Elements of Mental Toughness: Intensity, Grit, and Consistency
Still striving for that illusory first pullup? Hoping to run your first 5K? Let’s say that you want to do 50 burpees below a 5 minute limit. Or it could be that you are hoping to complete your first Murph challenge. Whatever your goal, the road will be challenging.
It has been said before, and by now has long turned cliché, but there’s really a lot of truth to the idea that fitness is predominantly a mental game. Arguably the most important part of successfully staying fit is developing mental toughness.
Mental toughness means sticking to a balanced diet, a workout program, and pushing yourself more towards challenge instead of complacency.
No. Matter. What.
In this article by Strategic Athlete, the author describes the many benefits of mental toughness in convincing fashion. (He does so using a few colorful expletives, so just as a warning if you do click on the link!)
Building off of that resource, the most desirable outcomes of mental toughness is plainly put the ability to push through a tough workout without external motivators, the ability to stick to your gameplan, and the ability to ramp up the intensity even though you’d rather not. Because remember, although cheesy as it sounds, intensity leads to immensity!
Until you have enough intense workouts under your belt, you most likely won’t have the proper foundation to keep progressing the specific way you want to progress.
This takes mental toughness to keep building up a portfolio of powerful workouts (as it were). Something you can mentally refer back to and use as fuel for the next workout.
it is recommended that you build up this portfolio of intense workouts with a personal trainer or someone knowledgeable who can teach you proper form and safe lifting early on. And working in tandem with someone else is also key because you can learn how to maintain the proper workout intensity.
Once you build a definition of what it means to truly push yourself, you’ll have a frame of reference you can take with you to every subsequent workout.
Soon, your mind will strengthen as well, and you won’t be satisfied with your workout until you have completely emptied the tank.
James Clear says in the article The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life that the most mentally tough people have the following things:
I’d add just one thing to that list: Intensity. But one key aspect of becoming mentally tough is definitely the first on that list. Let’s explore the all-important quality of grit!
Now, I have not read Angela Duckworth’s book on grit, so any reference towards the concept will be based solely on a general understanding of the term. But from the looks of it, it seems to be straightforward.
A low-level definition of grit could just be consistency amidst diversity. Or it could even be described as that X-factor or resolve that sets two people apart.
Angela goes into much more detail. She breaks down grit as the culmination of these 5 characteristics:
Angela also defines grit in this way. It goes hand in hand with #5 on the list (passion):
Now, when applied to fitness, you can’t always love working out. Sometimes the last thing you’ll want to do is stop watching Stranger Things and start lifting heavy things. But having grit means you’ll push through anyway.
Take the test to check your current grit level here.
This really is one of the central things that will drive a successful fitness journey. Chris Zaino of Bodybuilding.com calls consistency the key to progress.
And in all honesty, consistency means that you have grit, that you have toughness, that you are finding the necessary energy and are continually having intense workouts.
In short, consistency separates the merely ambitious from those that are passionate about their fitness journey.
This means that you don’t put in intense workouts only when you’re feeling energetic. It also means that you don’t load up on workouts one week, and then fall off the next.
As Ben Ilaria says in his article Consistency is the Key to Successful Training:
He also mentions the importance of making sure you ramp up the intensity at the gym, if you know you’re going to miss a few scheduled workout days. This will ensure you are not only doing something to mitigate the rate of muscle deterioration, but also that you have a mind towards consistent workout frequency.
To conclude, I want to encourage you to develop some mental toughness when it comes to your workout routine.
Don’t be afraid to ramp up the intensity (with safety in mind!). Get some grit. Be consistent. Your body will thank you, and you’ll start to accomplish things you never thought possible!
Muscle Growth for the Average Person: Hypertrophy, Frequency, and Maintenance
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or powerlifter to reap the benefits of the best and latest muscle growth practices. This blog post, although just a brief overview, can be applied to any age group, any level of fitness proficiency.
Believe us, we understand how difficult it is to navigate the turbulent seas of conflicting information out there. Especially with all of the sources out there telling you that working out “X” amount of times with “X” amount of sets and reps will get you the body you desire.
Instead of just offering a “do this and see these results” type of blog post, we figured that it would be best to give you a small overview of three key concepts involved in the whole muscle-building process. Yes, there are recommended numbers and sets involved, but only to illustrate the points talked about!
As always, it is the science involved that is most important to consider; what you choose to do after learning these concepts is up to you: you can hire a personal trainer (recommended), get online coaching or even do further research if you want. Seize the day!
