“As difficult as it might get, it will never be as hard as losing”
Stacey Copeland has picked up the Commonwealth title, a European Championship silver medal and the ABA National Championship belt. Yet her passion and overarching target is to inspire more young girls and women to get involved in sport. Here, she shares her top tips, words of wisdom and expert insight to help you hit your 2019 targets.
caytoo: Why do you think setting goals is important?
Stacey Copeland: It gives me loads of motivation, I need a reason and a purpose for things. When you talk about elite level sport, to put in all the time and energy that you need to compete at the top level, you have to have that motivation and know why you’re doing it. You can endure almost any ‘how’ if you know the ‘why.’
caytoo: How do you go about deciding your goals?
Stacey: You have to be realistic in order to believe in it. Part of it is what you believe you’re capable of achieving. Also, it can be people who inspire you and you see what they’ve achieved. It could be when your nine years old watching the television, see someone win an Olympic gold, world title or play in the World Cup and it just sparks something in you where you think ‘I want to do that.’
Sometimes opportunities come and you might not have planned for it, but you just take it and you go for it. Sometimes things choose you as much as you choose them.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘Well I didn’t think I could do it anyway.’
You’ve got a ready made set of excuses.”
caytoo: What’s the most important factor to consider when you’re setting yourself a new goal?
Stacey: There are two considerations. Firstly, why are you doing it? If it’s not embedded in you and doesn’t become your ‘why’, then you’re limited on how far you can go. That has to be there, that motivation, that reason.
The second thing is believing you can achieve your goal, because if you don’t, when those tough days come, it’s too easy to say, ‘Well I didn’t think I could do it anyway.’ You’ve got a ready made set of excuses. If you know why you’re doing it, believe in yourself and believe it’s an achievable goal, there’s a reason to push through the tough days and barriers.
caytoo: How do you maintain that resilience and mindset of overcoming negativity?
Stacey: I really like to have quotes so, if its getting a bit tough and difficult, I can refer to it when I need to. For example, at the European Championships, my first major tournament, I’d only had 17 fights going into it. It was mega daunting. All the boxers that I looked up to were at there and it was the first time representing my country in boxing. I was equally excited as I was scared.
The quote from Mohammed Ali, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough’ really settled me. It gave me permission to be really scared because it reminded me this is exactly how I’m supposed to feel when I’ve got a goal that’s really big.
“It’s essential for big goals to break it down. It makes
them more manageable and increases your motivation.”
Also, breaking them down is essential. Coming back from injury, I had surgery on my leg and they caused a horrendous burn. I was 20 kilos overweight, couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t do a single squat and going from that to professional boxing can’t happen. I was unmotivated all the time and eventually I said to myself, ‘you have to break this down.’ It’s essential for big goals to break it down. It makes them more manageable and increases your motivation as you feel you’ve got control.
caytoo: What’s the most important factor in achieving your goal?
Stacey: Part of it can be down to external factors that are out of our control. Achieving your goal isn’t always down to you. That’s the risk with quotes like, ‘If you want it enough you’ll get it.’ Sometimes you do deserve it, you have wanted it more than anybody else, then something happens and there’s nothing that you can do.
“I desperately, desperately want to win. I absolutely detest losing.
So as difficult it might get, it will never be as hard as losing. “
In terms of controllable factors, preparation can be massively important. Some athletes just fall apart when it comes to the big moments so, as much as you can, work on mentally prepared, then you’ve more chance of achieving your goal.
caytoo: So prepare yourself and give everything you’ve got, that’s all you can ask of yourself?
Stacey: Definitely. One of the big lessons that sport teaches you is how to deal with those setbacks. It is so applicable to the rest of life. Sometimes, when it’s the first time it’s happened to you, you can’t understand why you haven’t achieved but you have to regroup, find meaning in failure and, somehow, go forward.
“No matter how much training hurts, how tired I am,
how bad anything feels, it will never compare to a big loss, ever.”
caytoo: How do you overcome those obstacles and keep moving towards your goal?
Stacey: Because I want to win. I desperately, desperately want to win. I absolutely detest losing. So as difficult as it might get, it will never be as hard as losing. No matter how much training hurts, how tired I am, how bad anything feels, it will never compare to a big loss, ever. Or getting an injury at a critical time and not even being able to have the chance to win.
The other one is to pave the way and inspire others. That really really pushes me on because if I do it, other people may think that they can do it. I want to leave my sport better than I found it for the girls and women coming through. I’m deeply passionate about that.
“I ask myself every day, are those choices taking
me towards my goal or away from it?”
caytoo: If you could offer one piece of advice to people who have set themselves goals for the New Year, what what would it be?
Stacey: Keep a training diary. That could relate to work by writing down what you’ve done that day to push you towards your goal. I ask myself every day, are those choices taking me towards my goal or away from it? If the honest answer is away, then it depends how much you want to reach your goal. There’s a real worth in writing it down because you can see the build up of progress, that gives you extra motivation.
Also, some people do vision boards which can be very powerful. In a way, that’s what I did with the Commonwealth title. I had a picture of the Commonwealth Title in the gym, in my bedroom, in my car, at the office at work, everywhere! Just to keep reminding me of what I wanted to achieve. That really helped me.
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