Planning for Obstacles

When you first set a goal, you’re often full of optimism and energy. Dreaming of what you can accomplish feels good, and you’re excited about the road ahead. The problem is that most players don’t consider the obstacles that might stand in the way of their dreams. They imagine the end result without thinking about the day-to-day work required to get there. Consequently, they’re unprepared when setbacks inevitably emerge, and so they overreact by becoming frustrated, anxious, or hope- less. This is a big reason why New Year’s resolutions fail. People imagine what they want, but they don’t develop long-lasting plans that incorpo- rate all of the potential hardships they might face.

The solution to this problem is to anticipate setbacks and obstacles, and to appropriately plan for them. Do your due diligence ahead of time by imagining every possible setback, and then make a plan for how to overcome the ones that are the most likely. If you are trying to move up in stakes, make a plan for how you’ll deal with a downswing, tough regulars, or a big losing day. Not only will this help you to face the problems you’ve planned for, but you’ll also be training and practicing your problem-solving skills so that when unexpected problems arise, you are more skilled at reacting to them.

Here are two additional strategies that will help you break through any obstacle:

1. Learn your goals. When problems arise—especially unforeseen ones—they often cause stress and negativity. That combination can disconnect you from your goals and your reasons for wanting to achieve them, which ultimately can lead you to feel depressed or unmotivated. This negativity then impedes your ability to overcome the problem and get back on track. To prevent this downward spiral, find ways to reinforce and learn your goals. Write them down and review them regularly, especially at times of heightened stress. The clearer and more solidified your goals are in your mind, the less likely it is that the problems you encounter will have a negative impact.

2. Plan inspiration. Continuing to make progress during tough times is more challenging when you’re lacking sufficient energy. Players often intuitively go looking for sources of inspiration to give them a much-needed mental boost. However, this process is often random and wastes valuable time. Instead, when you’re set- ting goals, put together a collection of things that you find inspiring, for example a movie clip, song, picture, memento from a family member, or famous quote. When trouble strikes, you’ll be able to utilize them right away to give you the jolt of energy you need to keep fighting.

Examples of Well-Structured Goals

Here are three fictional examples of how to put the advice in this chapter into practice:

Bob is a 27-year-old professional poker player who plays $1/$2 no limit, takes occasional shots at $2/$4 and $5/$10, and plays an average of 40,000 hands a month online.

Results goal: Make $100,000 in a year, including rakeback. Process goals:

  • Over the first three months, steadily increase from 40,000 to 80,000 hands per month.
  • Work with my coach on how to exploit the regulars at $2/$4 so I can establish myself at that level. Commit to one coaching session per week and study an additional four hours per week on my own.
  • Eliminate my biggest C-game error: playing too passively out of position. Use the mental hand history to work on both the tactical and mental game side of it.
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