Paralympian and motivational speaker Marayke Jonkers knows a thing or three about achieving your dreams 

by MICHELE STERNBERG

New year’s resolutions. We all make them but how many of us stick to them?

Statistics show about 98 per cent of us don’t, according to motivational speaker and Paralympian Marayke Jonkers. That’s a lot of resolutions falling by the wayside.

Marayke says there is good reason why this happens, and it’s why she urges people to set goals instead of making resolutions.

“A dream is just that, but a goal is a dream with a plan,” she says.

Marayke, who lives in Maroochydore, competed at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, won two bronze medals in Athens in 2004 and silver at Beijing in 2008.

She was inducted into the Sunshine Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. She also now runs the Sporting Dreams charity to help others reach their full potential.

Marayke says that if you’ve made a list of new year’s resolutions and actually want to tick off a few before December 31, 2022, the best way to achieve success is to remind yourself of your goals on a daily basis.

“One of the easiest ways is to change your phone, computer and credit card passwords to reflect your goals for the year,” she says.

For example, Marayke used the swim times she’d need to reach to set an Australian record or win a medal, but if your goal is to be healthier or quit smoking, choose ‘IAMHEALTHY’ or ‘QUITSMOKES’ as your passwords. 

“The subconscious act of having to put that password in all the time creates subtle reminders,” she says.

“For me, that really, really worked. When I started swimming, I took one minute and 32 seconds to do a race that I’d ultimately win a medal at the Paralympics in in one minute and two seconds – 30 seconds off.

“This is like some of that stuff people think is ‘woowoo’, but it’s not. You implanted that in your brain so clearly that there wasn’t another outcome. 

“And then, because you implanted it there, and had a plan, you reached your goal.”

She suggests also leaving reminder notes around, like on the back of the bedroom door, or images as the screensaver on your phone and laptop. If your resolution is to spend more time with your family, choose a photo of them. Or if it’s to go on a holiday, save a photo of the destination.

Marayke says it is important people’s goals align with their passions and that they are setting these goals for themselves, not to keep other people happy.

“Social media is full of ‘new year, new you’, but I prefer to say ‘new year, do you’,” she says. “Ask yourself ‘what is my passion?’. It’s really important to do this, especially right now because a lot of people will have had a really big rethink during Covid about what was important in their life.

“If they never thought about it before, or if they had and thought they knew what they wanted their life to look like, it’s probably changed. We’ve had to go without and miss things, but we’ve also discovered new things that we didn’t know before. It’s been a time of change in personal growth. 

“I think the whole world went on a personal development course while we were at the mercy of Covid, which has lasted for two years. And we have come out the other end not the same person that went in.”

So, what is your passion? If you don’t know, keep asking yourself questions, Marayke says, because if your goals don’t align with your passion and values, they’ll be harder to accomplish.

“A good place to start is with a child-like mindset, which is what I inadvertently did when I created my life list at the age of 13,” she says.

“I had win a medal, get a university degree and travel through Europe at the top of my list, which might seem impossible but, in fact, I ticked off all three within six months in 2004.

“So it’s important to ask yourself ‘what would I do if I could not fail and had all the money in the world?’. If you keep asking yourself questions, you will find the answers.

“In the same way, if you keep saying ‘what could go wrong next?’, guess what, something will go wrong. But instead of stopping and giving up on your goal, you ask ‘how could I do this better?’, ‘what do I want?’, ‘is there another way I could get to the same outcome?’.

“The quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you ask yourself.

“This is why finding your passion – what’s important to you – is the first step. It’s not an easy thing and in my workshops it takes to days to help people through actually getting this completed.”

Marayke says it is also important to focus on ‘what’s important now’.

“It’s my WIN acronym,” she says. “This is my own formula that I developed from sport. You have to ask yourself ‘what’s important now to get me to where I want to be?’. For example, if I really want to be healthy, what’s important now – eat that piece of chocolate that I really want, or eat a strawberry?

“That’s about being in the present moment, but still getting to where you are going.”

If you’re interested in participating in a workshop, follow Marayke on her socials or contact her at marayke@marayke.com.

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