For hypertrophy, to gain more muscle and thus get stronger and more efficient in workouts, some sort of progressive overload should be focused on. This means that once you have a program in place, you can certainly stick to the same workout and maintain that current level of fitness, but you run the risk of growing bored or eventually getting too strong to reap as many positive benefits from working out.
Just something to consider! The next consideration is just how much one should workout during the week.
According to Dr. Mike Israeltel of Renaissance Periodization, we should always look to keep the amount of repetitions we perform in an effective range. Just cranking out 3-4 reps with weight that is too heavy isn’t as effective as doing a quality set with proper weight.
Dr. Mike also says more volume is better than less, for most cases! But this doesn’t mean that one should perform hundreds exercises that are extremely simple. You will waste your time if you sit at a machine and perform hundreds of reps with weights that are hardly strenuous. Instead there has to be a balance struck between intensity and the proper amount of volume to see noticeable changes in muscle strength and definition.
Instead, one should establish a one-rep max and look to perform lifts that are in the 60%-80% range of your max. The rep range should be somewhere between 8-20 as well for each set. This guarantees that enough intensity is performed and enough sets are hit during the week. Yes, this number is flexible to a degree, but if you are performing 3o sets of squats at 25% of your one-rep max, more than likely you are wasting your time and overworking your muscles.
Eventually, after putting all of that time and effort to meet your goals and expectations, you will hit the point where visits to the gym are strictly for maintaining your hard-earned muscle. Maybe you are already at the point now! But there are certain guidemarks for muscle maintenance that one needs to follow for fitness upkeep. Fortunately though, there’s a lot of good news. The more you workout, the easier it becomes to keep your muscle!
To draw from the expert himself again, Dr. Mike Israeltel says this: “ you can keep almost all of your muscle with as little as 6 working sets per bodypart per week in most cases.” He goes onto say that even the most advanced athletes have similar percentages of maintenance volume they need to perform (the same goes for beginners and intermediate lifters). So, with just 6 working sets, after you have committed to a program and have put the work in, you can be sure to keep your body looking exactly like you want it!
Of course at the end of the day, there’s no pressure! Working out is working out. You do you! We just want you to work with all of the best tools on your fitness journey; no matter what level or stage you are at, thinking about muscle and strength training from a strategic focal point is important. Consider hiring a personal trainer or a nutrition expert to help you further along your fitness path.
This is a very specific approach and is not the only way to achieve your fitness goals. It is certainly a highly-effective approach backed by the latest science, but not an exhaustive approach by any means. The content of this blog article is largely taken from the fitness expertise of Dr. Mike Israetel, co-founder of Renaissance Periodization and author of Training Volume Landmarks For Muscle Growth. For further implementation, information, and direction on your fitness journey, be sure to consult a fitness professional before committing to a program or the methods involved!
Important Traits of an Athlete
What separates an Olympian from an average athlete? In other words, what is the difference between one of the best sports performers in the world and a regular athlete?
Only some of what separates the great from the merely good has to do with natural talent and genetics. I mean, a lot has been said about Michael Phelps and how his frame was built for swimming. But genetics can only take you so far.
According to an article by Fast Company, genes only determine athletic performance by a small amount. Instead, athletic performance is largely due to environmental factors such as parents who love sports, hours spent training, nutrition, and the overall opportunity for sports at a young age.
In essence, anyone who starts off early enough and has a little luck, can become an olympic medalist or world-class athlete--the only caveat being that environmental factors play a big role in determining success.
If boiled down to only two determining factors for making a great athlete, it would come down to having a strong support system or team and the amount of self-discipline the athlete has.
A strong support system is crucial for the development and consistency of any athlete.
Think about some of the best father/son duos in the MLB (Ken Griffey Jr./Sr.) or the NHL (Bobby/Brett Hull). Also, another relevant duo would be the Curry brothers: Steph and Seth Curry, who just played each other in the NBA playoffs.
To grow up with a parent or brother who has skin in the game means having an inexhaustible support system to draw from. And without the necessary reinforcement, it can be very hard to fuel the rise of a world-class athlete.
If olympic gymnast Simone Biles hadn’t been adopted by her Grandparents and had their support, she probably would have never reached the heights that she did.
Support can also come from being a part of a team.
Many great athletes are excellent team players. And even if you are involved in a sport that doesn’t revolve around a team, like track and field or gymnastics, having the support of like-minded athletes is key for staying on track.
It’s no surprise that the greatest individual athletes have teams they are a part of. Teams encourage competition, they are great motivators for athletic performance, and they keep individuals focused on training daily on their craft.
