Alex Thomson knows this better than anyone. His goal: to sail nonstop, solo around the globe--a feat fewer than 100 people have accomplished--in the fastest time ever.
In a new Inc. video, Thomson explains some of the techniques he uses to stay focused during the Vendée Globe, a race that takes extreme physical and mental toughness.
Early in the 2016 race Thompson broke his hydrofoil, which helps lift the boat out of the water to give it more speed. Immediately he went from imagining himself at the top of the podium to wondering if he could even finish.
"When stuff goes wrong, it's very hard to see the end--the light at the end of the tunnel," says Thompson.
Instead of panicking though, he used a trick taught to him by a sports psychologist to calm himself down and re-evaluate the situation. He says he broke down his goals into smaller, more obtainable tasks, repeatedly reducing them until they were easily manageable: things as simple as eating a packet of nasty freeze-dried food, and making a sail change.
"We feel better as human beings when we set ourselves a goal, and we achieve [it]," Thomson says. "Chemical reactions in the brain make us feel better, and if we feel better, if we're happier, we perform better."
Thomson didn't just finish the 2016 race, he won silver, with the second-fastest time on record, according to Vendée Globe News.
Whether it's sailing around the world, pitching to investors, or increasing sales, think small, and remember to take it one step at a time.