The ability to resist, manage and overcome doubts.

Mental toughness, otherwise known as grit, is the ability to resist, manage and overcome doubts, worries, concerns and circumstances that prevent you from achieving a goal or succeeding in a task. It is a perseverance and passion to achieve.

Grit is a strong predictor of success. Research on grit shows that those people that score higher on grit tests are move likely to be better educated and successful in their chosen field. Grit is more important than talent. Talent is overrated. We all know someone who is talented – the person that had all the talent in the world and wasted it or didn’t achieve anything. If they had worked hard they would have achieved. Talent is no substitute for grit.

Being mentally tough isn’t only about how you deal with extreme circumstances in life but also how you get on with the everyday challenges we all face. Mental toughness is like a muscle that needs to be worked to grow and develop. Choose to run that extra 500m rather than stop, ask that extra question when it would be easier to accept, do that extra rep at the gym. Use everyday situations to prove to yourself that you can do it and take on whatever life throws at you.

You need to build strong habits and stop relying on motivation. Motivation is wonderful but it doesn’t last forever. You need good daily habits to overcome challenges and distractions over and over again. You need to be consistent. Yes this can be boring so you need to fall in love with the boredom. How? There are a couple of suggestions in the many articles written about this.

  • Improve your skills so you become more proficient and you can see improvements. If you look forward to improving then it is easier to fall in love with the habit.
  • Fall in love with the result of the habit. You know that if you keep doing something over and over again you will get a result that makes you happy so focus on that. 

But how can you become mentally tough? First you need to define what this means for you. It doesn’t have to be a big goal, it can be something important to you. For example, working out three times a week without fail, hitting your monthly target at work or making sure you have a catch up with friends once a month. It can be anything you choose, but it needs to be clear. 

But what about when it is all too hard and you want to give up? Everyone feels this way at times. You wake up and you feel like staying in bed, watching Netflix and not sticking to routine. First you need to decide what these feelings mean. Do you just need a break? Do you need some self-care? Only you can decide and you need to be honest with yourself. If you are genuinely run down and need a day to yourself then it is probably a good idea to take a day. But if you have been ‘slacking’ off for the last week using self-care as an excuse then you are probably being lazy – you need to get up and get on with it.

When you are feeling over it and ready to give up remember:

  1. Your thoughts are suggestions only, not orders.
    Everything is a choice. You can adjust your attitude. You have the power to decide how to act.
     
  2. The discomfort is only temporary.
    Your task will be done soon. Your session at the gym will be over, your client meeting will finish soon. Keep some perspective.
     
  3. You will not regret good work once it is done.
    No one ever regrets the hard graft when the result is achieved.
     
  4. This is life.
    Life is a series of choices and decisions. Every day you make hundreds of choices – good and bad and each have consequences. Do the right thing. Getup and show up and let the results take care of themselves.

After many years of marriage, I found myself single – working full time, paying off a mortgage and looking after two little people that needed my support and love. It required a lot of grit from me to get through it, grit I wasn’t sure I possessed until I had to. Some days I did well, others I didn’t, sometimes I just had to get up, show up and put one foot in front of the other. Now, I have more good days than bad and am proud of myself for being resilient and getting through this. It is amazing what the mind and body will cope with when it has to. I am also very blessed to work at a workplace that is very supportive and has given me the space that I have needed.

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