How U.S. Olympians and Navy SEALs start their day off mentally strong (and you can too).
Life as a busy entrepreneur or executive is a bumpy roller-coaster ride, to say the very least.
So how do successful people get through those crazy days?
It all starts with waking up mentally tough. Skills can only take you so far without the grit, determination, and mental willpower to tackle anything life throws at you.
Thankfully, there are some pretty simple techniques that everyone from Navy SEALs to U.S. Olympians to successful entrepreneurs use to stay mentally strong. Start adopting these powerful habits in the morning to become just as mentally resilient:
Practice positive self-talk.
Studies estimate that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute.
That’s why none other than the U.S. Navy SEALs swear by positive self-talk as a way to take on a strenuous day.
When their oxygen flow is suddenly cut off underwater, SEALs are able to tough it out by telling themselves that everything is fine and thinking positively. So you can probably also use this tip to get through a day at the office.
To start, tell yourself how great your day is going to be as you’re riding the subway or driving down the freeway. If you start encountering a rough morning, go outside for a few minutes and repeat some more positive affirmations to yourself.
Visualize tackling tasks.
Champion U.S. Olympians use visualization as an effective way to stay tough when they’re running a marathon or endlessly swimming.
Rather than just picturing themselves at the finish line, they visualize themselves going through the motions of the race. It’s a scientifically proven way to boost your mental willpower — whether you’re jumping over a hurdle or filing paperwork.
By visualizing how you’ll get through a task in the morning, you’ll not only give yourself the self-confidence to do it, you’ll also come up with unexpected solutions along the way.
Don’t give up your power.
How many times have you thought something along the lines of “my mother-in-law drives me crazy”?
TED Talk star and motivation expert Amy Morin says thinking like this “gives away your power.” Instead of thinking that your in-law is driving you mad (or that your workday is stressful), Morin recommends a powerful alternative: knowing “your world is what you make it.”
Rather than believing you have to get up early and head to a stressful job, start thinking about it as an opportunity to change your success and have an impact on the world. By believing you’re in control, you’ll start to be in control.
Avoid comparisons (and Instagram).
If your morning routine involves checking Facebook or scrolling through Instagram, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Amy Morin also spoke about how seeing her “perfect” friends on Facebook in the morning dragged down her whole day.
As she wisely put it, “The only person you should compare yourself to is the person that you were yesterday.”
Quite simply, you’re seeing someone’s highlight reel, not his or her life story, so it will do nothing but make you feel inferior if you feel the need to keep up.
Social media aside, only focusing on your own self-improvement is an excellent way to start the day off strong.
Create Tiny Daily Goals
Mark Spitz, a USA Olympic gold medalist in swimming, said, “I’m trying to do the best I can. I’m not concerned with tomorrow, but with what goes on today.”
Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the big picture, like completing SEALs training or making it to the Olympics. So instead, these competitors set daily goals. They select one or two things that they want to accomplish that day to bring them one step closer to their ultimate milestone.
You can follow the same idea in your own business and stay mentally tough by writing down small goals each and every day. A study from Harvard showed that people who have goals are ten times as successful as those without goals, and those who write them down are three times as likely to reach them as those who don’t.
You can celebrate these small successes along the way to your larger goal. And if you fail (which will happens to even the best of us at some points), you start all over with a new goal the next day.
Exercise and prioritize your health.
It’s been scientifically proven that being physically strong is an integral part of being mentally strong. Doing aerobic exercises has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and have other amazing benefits. It’s no wonder that ultra-successful people channel that energy into exercise before they go to work in the morning.
“If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”
As a busy entrepreneur, life can get crazy, but putting a little extra time into having a good meal and taking care of your body is an investment that will pay off tenfold.
Connect with loved ones before work.
Being an effective executive doesn’t mean sacrificing everything for your job. Even the busiest people in the world know that a part of staying mentally strong means cultivating a meaningful life for yourself outside of work.
Whether it’s a friend or family member, connecting with someone important to you at the start of your day helps maintain healthy relationships, and it can also give your day perspective, while keeping your spirits up while you work.
Call to action
If you have any tips on developing mental strength, I’d love to hear them: leave a comment below, or give me a shout-out on Twitter.
If you liked this article and want more tips, connect with me at ElleKaplan.com!