7 tests of mental toughness every person should attempt AT LEAST once
Life is challenging.
It doesn't matter If you are poor, rich, beautiful, ugly, strong, etc.
There is always going to be another challenge ahead. Ultimately, our mental toughness will be a deciding factor in whether we come out victorious or fail miserably.
Our mind, like a muscle, can be exercised and toughened. Forged by fire to endure challenges we never thought we could achieve, If we so choose to push its limits.
There is a famous phrase:
"A diamond is a chunk of coal that did really well under pressure."
The same could be said of a mentally tough individual. They more than likely felt the same discomfort you did. Those individuals, however, chose to embrace and push through the pain.
In today's article, I want to talk about different challenges that will push your mind out of its comfort zone (As well as your body, intelligence, etc.)
I have tried them all and beyond the hard skills many of those challenges gave me, the amount of mental toughness and discipline I gained is priceless.
Let's get started:
1. Maxing out fitness
(DISCLAIMER: I am not a certified trainer, exercise at your own risk.)
Anyone who has played sports competitively or been involved in the fitness world can attest to the temporary pain that comes with training to reach peak performance.
YOU ARE PUSHING YOUR BODY TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS:
-Those 7 seconds you shave off your 2-mile PR
-Those extra 2 reps you added to your sets
-That last additional push-up
They all require you to take absolute mental command over your body, ignoring the discomfort at the moment. Sure enough, next time you try it seems easier. THAT PERFORMANCE LEVEL BECOMES YOUR NEW NORMAL. Then, you can push the envelope even further.
For the purpose of this article, this can apply to any exercise you can perform safely (cardio, weightlifting, sport-specific training, yoga, etc.) As long as it pushes you and you can challenge yourself, it's fair game.
2. Go into an unknown place by yourself
Many of us remember that nerve-wracking feeling of being "the new kid in the block". I remember vividly how intimidating it was moving from my comfortable life in Mexico at 11 to the US, knowing no one.
I was exposed and out of my comfort zone, because, IN THIS NEW ENVIRONMENT I HAD NO COMFORT ZONE TO RUN BACK TO. Eventually, I made friends, learned the language and became assimilated to the culture.
Now it doesn't have to be as drastic as this. It could be something as simple as traveling somewhere new, ALONE. Even just going to a new bar, new city, new circle, etc. The key part here is to put yourself in a situation where you can't hide behind your network, your influence, your friends or anyone else.
3. Quit "that habit" for a month
We all have "that one habit" that we KNOW is holding us back, however, we seem to push off getting rid of it.
It could be anything:
The truth is that getting rid of many habits that fall into the realm of addictions involves a process that is WAY above my expertise (Not a licensed counselor.)
Having said that, many times, the habit is not fully matured and can be eliminated or contained, within reason BEFORE it becomes an addiction. Think about when you are in college drinking 5x week, you are not an alcoholic necessarily, but you are setting course down a path you DO NOT want to go down.
One simple way to regain control over yourself is to give it up COMPLETELY for a month at least. It will be very challenging at first, but as you gather momentum, it will gradually become easier. At the end of the month, you may decide to quit that habit PERMANENTLY, or at the very least, you will have the mental clarity to create STRICT boundaries for activities that can be done in moderation. (ex. Decide you won't drink more than 2x week.)
Besides the tangible improvements to your quality of life, the empowered feeling of controlling your mind, rather than your mind controlling you, will make the initial pain worth it.
4. Work an 80+ hr week
Most people are anxious to get home whenever the clock strikes 5 P.M. at the office, forgetting about work over the weekend. However, one thing that separates the men from the boys in the professional world is the mental resiliency to outwork the competition.
Very few people WANT to work more than the bare minimum, which is why working TWICE, or more than the "bare minimum" has become a rite of passage for many on their journey to the top. I encourage you to find goals you care about and put in THAT level of commitment, even If just once to prove yourself you are capable of doing it.
Mind you, this isn't permanent, IDEALLY, you will become more efficient, you will have money to outsource some tasks, and you will GRADUALLY be able to earn MORE in an efficient manner with even LESS effort at times.
