New season – pressure to be perfect right off the bat? Being perfect or successful right away might require some adaptation skills, my friend, when you change the scenery. Every season is just so different, something always changes and the things that you were used to doing, might not work as well anymore. So how to adapt and just perform at a great level, faster?

We can all probably agree that the sooner we succeed in our new environments, teams, clubs, etc. the better. Like so much better. Because if we don’t succeed in the beginning, things start to pile up. Pressure starts to hit us. We try. And we try harder. And damn we try!

So, I don’t want you to try so hard to be amazing. I want you to learn how to adapt better. And make room for a thought that you just being authentic you might be a better option so you can get to that natural, more effortless way of doing things faster. Then you don’t need to waste that much time thinking if you “have what this takes” or why are you “not performing like you know you can or should.


So here is a story that I shared the other day on Instagram. Four years ago, I was in China playing with Rote Raben, my new German team, after I had been running around like a little crazy headless chicken for about.. well, way too many months in a row without time to breathe and recharge.

We arrive to China and like always, I was not able to sleep on the plane, so my jet lag is a real thing. It’s like putting the crazy little chicken to run in a fog.

I feel lightheaded for the first couple days but so excited to be there with my new team and everyone seems so nice! So I just brush those physical symptoms off, not care about them. But then starts the practices… I react slowly but I am in denial. “Don’t be weak, don’t let it affect you, keep going anyways”. And yeah no excuses is good but some understanding of the situation would be helpful because…

When we started to play the next day, I was just so bad.

I couldn’t believe how I was performing. “This is my new team! I just want to play well! I want to succeed so much and this is what I do?! I am sure everyone thinks that I am a disappointment! The coaches are for sure already googling other liberos to hire…”

This continues until the very last game (we were there for almost two weeks). In the last match or two I was able to start letting go of the pressure I was putting on myself. How? Well this is going to be one of the greatest mindset tips you’ll ever hear haha… ->  I just thought to myself that “f**k it, I have already played so bad, so what is there to lose?! I just want to learn how to get better so I don’t have to suck this bad ever again”.

The biggest lesson was once again that when I let go, when I was able to just accept the situation and work from a more free space, then things started flowing towards a better direction again.

Success cannot be forced. No matter how well we want to play or perform. We cannot force it and it might make everything just worse when we try to force things to happen and get just more and more upset, frustrated, mad, sad etc. when things don’t go how we pictured them in our heads.

By letting go, by letting things flow and focus on NOT judging every action we do, NOT forcing things to go like we want them to go, we can get to that relaxed performance state faster. It will make us better. Guaranteed by this chicken.

I know many of you want to succeed so much too. So let the success happen. Don’t focus on “gotta succeed now!”. Focus on relaxing and finding your groove. Doing your best in the moment, being your best in the moment and letting future events unfold in their own time, not sooner or later.

But like how? Lean a little closer, friend, I investigated this!

Adaptability and success


There are two A’s that I bring up as ways to succeed faster in your new environment.

First one is Authenticity. Seriously. Be yourself. Don’t waste time in pleasing others or thinking that you should be something different than you are to be liked and appreciated. The more you you can be, the more you can also attract the people that are gonna appreciate you as you anyways. Sometimes being authentic requires little courage as well. Be brave enough to stay true to yourself.. (More on authenticity and courage in this post)

Don’t try to be the dominator, smart, eloquent, funny, crazy, mysterious, skinny, whatever. You don’t need to try to be anything. You can be you and that will liberate all of your energy for the thing you are there for today: practice and getting better. All else will follow and you will find your place.

By authentic I also mean that tap into the strengths that are core ones to you and give you more courage to function confidently in a new environment. Think what are the core things that you can always count on? Optimism? Kindness? Energy? Resiliency? Learning? Use them.

Because when you at least act aligned with something that feels true to you, you won’t get as lost in the new jungle as you might without them or by neglecting them. (If you want to find out your strengths as an athlete through an amazing assessment that gives you a ton of value and knowledge about yourself at the same, check the Sports Capacity Assessment here)

Personality in sports emails
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The second A is adaptation. Human beings are masters in adapting really! Or do any other species come to your mind that can run 100m under 10 seconds, rock climb like Alex Honnold, be as flexible as gymnasts are, nerd out an Internet and build computers and do all these crazy things that are so various in domains and require crazy amount of skills and training? And yeah so you are a human too yay!! So you have the ability to adapt, don’t try to argue about this with me.

What does adaptability mean then? In a new environment, in a new team, whatever the new thing is for you, you need to be able to respond quickly to new and changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, etc. to be successful.

Adapt to a new situation by observing how it is different than your previous experiences, what are the norms in this environment, what is the hierarchy like (pretty important for example in some volleyball environments) etc.

You can then evaluate what could you do in order to succeed in there. What are you seeing that could be missing? What could you bring into this environment? Reflect your strengths and the demands of the new environment.  Is there something that is different that you are used to? Would it make sense to try it out and learn from the different aspects? What do you think you need to do in order to be successful in this new place?

