Our minds are a very powerful thing. There are quotes all over the place saying something along the lines of, “If you set your mind to it, you can achieve it”. In fact, if you really dig into research about the power of the mind, you will find that the chances of being successful based solely on physical abilities and talents is slim. Your mental strength, perseverance and passion greatly impacts your ability to be successful in achieving your goals. I have witnessed people in many different situations who had the physical strength/ knowledge to accomplish the goal but lacked the mental strength required to accomplish the end state.
So what does mental strength look like to you? To me, someone who is mentally strong will not let failure mean that is the end of the road but views failure simply as an obstacle to climb in order to get to the goal. They are consistent, focused and know exactly what they need to do to be successful. They are able to push past the uncomfortable and accomplish difficult tasks.
Mental strength is not something that just comes naturally. Just like any other muscle, it requires effort, practice and consistency. I can trace one of my first lessons on the power of the mind back to my first year of competitive gymnast at the age 6. My coaches and father always told me to visualize myself doing the perfect routine prior to actually doing it. This was something that always gave me confidence and helped to calm my nerves. I have been working on developing better mental toughness since then and I think it’s safe to say that the last few years has really put my mental strength to the test.
How can you develop mental strength? There are many different ways but here are 5 things I have found to be the biggest impact on improving my mental toughness.
Set Goals: I like to compare goals to a ladder. The small steps you take along the way will ultimately get you to the top. Run for an extra minute, lift and extra 5 lbs, answer and review 10 more questions. Each small goal that you accomplish will help develop confidence and give you the boost you need in order to accomplish the next step. Keep in mind that goals need to be realistic but challenging at the same time.
Emotions: Emotions are for sissy’s 😉 Totally kidding, I am FULL of crazy emotions. But on a real note, learn when it is alright to let your emotions get in the way and when your emotions need to take a hike. Emotions can cloud your judgement and get you into serious trouble. This is why they don’t let surgeons operate on family. Being more in tune with your own emotions will also help you better understand the emotions of others.
Find what motivates you: Waking up at 0430 everyday is not an easy thing to do but guess what, I wanted to be an Army nurse and the only way I was going to get there was by waking up at 0430. Motivation is the driver that keeps you going during difficult times.
Push past the uncomfortable: No one likes to be uncomfortable. Our comfort zones are where we feel safe and at home. Being uncomfortable means that something is changing and our human nature objects change. But guess what… growth does not occur from doing the same thing every day. Let’s go back to the muscle comparison. In order to produce more muscle, you have to apply a load of stress that is greater than what the muscles have previously adapted to. You do this by progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights in order to create cellular change. You must also do this with mental strength by slowly stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to promote growth.
Learn from Failure: Failure is often a reason why we choose not to try something. Failure can result in unpleasant feelings such as disappointment, anger, frustration, regret, confusion and sadness. It is alright to feel those feelings for a while but don’t let them permanently get you down and stop you from trying something new. After experiencing a failure, take time to analyze what happened and create a learning experience from that failure. A lesson learned is NEVER a failure. President Donald Trump is a wonderful example of someone who turned failed business adventures into a learning experience.. Now he is the freaking POTUS!. “Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today”.