Mentally tough people generally achieve a higher level of performance and wellbeing because they have a successful mindset to power through the day without being distracted or diverted from making things happen.
The ability to ‘Power Up and Power Down’ in the first and last hour of the day helps you achieve a successful mindset to tackle today’s opportunities and challenges – and then wake up fresh to do the same tomorrow.
Here are four suggestions to develop a successful mindset inspired by a Pavithra Mohan article in the excellent Fast Company journal.
POWER UP – the first hour of the day
Develop a series of routines or habits that set you up for the day feeling calm, resolute and in control. You choose, but they may include some or all of the following;
Wake Up And Walk (or swim or run or cycle)
When you wake up, power up, through walking or some kind of exercise quite possibly with your morning mood music (WITHOUT ACCESS TO EMAIL OR SOCIAL MEDIA). It might only be for twenty minutes or half an hour but in that time you can achieve some forward momentum, inflow of oxygen and a chance to get in a clear, calm and relaxed headspace.
This time sets you up for the day.
A First Hour Technology Ban
Give yourself an hour before you switch on your smart phone. It is impossible right? It is a difficult habit to get into, because we are addicted to the instant connectivity that smart phones provide us. However, an hour without thinking about a message or an email you have seen this morning gives you some time to prepare yourself mentally by choosing your state of mind (default positive) for the day. The vast majority of situations can wait until you ‘start’ work. If it is ‘life and death’ situation that you need to respond to immediately, people will call you.
Choose Your State
It is your choice on how you face the day and whatever circumstances you face and however hemmed in and overwhelmed you feel, facing the world resolutely, positively and energetically will more likely achieve a better outcome. In ‘choosing your state’ it helps to put your situation into context. There will always be people in a better or worse position than you. I used to joke that I know it’s going to be a good day if I wake up and I’m breathing. As I get older I don’t joke anymore because it has become a truism – nothing the day brings can be worse than not waking up.
Visualise The Day
During your hour of power in the morning try visualising the day ahead and planning how you want it to go. For some people this dress rehearsal adds to their stress and anxiety, for me it helps create a framework of certainty in an uncertain world.
Meditate Whilst Brushing Your Teeth
There are plenty of ways you can meditate on the run and doing so whilst brushing your teeth in the power hour is a great way to “be in the moment” and achieve whiter teeth!
Less Is More
As part of this power up and visualisation focus only on the essential things you MUST get done today without getting distracted. A book worth reading is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown . It’s a fabulous read and great advice.
“The Way of the Essentialist is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us”
In short, less is more productive.
This power up hour may include the school run, your commute to work, breakfast or all three but its purpose is to enable you to mentally prepare a successful mindset for the day ahead. The alternative is that you immediately start the day in a conscious “full alert” state. You are preparing you and your family for the day whilst trying to solve issues, send emails and stressing about situations that will for the most part wait an hour.
POWER DOWN – the last hour of the day
Your power down is far less structured than your morning routine and its objective is purely to calm down and prepare for a full and restful sleep. If your conscious mind is still processing deadlines, adverse situations and stimulation from social media when you are trying to sleep you remain on high alert and don’t get the chance to relax and recharge. This sleep is important to help you repair and refresh your mind and body ready for a positive day tomorrow.
No Technology Or Alcohol
Technology and alcohol are the bad guys in power down hour so if you can avoid both you have a much greater chance of achieving 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. What you do in your power down hour is whatever works for you in calming your conscious state of mind such as reading a book, going for a walk, having a conversation and so on.
I’m suggesting two hours a day of powering up and powering down but you have to find what works for you and what you can realistically achieve day in and day out. The main component is being disciplined about your exposure to technology and using the time to prepare yourself mentally to succeed today and tomorrow.
For more on developing mental toughness and a successful mindset contact us.