When we see professional athletes, we tend to admire them for their well-built muscles and great strength. However, there is much more to an athlete than the physical. An athlete must not just be physically strong; he must be mentally resilient as well. Mental toughness is a crucial ingredient for successful athletic training; in fact, nearly every athlete receives mental preparation from his/ her coach before a competition. If you are an athlete looking to improve your performance (or just someone looking to toughen themselves up from within), here are some key tips to help you build up your mental strength.
1. Be consistent
A key to building resilience of any kind is to be consistent in your work, and this is much easier said than done. To be consistent, conscious effort must be made to meet your goals everyday, regardless of the obstacles which pop up and whatever failures you encounter. This can be a very challenging task but the rewards reaped are definitely worth the effort. Consistency takes practise, and with time it will become ingrained into your work ethic.
2. Be realistic
To maintain consistency in your routine, it is important to ensure that the goals which you have set are realistic. Setting overly-ambitious goals might cause you to burn out easily and to lose motivation. On the other hand, however, setting overly-low standards will not bring you far and fill you with a fall sense of achievement and confidence. It is thus essential to find that “sweet spot” for yourself through trial and error. You want your goals to be challenging enough to scare you, but not to the point where it scares you OFF.
3. Be patient
When you first start hitting the gym for example, you might not notice any immediate or big difference. This is not surprising at all; real results take time to manifest. We understand that this can be demotivating at the start, causing many to quit at an early stage and to never see results. However, once you get past this stage, you can look forward to savouring a sense of accomplishment. Learn to love and trust in the process and don't compare you progress to that of others. Everyone moves at their own pace and as long as you're consistently moving forward, things will work out in the end.
4. Be reaffirming
Last but not least, it is important to have the right attitude and mindset before starting on your journey. With the right attitude and self-confidence, half the battle is already won. When things get tough and you feel like giving up, remember to encourage yourself by giving yourself positive re-affirmation. Although this practice sounds relatively simple, it is often overlooked and its power is often underestimated. Remind yourself that you're worth the effort and that whatever troubles you are facing are all transient, and will not deter you from your path. Having the confidence and self-love to believe in yourself is immensely empowering. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
Just like building up physical strength, building mental resilience requires a significant amount of hard work, patience and practice. It is not an inherent trait and neither does it come naturally, even if some appear pre-disposed with it. The process of building mental resilience is definitely not easy, but it is the hallmark of successful individuals everywhere. You too can have a taste of that if you're willing to put in the time and effort!