I’ve just had a pretty horrible week.  It was the last week before the Sheffield IJS and it was ridiculously busy (as usual!) at ICC HQ.  Deciding to launch a self-study programme at the competition meant getting everything ready on time to get it to the printers and hoping that everything would be delivered in time to take with me to Sheffield.

Against that backdrop, my daughter was madly preparing for yet more travel the other side of the world.  Only back in the UK for two weeks I was feeling guilty for not doing much with her (she was fine with this – I wasn’t) and I was fitting in writing content and recording stuff around when she wasn’t home.  Meanwhile, my much adored little dog, Zorro (deputy manager, ICC) fell ill as he was recovering from a routine knee operation.

Then the laptop crashed completely.  I’d been impatient with Windows 10 and decided to ‘downgrade’ back to 8.1.  Not a clever thing to do when I still had so much work.  And just at that point (this was Friday) the printers delivered everything complete with faulty CDs. They’d copied them in the wrong format and all the packs would have to be opened up, the CDs removed, recopied, labels reprinted and stuck on and the packs re-sorted and sealed –  a three day job – in one night!

And Zorro had taken a turn for the worse and was rushed to a doggy hospital three exits south on the M1.  It was touch and go whether I’d get to Sheffield at all – after all that hard work and preparation.

I felt like I was letting everyone down – my skaters at Sheffield, the kind people who organised for me to have a stall there, my daughter (I couldn’t take her to the airport), the lady who was supposed to be looking after Zorro and had turned away someone else because the place was taken – and even the lady who couldn’t have that place (who I’d never even met!).  I felt unprepared and deflated.  I couldn’t focus on work because I was worried about my little dog.

Then it hit me – Suddenly I just knew exactly how it feels heading into a competition when nothing seems to be going right.  You’ve been practising hard but it all feels wrong. Something else is going on at home or at school and you’re either worrying about it or thinking about it instead of being focused.  You’re worried about letting your coach down, and your mum or your dad. And the more you worry about all these things, the worse your skating gets because you just can’t focus.

Zorro iGet well soon Zorros in hospital as I write this – undergoing lots of tests.  So the vet ‘gave me permission’ to go to Sheffield. I no longer had to feel guilty about going and leaving him behind – after all, he’s in hospital, in good hands. But driving up here, I still felt a few teary thoughts – worrying about all the what ifs.  What if it was something really serious?  What if they can’t do anything for him?  And then I remembered what I do for skaters when I hear the ‘What If Gremlin’.  I get them to focus on the ‘What if it goes RIGHT’ instead of what if + worst case scenario.  Because statistically 92% of what we worry about will never happen, is in the past and can’t be changed, or is petty, trivial stuff which we shouldn’t bother with anyway.  That means only 8% of what we worry about is actually worth being concerned about!

I remembered that the vet had said it could be anything from minor issues to something more serious.  So why was I focusing on the worst case scenario?  And I resolved to think more about the possibility that it might be something minor.

So next time you are having a tough week leading up to a competition, and feeling like you’re just not focused, worrying about letting people down (and I totally get it)  take a step back.   Look at the whole picture. Every time you start having a negative thought, ask yourself “Is it true? Is it helpful?” And “What could I say to myself instead?”  Worrying about something before it has even happened only harms us in the long run and keeps us further away from our goals. Stay cool.  Stay ice cool.  And confident. Always stay confident.