However, there is no escaping the initial learning curve, which I encourage you to undertake. You will be surprised how far you can outwork your logical mind.
5. Join a team where EVERYONE is better than you and rise up
Playing king of the hill is the most comfortable way to let any potential talent rot. You may be "the best" in that group, but you are not exploiting your FULL potential. Where's the glory in that?
If you REALLY want to reach and push your true potential, you need to be somewhere where you are FORCED to be at your peak, EVERYDAY, and STILL, FACE DEFEAT MANY TIMES. It will be heartbreaking, as you can expect.
However, that heartbreak is merely part of the growth process. Once you gradually start climbing up the ladder, it will pay off.
You may NEVER become the best.
You may never EVEN BE A CONTENDER.
However, you can be sure as hell that you will be SIGNIFICANTLY better than what you started with. Not to mention, that THE FEAR OF DEFEAT WILL LOSE ITS STING FROM FACING IT SO OFTEN. You will operate from a hunter approach as opposed to a fear mentality.
For instance, when I was in 9th grade, I failed to make the JV soccer team. Frustrated, I practiced daily and played in different rec leagues with older kids (Kids from the varsity team and many college guys.) Initially, I was clearly overpowered. However, as time went on, I wasn't afraid of taking hits, I knew that was part of the game, and I adapted my strategy around it.
Needless to say, I made the soccer team next year and eventually made it into a college roster.
Soccer may not be your thing, but I am sure there is an area WHERE YOU WANT TO BE THE BEST.
If you want to be the best, you will have to OUTPERFORM THE BEST.
Your mind will need to have the toughness to process those initial HEAVY losses.
6. (Where it makes sense.) Be the contrarian of a group
I will agree that the people who hate on things merely because they are popular and mainstream are obnoxious. I personally find no glory in being a rebel WITHOUT a cause. Often it's nothing more than throwing a tantrum without offering a solution.
Having said that, there is a LOT of merit for those who have the MENTAL CONVICTION to stand up against something that is commonly accepted, risking political consequences in the process. Provided you are able to objectively back up your position, you stand to create change for the better of society as a whole.
Galileo stood up to mainstream beliefs (and Church authorities.), standing by the FACTS he was presenting. Although he faced strong opposition and was punished heavily, his work changed science for CENTURIES to come.
Now, that is an extreme example. You don't have to risk your life to be a contrarian, all you merely have to do is have the conviction to stand up AGAINST something that is accepted as a fact. You will be surprised at how relieved you will feel knowing you can speak your truth, rather than mimic a lie.
7. Put SOMETHING on the line for goals you have been neglecting
This could apply to ANY of the goals listed above. According to Forbes, ONLY 8% of people complete New Year resolutions. This isn't a surprising statistic. From the get-go, there is the underlying assumption that completion is not necessarily expected. Not to mention that as we see our peers fall short, IT BECOMES EASIER TO JUSTIFY OUR EVENTUAL FAILURE.
Do you want to increase your chance of joining that ELITE 8%?
PUT SOMETHING ON THE LINE.
The best example I can think of is MONEY. You obviously don't want to bankrupt yourself, but you should find an amount that HURTS.
For example, If your goal is to go to the gym and lose x amount of fat, then the process is simple:
1. Find someone you trust with your money.
2. Give them $1,200 (More If you are wealthy, less If you are struggling.)
3. You have to send them proof you kept up with your workouts.
4. Every month you keep, you get $100 back, every month you fall short, they pocket it.
The concept behind this is simple:
We are naturally wired to FEAR loss: Getting an F in school, LOSING money, getting fired, etc.
USE THAT NATURAL FEAR IN YOUR FAVOR.
Fear produces more aggressive results than hope. Not to mention that by taking those steps, something else happens deep inside your mind:
YOU LEARN TO OPERATE IN HIGH STAKES SITUATIONS.
That ability to operate in clutch moments is the pinnacle of mental strength.
There are MANY challenges you can attempt to push your mind past its current limits. The possibilities are endless.
If you noticed, the theme centered around taking a fearless approach towards your goals and not letting the fear of failure or instant gratification get in the way.
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