A few days before an important tournament you realize: shit, I was so sloppy with my training and I’ll pay for it.
It is a common feeling with exams, big work projects, and chess tournaments.
Cramming in the last minute sometimes saves our ass, but it isn’t the most effective way to learn. A very stressful approach.
The solution is to stay motivated well before an important tournament is coming up.
Here is how I did exactly for many years now.
The Power Of Ticking Things Off
The reason most of us have a hard time training well before a tournament is coming up is that the input-output is not as clear.
Training now to reap the fruits 3 months from now is rather abstract. What we need to do is to make the connection between training sessions and tournament results far in the future more clear.
I’ve done that with training plans.
When I have the possibility to physically tick a training session off a list, I’m exponentially more likely to really sit down and train.
Yes, it can really be that simple.
The reason is that a clear plan, especially if it is physical and you see it every day, can connect today’s training to the tournament game a few months away.
I feel proud and happy when I check off a day with good training. On the opposite side, missing a day will make me feel disappointed and I have to make a big fat red cross on my training calendar.
Feel The Emotions Ahead of Time
An additional trick I use often is to think ahead and feel the negative emotions of not having trained.
Let’s say I was training for a Swiss Championship. Every day, I reminded myself how pissed I would be to mess up the tournament and miss out on the title. Then I connected that bad emotion to not having trained.
Again, the daily training became much more real and connected to the event I was training for.
On the positive side, I would imagine myself winning the championship and connecting that to having trained well consistently before the tournament.
After having done this for a while, I now really only need to take pen and paper, and create my own calendar. Then I make crosses for every missed day and tick off every good day.
Create Your Own Training Calendar
So here is how you make it more simple to stick to your training, even if you train for something abstract far in the future:
- Make it clear what you are training for. Is it a tournament? A certain achievement? Your best self 1 year from now?
- Describe the negative emotions of failing and connect them with bad or missed training sessions. Then describe the positive emotions of succeeding and connect them to good, consistent training.
- Create a super-simple calendar where you track your chess training. Mark days off as such, then make a big green checkmark for days you did your training and a fat red X for days you missed your training.
I’ve just done the same process for the launch of my next course, which will be around Mar 23, 2024 (3rd birthday of my blog).
There are 42 working days left for me until the provisional launch date. That is much more tangible than 2 months. Every day is part of a bigger goal, a process.
I now hang it somewhere in my apartment where I see it daily. The benefits are vast and sometimes unexpected:
- I’m more motivated to put in great work as the goal feels more tangible and real
- Walking by and seeing a red cross is devastating, so I’m less likely to miss a working session
- Seeing a lot of green checkmarks will be encouraging 1 month from now (“Yay, I’m halfway through”, rather than “Ugh, still a month…”)
All from a hand-made plan I did in 10 minutes.
Two months from now, I will share the same plan with you. Hopefully full of checkmarks and without an X.
Feel free to send me your Chess plans now and two months from now. Accountability is another great tool to get yourself to train.
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Whenever you’re ready, here is how I can help you:
- My Chess improvement course, Next Level Training: Join 550+ motivated Chess improvers inside Next Level Training. This course will teach you everything you need to know about studying chess on your own. From solving chess tactics the right way to building an opening repertoire and analyzing your own games, everything is in here.