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How to Mentally Prepare

Recently while discussing Aldo Canada corporate culture with my brother-in-law Clayton, we got onto the topic of mental toughness. Clayton, a hockey and football player and young rising star within Aldo, mentioned that there seems to be a different mental toughness required for each aspect of his life.

For me, the mental game changes depending on the role I assume. If I’m rock climbing, mentally I’m playing a different game than when I’m snowboarding or when I’m preaching on a Sunday morning. While training for this trip, I’ve found that physically I can go much much further and faster than my mind can. I shut down mentally before I shut down physically. Clayton says it this way:

Generally when I think of mental toughness I only think of it as how it relates to athletes. We generally just think of the mental toughness as it relates to athletes in professional sports when in reality it applies to much, much more than that. When I really start to delve deeper into what mental toughness really is, I realize that this state of mind really encompasses everything we do in life. The first thing I do in the morning is slam the snooze button back down, but five minutes later I’m up and getting started. This requires a certain level of mental toughness to be able to fight back the natural desire to continue sleeping. I think mental toughness is about not succumbing to the easy choices, and taking the necessary steps to succeed in whatever it is we hope to accomplish. It involves going against the grain of doing what is natural for us.

How on point is your mental game? Here are a few suggestions how to toughen up:

  • Have a clear picture of the future, the end goal, or prize.
  • Surround yourself with disciplined people who won’t put up with laziness, lack of vision, or sloppy work.
  • Think creatively about your strategy, how-to, or system. Whether it is sports, business, family, church, getting out of debt, or whatever – make a plan and work it.
  • Leave space in your life to adapt to change, surprise, and the unexpected.
  • Be cautious of the easy choices.
  • Turn off Twitter, Facebook, your smart phone, and your TV.
  • Remember, amateurs quit or only clock-in when they’re feeling inspired. Pro’s show up every day, good or bad, and just keep going.

What things do you do to toughen up or prepare mentally?

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5 Responses to “How to Mentally Prepare”

  1. This is really good and applies to what I do with coaching people to transform their health. I think the part of surrounding yourself with other people is key because you can be as mentally tough as you want but there are going to be days when you don’t have it in you and you need someone else to slap you around a bit. You can tell yourself that winners don’t quit but at some point it only works when it comes from someone else.

    And then there are those who, even with someone beside them coaching them along, still can’t do it. I wonder what makes someone able to be mentally tough while others just can’t seem to get there?

    April 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm Reply
    • For me, I do a lot of individual sports: rock climbing, snowboarding, cycling, etc. and I’ve never had a coach. What has pushed me wasn’t the coach cheering me on or giving me great advice, rather, it has always been:
      1. Being inspired by other athletes I train with
      2. Setting impossible goals and dates to complete them by (i.e. we’re going to climb this mountain before the glacier is too dangerous to pass, or we’re going to cycle this distance on that weekend, or I want to climb this grade by that roadtrip, etc.)
      3. Passion for what we’re doing.

      I do think, however, that if I was actually coached in any of my disciplines, I would be a far superior climber/snowboarder than I am. That’s probably where I lack discipline, actually, following the direction of a coach.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:18 am Reply
      • As far as being coached goes, there are some people that can pull it off by themselves. You are clearly a strong willed person, so am I. But I agree, my will can only take me so far to where I believe that I have reached my potential.

        Like Sam said, even if it’s your brother or even what you said with other climbers, someone cheering you on reminding you that you are far greater than you believe you are becomes vital at a certain point. That’s been my experience anyways.

        April 15, 2011 at 8:48 am Reply
  2. Mental toughness for me stems from childhood.. For as long as I can remember my older siblings were always getting me to try harder, run faster and never quit.. I would never hear the end of it if I gave up any thing or didn’t win the event I was in.. still today as an adult, any event I’m in or climb I’m doing I can hear my big brother pushing me and telling me I can do it…. “you are always 100% stronger than you think you are, mentally and physically…”

    April 13, 2011 at 6:49 am Reply
  3. So true man…I really wonder how different the world would be if people just didn’t check in and check out…but rather had a vision and a passion for something and went for it! How many times have you met someone who hates what they are doing yet continues to do it for 30 years…what kind of life is that…there is always that ONE (I know there are more) thing that will make us happy, feel fulfilled, have purpose. The fun thing is there is that one thing in the 3 parts of our life, mental, physical and spiritual, and many times they’re all not the same one thing…

    Does any of that make sense…?

    Mental : Enjoying What you do
    Physical : I say this is a hobby or something you do to relax and get away from the mental as weird as that sounds
    Spiritual : There is void in all of us waiting to be filled…probably the most significant to your physical and mental state…

    April 13, 2011 at 9:16 am Reply

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