If the most successful athletes have a considerable amount of self-discipline surging through their system, a team is that fail-safe for the days where motivation and energy are lacking.
This means that 90% of the time, a world class athlete won’t need help to keep themselves on track. But never underestimate that remaining 10% in making a huge difference.
When motivation falters and your support system fails to motivate you, the best sports performers know how to push themselves to train anyways. There is a crucial difference between self-discipline and motivation. And self-discipline is arguably more important.
Charles Schwab had some important words to say on the subject of self-discipline. And these words speak to the so-called ‘natural talent’ side of athletic performance. In this respect, his words favor hard work over innate talent or genetic superiority:
Replace “super-geniuses” with “superstar athletes” and you have a very relevant way of looking at the importance of self-discipline.
A lot of success and self-discipline comes from mental strength.
Self-discipline hinges on being able to keep yourself level-headed despite stress and exhaustion. To perform at an elite level, you have to work harder than the average person. And to have an edge over your competition, your training has to be dynamic.
Anyone could drift through a mindless training regimen. That doesn’t require all that much mental flexibility or discipline at all.
The best training methods integrate the mind and body equally. An understanding of sports psychology and the role of visualization in performance is crucial. But elite training ends up taxing the mind just as much as the body. This requires a mental toughness that transcends mere physical exertion.
So, to become a great athlete means including mental training within their routine. Being self-disciplined in not only the mental but also the physical realm is very important.
If this blog post resonated with you, our Next Level Athlete program is perfect for helping you grow self-discipline. In addition, while you work with our team of trained professionals, you will firsthand the power of being a team player.
A couple of days ago we talked about the elements that comprise the most successful sports teams. Be sure to check that out as well as our other blog posts dedicated to keeping you informed on your fitness journey.
Characteristics of a Successful Sports Team
The most successful sports teams have great leadership and chemistry. All three of these characteristics are integral for a cohesive and competitive sports team.
Coaches can recruit natural talent and strength all they want, but the most important components of any successful team stems from the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
But what does that really mean?
This means that if we look at sports performance through a system-based approach, an outcome is created that would have never occurred from relying on individual elements.
After all, a diamond cannot be naturally formed unless individual carbon atoms bond together in specific crystalized patterns. So too a successful sports team forms by bonding common elements together in specific ways.
To achieve the emergence of an elite group of individuals all set on creating a lasting impact in their athletic lane requires two things: chemistry and great leadership.
(#1) The Importance of Chemistry
A superstar on a sports team can be a game-changer/difference maker/shake-n-baker; but only to a certain degree and not with 100% consistency. Not a lot of teams can rely on natural talent alone to drive them to victory.
And doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose and fun of a team anyway?
To speak to this, Nature published findings on team chemistry that the so-called ‘superstar effect’ of loading teams with the most talent actually pales in comparison to teams with the most chemistry and history of prior success together.
Examples of Chemistry in Basketball
Yes, “super teams” in the NBA are strong examples of championship teams through the cultivation of raw talent. But not coincidentally, the Golden State Warriors started to falter earlier in the 2018-2019 season because of an internal conflict between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
This means that when looked at over the long term, the most sustainable teams have the most chemistry over mere talent. The Warriors, although they had a lot of drama during the regular season, banded back together and sorted out their differences. They all have too good of a relationship as teammates to let petty differences derail their season.
So, those who stick together, have the most history with one another, and can build the deepest bond together, tend to fare better than professional teams with larger payrolls and more stars.
Examples of Chemistry in Hockey
In addition, consider the Saint Louis Blues: a NHL hockey team that made the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 49 years, and who has recently won the whole thing During this historical season, they were dead last in the entire NHL on January 3rd, but have stormed back and played some of the League’s best hockey since then.
And guess what, when they were playing their worst hockey, teammates were fighting each other and team morale was not exactly in a positive place. But they rallied around a new coach, bought into his vision, and they started to play for one another. With that, the proper chemistry and cohesion was built.
So yes, a team comprised of level-headed, cohesive, committed individuals with great chemistry can elevate a middle-of-the-road team into a vastly successful vehicle for athleticism and success.
Now, you can’t force chemistry; you cannot guarantee that your team will mesh well. But you can you increase likelihood by emphasizing a common vision and goals.
If we apply this concept to the business world, a lot of departments and teams will spin their wheels without a vision to unite them. Even if you don’t have the most compatible team members at first, a common goal or vision can help you cultivate team chemistry.
Consider that the best teams are good friends; they hang out off the field and away from team practices. And the best teams in the business world are in touch after-hours, on lunch break, events, etc.
