Nervous November: Not Enough Time

Nervous November: Not Enough Time

Hi, everyone.  I’m coach Rebecca, and today I’m going to talk about the perception of time and this phenomenon that I call “Nervous November”.  Now, if you’re not an optional level gym, this month might be different, but if you are a competitive athlete, you can probably relate to this situation – roughly a month before your first big competition or your first big game, confidence backslides.

The Shift

For a lot of athletes, especially gymnasts, I see mental blocks hitting and loss of skills.  You were on this really great track and summer was so fun!  You were getting new skills and things are going great, then all of a sudden, something changed.  Now you get really nervous and you start to doubt yourself.  I see this often.  Last November, all the PerformHappy kids were saying, “I don’t know what’s happening.  I’m losing my skills.”  We were able to nip it in the bud real quick. So we were working together, all of these athletes who had a year-long mental block, then they broke through it, they were doing great, and then November comes and boom, it’s back!

Discovering the Confidence Killer

Fortunately, we all got to work together and quickly identify that this is a really common thing, especially for any athletes who are prone to having confidence dips like a mental block.  But for most athletes, there’s something that happens the month before competition that kills your confidence, so I’m going to talk about what I think that real reason is.  Then I’m going to bust a couple of myths that you might be thinking about time in a way that’s not serving you, if you can relate to this discussion, and then I’m going to give you two action steps so that you do not have to suffer from nervous November this year.

Why Things Change

The first thing I want to talk about is what happens.  You’ve had this really fun summer, you’re making progress, doing your skills, and then something shifts.  It’s not that you’re working less hard or that you’re less talented, and not that you’re less passionate… so what’s the difference?  It’s time pressure.  Every single time, the coaches say things like, “Okay, we have three weeks until the mock meet,” or, “We have 17 practices until this happens,” or, “Shouldn’t you be farther along by now based on where we’re at in time?”  There’s a lot of chatting about time.


Everyone starts talking about time, and when you start talking about time, it creates anxiety.  The coaches are feeling it because they’re thinking, “Are these kids even in the right level?  I’m going to look bad if I send them out as level eight and they can’t even do these skills.”  So coaches are getting stressed because they’re hearing the clock ticking.  Parents are getting stressed because they’re thinking, “I don’t want my kid to be embarrassed out there.  What if she can’t do her skills and she’s supposed to be competing at this new high level?”  Athletes are absolutely feeling it because they are already thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to be embarrassed.  What if I can’t do what I’m supposed to do?”

Feeling the Need to Rush

Everybody gets into this frenzy of, “We have to hurry.  We have to get to work.  Let’s go.  We’re running out of time!  Come on, get motivated kids!”  And he may have heard any, anytime I talk about fear or anxiety, it’s never a motivation issue.  It’s not.

So, it’s November,  and everybody’s stressed out.  Then, let’s say you’re 12, 13, 14 or 15 and you want to compete in college. You’re aware and thinking,”I need to be this level by this year, and if I don’t get to that by this, I’m not going to be level 10 long enough.”  Swimmers that are 12 turning 13 are thinking, “I’m out of this age bracket.  I was doing great, now I’m not as fast as everyone else my age.”

If you open up your perspective big enough to go, “Oh, I need to be farther along by now, not even just for this season, but for my life and for my goals,” that compounds it and that can make mental blocks first and it can make fears worse and it can kill your confidence.

So, what we’re going to do first is examine the concept of time because the way that you’re relating to it, if you can relate to what I’m talking about, is not working for you.  There are three big, huge myths about time that I want to help you bust, then I’m gonna give you two action steps after we’ve busted the myths.

Myth #1: Time is the Enemy

Whenever we talk about time, it’s usually one of two ways.  Either it’s, “I’m so stressed and running out of time. I don’t have time,” or, “I’m so bored.  What am I going to do?  How am I going to kill time until this next interesting thing?”  I am so guilty of that.  I’m either busy, busy, busy, busy, or I’m bored to tears.  There’s not a whole lot of in-between.  But time is not actually creating that struggle because

Time is all made up. 

It’s made up.  I know you have a clock.  I also have the color-coded calendar in my phone that tells me when everything’s supposed to be.  But when you think about it, time comes from you and your perception of time.  I’m going to get a little out there, but stay with me.  When I heard this concept, it changed my life.  Time is all relative.  Think of it like this – if you’re practicing, you can have a practice where in a 45 minute beam rotation, you blast through 17 progressions and did something you’ve never done before.  You can also have a beam workout where you get nothing done.  Even though you feel like you’re putting the same amount of effort in, you’re stuck on the same progression for 17 weeks.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

Also, if you think about it in these terms –  you’re hanging out with your best friend, time flies.  It’s been five hours and you say, “Oh my gosh, I have to go!”  You are not thinking about time, you’re just enjoying your each other.  You’re in your joy, having fun.  Same with those practices where you’re just getting work done.  You’re moving and you’re making progress.  It’s fun and you love it.  Then you realize, “Oh, we have to switch to bars.  I was killing it on beam.  This was so great.”

Perception Can Change Time

If you’re sitting in a dentist chair, time ticks by and you’re breathing and just trying to hold it together.  This is how I do the dentist – I’m a little high-strung.  A 45-minute dentist appointment can be an eternity because I’m suffering.  Basically, if you have a fun assignment on beam, it goes fast.  If you have a horrible assignment, it’s the longest 45 minutes of your life.  So it’s not time that’s actually creating this perception of stress or boredom, it’s really just the way that you’re involved with it.

