Tempting as it may be, putting your head down on your desk and making some whimpering sounds at the first sign of trouble isn’t going to solve any of your problems (though it might feel kind of cathartic for a few minutes).
When we’re faced with difficult situations, the most mentally tough of us find ways to rise above all the nonsense and make things happen. While we don’t have to be perfect, harnessing your inner strength is key to moving forward at work.
So how to the toughest of us make it work? Being “mentally tough” doesn’t mean you don’t have emotions or feel sadness or vulnerability. It doesn’t mean you don’t get depressed or embarrassed or sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Mentally tough are folks who can do the bad stuff but then figure out how to get around it to find the good.
It’s possible to be mentally tough. Here are a few ideas:
1. Tough People Don’t Take Things at Face Value
Does that project “seem impossible” at first glance? It might seem overwhelming, but when you give up on something quickly, it owns you. Take control by cutting big messy projects into bite-sized pieces. Deep breaths. You can do this.
Big projects are basically a whole bunch of small distractions all piled together. You get your attention pulled from this to that and it feels overwhelming, like you can’t even get started. But instead, if you break down the big thing into a bunch of small things, you can focus (see?) on one at a time and knock it all out.
“The problem is that the longer we avoid it, the more heads the monster sprouts. At least that is how we perceive it in our mind’s eye,” says dumblittleman.com. “Soon that project can be even more overwhelming than it was initially. Better to start breaking up that big project into smaller pieces right away before the additional heads start growing.”
2. Tough People Don’t Fear Solo Time
Being told to carry the load yourself can seem intimidating, but when you’re asked to do work all on your own, don’t fear your chance to steer the ship yourself. Whether you’re leading a team or having to do your own piece of a project, you’ll have to be confident with your own awesomeness.
When you’re mentally tough, you can deal with the risks that come with solo work and the fear of failure that might come with the pressure of being in charge of your own actions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer doubts. Feeling a pang of worry isn’t bad, unless you let it take over and keep you from carrying on with the task at hand.
You know what’s great about running the show? You get to run the show! Do things how you like, in the order you want! Organize your day, take breaks when you need, and enjoy the rush of that forward momentum.
When you're mentally tough, you can deal with the risks and fear of failure that come with solo work. And you know what's great about running the show? You get to run the show!
3. Tough People Don’t Forget to Learn Lessons
You did something. It didn’t work out. What do you do next? The easy thing to do is to feel bad and never take any risks again. The hard thing, what mentally tough people do, is to really think about what worked and what didn’t and learn something from that failure. Every. Dang. Time.
Feeling bummed when you don’t win the contract, don’t get the prize, or when the big boss says “nope” and you need to start again is totally natural! Feel bummed. Share feelings with your coworkers. But then pull up those chairs to the conference table and make the next one better!
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