But a lot of this chemistry and communication boils down to the type of leadership at the helm of the group. The right leader will encourage the necessary interdependency that creates positive chemistry.
Let’s explore the impact that leadership can have on successful sports teams.
(#2) Great Leadership
A successful sports team will often have a strong coach. A groundbreaking business will have a strong leader. And just about any organization worth its salt will have someone of charisma at the helm.
A great coach will rally the troops around a powerful narrative--they will absorb adversity and reframe it as fuel for a resurgence.
The most successful leaders are not afraid to fail. Really, any successful sports coach will tell you that composure is key in the midst of the emotional highs and lows of a season.
To achieve this, a coach will create a narrative or philosophy that is flexible and powerful enough to last a long time. It is a story that is absorbed by teammates and which can fuel the forward progress of the group despite any challenges that arise.
This tool, combined with good drills and practices, can strengthen a team unlike any other facet of leadership.
Creating Resilience Through a Strong Vision
Say that your team has all the chemistry and skill in the world. They are disciplined, show up to practice every day, train, workout, and band together the majority of the time.
What happens when they face adversity as a group? Or key players get injured? Or God forbid a chain of bad luck threatens to derail the efforts of a hard-fought season?
Without a strong vision and narrative to rally around, a team might not have the resilience to fight back and turn their season around.
Resilience in this context is simply the ability for a team to adapt, rebound, and consistently stick to a game plan no matter how negative the circumstances of a season.
Some of the most prominent ways for coaches to increase resilience in their teams are through the following methods:
A Surefire Resource For Cultivating These Qualities
Fitness Artist isn’t just committed to bring you helpful information and motivation, we are of course a service-driven business with an impressive assortment of programs and classes.
With that being said, if you have read this far, you might be interested to know that our Next Level Athlete program can build the chemistry of your team. In addition, our sports performance philosophy hits all of the crucial points necessary for taking your sports team to the next level.
Contact us for details!
3 Reasons to Become a Lifelong Learner
At Fitness Artist we are strong advocates for lifelong learning! Our clients also teach us something new every day, so that’s a definite blessing.
The life of a fitness professional includes a lot of research and knowledge-based approaches centered on improving the life of our clients. Not to mention that running a business presents its own daily set of challenges as well.
Although the life of a fitness professional and entrepreneur is busy, it is also such a rewarding career path. A lot of this has to do with the daily learning. Here are 3 reasons why lifelong learning is such an important practice.
Sadly, thinking hard doesn’t really burn calories. This means that although the brain does consume about 20% of our daily energy (as stated in this Brain Facts article), we won’t really burn a significant amount of calories just by upping our mental activity levels. Calorie-burning limitations aside, the list of health benefits attributed to lifelong learning is incredibly long! Here are just a few examples:
The Economist says that lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative. This means that as the sophistication of technology increases, so too will the hours spent on learning how to properly use it.
And really, there’s no better way to guarantee job security than by becoming a more skilled individual. Many professionals have found success by proactively getting certificates, training, or qualifications while in a specific position. And because wearing many hats in the workplace is now the norm for most professionals, lifelong learning is becoming all the more relevant.
There are so many resources out there to keep you interested and learning. And if you are struggling to motivate yourself, ask for help from a friend, teacher, personal trainer or mentor!
This may not be the most obvious answer, but if you think about the orbit of people you interact with, you can definitely make a positive impact if you are a lifelong learner.Not only that, you can become an inspiration for others.
Most say that the best way to fully learn a subject is to teach it to others. In this way, you are helping yourself understand a skill on a deeper level, as well as enriching someone’s understanding. Really, being a lifelong learner can help friends to never grow stagnant in their own lives.
Lead by example and show others the power of lifelong learning!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New SWEAT Group Training Room, Complimentary Childcare, and $99 Package Deals for New Members
Clifton Park, New York, June 1, 2019 — With new and exciting things on the horizon for Fitness Artist, Travis Gil and his team are ready to breathe new life into the company. On June 1st, Fitness Artist will be having a Grand Re-Opening celebration to inaugurate select services for Fitness Artist clients.
To kick off the ceremony, Fitness Artist will be hosting a free fitness class at 9:15 A.M. for all of those in attendance. In addition, expect an appearance by some of your favorite local vendors, topped off with free childcare for members of the 9:15 A.M. class and a $5 charge for non-members.
During the ceremony, there are three big additions to the Clifton Park location that will be highlighted: complimentary child care for all members, the new SWEAT group training room--which is being expanded by 4,000 square feet--and the 9 week, $99 introductory package bundle for new clients.
