Its a challenging time to be a human being. There is a lot of beauty in the world, and it is possible to make dreams come true. But there is a lot of ugliness, too, and it can be really challenging to accomplish anything. Anyone who wants to excel, innovate, and experience true success needs more than just raw talent and bright ideas. We need perseverance. We need the ability to push through the distractions and challenges to see our work through to completion. We need thick skins to protect our tender hearts. And a little fire in just the right places.
Mental toughness is a combination of self-control, positive perspective, focus, determination, motivation, and consistency. Here are a few ways to help you cultivate it.
Play to Your Strengths
The first step to achieving mental toughness is to focus on the areas in which you excel. Discover what makes you happy and comes easily to you, and build those skills. Every day. Get in the habit of working on your strengths as a daily practice. This will help you be more successful in all your endeavors, especially the ones in that particular field. And it will give you the courage and focus to tackle more challenging tasks.
Look Your Fear In the Eye
The flipside of doing what you enjoy is to not run away from what scares you. Mentally tough people do not flee from adversity. They do not let the fear of failure, embarrassment, or poverty keep them from doing what they feel called to do. In most cases, where your fear lies is also the source of your power.
Mental toughness and physical fitness go hand in hand. Exercise increases mental health, as well as our ability to focus. And it helps to do things that are vigorous and outside of your comfort zone. Dont hurt yourself, of course, and work with a personal trainer (and talk to your doctor first) if you are going to do a brand new form of exercise or lift heavy weights.
Persevering through challenging workouts trains us to persevere through challenging life moments. Doing something that sucks a little but we know is healthy for us, every day, gets us in the habit of staying focused on long term goals.
Say No to Unhealthy Habits
Indulgence has its place, even in healthy lifestyles. It is part of being human. But when something becomes an unhealthy habit, it starts to chip away at our motivation and self-worth. To cultivate mental toughness, it helps to say no to your addictions, even soft addictions like sugar, late-night movie watching, social media, or shopping.
Meditation cultivates focus, equanimity, clarity, patience, and resilience. These are all essential qualities of mental toughness. The most successful people in the world usually have some sort of daily meditation practice (sitting, walking, or moving) that helps them persevere.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Its hard to be tough when you are tired. Sleep deprivation numbs the brain and actually reduces intelligence. It also makes it a lot harder to push through that stack of paperwork or let someones criticism just roll off your back. When we are well rested it is a lot easier to stay focused on what we want to accomplish.
Enjoy the Journey
Part of staying strong and persevering towards our goals is enjoying every moment along the way. While you need to keep track of the big picture, dont let yourself get overwhelmed by it. Stay focused on the task at hand. Learn to take things one-step at a time.
Failure Is Only Temporary
Mentally tough people persevere. Instead of seeing a failure as the end of the road, they look at it as a stumbling block. There is always another day. They might have to change course, try a different path, or get help. But they never look at failure as the end of the story.
Dont Lose the Lessons
Part of perseverance is learning from our failures. It is that old saying, when you lose, dont lose the lesson. No outcomes of our life experiments are truly failures if we learn from everything we do. Mistakes can teach us to do things more effectively next time.
Believe That You Can
Beyond hope, and sometimes beyond reason, mentally tough people have faith. They believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their goals. It took mental toughness to scale Mt. Everest, invent the light bulb, and fly an airplane. None of these innovators were trying to do easy things, and they probably all had people tell them their dreams were impossible. Though they had skills, talents, intelligence and support, ultimately it was belief and perseverance that got them to their goals.
Vision will take you so far. Talent, intelligence, charisma, character, these are important. But none of them will see you all the way through to living your dreams without perseverance. It takes a bit of toughness to get by in this world, especially if you want to go off the beaten path. And you can cultivate that toughness through the choices you make everyday to stay focused on what matters most. Above all, remember to believe in yourself.