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7 Tips for Cultivating Mental Toughness

Whether you’re running a business or pursuing personal goals, mental toughness is key.

But what exactly is it, and how can you strengthen it?

Let’s explore mental toughness and provide seven practical tips for cultivating it.

What Makes Someone Mentally Tough?

  • Performing well under pressure and staying focused and committed to goals in the face of adversity.
  • Maintaining a steady mental and emotional state even when things get stressful.

The good news is that mental toughness isn’t a god-given or fixed trait a person is born with. You can develop it over time with a strategic approach.

Who Needs Mental Toughness?

  • Business Owners – Mental toughness is necessary if you’re running your own business. Things will inevitably get bumpy whether you’re a solopreneur or leading a team. To survive and thrive, you’ll need to maintain your focus despite the daily grind of entrepreneurship.
  • Students and ProfessionalsWhen pursuing challenging goals such as earning a degree or building a career (while starting a family for some), staying disciplined, being consistent, and less prone to distractions are non-negotiables.
  • Anyone With Interpersonal RelationshipsSo pretty much everybody. Being mentally strong allows you to manage emotions and stay calm and tap into your emotional intelligence, whether you’re dealing with a difficult family member or a passionate work colleague.

Why You Want to Develop Mental Toughness

Talent is overrated. It can only get you so far. 

To succeed, you must be mentally tough; you must have grit. 

It’s not your innate skills, intelligence, or talent that will take you far in business, your studies, or any endeavor you wish to pursue. It’s your grit — your ability to push yourself through challenges via consistent practice and perseverance to achieve long-term goals. 

So how do you develop grit? 

7 Ways To Cultivate Mental Toughness

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some basic things you can do to become mentally stronger.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

A positive outlook lets you see challenges as opportunities for growth, which helps sustain motivation and focus.

Sounds too easy and overly simplistic? Well, no. There is scientific evidence that gratitude and a positive mindset contribute to better physical and mental health. It helps you deal with difficult situations successfully. 

Consider practicing gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal and engaging in positive self-talk by developing custom affirmations for yourself.

2. Take Calculated Risks

You can build up your “resilience muscle” by putting yourself in challenging situations, then pushing through when things get tough.

Have the courage to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. It’s not always easy, but that’s where the growth is.

3. Develop a Growth Mindset

The concept of growth mindset, developed by American psychologist Carol Dweck, means viewing challenges as opportunities for growth rather than threats.

With a growth mindset, you’re more likely to persevere through difficult times because you know that it’s helping you grow.

Focus on effort rather than outcomes and make it a habit to view mistakes as learning opportunities.

4. Go for Small Yet Consistent Wins

Small wins can help you build mental toughness. It’s like a muscle you must consistently work on for it to grow and develop. 

Develop habits that will help push yourself in small ways. These small behaviors, when done consistently, will aid you when faced with obstacles and distractions. Because you’ve built your “muscle” over time, you become tough enough for harsher situations. 

5. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts and Emotions

Another important aspect of mental toughness is mindfulness. This involves being aware of your thoughts and emotions and not letting them control you.

Meditation can help you focus on the present moment, calm a restless mind, regulate emotions, and boost your self-awareness.

It’s also helpful to practice self-compassion and to be kind to yourself, especially during difficult times. Extend to yourself the forgiveness you give to others.

6. Strengthen Your Physical Health

Fitness and exercise are essential components of mental strength; to become mentally strong, you need to have a good body-mind connection.

When you exercise regularly, you release endorphins — the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. This improves mood and reduces stress.

7.  Focus On Resilience

There’s no mental toughness without resilience.

Life is full of challenges. How you deal with them makes all the difference. Resilience is the process of adapting well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, or sources of stress by being mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally flexible. If you have resilience, you “bounce back” from difficulties and learn and grow from them.

To build resilience, seek support and make connections, take care of your body so that you can deal with stress better, help others or find purpose, accept change, and learn from your past. 

Don’t let setbacks define you. They’re temporary roadblocks. Go over or around.

Take Ownership

The key to becoming mentally strong is to take full ownership of your life by accepting responsibility for your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

A core principle of mental toughness is extreme ownership.

In their book, Extreme Ownership, co-authors and U.S. Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin apply this concept to leadership.

They explain that as a leader, you need to take full responsibility for your team’s success or failure and avoid blaming others.

When you take extreme ownership of your life, you’re empowered to make the necessary changes to achieve your goals. You’re no longer a victim of circumstance.

It’s on you and you got this. 

Create healthy habits and develop a daily routine.

Start by choosing one or two tips that resonate with you and focus on implementing them every day.

It’ll take some practice, but you’ll reap the countless benefits of a calmer, more resilient mindset when you persevere.

No matter what challenges life brings.

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