Even Lance Armstrong gives up
A couple weeks ago there was a piece in the paper about mental toughness and how certain endurance athletes can mentally push their bodies to extreme physical limits. This got me thinking - how can we improve mental toughness?
The people in this world who we think of as ‘mentally tough’ seem to have the ability to hold on for longer periods than most. Lance Armstrong for example, is considered to be one of the best cyclist of all time and is known as being mentally strong. But while he was mentally tough he would have ‘given up’ plenty of times in his career. We all give up, it’s just that some people can hold off on ‘giving up’ for longer. One of the reasons Lance won so many races was he held on to a high level of intensity for just a little bit longer than his competition.
So what about you? Can you improve your mental toughness? Well the good news is you can. A good way to start improving is to learn to put targets in front of yourself in your everyday life. For example let’s say you drink way too much coffee, perhaps around 8 cups a day, and you know you want to reduce this. First you need to set a target and time frame, for example you could aim to have just 6 cups a day for the next week. The good thing about this target and time frame is that it isn’t unrealistic, while it could be a challenge you do think it is possible.
Over the next week there will be times where you will want those extra cups of coffee but as you learn to resist them you are learning a new level of mental toughness. Make sure you mentally reward the behavior you use when you resist those extra cups, this way you will be learning the behavior patterns that create success and mental growth. Once you have completed this week you will have made a small improvement in mental toughness. Now it’s time to reset your target and timeframe.
Think about how you can add this tool into different areas of your lifestyle. Over time you will become mentally stronger which will open up possibilities that you would have never thought would happen. Who knows where this will take you?