Come and join us for an amazing free workout and to learn more about the exciting things in store for Fitness Artist! For any questions you may have, please get in contact with a Fitness Artist team member today:
ABOUT FITNESS ARTIST:
Fitness Artist has been a staple of the Upstate New York area for nine years now. Our performance professionals not only have the credentials to guarantee a safe and effective workout, but they also have the personality to make it memorable. With locations in Clifton Park and Loudonville, we are not your run-of-the-mill operation. And because exclusivity and quality is important to us, we are always providing a fitness experience that offers a break from the typical, commercial gym experience.
To learn more about our Grand Re-Opening, business philosophy and quality-driven approach to your fitness goals, visit fitness-artist.com or call 518-497-5440 to get in touch today!
Doing things in an efficient way is important. None of us want to waste time on a task. As we pointed out in last month’s blog post, our time is extremely valuable!
But in this age of life-hacks and shortcuts, we often substitute hard work for convenience.
To further accentuate this point, Navy Seal and Ultra-Athlete David Goggins says this in his book Can’t Hurt Me:
As David stresses over and over in his book, the process and struggle of learning, failing, and spending time bettering yourself is much more important than any easy-button outcome. We should look to move beyond the life hack and instead embrace the challenges that come our way.
Sure, if you can do something quicker without sacrificing the quality of your work, then do so. Sometimes just focusing on a task deeply is all it takes to halve the completion time of a task. But for things like fitness, groundbreaking professional work, or even mastery of a skill, there is no such thing as a shortcut or life-hack that will make you instantaneously achieve your goals.
Yes, there are things you can speed up through deep focus, but sometimes you should remember that all good things take time. If you want to master more skills, learn more, be healthier, become a better person, and achieve more within your life, you need to move beyond the life-hack.
To master anything requires ample time. We need time to make mistakes, learn from them, alter our perception, smooth out the nuances of our craft, receive and integrate constructive feedback, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Robert Greene wrote a book on mastery. In it he says this about this about the subject:
This is eloquently put, and it accurately describes the spirit of our times. Because we expect so much in so little time, we rarely devote the time necessary to achieve a deep set of skills. But this does not mean that if we work on something 12 hours a day, we can shortcut our way towards mastery.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hours rule--that is, it takes about 10,000 hours of marketing, writing, playing basketball, or whatever, to truly master a skill. The science behind the concept is iffy, but assuming there is some truth to it, it really does takes a long time to get good at something. There is no program that can accelerate your learning and your success a hundredfold. There is only good, old-fashioned work combined with a lot of drive and focus. There are no considerable shortcuts to take!
This could be applied to not only artistry or professional work, but also fitness as well. So often the emphasis is placed on achieving a six pack in 6 weeks, or losing 50 pounds in a month via a juice cleanse.
What is lost by taking shortcuts is the discipline, the patience, the toughness, resolve, and skill that is required for successfully maintaining physical wellbeing.And it’s no mystery why so many diets and fitness fads never work.
When you look to find shortcuts for fitness and weight loss, you are skipping the grueling months of hard work. Without the discipline to keep the weight off, you will gain it back. Without the consistency and persistence of going to regular workouts, you will quickly lose interest. Think long term when it comes to fitness and achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Yes, deadlifting 600 pounds is an amazing goal to have, but getting constantly injured and losing progress because you are trying to leapfrog the required time for strength is a recipe for failure. Take your time! It’s funny if you think about it, but you actually save time if you take your time. This is contrasted with wasting time trying to take shortcuts. Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.
Finding a shortcut through town is one thing, but when it comes to your life and potential, there are no substitutions for the fundamentals of hard work.
Next time you are tempted to try the next fitness fad instead of doing what your personal trainer suggests, know that most diets and workouts are designed by marketers and not fitness professionals. Consider sticking to a tried-and-true fitness program crafted by a fitness pro.
Embrace failure and become a lifelong learner. Nothing will guarantee you skip the shortcuts more than becoming comfortable with failure. Likewise, the most effective learners are those who have failed more times than they can count but who still have the grit to push on.
Find a mentor. This means someone who can hold you accountable and make sure you are sticking to the program, so to speak. Don’t worry about being compensated, just know that the knowledge you gain is vital for your continued success.
Next time you are thinking about cutting a workout short or are about to sign off from working, just give it 10 more minutes. Sometimes that’s all you need to catch a second wind, other times that 10 minutes will feel like an eternity. Regardless, you can make a lot happen in those 10 minutes you normally would have just stopped altogether.
Practice these and keep the message of this blog post to heart. And remember, you are only short-changing yourself if you take shortcuts!
