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Mental Game & Preparation

We’ve talked about how making your life plan is a process involving six specific steps. We have gone over drawing a roadmap, writing an action plan, setting up a timeline, and defining accountability. The last two are about getting yourself ready for your life change both mentally and physically. In other words . . .

Up Your Mental Game

This one can be difficult for Americans. We think far too often that we’re mentally tough because we don’t cry or act frightened or lose our temper. That sort of emotional control is great for getting rid of spiders in the bathroom, but not for the mental strength needed for successful change.

Instead, we’re talking about the sort of mental toughness that some Westerners may dismiss as “new age BS,” like chanting and trying to levitate, which is quite a misconception. There’s nothing mystic about improving your concentration, calming your mind, and being open to new ideas.

It’s true: mental toughness training is not an exact science, but there are agreed-upon strategies that experts from diverse fields like military training and sports psychology use effectively.

A. Learn to meditate. Even for just a few minutes a day, meditation helps you with concentration, clarity of thought, and a host of other mental skills. It’s a true set of crunches for your brain.

B. Practice “square breathing”: inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for four seconds, exhale for a count of four, and then hold the exhale for a count of four. Do this ten times each day, and you will find it helps you overcome fears and anxieties.

C. Become an imaginer. Visualize what you want, and then use your developing mental strength to turn that visual into a multi-sense inner landscape.

D. Develop your ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences by nurturing your overall well-being. Keep a journal, commit random acts of kindness, and seek out what else boosts your feelings of self-esteem and inner wealth.

E. Use your physical space to help keep you focused and motivated. If exercising while looking at a “No pain, no gain” poster doesn’t do it for you, find what does inspire you and use that instead. And make it fun.

Get Your Life Ready

It’s far too easy to tell ourselves that a commitment to a new life plan can be wedged into the space around what we’re already doing—that the time and effort we’re going to need to reach our goals can fit into our “spare time.”

This is impossible. A true life change isn’t going to happen without sacrifices of time and energy and maybe also such things as money, social interactions, vacation plans, and more. Be prepared to lose some things, at least for a while.

And be prepared not to lose some things. Figure out what is and what isn’t expendable, even for a short while. This may include things like time with family, taking care of your health, and making enough money to support yourself without going into debt (or too much debt).

Create the space in your life for making your goal a reality while keeping that space realistic.