Then try out the different ways you just found that could make sense. Adjust when needed. You don’t need to be right, your previous lessons can apply but they don’t have to. Your way might not be the right way to do things. Same thing, don’t force, just go on a journey. Be open. Learn. Mix things. Take bits that work and blend them in. You don’t have to go all the way from one extreme to another.

You don’t have to adapt all the way and lose yourself. You can bend from where you stand when you are firmly rooted. Then trying new things is not going to remove you from your base, you can bend, see if it is worth it.

Lastly, ask. Ask questions if you don’t know. The faster you know an answer to something, the less energy you have to spend on wondering it and trying out few times and possibly failing if you could have just asked. Yeah simple advice but I really forget this one often. I just feel like I am on an adventure and need to do everything all alone to… I don’t know. Prove that I can to myself? So, don’t be a lonely adventurer like me haha, get information and get better faster!


When we jump into something new, we are often excited about the newness. Yay yahoo what a great thing to be here and do this! We have that beginner’s mindset for a minute. Then when it fades… We start to load more on thoughts that are more comparative and doubting in nature.

“I should be able to do this already”

“She/he is better than me in this”

“Maybe the coach doesn’t appreciate me at all anymore because I have not been proving my worth lately”

We tend to forget to stay in that curious and open mindset: “Ooohhh let’s see how good I could be today and NOW”. Open mindset, curious mindset, beginner mindset, whatever you call it, will let you focus on how good you can be right now. It does not allow you to compare yourself or force success. It gives you freedom to be excited, face challenges with enthusiasm and stay curious how to solve things. What is it that stops you from being with that curious mindset more than the honeymoon?

Expectations. It is very often about expectations.

We start to load more expectations on us. Expectations are tricky. Not my favorite. I like puppies a lot more. Expectations are making us striving toward that “I should be doing this/I should be this way” – leading us to measure our doing against that expectation. Often the expectations are requiring us to be perfect in something too soon. Patience puppies!

For example, technique changes in sports: even if you know now how to do the new thing, it takes a lot of time before you can master that skills in fast-paced environments. Usually this takes months. Give yourself time for learning new things before hating yourself for not doing them perfectly all the time already on the 4th week of practice.😘

I ditched my expectations in sports because they were not helping me at all. I had standards instead. I had certain standards that I could and wanted to follow, no matter the environment. For example, I refuse to quit – I can always learn something. When I refuse to quit, I also can’t quit on myself on days when the new technique drill is hard…

Secondly, I tried to instill this thought deeply in me that was super helpful and useful in all situations:

I always have the chance to succeed in this moment no matter what happened previously and what I think about the future. But the better chances I have to succeed if I focus right now. Not the previous or upcoming moments.

(Pretty interesting to go through my old journals and notes btw where this sentence is also from.. 🙂 )

One big thing at the end. If you jumped to a higher level, to more competitive environment: You got there for a reason. You deserve your spot there. You are now the beginner in that group. You don’t need to be the best right now in there. Suck all the information and focus on the beginner mindset, focus on getting better every day. Your struggles will forge you into the one who can dominate that new level later. Learn to respect and embrace the challenge instead of letting it put you down.

If you are for some reason stuck in a level that you feel is lower than your level: You have a chance to develop. Developing means you have better chances to get out from there! So put all your efforts on getting better individually on the level you know you are capable of and make others around you better so the level raises. Maybe find a mentor from a better level that can help you forward.

Keep your head high and don’t let things get you frustrated, then you also lose the best ability to focus on being excellent now which will slow down your growth. You can also show how you can carry responsibility in addition to perform at a good level.

And hey, I’ve been in both of those situations so if you need a buddy to chat, hit me up. Seriously. Things are always a little better after a chat 😘 If that’s not a cup of your tea and you would rather just boost your self-confidence, check this free resource out!

Here is the summary of the self-confidence boosters when you want to get better faster in a new environment:

  • Beginner’s mindset
  • Letting go of expectations
  • Knowing your role (chance to get better is always present)

Thank you for reading ❤️

Saana Koljonen

Ps. I am trying to get these blogs and messages out there for more people to read and use, to help, to inspire, to just make people believe that they can make their lives better with fairly simple “tricks”. If you feel that this blog could be of help to someone you know, please share it or the messages! I would be super grateful and happy as a puppy! 🙂  



More reading:

14 signs of an adaptable person



Personality in sports emails

Build Your Self-confidence

Where does self-confidence come from? Your past experiences? Your ability to know that you handle this moment? That you know you have what conquering this moment takes? So after all, what do you say to yourself in the situation when being tested?

Yes. This work book will help you to create those things in your own life by: 

  • Discovering the expertise and experience you already have and can count on so you don’t need fake your confidence but know you have it
  • Taking a look at your limiting beliefs so you can remove them
  • Tips how to handle the pressure moments better so you are free to perform your best in the moment