Time is Your Most Valuable Asset
Author H. Jackson Brown Jr. said that we all have the same amount of hours per day as Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Helen Keller had. And it’s true!
Our excuses for not having enough time are laughable when compared to individuals who have achieved an immense amount within the same parameters. Yet, it’s so easy to grow complacent and convince ourselves that we’re far too busy to achieve just as much as other individuals!
Most of the time, if we would just minimize our daily distractions, focus, turn off the email and social media for a few hours a day, and get to work, we would have more time than we knew what to do with.
Because time is your most precious resource, minimizing the ‘time-wasters’ in your life is absolutely essential.
Let’s look at some of the most prominent things we do that wastes our time.
Social media marketing is a great tool for growing your business, spreading your message, and growing a community around your vision. But spending too much time on your social media feeds can quickly become a problem.
I think we all subscribe to the sentiment that social media in excess is a waste of time. And yes, it can be an absolutely powerful tool for communication and connection, but so many of us wonder where our days go despite habits of checking our social media profiles a few times every hour.
Now don’t get me wrong, I too can get caught up scrolling through a news feed here and there. However, allowing social media to consume your life can be a tad bit overboard. In fact, most people don’t even know that they’re doing it!
If we tally up our daily time spent on social media, we might be shocked. This resource says that on average, 142 minutes a day is spent on social media sites.
Because it’s easy to fall victim to autopilot and the internet’s many clickable distractions, we have to limit ourselves from spending too much time online. Try unplugging for 24 hours. It can be quite invigorating, and I promise, you’re going to survive without it!
Forcing ourselves to not habitually check social media means that we have extra time to hit daily workouts. It also means we can spend time on those projects we never seem to have the energy for. And cultivating discipline towards time management contributes to productivity and less procrastination.
We need to approach our daily tasks with a focused mind. If not, we are bound to spend twice the amount of time on a task than necessary.
Instead of drifting through a workweek, we need to make every minute count. Instead of multitasking and taking our attention to a hundred different places in any given day, we can focus on 2-3 tasks instead.
Now, we all know the dangers of procrastination. As the information on that webpage shows, breaking down a task into smaller sections and putting aside interruptions is key for keeping ourselves focused on what we need to accomplish.
So, instead of avoiding work because it is difficult or makes us uncomfortable, we can learn to break down a formidable task into smaller sections and then force ourselves to finish, no matter what.
You can also try reverse engineering a task to save time. This means you can find the solution to your problem first, that you can determine from the outcome how to tackle a problem and figure out the process. Sometimes working backwards can save you a lot of time!
These strategies for saving time are not easy to practice though! It takes a lot of vigilance and self-accountability to make sure you are forcing yourself to focus. This is also where having team members, friends, mentors, family members, significant others, personal trainers, can keep you on track.
In that sense, consider setting up a system where the important people in your life are also keeping you accountable for the things you want to accomplish. There is strength in numbers!
Also, consider a “will do list”. It will help hold you accountable and at the end of the day when you review. And plus, it’s a great feeling to cross each individual item off your list!
Of course we are going to stress about the future. We are always going to be anxious about something. It’s perfectly normal to worry about finances or our health. It’s also just as normal to fixate on past mistakes as a sort of prophetic look into the future.
I used to have severe anxiety stressing over the future, and to this day, it is personally the hardest thing not to get caught up in. Always feeling like you’re not doing enough is a very common element of being an entrepreneur, so I have my hands full with that on a daily basis!
Not such a great way to spend your life though, when you think about it. Nor is it a productive use of time!
Again, we want to maximize the hours of our life. This means that when we go to bed, we get deep, restorative sleep. If we are up late into the night, worrying about the future and unable to relax, then your work will suffer. This will then start a vicious cycle!
So, this doesn’t mean that we should just wish away our worries. That too is a waste of time!
The point is to actively pay attention to the time you spend worrying. Often time all you need to do is ask yourself: “Am I really being productive right now? Am I wasting precious time I’ll never get back?”
When considering our anxieties about the future, we need to look no further than the padre of positive thinking, Napoleon Hill. In his famous book, Think and Grow Rich, Hill points out this brilliant insight:
This idea is alarming when applied to our worries about the future. It is not only a waste of time, but it is also harmful because our thoughts have the power to dictate the way we perceive and interact with the world.
Minimize this worry means we have more time to use to enrich our lives, and to learn to positively perceive the world (and even teach others to do the same!).
Easier said than done for those with severe anxiety of course! But if you can help it, quit wasting your time by worrying about the future!
