The Michael Phelps Action Plan Tip

He’d just won. The first time I saw Michael Phelps was the interview that followed afterwards. Somehow I’d missed the race.

‘We’re not there yet.’

What caught my attention – and this came up a lot during the Olympics – was that even though he’d just won his fourth of fifth medal, his focus was on completing all the tasks before he’d give himself a breather.

So, when pressed by the interviewer about the number of medals and how (relatively) easy the upcoming races were, his stuck to the same mantra:

‘We’re not there yet.’

I suspect the success of people like Phelps is down to a combination of factors. Size, location, coaching, facilities, nationality all count. But so do the mental attributes that underpin this.

And I see this in myself at work.

For example, I’m working on a large business proposal or maybe a training plan. I have the first three sections done.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘We’re almost in the home stretch. Let’s take a break for five minutes.’

The justification is: you’ve worked hard, you’ve earned a break.

And this is true. But, here’s the catch. The type of break determines the success of what follows next.

If you start surfing, you know, 20, 30, 40 minutes can slide by. Then you’re thinking, ‘Can I really get this finished today? ‘

And if you can’t, you kick it into touch and start again tomorrow. For me, the only way to avoid this is to:

In other words, if writing a business plan, finish all the sections that I planned to write that day, and the following day go back and fine-tune it.

This works for me because:

  1. It forces me to ignore the thoughts that want an easy way out.
  2. Ensure I get at least a draft ready for the next day.
  3. Helps me digest what I’ve written overnight and most important
  4. Builds good habits.


There are very few advantages in stopping halfway.

If you’ve made the effort to write a novel, develop an application, or take up an instrument – it can be anything really – preserving yields its own rewards.

‘We’re not there yet.’

The other thing is: you might be closer to the finishing line that you think.

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