Yesterday was 25 Years to the day since I reached the 3rd Round of the 1994 Australian Open Singles event and appeared on A Current Affair.
This week, I ventured back to the Australian Open for the 2nd time since I finished playing in 1997 (the other time was when I graduated from the Elite Coaching Course and attended the Coach’s Conference).
Wow, so much has changed at the tennis and also in my life. I have been on the rollercoaster of life for many years, trying to discover who I am as a person, what I valued, how I can make a difference and transform the shame I so deeply held within about my tennis career (which I only recently realised)
Subsequently it got me reflecting, what would I say to myself now as a 46-year-old to that 21-year-old who played on centre court? This is what I came up with (in no particular oder)…
27 Things I Would Want My 21-Year-Old Tennis Playing Self to Remember
1. You Are More than a Tennis Player!
Playing tennis is what you are doing at the moment as a profession, it is not WHO you are. You are so much more than a tennis player and your achievements do not relate to your worthiness as a human being. You are already worthy of love, connection and belonging and you do not have to prove your worth.
2. Be Honest
Be honest with yourself and when you feel safe and comfortable, be honest with other people. As they say, the truth will set you free.
3. Know Your Responsibilities and Be at Cause
4. Manage Your Self and Be Accountable
5. Develop Your Life Skills
Throughout your life there are many important life skills you need to master. Some of these skills include emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, self-management, forgiveness, planning and organising.
6. Train Your Mind
Yes you have a strong mind and are focused, however there are thought processes which drain you (e.g. limiting beliefs, comparison, control, overcommitment and self-doubt) and do not serve you. Learn mindfulness as this will help you defuse from these draining thoughts.
7. Listen to Your Body
Learn to tune in and listen to your body. Your body gives you so many signals and it is important to listen to it, so you can minimise injuries and burnout.
8. Trust Your Imperfections
Yes, you do not have to be perfect! Perfectionism is very draining and creates stress and suffering in your life. You are already worthy and life is not meant to be perfect as you are here to grow an evolved.
9. Invest Time in and Develop Your Inner Circle of Trust
Your inner circle of trust are the people who really know you, allow you to embrace your imperfections, vulnerabilities and have your back when things don’t go accord to plan. Invest time in building these relationships.
10. Continue to Express Gratitude
I know you already do this, however continue to show appreciation and gratitude towards the people who are supporting you.
11. Actions Speak Louder than Words
Just like your Grandma used to say – “actions speak louder than words”. Another way of looking at this is-
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
12. Practice Self-Compassion
Even though it is unfamiliar to you, practice self-compassion NOW! In Dr Kristin Neff’s book – Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, she talks about –
“Self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.”
13. Manage Your Money
Stay connected with your money and develop your relationship with it. Know where it is flowing from and where it is flowing to. Have a team around you whom you trust and will support you with its management as your money matters!
14. Believe in Yourself
Yes, there will be some very challenging times and you will make “mistakes”. These times will push you to the brink and you will wonder if you can go on. Trust me, you can! You have the strength and resilience to get through the darkest days and nights. You are here for a reason (just like everyone else) and the world needs your gifts, so focus on them and believe in yourself (and remember number 11).
15. Embrace Change
Life will continue to change (that is part of the adventure), so embrace it and remember to –
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell
16. Question Everything
Be inquisitive and question everything. Learn for yourself to discover your truth.
17. Continue to Move and Take Care of Your Body
Moving your body is important, so continue to find ways to move it and take care of it through adequate nutrition etc., maintaining it and listening to it.
18. Develop Your Passions Outside of Tennis
Even though you enjoy tennis now, it will not be what you do for the rest of your life. Develop your passions and skills outside of tennis (e.g. complete educational courses / qualifications) as they will help you transition to life after tennis.
19. Give Unconditionally
When you give, give unconditionally. Yes truly, do not expect anything in return – just give (of course, as long as it feels good).
20. Celebrate Your Achievements
Maybe at the moment, you are not proud of your achievements, however it is important to celebrate them as you work hard.
21. Have Fun
Yes really, have fun and enjoy what you are doing.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~
22. Always Do Your Best
Show up and do your best. Mary Lou Retton was reported as saying it this way –
“As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can; by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.”
Reflection is a great tool that allows you to take notice and become more mindful of what is happening in your life. You can reflect on many areas of your life including – your day, week, match, training schedule. As you take time out to reflect you can discover what works for you and what doesn’t.
24. Patience is a Virtue
Continue to take small steps every day towards your vision. One day all of those small steps will add up, however remember patience is a virtue.
25. Healing Starts from Within
The most important relationship you have is with yourself. Healing starts from within, so invest your time to know, like and trust yourself 🙂
26. Be Kind
Yes, you know actions speak louder than words, however still be kind and treat people the way you want to be treated.
27. Begin Each Day With a Beginner’s Mind
Each day is a new day with new opportunities, so begin with a beginner’s mind.
So there you have it, 27 points to support you over the next 25 years. And remember –
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~
Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.