The First Step
This is where your journey starts. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing. Nor does it matter what your current rank is. The journey to improvement starts with your benchmark. It starts with an accurate assessment of yourself, both emotionally and mechanically.
They say nothing good in life comes easy. So it’s fitting that the first step you must take can also be one of the most difficult.
A Look in the Mirror
I mentioned in our previous post “S.M.A.R.T Goals” that to set an effective goal, you have to first be honest with yourself. Otherwise, your goals can really be off the mark and you will never see the progress you want to see. You have to ask and then answer with honesty, difficult questions that help to identify your potential capabilities/limitations.
These questions come in many different forms, but their answers can influence the steps you take. They act very much like a flow chart. I believe they fit into 3 different primary categories. Time, Motivation, and Ability.
How much time do I have to commit to this game each day or each week?
The answer to these questions can do many different things. It can help you set a reasonable and actionable goal. Lets say you go to school or work 40 hours a week, have children, relationships, or other responsibilities. Setting a goal of winning a national or a major, may not be the best place to start.
Not to say that it isn’t possible and you should compete in those events when you can. There is always a possibility that you crush your beginning goals, find yourself heading down that path and then are able to create the time needed to play on that level. However, it’s best to be realistic with yourself and take your progression one step at a time. So if you work 40 hours a week or don’t have much time to commit, then maybe the goal should be a consistent top 3 at your local weekly, or top 3 at your local monthly. More digestible goals like that narrow your practice window, which makes knowing how much time you can truly commit even more valuable.
If you have a rough estimate of how much time you have in a week, it can grant you the ability to plan ahead and schedule the type of practice you need. So if you only have 10 hours a week to dedicate to practice, then you are able to become specific with your type of practice.
That can mean you spend 1 hour reviewing your matches. 3 hours just playing. 2 hours focusing on a specific aspect of your game that you need to improve, or 2 hours focusing on your match up with some time to spare. Simply knowing how much time you have will also increase the amount of focus you bring to your practice, because you’ve created a sense of urgency.
Why am I trying to improve?
This is can be a tough question to answer. The main thing to know when approaching this question is that, the answer is only important for you. This answer does not have to be qualified by anybody else.
Do you want recognition? “Fame”? Make a career out of this? Maybe you believe it will help you make friends, or maybe you just enjoy competing and want to do it at a higher level.
Whatever your motivations are, they are yours. It’s important to identify them, and keep them with you any time you practice or compete. The answer to this question will not only align your goals for you, but also build anticipation and expectancy for your results.
For example, if your goal is recognition, then you must figure out who you want to recognize you? Your friends? Do you need to be a diamond rank for that? An eSports team? What rank do you need to be recognized for that?
Using that example, just by identifying your motivation, you are able to create a goal. If that goal is reasonable, then you are one step away from creating a path forward to achieve it.
When you discover your motivations and start to hold on to them as you perform, you open the door up to new feelings. The expectancy that is built from a want or a desire can be both motivating and defeating. You have to be willing to let yourself down, and have the strength to pick yourself back up. You have to invite risk, discomfort, and loss into your journey in order to succeed. Otherwise it’s much harder to push yourself. Much harder to take chances in tense moments. Those moments where you need to let go of your fears and just act can be the difference between 1st place and last place.
Ultimately, if you really want something, you have to emotionally invest into that desire. If you don’t believe in that desire, then you are working against yourself, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
How good am I, really?
This is another tough question that can stop a player right in their tracks. Have you won any tournaments? Made a top 8? Have you ever been Diamond or Onyx is a season? How often do you go 0-2?
The answers to these questions are not intended to be discouraging. They are just newly accepted knowledge that empowers you to start your improvement with the best chances of progressing quickly. This is how you can receive the most accurate coaching, make the biggest leaps in your own personal growth, and really get the ball rolling forward. The amount of visible progress you are able to make when starting near the bottom is exponentially larger than when you are already near the top.
This is due to the fact that you are building a skill, as opposed to fine tuning a skill. There are so many different opportunities and aspects of your game that you can succeed at when you’re not already at your ceiling. The feelings you get from all of that rolling success really helps to solidify your motivations, and it prepares your mind for your ceiling each time you hit it. So, going from 0-2 to 2-2 is huge. It puts you in a different class of talent, and gives you different and better practice. It may not seem like a huge jump, but it is.
Unfortunately, if you don’t accurately assess your skill level, you may be stunting any improvement above these metrics, or you may never get off the ground. Don’t be afraid to face your own statistics, let that information empower you. Luckily for us, most of the games that we play track our statistics. So if you’re in bronze, then you are in bronze. If you have a sub 50% win rate, then you have a sub 50% win rate. Don’t overstate your ability to yourself. That only opens one door to cognitive dissonance, and shuts the other door to improvement.
No matter what your skill level is at this moment, I encourage you to answer these three questions after reading this. It’s always good to see what you spend your time on with clarity. This tool will help you set your S.M.A.R.T goal, and bring you one step closer to achieving it. Don’t let the answers discourage you from continuing your journey, let them be your guide.
If this is your first time approaching these questions, take the opportunity to put them in writing now! If you’d like feedback on them, give us your email down below when you hit submit, and we will guide you to your next step!