So how do successful people get through those crazy days?
It all starts with waking up mentally tough. Skills can only take you so far without the grit, determination, and willpower to tackle anything life throws at you.
Thankfully, there are some pretty simple techniques that everyone from Navy SEALs to US Olympians use to stay mentally strong. Start adopting these powerful habits in the morning to become just as mentally resilient:
1. They Practice Positive Self-Talk
Studies estimate that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute. That’s why none other than the US Navy SEALs swear by positive self-talk as a way to take on a strenuous day.
When their oxygen flow is suddenly cut off underwater, SEALs are able to tough it out by telling themselves that everything is fine and thinking positively. So, you can probably also use this tip to get through a day at the office.
To start, tell yourself how great your day is going to be as you’re riding the subway or driving down the freeway. If you start encountering a rough morning, go outside for a few minutes and repeat some more positive affirmations to yourself.
2. They Visualize Tackling Tasks
Champion US Olympians use visualization as an effective way to stay tough when they’re running a marathon or endlessly swimming.
Rather than just picturing themselves at the finish line, they visualize themselves going through the motions of the race. It’s a scientifically proven way to boost your mental willpower—whether you’re jumping over a hurdle or filing paperwork.
By imagining how you’ll get through a task in the morning, you’ll not only give yourself the self-confidence to do it, you’ll also come up with unexpected solutions along the way.
3. They Work on Their Hardest Tasks First
One thing mentally tough people understand is the discipline of working on their biggest or most undesirable task at the start of the workday. Studies show that motivation and willpower is a finite resource that dwindles throughout the day, so frying your biggest fish first ensures you’ll have the energy to complete the task at hand. Plus, everything that comes after that will feel like a piece of cake.
Pro tip: Don’t let your mornings get bogged down with answering a ton of email. Answer high-priority messages first, but save low-priority emails for later in the day after you’ve completed important projects.
4. They Don’t Give Up Their Power
How many times have you thought something along the lines of “my mother-in-law drives me crazy”?
TED Talk star and motivation expert Amy Morin says thinking like this “gives away your power.” Instead of thinking that your in-law is driving you mad (or that your workday is stressful), Morin recommends a powerful alternative: knowing “your world is what you make it.”
Rather than believing you have to get up early and head to a stressful job, start thinking about it as an opportunity to change your success and have an impact on the world. By believing you’re in control, you’ll start to be in control.
5. They Avoid Comparisons (and Twitter)
If your morning routine involves checking Facebook or scrolling through Instagram, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Amy Morin also spoke about how seeing her “perfect” friends on Facebook in the AM dragged down her whole day. Quite simply, you’re seeing someone’s highlight reel, not his or her life story, so it will do nothing but make you feel inferior if you feel the need to keep up.
As she wisely put it, “The only person you should compare yourself to is the person that you were yesterday.” Social media aside, only focusing on your own self-improvement is an excellent way to start the day off strong.
6. They Exercise and Prioritize Their Health
It’s proven that being physically strong is an integral part of being mentally strong. Doing aerobic exercises has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and have other amazing benefits. It’s no wonder that ultra-successful people channel that energy into exercise before they go to work in the morning.
And of course, there’s no bigger advocate of exercising and eating right than Michelle Obama, who in an interview with Oprah, said, “If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”
As a busy employee, life can get crazy, but putting a little extra time into having a good meal and taking care of your body is an investment that will pay off tenfold.
7. They Connect With Loved Ones Before Work
Being an effective executive doesn’t mean sacrificing everything for your job. Even the busiest people in the world know that a part of staying mentally tough means cultivating a meaningful life for yourself outside of work.
Whether it’s a friend or family member, connecting with someone important to you at the start of your day helps maintain healthy relationships, and it can also give your day perspective while keeping your spirits up as you work.