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How to Avoid Avoiding: 5 Steps to Mentally Break into eSports

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What is it that has kept you from pursuing an eSports career or persevering in ranked up until now?  Are you afraid you aren’t good enough?  Are you too annoyed and worn out from dealing with trolls?  Or do you simply not know where to start?  Fear, moodiness, fatigue, and not knowing what to do are all examples of things that get in the way of staying on task and pursuing goals.

So what do you do when you feel stuck, and don’t know how to go about pursuing your goals and dreams?  The first thing you need to do is…

Avoid Avoiding!

Image by Kaela Parkhouse

Right now, there is not a lot of support or structure to the eSports career path, even at the professional level.  It is crucial that you cultivate the tools and skills to keep yourself on task and motivated.  All you have to do is stop turning away and face the challenge head on.  Even if you have to tell yourself over and over to keep trying, make yourself do what you know you need to in order to get what you want.  Here’s an example in my life, where I had to tell myself repeatedly to keep pushing toward my goal:

 I was putting together a job application for my absolute dream job.  The job was the perfect combination of my interests and skills, and I knew to my core I could do it.  But every time I sat down to write about my qualifications, I was hit with a tidal wave of doubt and fear.  A job that I once felt I was absolutely made for, turned into a job that I felt guilty even applying to for fear I would just waste everyone’s time.  Eventually I realized that the only way that I’d know for sure that I couldn’t do it, is if I gave it my all and failed—Even if I didn’t get the job, at worst I would be exactly where I started.  I probably ran away from my computer in terror about 50 times while writing my first email to the man in charge, but every time I forced myself to sit back down and keep writing.  Long story made slightly shorter…I got the job.

 “Getting what you want is SIMPLE 

(But not easy).” 

Mel Robbins

Try to remember a time where you had zero interest in doing something that you 100% needed to do.  What did it take to get you to stop avoiding the task, and to go do it?  The same energy and willpower used then can be harnessed and put toward your gaming pursuits.

In her TED Talk, “How to stop screwing yourself over”Mel Robbins (a world renowned author, radio host, and life coach) breaks down how to get what you want, even when you feel completely stuck in a rut.  This speech highlights 5 steps to avoid avoiding and to get started on your ultimate pursuits.

Step 1:  Force Yourself

There will always be reasons not to do something.  Very rarely will the stars align so that you can accomplish what you want, when you want to do it.  That being said, sometimes the answer to all the obstacles in your path is to just do it anyway!

It is easy, comfortable, and safe to find reasons to continue with your normal routine.  It’s easy to say that it’s just a hobby, and that you have no reason to take it seriously.  It’s comfortable to sit back and say “watching TV is more relaxing anyway, I’ll just keep doing that.”  It’s safe to protect yourself from responsibility by blaming everyone else for any failure.  Even if some of these things are true, they will never make you great.

To become a true competitor, you need to a real FORCE; a real act of WILL to change what you have been doing naturally, and to start doing what it takes to win.  It may not be easy, safe or comfortable, but challenge yourself to try something new to make yourself a champion.

Step 2:  Get Out of Your own Head

 “If you’re in your head, you’re behind enemy lines….You would not hang out with people that talk to you the way you talk to yourself.  So get out of your head.”

Mel Robbins

We all have that one charismatic friend that we love to talk to, but know they could talk us into jumping off a bridge if they wanted to.  You know, the friend that stands behind you when you dump the perfect person for you.  Your friend assures you that your soul-mate was a loser anyway, never telling you that you are making a mistake.  They are the perfect companion for a trip to the land of self-destruction and mediocrity.  Your mind tends to do the same thing.

Your mind will say:  “It’s a long shot”, “I probably won’t succeed”, “I don’t even know how to start”, or “I give up”.  Rarely, will your mind challenge itself.  It will go along with any negative idea you have, and tell you that you are right for thinking it.

A switch to a more optimistic mindset would help here, but it takes a bit to cultivate that mind frame if you are not used to speaking constructively to yourself.  Until then, stop relying on your thoughts.  Let go of your worries and fears.  Stop blaming others for getting in your way.  Get out of your head and resort to action toward your goals instead.

Step 3:  Get past your feelings, because you won’t always FEEL like doin’ it.

“Your feelings are screwing you…if you listen to how you feel, when it comes to getting what you want, you will not get it.”

Mel Robbins

One of the biggest traps people fall into is mistaking how they think and feel for the truth of the situation.  However, THOUGHTS and FEELINGS are not FACTS.  Consider these thoughts:

  •  “The pros are so much better than me, there is no way I could ever compete at a pro level.”  Relax, no one said you have to face pro players the second you start playing competitively.  When Pop Warner football players start having to play against NFL teams, we could have this conversation.  Until then, let’s assume that’s your FEAR talking.
  • “Oh my god, that guy totally just lost us the game!”  Chill out.  You win some and you lose some.  If every game could be won or lost on a single play, it would make for a very dull game.  That’s your ANGER talking.
  • “Oh man, I’m feeling really motivated today.  Let’s go win some games.”  Now that’s more like it!  Getting pumped is great, but how often do your really say THAT to yourself.  We are going to need a Plan B here.

The key thing to remember is that more often than not, YOU WON’T FEEL LIKE IT.  There will be something to diminish your immediate desire to succeed.  But, just because you don’t FEEL like it in the moment, doesn’t mean your dreams are no longer worth striving for.  It might mean that you are pretty bummed from a recent losing streak, but not that your dreams are unattainable.  So don’t let your feelings in the moment get in the way of what you really want long term.  Try to get past your feelings, and remember what you are working for.

Step 4:  Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone is not about taking risks.  It’s about allowing yourself to try things that are uncomfortable. Now I’m not saying that you need to be ok with walking over hot coals.  I’m saying that you need to be willing to try things that may be new to you, but are worth experimenting with.  For example:

Recently I had to buy a new mouse and keyboard to address the ergonomics of my gaming setup.  As I had sustained a severe repetitive stress injury because of it, the change was imperative if I were to continue gaming.  When the new mouse and keyboard arrived, I found myself putting off the equipment switch, because I knew it will take some getting used to.  I found myself waiting for days with a new mouse and keyboard sitting in a box next to my desk, because I was waiting for the day that I would be in the mood to acclimate myself to them.

So what was keeping me from switching equipment the day I got the new ones?  I didn’t want to deal with being uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, and try something new that could help me in the long run.

To break into eSports you must be prepared to try things that are foreign to you, but helpful.  This is especially true when working to get the mental edge on your competitors.  Many mental skills seem foreign but help tremendously to improve performance.  Remember to keep an open mind, and get outside of your comfort zone.

 Step 5: When you feel like it . . . do it!

Mel Robbins ends her talk with a final gem:  The 5 second rule.  It takes 5 seconds to kill an impulse if you don’t marry it with an action in the meantime.  So if you are in the moment, ready to take on the challenge and ready to play, do something to keep the impulse alive.  Queue for a match, or write a note about what you want to do.  Just do something that brings the thought out of your head and into a real action.

Your problem is not that you lack motivation or skill.  It is that you don’t take action when you get inspired.  The next time you are afraid of losing, feeling annoyed, or don’t know what to do…just hit QUEUE!

Have you recently had trouble getting the will or courage to queue for ranked or pursue and eSports career?  Tell me about it in the comments below and I will help problem solve what’s getting it the way.