Just like a muscle, your mental capacity needs to be flexed, honed and worked upon each and every day.
That’s why this piece in Forbes resonated with us so much.
This time of year can be particularly challenging staying focused with so many distractions and then next thing you know it, we’re tested again in January with persistence and determination with resolutions.
That said, there are a few tips to help build the mental strength necessary for the long haul, especially when life and work throw you a curveball.
1. Evaluate your core beliefs. After all, they influence pretty much everything — thoughts, behavior, attitude, emotions. Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker from Maine, writes in the piece,
“Identify and evaluate your core beliefs. Look for beliefs that are black and white, and then find exceptions to the rule. Very few things in life are ‘always’ or ‘never’ true. Modifying core beliefs requires purposeful intention and hard work, but it can change the entire course of your life.”
2. Be economical about your mental energy. Have you ever been invited to a party and then stopped to think how tired you are, how you have an early morning meeting and how it would require a lot of physical energy? And then talk yourself out of it? Okay, maybe that’s just us but sometimes you have to evaluate current energy levels and if your gas tank is full or heading toward empty.
The same rings true for mental energy. What will drain you from having the ability to think clearly about things that truly matter?
Morin reveals in the piece that spending time and energy about things you can’t control “drains mental energy quickly.” The more you think about issues that you don’t have the power to solve or control, the less energy you’ll have to spend on more creative efforts that require your attention.
Her advice? “Save your mental energy for productive tasks, such as solving problems or setting goals. When your thoughts aren’t productive, make a conscious effort to shift your mental energy to more helpful topics.”
3. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. This tip is incredibly important to the point where going to say it again! Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. (Is there an echo in here?)
Seriously. Negative thoughts often result in unproductive actions and behaviors. Why psych yourself out? You may not even realize you’re self-sabotaging so the first key is increasing awareness in order to build resilience.
She writes in the piece, “Catch your negative thoughts before they spiral out of control and influence your behavior.” Once you catch yourself, you can start replacing those thoughts with more productive ones. A more balanced thought may be, “I have some weaknesses, but I also have plenty of strengths.”
Although this does require work in constant monitoring, isn’t something worth having and changing worth the work? You’ll likely see a boost to your the process of “becoming your best self.”