Firstly, let’s clear up a misconception you might have. Although we’ve been talking about how mental toughness can help you succeed in big, high-pressure sporting events or business situations, mental toughness isn’t just about how we react in these extraordinary circumstances. It’s not just about how we were in the gold medal race, or how we fared in the Board meeting. Undoubtedly, these high-pressure situations test our mental toughness, but it’s the everyday situations are where mental toughness is built.
Remember from the previous chapter that mental toughness is about everyday consistent effort? This means that mental toughness is built on small wins. Mentally strong people develop methods that support their daily success. In other words, they develop positive habits, and it’s these habits that form the foundation of their rational beliefs and ultimately set them apart from those who don’t succeed. They focus on the essential things, no matter how many challenges or difficulties life throws at them. And these habits make it possible for them to overcome the big challenges.
So to start developing mental toughness, you can begin with these six easy points that from my experience, work really well in the real world. While you do these things, always bear in mind that mental toughness is about your habits, not about your motivation. We all suffer from demotivation and lack of will power from time to time, but mental toughness involves developing habits that enable us to succeed regardless of how motivated we are.
- Get straight up!
Although it’s tempting to lie in bed and press snooze for 5 more minutes, or half an hour longer, develop the habit of getting up when your alarm goes off. Start your day as you mean to go on. After all, if you can’t make yourself get out of bed in the morning, how can you achieve anything bigger than that? Yes, it feels nice to go back to sleep, but instead of giving into these feelings, acknowledge them, accept that you’re still tired, and then get out of the damn bed.
- Make your bed
As soon as you’re out of bed, make the bed. It sounds like a tiny thing, but it’s a small win. You’re starting your day with a win. And you’re developing discipline and organisation in the process. Mental toughness is about creating small daily rules, sticking to an agenda, and overcoming any difficulties over and over again, and making your bed is the first step on this path. It may make you smile, but this simple act is setting you up for success.
- Do some exercise
The next step is doing something physical. The last thing you want to do in the morning is exercise, when you feel like you don’t want to do anything, you’re tired, you’re not even properly awake yet, but just get into the habit of doing some exercise. Do something simple like push-ups by your bed, or go for a run, or to the gym. In the words of Drew Shamrock, “How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you that you were tired?”
- Plan your day
Every morning, write one, two, or three things that you must do today in your diary, phone, or on a piece of paper—particularly things that need to be done but that you don’t really want to do. Then, when you get side-tracked throughout the day, look at your list and ask yourself, “Do I do the main tasks of the day, or do I waste my time?” When you realise you’ve got side-tracked, get back on track as quickly as possible and don’t wallow in your failure to stay on track.
- Do your homework first
When you get home from work or school, do your homework or jobs immediately. Don’t put them off until later. It won’t be fun, and you’d probably rather be putting your feet up or turning on the TV, but mental toughness is about doing things you don’t want to do until you’re comfortable doing them. It might be tough at first to make yourself do it, but when it becomes a habit, you won’t even notice it.
- Eat something you don’t like
Every day, you should be eating healthily to keep your body in great condition. This can be difficult at first, especially if you prefer the taste of processed, sugary food, rather than healthy fruit and veg. So every day, switch something processed or unhealthy for something healthy that you don’t like the taste of, and make yourself eat it. Most people learn to like the taste of new food after around 25 tastes, so doing this helps you to rise above your feelings and build mental toughness.