Young man training indoors and thinking about his next move. Mindset, adapt to change, GamePlanA

When Goalposts Shift – Adapting to the Changing World Around Us

For Olympians and businesses alike, when the goalposts move it will most likely have an impact on our focus and performance. Here’s how you can stay on track and adapt to change, even in the most challenging of times.

a bedroom in a nice apartment. adidas, hometeam, GamePlan A
Story 2 of 12
See all


We’re all on our established performance paths: daily and weekly patterns, monthly meetings, 90-day plays, quarterly rhythms, annual business rituals. All these things are built on familiarity, predictability and a sense of control and experience.

So, when the game changes in a way that no one had predicted, our sense of control and familiarity disappears, and we have little direct experience to draw upon to help us perform in the new conditions. Whether it’s the majority of people in the commercial world, or the Olympians responding to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the ability to adapt to change and respond to the new schedules and rules of the game becomes an essential performance ingredient.

How are you feeling about how well you’ve reacted and adapted so far? How satisfied are you with the responses you’ve put in place and how you’ve upgraded your outlook?

For the athletes having to adjust to a new Olympic timetable, there are going to be some important mindset shifts to make. Those who manage the immediate and medium-term response best will be putting themselves in a great position to make the most of the unexpected timetable change. How they achieve this is probably something we can all benefit from when it comes to adapting to our own unique challenges in the brave new world we’re all facing into.

Here are some of the simple (but not always easy) steps that can be taken to ease the transition:

1. Accept the disappointment and frustration

It’s only natural in a situation where the game has changed significantly for you to have an emotional response. So, be ready to notice and accept the emotions you have, without feeling the need to label them as good or bad. Simply know they will be present and expect them to lessen with time as you begin to work through the other steps. 

Female training outdoors takes a rest from her routine. Athlete, mindset, adapt to change, GamePlanA
First things first: take the time to accept the situation on an emotional level.

2. Focus on self-care and self-compassion

In a period of significant change where existing plans, investments, hopes and expectations have suddenly been made redundant, it’s critical to focus on looking after yourself. Mental and physical health is always important, but when the game changes significantly these things become even more important.

A daily focus on self-compassion is probably the most important commitment you can make to yourself in the first few weeks of adjustment. So, be kind to yourself, realise your responses are being shared by many people like you and take time for daily moments of stillness and calm so you stay grounded and in tune with how you’re reacting.

Taking this second step consistently will provide you with a great foundation from which to employ numbers three and four.

Female athlete taking a rest from her training routine. Pause, recharge, mindset, adapt to change, GamePlanA
Don’t forget to press pause and find calm during your day.

3. Reset expectations from a foundation of strength

For the Olympians, they’re having to adjust to the new timetable of events and the implications this has on their qualification, training, career and life outside of their sport.

In the commercial world, everyone is having to adjust to new targets for 2020 and in many cases a whole new mindset of surviving rather than thriving.

Whatever the refocusing that is required, the immediate and future plan needs to be built from a position of strength and that’s done by asking and answering some simple questions:

  • Which strengths of mine that have always contributed to my previous successes are still relevant and need to be maintained at the forefront of my performance?
  • Which approaches have always allowed me to adapt and learn best in the past and how do I make sure I use my ability to learn and grow to the best effect in the current situation?
  • Who are the key people around me who I know will help me to maintain my focus on the right steps being taken with maximum confidence?

Once you’ve got answers to these questions, you can start resetting your sights on a new picture of success for the next month, quarter, and year ahead. For most of us though, the focus is going to be about staying in the here and now for a good few weeks while we consolidate our strengths and become used to how they’re of most benefit to us, one day at a time.

Diverse group training indoors. Adapt to change, GamePlanA
Reset your sights and regain your focus.

4. Maintain the personal best focus

Finally, whatever the forward plan and targets to aim for look like, now is a time, like never before, when the performance focus serves us most strongly.

When we can’t look to the scoreboard with confidence, or we can’t see a finish line in front of us, the focus is best placed on building a daily mission to find out how well you can perform and to adapt to changes around you.

Each day begins with the thought of “I wonder how well I can use my strengths today to put in a valuable performance?” The day then unfolds with ongoing attempts to answer that question as positively as possible. Then the day finishes with a reflection upon those moments or achievements that have given a sense of pride and progress.

If we’re constantly focused on raising our personal best (in these conditions), one day at a time, we begin to build a mini track record of competence. We feel a little more in control of doing the right things each day. And where we’re able to share our progress with the people who are supporting us or collaborating with us, then we really begin to change the story. From looking back and thinking about what could have been, or how much we’ve lost, we’re slowly able to regain a foothold and begin to look forward.

Woman doing a series of indoor exercises in adidas gear. Training, Mindset, adapt to change, GamePlanA
You’ll get to the point where your sights are set on the future instead of being frozen in the past.

These four steps aren’t easy, but they’re the foundations of discipline that we know would have been at the core of successful people in 2020 had the game not changed around us. Now the game has changed, these common-sense steps become ever more important. In time, if we follow them with conviction, we’ll thank ourselves for reacting as it will help us in absolutely the right way for our long-term health and success.


Please take note of the commenting guidelines.
You will receive an email to approve your comment.
Please take note of the commenting guidelines.
You will receive an email to approve your comment.

Thanks for your comment

You will receive an email to approve your comment. It will only appear after your confirmation.


Oh no! An unexpected error occurred.

Try again
by John Tracy 14.04.2020
No Penalties here...SPOT-ON!!
by CristinellaBella 31.07.2020
My heart sings with joy reading this article. #sportspsychology is exactly what you need to apply to rise up in the face of adversity. To see the light at the end of the proverbial, and sometimes literal tunnel. Situational awareness and self care are probably two of the most important tools that can and will carry you across the field, onto the rink, past the track, and if you are an artist, perhaps out on to the stage. Wherever that goalpost gets set, when you go inward and dig deep, you not only find it, you score. Big time.
by Chiris Shambrook CristinellaBella 31.07.2020
Seek to become the consistent factor in an inconsistent environment. When your performance fingerprint is the coommon foundation, you worry less about the environment that you're challenged to perform in.

First time here?