Our new reality created by the pandemic has caused anxiety, uncertainty, and fear among everyone. While you cannot control the circumstances, you can control your reaction and your focus. It requires mental toughness and resilience in the face of this adversity. With the proper techniques, you will be able to persevere and ultimately succeed.
Elite military operators deal with extreme challenges before they are even selected for admittance. It is commonly acknowledged that the grueling selection process is 10% physical skill, 90% mental toughness, and is a test of character. That 90% empowers them to become who they are. So, how can we build our own mental toughness?
It starts with a question. “What do you want?” This question may be one of the most difficult to answer. We think we know what we want but may not be able to articulate it. That is a problem. If you do not know what you want, you will never gain the necessary traction to attain it. This is true whether closing a deal, moving up the professional ladder, or honing your craft.
Write it down. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to be reflective and contemplate what is truly important to us. It is a gift in the form of a “reset.” Take the time to make a list of what is truly important to you. Start with five goals you want to accomplish in life and business over the next three months. This will start to build your “goal setting” muscle. If you want to make a difference, this is not optional. It is mandatory. Do this immediately. Answer the question, “what do you want?”
Become obsessive about your goals. IF you are going to accomplish them, you must write them down, break them into tasks, and list ONE task you can accomplish within the week. You must focus ALL your mental energy on the goal and its tasks. Prune away anything that does not contribute to momentum towards your goal. Eliminate negative people and negative environments. Be conscious of your thinking and strive to make corrections if you fall into a negative self-talk track. Keep in mind the more adversity you face, the mentally stronger you become.
And you may be fearful… but fear is natural and useful. Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear. And we know great things never come from our comfort zone. Reframe your fear with this quote from Winston Churchill, “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.” Need help facing your fear? Try using your sense of humor. Lighten up and laugh. If you are a sales leader, this is one of your most important leadership traits. It gives you a different perspective about your challenges. It puts them into the proper mental context, where you can deal with them from a position of confidence and power.
Major in the majors and not in the minors. Anything not advancing your goals is inconsequential. Ignore these things or communicate why they are not helping if you need permission. Focus all your energy and time on your goals. Although this shift might make you uncomfortable, as Master Life Coach, Brooke Castillo states, “Discomfort is the currency of success.” And complaining won’t help you either. The only thing complaining does is convince others you are not in control. People who complain often lack direction and are not focusing their attention on their goals.
Get going. Elite performers use a hack to get going. They embrace the “two-minute rule” to begin tasks. If it takes two minutes, DO IT NOW. The rest will follow. Actor Matthew McConaughey has a simple mantra for going to the gym when he doesn’t feel motivated: Tie your shoes. The simple act of tying your shoes is the lever to gain momentum to go to the gym. Adopt a similar mantra for tasks you find unpleasant and aggressively assert it. Watch how quickly you become productive.
Turn off the news and limit social media. You must protect what you allow into your mind. The news runs 24/7/365 and a large percentage is negative. And people pay more attention to negative news. It is about eyeballs and advertising. Social media amplifies the negativity and you are the consumer. So put an end to it. Turn off the TV, remove social media apps from your device, and focus obsessively on your goals. Turn your environment into a positive thinking zone. This is not a platitude, it works, and elite performers embrace it.
Start journaling. It is cathartic, liberating, inspiring, and clarifying. Anxiety and depression are partly the result of feeling you have little to no control. Journaling is a step toward taking control. Use it to write down your goals, steps to attain them, adversity you may be facing, reactions you may have, and plans to accomplish and overcome. The mental toughness and benefits from doing so are well documented.
Change is the only certainty in life. We are responsible for the choices we make in dealing with change. Do you want to be proactive and deal with change from a position of power and mental toughness, or do you want to be reactive and accept the consequences? The new reality is your new operating environment. You own your results. Now… what do you want?
Stop what you are doing right now. Take out a piece of paper or device and answer the question, “What do you want in the next three months in life and business?” Make a list of five goals you want to accomplish. You are now ready to take the next step towards greater mental toughness.