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Mental Toughness: 7 habits to develop for lasting success

Have you ever wondered just what it is that makes someone good at what they do?

What makes athletes win Olympic medals? What makes businessmen millionaires? Exactly what makes good leaders succeed?

The formula to success isn’t made up of just one ingredient. People succeed through a combination of luck, talent, and a host of environmental and social factors.

But when it comes down to it, why do some people accomplish their goals while others simply fail?

We have one answer for you: it’s called mental toughness.

You might have heard of it before – grit, mental fortitude, mental resilience.

What does it mean?

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Simply put, it’s the ability to focus on tasks and execute them with determination, even when faced with adversity and uncertainty.

It’s that one trait that pushes you forward. Even if you break under pressure, even when you lose patience. Mental toughness is what holds us back from quitting prematurely.

You can be the most talented in the world, but you wouldn’t amount to anything if you don’t have grit.

Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been the Steve Jobs if he stopped trying after dropping out of college, after getting fired from his own company, after failing at several businesses.

What prevented him from giving up?

Mental toughness – it’s what you need to succeed.

So how do you develop it?

Here are 7 habits to develop if you want to have remarkable mental toughness.

1. Don’t wait for luck or opportunities, create them.

“Oh, I just got lucky.”

Sounds familiar?

We usually downplay our successes by saying it was just luck. But successful people don’t wait around for luck. They don’t wait until opportunities come knocking.

Sure, luck can play some part in your success. But good luck doesn’t happen all the time.

So instead of waiting around, act as if you’re in control – always.

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If you succeeded, it’s because you caused it.

If you failed, it’s your fault, too.

Practice accountability. And develop the habit of assertiveness.

Go out every day, thinking that you’re doing something for your future, instead of waiting around for your life to happen.

2. Let go of anything that doesn’t contribute to your success.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is empowering your emotional and mental baggage. If you want to be successful in life, you need to be able to put aside things that hold you back.

That’s not saying that you should be completely ruthless. But it’s important to let go of things that bring you down.

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Are you stuck in a one-sided, toxic relationship with someone close to you? Is it making you feel depressed and unmotivated? Cut it off.

Is your job making you feel worthless? Don’t be afraid to quit and see what’s out there. Maybe you won’t earn as much, but at least you’ll be happier.

If you have to choose between what’s right for you and your well-being, vs. whatever it is that you think is important, choose the latter.

3. The past is a lesson, nothing more.

Realize that the past is nothing but a training ground. Nothing more. Don’t get stuck with whatever mistake you might have made. Learn how to move on.


(We just released a new eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness. We highlight 20 of the most resilient people in the world and break down what traits they have in common. We then equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today–in your personal life or professional career. Check it out here.)


If you’ve failed, pick yourself up, learn from your mistake, and do better next time.

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Learn from the mistakes of others, too.

Don’t beat yourself up about what you could have done better.

Just don’t make the same mistake twice.

Your past does not define you, it was nothing but training. Who you were yesterday is not who you are now. And you are stronger for your mistakes.

4. It’s more about efficient habits and less about skills.

It’s about your habits, not your motivation.

Sherrie Campbell, psychologist, author, and public speaker, believes that developing efficient habits give us security when everything else is not working out.

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She says,

When we are in the eye of the storm of any adversity, we must hold our emotional reactions enough to be able to utilize the mental objectivity we need to establish the procedures and strategies necessary to attain our goals.

“Failure is sometimes the exact thing we need to know what procedures, structures or strategies are missing. The more efficient our foundational procedures are, the easier it is to remain mentally tough because it is the stability of our procedures that give us something to count on.”

So don’t get caught up in what you can’t do well, focus on setting yourself up for success.

5. Be honest with yourself. Always.

Do you often look yourself in the mirror, and feel like everything about your life is a lie?

From the clothes you wear to the friends you have – if you can’t honestly say anything is real, then you’re doing something wrong.

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Mentally tough people operate with honesty and integrity always. You need to develop the ability to look at yourself and evaluate if something is not working for you.

In a nutshell, you need to be able to check yourself.

It’s probably a hard habit to develop, but it will make you a better person overall.

6. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small.

“You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body”.—Drew Shamrock

This is very important. Think big when it comes to your dreams. But when it comes to your victories, celebrate even the smallest ones.

Did you get out of bed without snoozing your alarm once? Great job!

Finished a project earlier than the deadline? Kudos!

Big or small, a win is a win.

Don’t get caught up on huge successes. It’s about taking it one step at a time.

7. Stop whining.

Did you know that complaining and whining is dangerous to your health? And to others?

Yes. Literally.

Complaining might feel good. But it’s not doing anything good for your body. Much less to your mentality.

Why?

It’s not productive. It’s a waste of mental energy.

Instead of wasting time and energy complaining, check yourself, stop, and do something about it. Now.

Fix it, don’t complain about it. And if you can’t fix it, don’t waste any more time and energy on it. It’s as simple as that.

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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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