Mental Toughness

Mental toughness seems to be a buzz word lately. One that is teetering on the brink of the next fitness fad. However, mental toughness is something we all need to develop to a certain extent.

Developing mental toughness, or SISU as its called in the north does not have to be a complicated process. You don’t need to buy a fancy product or read every book on the subject (but reading will surely help).

All you need to do in order to develop mental toughness is; do the crappy stuff you don’t always want to do.

One way I practice mental toughness is by sticking to my to-do list. Every night I make a note of several things I want to accomplish in the following day. Every Sunday night, I also make a habit to write out several things I want to accomplish for the upcoming week. My daily to-do list is a micro-reflection of my weekly to-do list.

For example, if I want to ride a total of 70 miles this week, I know I need to ride an average of 10 miles per day. If I want to write 5000 words this week then I better be doing it throughout the week, otherwise, I will be trying to cram 4500 words in on Sunday. No fun. Sundays are typically my off day in which I spend uninterpreted time with my family. The last thing I want to do, or will do is spend my Sunday spinning away miles or blazing the keyboard.

So if I don’t stick to my daily plan and finish my to-do list by Saturday, then I probably haven’t reached my goal. Do I always reach all my goals on daily and weekly my to-do list?  No, but I usually get pretty close. There is always room for improvement.

What does this have to do with mental toughness? Glad you asked.

Following through with what I tell myself I am going to do is a great way to build habits. Habits and discipline are what gets results. Good habits and discipline need mental toughness.

If I tell myself I am going to Jiu-Jitsu twice next week and the only classes I can make are Tue and Thursday then I pretty make damn sure I make those classes. Otherwise, I let me myself down by failing to uphold a promise I made to myself.

Do I always want to do the things on my list? Not at all. So many days go back where I just plan do not want to get out of bed and drag myself to the gym. There are days the last thing I feel like doing is staring at my wall while I churn away miles on my bike trainer, or saddle up and ride the snow trails in negative windchill weather.

You know what though? I do it anyways. You don’t have to be great every day, but you have to give it or all to be great. We are all part of a statistical grouping, make a conscious effort to chose your grouping. Don’t simply fall in with the mediocre.


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