Do you consider yourself a winner or a loser? Sure, you might not think yourself a winner right now, perhaps because you haven’t performed so well competitively, or because you feel your skills aren’t quite there yet. But if you really want to increase your chances of success, it’s time to put that all aside. If you think of yourself as a winner, it’ll make you more likely to become one.

Self-consistency theory explains that the way we think about ourselves is powerful enough to impact our actions. This is why those with a negative self-image struggle to achieve top performances. Put simply, you can’t win if you see yourself as a loser.

But what if you don’t think you’re a loser, but know you aren’t the best yet? Start taking steps toward where you want to be! Use goals and systems to keep yourself focused on progress. So, if you’re aiming to run a marathon at the year’s end, your goal could be running two miles for two days in the first week, three miles three days the week after, and building up in that rhythm until you can run 13 miles each week, which is half the length of the actual marathon.

By contrast, if you decided your goal was completing a half marathon as quickly as possible, your training would collapse. Why? Your goal was unrealistic and, as a result, demotivating. On the other hand, if your goal was to just try and run a little each day, you’d be lucky to make it to the marathon at the end of the year. Why? Your goal just wasn’t specific enough to ensure progress.

While outlining and working toward your goals, do your best to maintain determination, dedication and discipline. It’s too easy to retreat to a negative self-image and stop working toward your goals.

Of course, nobody becomes a winner without a few failures along the way. It’s perfectly natural to fail, yet many athletes are incredibly afraid of it. So rather than learning from their mistakes, they only play it safe.

This is due to our false belief that we have to be perfect. But although perfectionism seems like a positive thing, it’s ultimately a hindrance. An aspiring basketball player shouldn’t aim for a 100 percent success rate at free throws. When you make the slightest mistake, you’ll feel like you’ve failed yourself.

There’s no need to put yourself in that position! Your goal should be centered on steady improvement, which will help you to see failure for what it really is: feedback, that is, the information that will help you continue to grow and learn.