To build mental strength you need a few key elements and I’d like to share 5 simple ways to help you build mental strength. Much like building up physical strength it takes work, but there’s a hard way and an easy way to go about it.
Any time you’re working towards making changes can be tricky, but with Positive Psychology we now have a much better understanding of how we can make change stick and improve our physical and mental wellbeing into the future. So here are my Top 5 ways to build mental strength.
1. Develop a positive mindset: There’s a simple equation to getting your mindset right. It can be found in a theory developed by Barbara Fredrickson called the Positivity Ratio. Basically, if you find three positives for every negative you’ll start seeing life differently. Yes, it’s a challenge, but working on building a positive mindset is the first step in any change. Most people spend a lot of time thinking about what they eat, but how many people do you know that really think about what they think, and how it’s going to impact their wellbeing? Not many unfortunately.
2. Know the willpower equation: To build mental strength you need to boost your willpower. In fact, any time you want to make change happen, you need willpower. Unfortunately, it’s a finite resource and depends largely on the following equation. Willpower = Sleep + Diet + Exercise + Positivity Ratio + Positive Habits. So before thinking about change, set yourself up for success by building up your willpower. When you think about the above equation, what elements are you most lacking and how can you boost them up. For the majority of my clients, sleep is one of the first things we work on because without enough sleep, you simply don’t have the willpower to make positive decisions and positive change.
3. Be clear on what your working towards: Most people have an inkling of what they’d like to achieve, but an inkling isn’t going to get you out of bed at 5am to work on it. What you need is a burning desire. So, figure out what you’re working towards, what’s really important to you. If there’s no why, you’re never going to stay motivated and build mental strength. You don’t need to create Everest goals, or even smart goals. What I suggest instead is small, incremental goals that help to develop strong habits and build mental strength. Things like walk 10,000 steps each day, or write a new blog each week, or only check emails twice a day. These things, although inconsequential in the short term will build up longer term habits for success, and much of your mental strength comes from the solid foundation of good habits.
4. Create accountability: I’ve heard of fitness training partners taking each other’s gym shoes home so they both must show up in the morning, otherwise the other person can’t train. It’s extreme, but a beautiful example of how you can build accountability into your positive change program. If something’s important, not only do you need people around you to encourage, motivate and support you, you’re also going to need the butt kickers to keep you in line sometimes. Make sure you have the right people to help you succeed and keep you on track. So, who are your accountability buddies, who knows about your goals (even the mini ones) and who can you share your successes and challenges with?
5. Feel the tipping point: Mental and physical fitness both have critical tipping points that once reached, the work not only becomes easier, but enjoyable. Our challenge is to maintain motivation, optimism and momentum until you feel that first hint of things getting easier. Look for the little signs that indicate you’re making progress. It might be that you’re no longer desperately counting steps as you know you’re daily routine gets you there. These little markers my girlfriend calls ‘God winks’ – little signs that you’re on the right track and things are going to get easier soon.
To build mental strength you need many things, but the above 5 are the key ingredients and I hope they help you as you move forward, work towards your goals and build mental strength.