Mental Toughness - your power to succeed
Your financial success will require mental toughness. Without it, you'll likely not succeed.
I'm not talking about just being stubborn, but rather being capable of sticking with something until you reach success.
When you make a plan for frugal living and wise money management, your "tough" mental attitude is a lot about not giving up - even when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and your future seems bleak.
In your quest to pay off debt and achieve financial freedom, you'll have to do many things that are undesirable. You'll probably have to do things that aren't fun. You might even be in situations that are humiliating.
You'll need "stick-to-ativeness" to make it happen. You'll need to be tenacious. You'll need know that failure, going back, giving up, slacking off or escaping the situation aren't options for success.
You'll likely be living frugal now, and your frugal lifestyle will require some compromises and hard work. It's all worth it as you try to improve your financial decision making.
To be successful, you'll have to call upon your own sense of mental toughness to help see you through.
I first learned about mental toughness in my freshman year at high school. My track coach told us to keep running even when our sides hurt or we thought we were out of strength. He told us that our mind could overcome the pain, and we could keep pushing on through - he was absolutely right.
He called it "mental toughness" and it's well named, because our mind is key to just about everything we do.
Since that time, I've used the concept of mental toughness to endure many things that otherwise could have be crippling or discouraging. I've used it to get through tough times with success. Let me give you some examples:
- Once on a business trip to San Antonio, my left knee hurt so bad that I was limping through the entire conference, and I had to give training and presentations that week. Apparently my life on two wheels was getting to me. Getting on and off my motorcycles had put stress on my left leg and knee, and it was telling me about it - loud and clear.
I had ridden 1,300 miles to the conference, so when it came time for the conference to end, I knew that I had to get back on the touring bike to head home. One of the attendees asked me what I was going to do about my leg. I simply responded: "I'm taking it with me."
That was all there was to it. I made up my mind that the pain in my leg wasn't going to stop me. And, it didn't. I made 880 miles that afternoon and evening before I stopped for a motel.
- Parts of my career as a consultant were very challenging. I remember once being "ripped a new one" by the president of my company. He gave me a tongue lashing and direct orders in a telephone conference with many other program managers.
After the phone call, one of the managers called to console me as he expected me to be "licking my wounds". Much to his surprise, I told him that I didn't feel wounded at all. I explained to him that I had no respect for the president so his remarks bounced off of me like light rain off of an umbrella.
- I've represented myself in court a couple of times. Once in a civil case and once in a bankruptcy case. Both were opportunities to retreat, but instead I charged forward in my own best interest and was successful.
- As part of my divorce, I could have picked up and disappeared to avoid alimony payments. I didn't. I toughed it out and satisfied those payments as well as my Chapter 13 bankruptcy payments for 5 years. It wasn't easy. It was a huge financial burden, but mental toughness saw me through the challenges.
- After my "financial fall", I started my own business that involved extensive travel. Since I had no credit card, I had to pay cash for everything - plane fares, car rentals and motels. It was tough, but I did that for more than a year until I had accumulated enough money to have a "secured" credit card that required an up-front deposit.
Do you remember one of the biggest fears you had as a kid? It was probably something that a friend or a sibling told you. It was probably something like: "They're going to yell at you!" And, that was something to be feared.
When you think about it now, it's nothing. Okay, so someone is yelling at you. Big deal. Just look at them and let them get it out of their system. They're happy about having "blown their top", and you can move on to the next episode now that they have had their emotional outburst.
Use mental toughness to see yourself through the hard times. Here are some suggestions to help you implement your own version of mental toughness:
- Make a game of it if you have to.
- Think of it as thick skin.
- Imagine you have super broad shoulders and can carry any weight imaginable.
- Kill the "self" and it releases you from the situation. Imagine yourself looking down on the situation instead of being caught up in it.
- Don't take things personally when they are not meant that way.
- Realize that life isn't fair and no one makes it out alive.
- Control or influence what you can, but don't worry about things you can't control or influence.
- Keep a vision in your mind of success, and keep your actions focused on success.
Learn how to be tough in your own way. Mental toughness can help you say "no" or otherwise defuse situations that can drive you nuts. Consider the following:
- an irritable or nagging spouse
- kids that want everything
- employees that are never satisfied
- creditors that come calling
- criticism from others
Use mental toughness to stay focused on:
- gainful employment
- doing the right thing
- making wise decisions
- a frugal lifestyle
- avoiding peer pressure
- delaying gratification
- just saying "no"
Sometimes for me what works well is to consider the situation of others. This often helps me maintain my resolve - my mental toughness in the face of a difficult situation.
There are all kinds of people in rough shape all over the world. It won't take long for you to find someone that's in "the hurt locker" and makes you look like you're in great shape.
I've gone through some tough times. Part of my inspiration to press forward has been the headstone to the left.
It always reminded me that I had nothing to complain about because I was above ground and healthy. Do you know what I'm driving at?
I never knew Glenda Davis, but I know she died in her mid-teens. She was cheated by any reasonable estimation. So, I have nothing to complain about, at least not with respect to my opportunities and what I choose to do with them.
When you think that you need a little counseling to get yourself mentally back on your feet, just spend some time in a cemetery. If that doesn't snap you out of it, then you really do need some counseling - and a swift kick in the rear.
In America, we have a great life. Our standard of living is high, and we have very little to be concerned about. I've been all around the world, and I've seen poverty, suffering, congestion, corruption, a general lack of freedom, and lots of trouble for the common man.
I'm so thankful that America is my birthplace and my home. It is truly a land of opportunity. And, it's largely the opportunities that you make for yourself. It's also opportunities that are discovered and you make good use of.
If you stand around waiting for someone to hand you something, you'll be standing around for quite a while. If you're waiting for someone else to solve your problems, you'll be waiting quite a while.
When you think of it, there are hardly any reasons for failure in America, there are mostly just excuses. Stop with the excuses and start being successful by applying your own version of mental toughness.
If you don't do anything about your situation, then who will? No one but you.
The best approach is to get a plan together, get help if you need it, get some mental toughness of your own, and then get going. Act on your plan and solve your problems. Maintain mental toughness to see you through to success.
Is this the right time? I think so. Stop blaming others. Create some mental toughness of your own, and put it to work to get you over the challenges and out in front of them where you deserve to be.
You might not be in the best of financial shape now, but then you'll always be striving to improve yourself. So, stop paying attention to others, and start focusing on your own frugal living success.
Done with Mental Toughness, take me back to Paying Off Debt