How to be Mentally Strong

The world doesn’t owe you a living.

Despite what social media would have you believe, hard work realises goals. Not luck. It takes sustained effort, intelligence and resilience. And being mentally strong will take you a long way down the path to happiness and success.

I recently wrote this article about bouncing back from career disaster.

You pay a price for riding the recruitment rollercoaster every Monday morning. Often, that’s a cost to your mental wellbeing. Sometimes however the cost is literally a fee. It may even be higher than a family ticket to Universal Studios to ride real rollercoasters.

But even in the lowest points of your career, feeling sorry for yourself is the biggest disservice possible. It’s a complete waste of time.

Whatever the catalyst, it’s easy to feel the strain. A loss of contractors, decisions going against you, candidates giving you the run around. You’ll stare negativity in the face.

Looking around the room it might seem as though those at the top have more luck.

They don’t have the same setbacks you do.

They’ve had an easier ride.

Fortune’s favoured their career.

Firstly, here’s a newsflash. These people aren’t more successful by chance. It’s highly likely, they simply worry less. They linger on problems for less time.

If they seem mentally stronger it’s purely because they don’t fall into the trap of letting life’s misfortunes affect them as much. They put a stop the vicious cycle of ill-feeling.

And here’s how you can do it too.

Hand Drowning

Don’t let others define your worth

When your focus at work is financial performance, it’s easy to be defined by a number. Or perhaps more likely, someone’s opinion of you, based on that number.

What have you billed this year?

You’ll be asked that a lot. But no one’s in the same position as you. Not everyone knows your back story. Nor the setting for why you’ve billed that much. Could they have done better? It’s completely impossible to tell.

If someone’s opinion on your worth, actually defines your own feelings, you’re prime for manipulation by others. Which isn’t a good thing in recruitment. You’ll feel under pressure a lot.

Everyone resists change

Familiarity is just that… familiar.

It’s comforting, because you know what’s coming. You’re reassured by the regimented nature of recurrence. Recently we published an article inspired by Tim Ferriss and his view on the power of opposite.

And while doing the opposite seems like revolutionary advice, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Changing small components of your week could have dramatic effects on output, without altering your entire mindset.

Few things in life are all or nothing. 

You can usually keep a similar routine and try things out at the same time. Think of it as an evolution rather than a revolution.

By slowly adapting, you’ll eliminate your natural fear of change and adjust naturally.

Yes, it’s important to look at previous mistakes to move forward. But a crucial part in being mentally strong is forgiving yourself. You need to make sure you’re not bogged down by the errors you’ve already made and move on quickly.

No success happens overnight

Overnight success happens all the time in the media.

That’s the problem with the media. Or at least one hundredth of the problem. Stories about individuals and companies working their arses off for years and years to finally make a hit aren’t as popular as instant reward.

Stories where people get lucky, or win the lottery are popular. Because the outcome’s possible for the average reader. It just happens.

Without resilience.

Without work.

Or talent.

Or effort.

It’s hugely important to realise that becoming wealthy, or successful rarely happens immediately. It takes dedication to the cause. And almost every single person who reaches their goals says the journey was the best part.

The late nights. The early mornings. The hustle. The effort it took to get there. Not the end result.

In fact, in most cases, there is no end result. You never really reach the finish line.

Look around you and remember the context of your position in the world. You’ve achieved a lot up to now. And if you set your mind to something the only person that’s going to stand in your way is you.


Solitude is empowering

Even when alone, most people aren’t alone. The world’s changed. And unless you don’t have internet coverage, which is rare, you’ll use your phone on your own. Probably too much. In fact, most people from our era will spend 5 years, 4 months of their life on social media.

For recruiters, that number’s probably even higher. And when you’re on your social media you’re bombarded by other people.

Except it’s not a true representation of what people are up to.

Being guarded and controlled in how much you let this happen is a positive thing.

There’s real science to support the theory children can become depressed by the lives they see others living. The photoshopped, airbrushed, #nofilter existence that simply doesn’t reflect what people actually do with their lives.

Being comfortable in your own skin, and in your own company is part of becoming who you really are. And it’s crucial to becoming mentally strong.

Ensure you have some alone time every day. You’ll come to love it.

Learn how to control negative emotions

It’s difficult to deal with events, when you’re battling your own brain. But there’s help available. This TED talk is a good place to start. And proves you can actually control your emotions. Positive, or negative. And if you can control your emotions, you can become your own Mental Coach.

Learn to own your emotions. Don’t let them own you.

Look at how you dealt with certain events. Then think about how you’d tailor advice to a friend if they were the person in that scenario.

Yes, you might feel annoyed, upset and let down if a candidate lies to you. But you’re the one feeling those things. If you learn to move on quicker, you’ll be quicker to bounce back. “You can become the architect of your own experience.”

You’re quite literally in control of your own destiny.

To help you become mentally stronger, the next time you go through a difficulty in your life, ask yourself “What would a champion do in this instance? Dwell on it? Or come out fighting?”

The greatest victories in sport are those which come after a set back. You see a tennis player two sets down. A football team, two goals down in the first five minutes. A runner at the back of the field in the last lap.

But they win.

Against all the odds, they keep fighting.

They’ve already lost in the heads of everyone else. Except for one person. Themselves.

They carry on going. Everyone writes them off and they come through.

And that’s what can make you mentally stronger in your own life. Don’t be affected by people writing you off. Keep going. Go for the win. Even when it seems like you’ve already lost.

By doing so, you’ll inspire those around you, and most importantly, yourself.

Need some tips on learning to cherish the struggle? Head here.