How to Master Your Thinking: Think on Purpose

High performers are often praised for their mental toughness, attitude, sound decision making, and ability to produce results. How did they get that way? How did they develop a championship mindset? One defining characteristic that separates the good from great is an individual’s ability to master his or her thinking. Specifically, high performers think on purpose. Our thinking drives our performances. If we can master our thinking, we’ll be well on our way to cultivating excellence. 

Why Don’t We Think On Purpose?

To perform your best, regardless of your field, occupation, or role, takes intentionality and deliberate effort.

As an athlete I used to let bad calls, my opponent, mistakes, and missed opportunities rule my thoughts. I would get down on myself, and become frustrated and angry. Not surprisingly, my performance would suffer as a result. I had the tools I needed, but I wasn’t a master of my thinking.

In what context do you perform? Do you deal with difficult customers? Do you speak in front of a group? What is it that you have to produce, deliver, create, or communicate? Those are your performance moments.

Many of you are likely purposeful in your preparation, hard work, physical training, and more. Why then aren’t you as purposeful in planning how you will think, especially in the biggest moments? See if you identify with one or more of these common reasons:

  • Perhaps you don’t think you have control over how you think.
  • Perhaps you don’t know what to think about.
  • Perhaps you’ve been told “not to think” when you’re in performance mode.
  • Perhaps you let the events of the moment direct what you think.

Allow me to steer you in the right direction.

High Performers Think On Purpose

One crucial component of mastering our thinking is thinking on purpose. If we aren’t thinking on purpose, we’re reactive. Being reactive puts us at the mercy of our environment and circumstances. Our counterproductive thoughts rule the roost and emotions run high. That isn’t a recipe for performing your best.

In contrast, top performers think on purpose, using their self-talk (what they say to themselves) intentionally. Since thoughts drive emotions, physiology, and behavior, high performers don’t want to leave their performance or their lives up to chance. By thinking on purpose day in and day out, a high performer trains his or her brain, rewiring it to think like a champion.

You can do the same thing. You can train your brain to develop new patterns, new habits of thinking, to think like high performers think. It starts with thinking on purpose.

Why We Should Think on Purpose

Training your brain to think on purpose will increase your capacity for high performance in 3 distinct ways.


Thinking on purpose puts you in the driver’s seat. When you think on purpose you become proactive, and you don’t allow your circumstances to dictate your emotions and behavior. Taking charge of your thoughts helps you take charge of your performance.


When you think on purpose, you know what to expect from yourself. Thinking on purpose helps ensure you get the same attitude, effort, and performance more consistently. Purposeful thoughts lead you to predictable outcomes in your attitude, emotions, and performance.


Thinking on purpose allows you to coach yourself to higher performance. Reacting to your body feeling tired with a thought of, “I’m tired,” will only reinforce the feeling. Instead, you can use purposeful thoughts to help you feel energized, strong, happy, determined…whatever you need to perform at your best. Purposeful thoughts breed confidence.

How to Think On Purpose

As I mentioned above, one reason some people don’t think on purpose is because they aren’t sure what to think. What should you be thinking as you walk in to close a big deal? What about before a training run for the half marathon next month? What should you be thinking when you get frustrated or stressed?

You can use purposeful thoughts (self-talk) for a variety of uses.

  • Learning New Skills – “Ease off the clutch as I accelerate.”
  • Focusing On The Right Thing – “Be present in the moment.”
  • Relaxing or Calming Emotions – “Ease Up – Breathe…”
  • Positive Reinforcement – “Nice job keeping my cool. I’m in control.”
  • Maintaining Confidence – “I’m fully prepared. I’m the expert. I can do this.”

When unexpected or reactive thoughts do creep into our consciousness, we can use self-talk to fight against those counterproductive thoughts. I call this retraining your resistance.

As you learn to think on purpose you’ll be able to do so in a variety of ways, and you’ll take your performance to the next level.

Free Download

To help you think on purpose in your performance moments, I created this free pdf “Think on Purpose” worksheet.

Think on Purpose

Regardless of your performance arena, thinking on purpose is an essential component to being your best. Don’t leave those big moments up to chance. Be proactive in your thinking and master your mindset. Gain control, consistency, and confidence by purposely using your self-talk to drive your peak performance. By thinking on purpose you can stay focused on what’s important, manage stress, boost productivity and ultimately perform to your potential.

Question: What is one situation in which thinking on purpose will take your performance to the next level? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.


Please note: I encourage reader discussion, however, I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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