Nastia Liukin knows a thing or two about staying motivated—you can't exactly find your way to Olympic gold without tapping into serious ambition, after all. Even with her competition years behind her, Liukin says she still relies on the same strategies to achieve her goals, no matter how different they might look. For her, that means capitalizing on the New Year's mindset.
"Something I've always done (while training) and continue to do now is that every New Year's Eve, I sit down and make a new vision board for the year," she says. "I jot down my goals, things I want to accomplish, places I want to visit, etc. I also make it a fun project by adding motivational quotes, stickers (never too old for those, right?!), you name it!"
As she explains it, she usually keeps her vision board by her vanity mirror so she sees it every morning. "I think seeing your goals in front of you instead of just remembering them in your mind is a great way to stay motivated, especially on those days you feel like giving up," she says.
It's a fun way to check in with yourself about your goals, to be sure, but research shows that visualization is also an incredibly effective tool for meeting them—which is why it's such a popular strategy among athletes. In a widely cited 2004 study, scientists asked one group of participants to hit the gym in regular training sessions, another group to simply visualize training sessions, and a control group to do neither. The group that just visualized going to the gym made nearly half the muscle gains that the gym group did—which led the scientists to conclude that doing both physical and mental training can provide serious goal-meeting advantages.
As for Liukin's specific intentions for 2018, she has a few. "In 2017 I spent a lot of the year traveling for work," she says. "With that being said, it was hard (but not impossible!) to stay on a good schedule of working out and eating well (which gets tough on the road in airports to different hotels). This year I want to really focus on myself and my health a little more as well as spend more quality time with my family and closest friends. I also have been working on a few projects that are very exciting and meaningful and want to continue making good, positive change in the world by inspiring the next generation of young women across the world."