Very briefly, when considering our fixations on the past, you need to remember there really is no point crying over spilt milk. No matter how commonplace that sounds, it is essential for maximizing the amount of time you have at your disposal.
If worrying about the future does not make sense after you have analyzed all the time you spend doing so, then by extension, why would regretting the past do any good as well?
Instead, of worrying and wasting our time fragmenting our attention in a thousand different places every day, let’s see what we can do with the time we have NOW, in the present moment, fully focused and ready to take the world by storm...in a good way of course!
We should follow these steps to ensure our time is being used to its maximum potential:
Track and then limit your social media usage every day. If you are using it to boost your influence, to market, or as a means for social outreach, then yes, you should spend a little time every day on each platform. But the next time you reach the end of your day wondering where the time went, look to social media first.
Recruit accountability partners. Whomever you decide to recruit, make sure they are holding you accountable to your weekly goals. This takes a bit of honesty and courage to openly admit to others the areas that you get distracted, but with their help, and your own rock solid resolve, you’d be surprised how much time you really have every day.
Keep focused and stay the course. The next time you are tempted to split up a task into a multiple day endeavor, see if you can actually finish it within one. Don’t underestimate your ability to get ‘in the zone’ and do some really good work in one attempt. This saves up a lot of time where you have to work yourself into a state of focus throughout a multiple-day timeframe.
Try to focus on the present moment. Worrying about the future and fixating on the past is inevitable. But to actively seek to minimize the time we spend in those states is a always a good use of energy. To be sure, where we can do the most good is in the present moment, where we can look to become as engaged as possible.
Don’t waste time complaining! You might have falling into the habit of complaining about every little thing that comes your way. This a form of avoidance. Instead, actively fixing the problems that come your way is much more productive than passively complaining about them.
Plan accordingly and practice self-reflection: If you find yourself not getting as much done as you want during the day, spending the time to self-reflect on your day and measure the effectiveness of how you spent your time is essential for saving time.
So, with this information at your fingertips, the choice is yours to invest your time wisely!
Sometimes in our culture, positivity gets a bad rap. Somewhere along the way we started equating positivity with naiveté, as if the only way to be perceived as intelligent, experienced, or successful, is to be a cynical or pessimistic person.
Here’s the thing though: That type of thinking is complete nonsense!
In fact, success and happiness are not mutually exclusive. What if I told you that positivity could be the wellspring from which all of your strength lies. That despite modern perceptions of positivity, it is actually far more likely you’ll get ahead if you cultivate optimistic habits in your life.
So you can either let someone else tell you the type of story you need to write for yourself--from a place of cynicism and negativity--or you can draw from the words of author Ryan Holiday when he says:
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”
In this way, we can choose frame our decisions, outlook, and overall disposition from a place of positivity. It is wholeheartedly our choice!
Now, it is a fact that human beings have learned to looked at the world through negativity biases for millenia now. And this tendency towards negativity has a lot to do with the anatomy of our brains--which will process a negative input much quicker than a positive one due to the part of the brain called the amygdala (that famous fight-or-flight area).
But if we know that we’re hard-wired to be negative, we can fight against it.
The more we know this fact about ourselves and pay attention to our tendency towards negativity, the more we can stop and deliberately work to turn our thoughts positive.
As is suggested by the best-selling book The Secret, there’s a lot of good that can come from actively focusing your thoughts on a positive outcome, instead of dwelling on the negatives that occur.
“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change!” - Rhonda Byrne (The Secret)
Instead of letting the negatives take over your brain and override your decision-making process, confidence, and ambitions, you can drastically improve the quality of your life by balancing the negatives with the far more powerful positives!
If we let our natural tendency towards negativity take over our brains, we run the risk of never really striving for greater things.
Embarrassment is a negative emotion; failure has very negative connotations that can prevent us from even trying in the first place; fear is a very negative sensation. The list goes on!
When considering how negativity prevents us from knowing our full potential, there’s an apt quote to remember:
“Someone once told me the definition of hell; on your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”
Because we are often chronically self-critical and many of us suffer from impostor syndrome, we all run the risk of continually meeting the person we could have become in life. We need to prevent this from happening by actively cultivating positivity in our professional and personal lives.
Here are a few simple tips for doing so.
To truly practice positivity in your life, there are many things you can do. Some of the most crucial are the following:
1. Frame negative emotions like fear, failure, embarrassment, and stress, in a positive way. This means that if we are afraid about a particular life decision, it’s more than likely just our brain activating its self-defense system. That’s all. Remember that if you are nervous, it just means that you care. So, if you can learn to welcome uncomfortable feelings as a necessary step towards succeeding, than you will ultimately be a much more positive person.