Stay with me.  I’ll do my best to be clear because this is so important.  If you realize that it’s actually resisting the situation that causes the suffering, that makes us get mad at time.  If instead you are able to find your joy in each moment and you’re able to accept exactly where you are right now, and get out of January if it’s only September.  Don’t be in November, if it’s only September.

I talk about having like a July mindset throughout the whole year where you’re accepting where you are, you’re praising your progress, you’re excited, you’re moving forward and you’re just present.  You’re having fun and you’re deciding that time isn’t a factor.  In July, you’re not worried about time because you’re like, “I have plenty of time.  I don’t even have a floor routine yet,” but then you get into November, it is possible to have the same perspective where you’re just having a fun.


Another example of how time warps is when you’re in this experience called flow.  I teach this in one of my courses in the PerformHappy community, how to get into flow.  When you’re in flow, those are those experiences where everything clicks into place.  You have this out of body in-body experience where you’re not self-conscious, you’re not even aware that there’s an audience, you’re just so in tune with your body that you’re just flowing.  Everything is hitting and everything’s coming together exactly how you trained it.  When you’re in those experiences, if you’ve ever had it, time either feels really sped up or it feels almost so slow motion that you can get everything done exactly perfectly because you’re in complete control. All of those examples tell you this:

Time is a concept that does not have power over you.

When you worry about time, that’s when it creates this sort of victim mentality of, “I don’t have enough time,” or, “There’s too much time.”  Instead, what I’m working on personally, what I’m working on with the girls and the guys in PerformHappy, is how to get into the joy, get into your body, get into the experience and let go of the things that are not serving you.

Myth #2: I Don’t Have Time for That

How many of you have said that?  At least once this week, I don’t have time for the things I don’t have time for.  What the truth is, is if you say I don’t have time, it means “I don’t want to make time” because we make time through our perception.  I make time to be with my best friends and to do the things I love.

Finding Time for Joy

When I was thinking about talking about this today, I remember that my little brother and my mom, in the middle of the week they went to Barnes and Noble at midnight to stand in line for the new Harry Potter book.  For any Harry Potter fans out there, I think this was the second one.  I remember these two weirdos standing in line get a book. I was like, “Can’t you just get the book tomorrow?”  And they said, “Well, we want it now,” because it brought them joy.  He was a high-level gymnast, she worked more than full-time, and those two loved going to Barnes and Noble and standing in line at midnight to get the book the brought them joy.  They didn’t say, “We don’t have time for that.  We’re busy.”  No.  They made time for it because it brought them joy.

It’s not a matter of having time, it’s about what you make time for.

Myth #3: “I won’t be good enough in time.”

That is not about time at all.  That’s you being in the wrong headspace, the wrong mindset.  If you’re worrying, focusing on what could go wrong or what’s wrong about you, your flaws – that is a confidence issue, not a time issue.  As I said, you can have those practices where you just jam through the progressions.  We’ve all been there at least once where you know that is possible when you believe in yourself and let go of being a victim of time.  That’s when things can really start to speed up for you.

Playing the Victim

I know I’m talking a lot about time, but it’s hard to talk about time without emphasizing it.  If you’re blaming time for your problem, that means that you’re giving away your control.  You’re playing a victim, and that means you don’t have to take responsibility for your goals and dream.  You’re just making excuses to keep you from your true potential.  If I were to go, “I have two little kids.  I don’t have time to run a business because I have to do online schooling with them,” that’s just not true because I love what I do and I make that time and I enjoy it.  I still have downtime because of my relationship with time.

Action Steps

Here are the two things you need to do:

Change your relationship with time and build self-belief

If you believe in yourself, then time is no longer your enemy at all and your confidence isn’t shaky.  I’ve seen a lot of people who were doing fine and then boom! COVID, and then their confidence got killed.  Or, someone in their gym got COVID and they had to shut down for two weeks.  For some, there was smoke in the air and they had to shut down for a week.  There are a lot of things in the world that are unknown, and then you add in time pressure, or season’s coming, or you’re getting bullied or you’re tired, any of those things – if your confidence is fragile, any of those little adjustments to life as you had anticipated it going, can kill your confidence.  Then it takes time to build it back up.  That’s all based on the wrong type of thinking.

Don’t Be a Victim

So the solution – believing in yourself and don’t be a time victim anymore.  Make it a decision.  “I’m no longer a time victim.  I make time and I find joy and I’m able to get everything done.”  Going back to this idea of self- belief, if you believe you’re a victim of time, you will be.  If you feel like you have plenty of time and you believe it, knowing that it’s something that comes from within you, and it’s all perspective, you will have plenty of time.

So here are my two challenges for you:


Eliminate time talk from your vocabulary – That means we no longer say things or even think things like “only three weeks until this” or “only five days until that” or “it’s been so long since this”.  Instead, accept where you are and stop resisting.  Regardless of how much or how little perceived time there is, make a decision to move forward.

Challenge #2:

Start building yourself belief – This is not based on outcomes or deadlines or timeframes.  This is based on the pure joy that you have for your sport and your belief that if you keep after it, you will get better and you will love the experience from there.  That’s why that is one of the key pillars in our PerformHappy training program – helping you to believe in yourself, helping you to tap into that joy, allowing you to get your mind off of the things that are not serving you like the ticking clock and get your mind onto what actually will allow you to perform happy.

Join PerformHappy

If this resonates with you, if you’re thinking, “I need to make more shifts like this.  I need to be able to see the world a little differently,” or maybe it’s your daughter who could use a shift in perspective so that they can believe in themselves, I would love for you to check out PerformHappy.

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