time waster that you don’t even realize that you’re doing it.

So, to help you identify areas that you may be wasting time on, we’ve provided a list of 10 things that successful athletes don’t focus on (and you shouldn’t be wasting your time on either):

1Successful athletes don’t focus on Social Media

Social Media is the biggest productivity killer for athletes – ever. Athletes waste up to 3-5 hours per day on their smartphones, causing their dreams to float farther and farther away from them every day. Checking your notifications on Facebook, seeing what’s trending on Twitter, and double tapping your day away on Instagram is part of an athlete’s everyday life.  However, if you can manage your impulses and keep yourself away from your smartphone or computer, you’ll be surprised to see what you can accomplish.

How do you monitor your social media use? First, you should put a limit on your phone use. Your phone has a timer, so put it to use – Set an alarm for less than 15 minutes when you decide to use your smartphone. This will help you monitor your social media usage. Secondly, take your phone out of your reach. That means your pockets.

If you have a backpack, stow it away in a pouch so that it becomes a nuisance to get your phone out.  Eventually, you’ll stop feeling the impulse to check your phone because of the work that it takes to get it out. And, don’t enable your feelings by saying you “might miss an emergency call”. If thats the case, put your phone on loud and keep it in your backpack.  Emergencies don’t come in the form of text messages or notification.  They come in the form of phone calls.

2Successful athletes don’t waste their time by failing to plan

Successful athletes wake up with a purpose, a goal, and a regiment to reach that goal right when they get out of bed.  They understand what they have to do on a daily basis and plan how to achieve their daily tasks accordingly. Then, they take action towards those goals and try their best to achieve everything that they can on that list.

Before you go to bed, write down the goals you have to achieve for tomorrow. It allows you to have the peace of mind before you go to bed when you know what you have to accomplish the following day. Prioritize them from most important down to the least important so that you’re ready to “eat the frog” right when you get up and be productive from the start.

3Successful athletes don’t focus on dwelling on negative emotions

Upset because you’re going through some adversity? If you want to be one of the successful athletes that goes places in life, you have to drop things that empty your tank like a bag of bricks and walk away. And, you need to find some positive things in your life that will help fill that tank back up.

Every night, when you write down your goals and activities, you need to be certain that they will add positivity to your life. If you don’t think that a task on that list will add progress to your life, then you should consider saying no to doing it. When you can identify things that add positivity and growth to your life, and say ‘no’ to the things that don’t do that, you will feel much more liberated and excited towards waking up in the morning to achieve those goals.

4Successful athletes don’t focus on things they can’t control

There is no reason to waste your thoughts, energy, or time on things that you can’t control.  Successful athletes understand that there are only three things that you can control in life, and its up to you to make sure that you stay focused on them. If you can’t do anything about a certain incident or situation, don’t worry about it.  Drop it and move on.

Turn your thoughts into taking action.  If you want to get stronger, go to the gym.  If you want to memorize the playbook, study. Don’t sit there and worry about how you’re not strong enough or smart enough.  Take action and get it done.

5Successful athletes don’t focus on spending time with negative people

You are a product of your own environment. The people that you choose to surround yourself with will determine the course that your life takes both athletically and academically. If you want to be one of the successful athletes that makes it big time, then you have to surround yourself with successful, positive minded people.

To the best of your ability, you need to eliminate any negative energy around you that you can.  If you have negative minded friends or teammates, you need to start limiting the time that you spend with them.  Instead, get a mentor in life that you look up to so that you can strive to be your best. It’s easier to climb the stairs of success when you don’t have to carry a piano up with you.

6Successful athletes don’t focus on dwelling on the past

Whatever happened in the past is over.  Nobody cares about the mistakes that you made in the game last week, as much as you believe internally that they do.  All successful athletes make mistakes on their career paths – heck, everybody in life does.  What you need to understand is that whenever you make a mistake, you need to drop two tears in the bucket and drop it.  Move on.

The key that successful athletes hone in on is to not make the same mistake twice. Mistakes aren’t mistakes if you happen to learn and grow from them.  When you make a mistake in a game or practice, you have to tell yourself that its over and in the past.  You need to exhibit the correct body language, learn why the mistake was made, and then prepare yourself for the next rep.

7Successful athletes don’t focus on worrying about what others athletes do

Do you ever wonder why other players that you played against are having success? Well, you’re better than them right? It’s just they got a lucky break is all – that’s what happens when you play on the right team..

Ever hear this talk? Of course you have.  You may have participated in it too.

The problem is that when you waste your time and energy on comparing yourself to your competition and worrying about what they’re achieving, you’re just taking time away from your opportunity to develop yourself.

But, that’s not all…

You’re also creating a negative and resentful mindset, which is something that successful athletes don’t focus on. When you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, all you’re doing is paralyzing your actions.  You spend minutes, hours, days, or even years being pissed off that others are achieving great things instead of focusing on what you need to do to get to where you want to go.

It’s great to be inspired and motivated by others to achieve more in life.  Just don’t compare yourself to them because it’s irrelevant.  Every player has a different path to success in life.

8Successful athletes don’t focus on trying to please everyone

You’re not a people pleaser, you’re a human being that’s trying to become a successful athlete. Sometimes, its easy to lose focus on that because as a player, you can get focused on pleasing.  You want to please you coaches so you can play more, you want to please your teammates so that you can have good relationships, you want to please your teachers so that you can receive good grades.

But, there’s a catch…

You need to understand that although pleasing people is great, its not your main purpose in life. Successful athletes don’t focus on trying to make others around them happy because they have a much higher goal that they want to achieve in life. They have a laser focus mentality where they want to perfect the skills their learning because it serves them. A by-product of that laser focus is that people around them generally tend to be happy with their performance.

9Successful athletes don’t focus on always putting others first

That’s not giving you the green light to be selfish. What putting yourself first means is that you need to take care of your own needs first in order to perform like you want to. That means getting the right amount of sleep and proper nutrition.  It means scheduling time out of each day to make sure that you can finish your work AND decompress.

Another great way to put YOU first is to give yourself little micro-rewards that make you happy.  Maybe its completing an early morning workout, waking up to meditate, reading a book for 15 minutes, or foam rolling for your muscles so that you’re not sore when you go to bed.  Whatever it is, do something that works for you.  And that doesn’t mean cruising on your phone, watching TV, or playing video games.

10Successful athletes focus on worrying about what other people say about them

So that guy over there that doesn’t know you thinks that you’re a terrible person? Good. Your coach thinks that you can’t make the play? Good – you can prove them wrong.  Successful athletes don’t focus on what others think about them because of two reasons: They’re mature to their core and understand that what anyone else thinks about them is just an opinion.

When you realize that the only person who controls your destiny is yourself, then you make progress every day in achieving your goals.  If people doubt you, its only because they’re insecure themselves. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s lack of mental maturity. Push forward, work your tail off, learn, and then prove them wrong.

Instead of wasting your time worrying what others think about you, we recommend picking up two of our favorite books – Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. You can get them on Audiobook too through a free 30-day trial of Audible. Put down the phone and pick up a book so that you can grow and build on your emotional intelligence as an athlete.

bad habits that successful athletes don't focus on

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Contributes to the “new culture” of sports and helps motivate you to achieve your potential.