2. Acknowledge and recognize others. There’s nothing like a little gratitude and praise to help your team members, friends, or spouse, feel a positive emotion. And through this habit you can start to experience life in a much more positive light because. Focus on the positives and you’ll become positive.
3. Remember the words of Napoleon Hill: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Your failures do not define you but are actually blessings in disguise.
4. Don’t let others bring you down. By standing on guard and choosing to be positive, even when everyone surrounding you is not, you are actively expressing a desire for positivity. Often times you can lead by example, and those around you will look to you for leadership and guidance.
With all of this said, you don’t have to embrace negativity to be a successful person. You don’t have to substitute being nice with working hard. And you can have a positive outlook on life and be wildly more successful than those who don’t care for others’ wellbeing.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The Reality of Impostor Syndrome: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-women/201809/the-reality-imposter-syndrome
Are You Afraid of Success?
A fear of success might sound counterintuitive, but it’s very common, and it doesn’t have to consume your life.
It’s simple. A lot of us are qualified, capable, and driven enough to keep learning and furthering our skills, but a fear of the unknown paralyzes us whenever opportunities present themselves.
Maybe your reasons for not starting a business or pursuing a career path that interests you are completely justified though.
It could be that you have worked really hard at striking a healthy balance between work and time with family, and a new position threatens to take that away from you.
Or maybe you are just unsure of the next move to make. That’s pretty normal after all.
This is where you need to be really honest with yourself and ask the hard questions like:
Is my decision not to pursue my passion in [insert job title here] the result of fear in one of its many forms?
Am I willing to be miserable in the known versus momentarily terrified in the unknown?
Am I afraid that this position will show me how little I actually know about my profession?
Am I afraid of working hard? I mean, to be successful one has to work hard after all.
The point is this: be extremely honest with yourself and ask the questions that you need to ask to break yourself out of self-deception mode.
Oh yeah, and one more thing...quit trying to control what you can’t control, already!
Don’t Stress About What You Can’t Control
First of all, let’s assume your passion in life is something that you can’t really control. You have interests and passions that were cultivated by myriad genetic and environmental factors, and you couldn’t turn those interests off if you wanted to (why would you want to!?)
In that sense, why fight them? Why purposefully move away from what you love to do? Why not follow that stream and see where it takes you?
Yes, financial reasons. Yes, circumstances and responsibilities and family and friends...those are all extremely valid things to consider.
But let’s say you have decided you’re miserable where you’re at. You are financially stable enough and ready to move. Yet you are too terrified to surrender to the unknown because it makes you uncomfortable...it’s something that you can’t control.
My advice is to let yourself relinquish control. Stop trying to have a neat explanation and answer to every little outcome and just follow your passion. Use your passion as an example, a guiding light that you can lean on whenever you’re terrified and life throws obstacles your way.
Once you’re ready and have the means, there’s no excuse. It takes practice and courage on a continual basis, but you’ll eventually get comfortable with not being in control.
Beating Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is that voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough for a promotion or position. Or that at any moment someone is going to stand up at a meeting and point to you, loudly proclaiming that you have been pretending to work since day one and that you don’t belong with the organization.
Paradoxically, it is often the smartest, most talented people who suffer from impostor syndrome.
This doesn’t meant that you aren’t capable or talented if you don’t suffer from impostor syndrome though! Chances are you have learned the self-confidence and perspective needed to quiet the harmful inner-monologue that often runs rampant with negativity.
But for those who are still having a hard time quieting the self-doubt, just recognize it and understand that you hold yourself to a very high standard. This makes you better at your job but also means you are harsh towards yourself.
Keep the intensity that makes you such a hard worker, but at the same time, go easy on yourself and trust that you’re qualified to do what you do. A lot of people are faking it until they make it anyways! Cut yourself some slack.
And speaking of hard work. You really do need to work hard to be successful. And if the prospect of working intensely scares you, that is a very real reason why you are afraid to succeed. Because success often equates to hard work.
Hard Work: Get Used to It!
Yes, even your favorite activity in the world will feel like work. That quote about finding what you love to do and never working a day in your life is a nice sentiment, but not quite correct.
And that’s completely fine!
But telling yourself that one day you’ll find the time to get around to writing that novel or owning your own business is just you avoiding what you could have already started yesterday (most likely at least!).
Most people are just afraid of working hard. Don't’ be that person!
When it comes to your future, you need to invest the time and effort into it, whenever you have the free time to give (which is more often than you might be aware).
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