On this Labor Day, traditionally thought to be the last weekend of a summer break, it doesn’t really feel like we had a summer at all. With Stay-at-Home Orders, beaches closed, and “essential travel only” strongly encouraged, to say recreational and relaxation activities have been severely limited is an understatement.
Now is not the time to let yourself feel like a victim. To spend time complaining about your circumstances will only prevent you from getting to where you need to go. It is during challenging times too many people use excuses to develop and reinforce bad habits. It only takes a bad habit or two to go off track and stall your progress.
Regardless of where you are right now in life; whether you are worried about your future or you feel secure; whether you are just starting out or have years of experience, it is your mental toughness, the way you think, that will determine your success moving forward. Here are ten exercises that will strengthen your mental toughness and prepare you to handle whatever the future brings.
Practice Gratitude. Focusing on what’s gone wrong, keeping track of all your problems, or having pity parties with friends, only weaken your mental state. Struggles and sorrow are life events. We cannot control them. However, feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. You get to choose how you will respond to life’s events.
Find 3-5 things to be grateful for every morning before you start your day. It will remind you of what you do have, including people that support you and believe in you.
Focus on what you can control. Thinking takes energy. You only have so much energy each day. Worrying and complaining about things you cannot control is a waste of your energy resources. If you take that energy and focus on things you can control, you’ll position yourself to handle whatever comes your way.
Be aware of the attention you give to things out of your control – like what others say or situations you cannot fix. Dedicate your energy to productive things such as a job search, finishing a project at home, or helping a family member. Accept you cannot control everything and focus on influencing others instead of controlling them.
Take back your power. You cannot be a victim and in control at the same time. When you are placing blame, you are giving away your power. If your neighbor is driving you crazy or your spouse makes you feel guilty, you are giving others power over you. If the traffic made you late or your boss made you work overtime, your giving power to your situations.
You must realize only you have the power over the way you think. You get to choose how you respond. You decide that your neighbor is trying to upset you, but you refuse to allow it to happen. You decide that the guilt trip your spouse is trying to take you on is not your issue. Instead of having to work late, you are choosing to stay and help on a project.
Focus on changing your vocabulary to help you realize you can choose control. Instead of you having to go to work, you get to go to work. When you empower yourself, you will feel in control of your future.
Embrace Change. Life is constantly changing. It seems more apparent now than ever before. Throughout history, people have worried that change will make things worse. When you fight to remain comfortable in doing things the same way, you lose out on opportunities that come with change.
Practice becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Taking a new job, moving to a different city, leaving an unhealthy relationship, all start as uncomfortable. As you become comfortable with change, your ability to adapt will improve opening more opportunities for you in the future.
Minimize comparisons. We tend to compare ourselves to others. The worst part of this tendency is we generally compare ourselves to those we think are in a better position than we are. These comparisons generally serve little benefit. Seeing a family member buy a home or a friend get a new car that you can’t afford stirs up feelings of envy and jealousy. Remember when someone reaches a goal it doesn’t minimize your accomplishments.
While comparing ourselves to those less fortunate does shift our focus more readily to gratitude, the only comparison one should practice is the comparison to one’s self. Are you getting better each day? Is your health improving? Are your finances getting better? Are you learning each day? Are you becoming more understanding and compassionate?
Look to the Future. The past does not equal the future unless you live in the past. Lessons learned in the past will help prepare you for the future. Timing is everything. Generally, the timing has to do with growing enough (through mistakes) to be prepared to handle the success coming your way.
As painful as the past may have been, you must make peace with it. You may have to forgive someone. You may have to let go of regret. You cannot get to where you want to go if you continue to place blame for where you are.
Persist. Believe it or not, most people quit before trying. The fear of failure prevents making an attempt. Others give up after one try. Success stories are filled with people overcoming tremendous odds and multiple failures before achieving success.
Over 60% of self-made millionaires have gone bankrupt before finding success. 80% of those 60% have gone bankrupt twice before achieving success.
Don’t let a failure define you. Look at failures as lessons. Practice learning from every setback. Improve areas of weakness and you too will find success on the other side of failure.
Embrace solitude. We’re naturally social creatures. This is why shelter-at-home is having such a negative effect on individuals’ outlook on life. Many people despise being alone. Some individuals cannot handle being in silence with their thoughts.
Practice using alone time to your benefit. Use the time without distractions to put your thoughts on paper, to get in touch with your feelings. Take time to reflect daily. Reflection is a powerful tool to evaluate your progress and adjust to improve your results.
Avoid entitlement. One of the biggest problems we have today is people thinking they are owed something. When people are striking for higher wages or protesting for the government to give them something, they will never be satisfied. Waiting to be given something isn’t a productive way to achievement.
When you focus on all that you can give rather than what you think you deserve, you’ll end up getting more than you expected and find fulfillment in the process. Regardless of where you are in life, you always have gifts to offer others.
Enjoy the journey. In today’s “instant gratification” world, expecting instant results only creates disappointment. Individuals that have put on 25 lbs. over 20 years cannot expect to lose the weight in a week without experiencing disappointment.
Self-growth takes time. Experience comes with time. Life lessons don’t happen overnight. Bad habits and poor choices allow us to drift off course. If negative outcomes were immediate then success could be too. The reality is both failure and success are results of consistent, routine, mundane decisions made over a long period of time. You must think of your efforts to change as a marathon not a sprint. Obstacles are detours not roadblocks.
Remember, there is greatness within you. You must choose greatness. It won’t develop on its own. I believe in you!
“While you cannot change your destination overnight, you can change your direction.”
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If you would like assistance with strengthening your mental toughness, I can help you. We can meet by phone, on Zoom, or in a place you deem safe with social distancing. Whether you choose me or someone else, a coach will expedite your results.
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Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results