Fitness, that is! In the professional world, we spend a lot of effort trying to look good. This ‘looking good’ can happen by dressing, demeanor, dialogue or documentation (the last one is also part of how you are judged). All of this looking good business can leave you tired and chasing the wrong habits. There are coping mechanisms to retain your sanity and stay mentally fit.
You may seek solace at the gym. Exercise not only improves physical fitness but also releases endorphins, which make you feel good. But the physical workout doesn’t necessarily make you mentally fit for professional success, healthy relationships and your financial independence (FI).
You need to work out a way to become and stay mentally fit. Even if you have achieved FI and are planning to retire early, a good mental fitness regimen is very important. I am not talking about solving a nonlinear equation, sudoku puzzles or working out what 10! is mentally, though such math skills can always be put to use. The type of mental fitness I am referring to is much more ‘wholistic’ than just mental math. Here are the things I have observed mentally strong people have or do. If practiced well, they can make your mental fitness comparable to Usain Bolt on the physical side. Come on, build those cerebral pecks!
What Mentally Strong People Do
- They think productively (focus on results)
- They expend their mental energy wisely (don’t indulge in negative emotions)
- They evaluate their core beliefs (question all ideologies for their relevance to your growth)
- They have staying power (mental stamina to handle a crisis at 9 PM after a long, hard day)
- They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits (expect no handouts)
- They enjoy their time alone (solitude is best for self-reflection)
- They are willing to fail (know failure is part of the process)
- They reflect on their progress (remember through who and how they got here)
- They tolerate discomfort (understand no pain, no gain)
- They move on (dwelling on the past is a negative emotion)
- They keep control (of themselves no matter what the outside world throws at them)
- They embrace change (because that’s the only constant in life)
- They stay happy (happiness is always internal)
- They are kind (byproduct of true happiness)
- They are willing to take calculated risks (see why)
- They invest their energy in the present (that is the only way to make the future brighter)
- They accept full responsibility for their past behavior (no excuses, learn from mistakes)
- They celebrate other people’s success (rejoice in the progress of your friends, family and colleagues)
Do you like this list? Here’s a handy summary chart you can download and keep it pinned to your cubicle or in your home.
Remember the guy I mentioned in the 1%er article? He has mastered most of these mental fitness skills that I got to see first hand during my experience. He doesn’t call any of these mental strength areas as skills, but calls them simply as mental conditioning. To stay fit with this conditioning, he occasionally subjects himself to endurance tests, such as skipping a meal voluntarily and seeing how long can he work normally that day before feeling fatigued (hunger tolerance). Our bodies listen to our mind so mental conditioning is critical even for physical endurance. I have tried this as well but feel famished well before dinner time so I end up snacking. 😄
You don’t have to start with everything in this list. Start with the first 3. Keep working on these for a month till that becomes second nature to you. Then, take on the next 3 and make that part of your life. Within 6 months, you would’ve internalized all the 18 points above. Even if you focused on a few and mastered them, you will become far stronger mentally than where you are today. This is how I used to psych myself during my difficult days and it has made a big difference for me. Hope they do for you.
How do you stay mentally fit? How many of these do you follow and how has it helped you in your journey? Please share in the comments below.
Raman Venkatesh is the founder of Ten Factorial Rocks. Raman is a ‘Gen X’ corporate executive in his mid 40’s. In addition to having a Ph.D. in engineering, he has worked in almost all continents of the world. Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) was created to chronicle his journey towards retirement while sharing his views on the absurdities and pitfalls along the way. The name was taken from the mathematical function 10! (ten factorial) which is equal to 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 3,628,800.