Tips for Developing Mental Toughness to Achieve Your Goals

With a strong mind, you can surprise yourself with how much you can achieve. Even when your goal outwardly entails the development of physical strength or skills, you can make more efficient progress if your mind is in the right condition to guide you through.

Motivational trainer Mike Gillette, who served as a paratrooper and SWAT commander in the US Army and is now also a record-breaking strongman, says that if you have decided on a goal, whatever it is, to get there, you need to clearly define the details surrounding that goal. Knowing where you want to get and how you want to get there is always an important first step in your quest to be a more awesome version of yourself. It will define all the other things you need to do or pay attention to.

How can you identify this goal? It depends, but a great way to define your goal is to do some reverse engineering, as Mike puts it. Think back to something you may have gotten into in the past. Were you a swimmer? Did you enjoy riding your bicycle as a kid? Try to remember what it was like when you were doing those activities and take note of how you are feeling as you look back. Perhaps you feel like these things are something you can relearn or go back into.

From there, you can think about sketching out your goals. Maybe you want to try and enter a triathlon. That could be your ultimate goal. At first, it may seem pretty much out of this world for you to even just say it out loud. Say it out loud anyway. Mike believes that this will then make you accountable for whatever it is you said to yourself. Now, you can start to think about the main goal in terms of the details of what it will take for you to get there.

When you start to work out the details to achieving your goal, you may gradually or suddenly come to the realization that this is going to be a grueling process. This is not something that can be achieved in a short period of time. You can’t just say, ‘in, a month or two, or three, I will be joining a triathlon.’ You have to accept that it might take years to get to where you want to go, because surely you want to plan your journey as intelligently as you can despite the fact that the overall goal still seems a bit crazy. The plan itself may pose formidable challenges, but you have to have confidence that a good plan can always be formulated to make your seemingly unattainable goal become more realistic.

The third step is all about fine tuning your mind and optimizing how you visualize yourself getting to your goal. You have to be clear about seeing yourself on your quest in terms of how you’re getting there and what you’re trying to reach. Remember that the mind can only guide you appropriately if you have clearly defined your goal and the path to get there. Let’s say you were trying to lose weight. If you are not specific about how much weight you need to lose, what diet you’re going to go on and what fitness program you’re going to enter, you won’t even start to shed a single pound. You’ll only progress if these other aspects are clarified.

Mike Gillette says that the mind is basically there to work for us and guide us, but only if we know our destination. As we’ve said, it can be quite difficult to come up with a goal. Even if you just try to be spontaneous and say the first thing that comes to mind, as exciting and awesome as that may sound, it can be scary or intimidating too, and sometimes that’s the dominant emotion we feel.

It’s actually okay to be intimidated. We have to accept that things aren’t always going to go conveniently our way, even if that’s how we’ve been brought up to think. We’ve been conditioned to take the easy way. If we set a goal for ourselves and someone else finds out, that person may discourage us by saying how it will be too difficult and that we should just think of something else to do. There is a culture of low expectations and acceptance of mediocrity. We discourage ourselves and others too.

Ideally, Mike urges us to try to become more awesome versions of ourselves and encourage others in the same way. Anytime someone says what he or she wants to achieve, no matter how unattainable it may seem for that person, we need to say how great it is that he or she is dreaming big and just feed off the positive energy from that. You’ll find that you can use that energy to help you on your own quest.

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