What it Takes to Follow Through

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I recently took on a challenge called 75 Hard to build my mental strength. Essentially, the challenge is designed to help you get better at what you’re going to say you’re going to do. I decided to do it because over the past few years I started breaking little promises and appointments I’d set for myself, and was starting to feel the consequences. The challenge entails doing the following for seventy-five days in a row: exercise twice per day for forty-five minutes each, drink one gallon of water, read ten pages of a personal development book, follow a diet of my choice (I chose no gluten, dairy, or added sugar), and no alcohol. I made it eleven days. 

The challenge is extreme, and I know it’s not for everyone, but I was still disappointed because I was really excited to see and feel the outcome after seventy-five days. After reflecting on why I took the challenge on in the first place and the reasons I failed, I decided to start again at day 1. And no, I’m not crazy! (I’d love for you to follow my journey on Instagram). Rather, I’m intent on building that “do what I say I’m going to” muscle so I can feel good inside and out, and keep creating my extraordinary life. 

If you’d like to start keeping more promises to yourself, too, you don’t need to do the 75 Hard challenge. (In fact, you should probably check with your doctor before giving that a try.) Instead, try the following tips to give yourself a push and build the mental strength it takes to follow through. 

4 Ways to Develop Your Own Mental Strength

These tips are simple but might not always be easy, because making changes is difficult. So start where you are, make small changes, and as you integrate those into your life you can keep adding more difficulty. Just like lifting increasingly heavier weights at the gym, you’re building your consistency and ability to follow through on the promises you make to yourself. 

Increase Your Exercise

I love using exercise as a way to start following through on your promises to yourself. Physical activity is great for your physical health of course, but it’s also essential for your mental health, it makes you happier thanks to the endorphins it releases, and can be a fun way to get outside or connect with others. So try choosing a daily or weekly exercise-related goal and try to stick with it. 

I’m challenging myself to work out twice a day, but I already was quite active. I walk my dogs daily, do postural exercises, yoga, and took up mountain biking again during the pandemic. If physical activity isn’t a regular part of your life, perhaps challenge yourself to walk for fifteen minutes a day. If your goal is too far ahead of where you are now, it will be too hard to maintain. Marathon runners didn’t start by running the full distance their first time, they worked up to it over years. 

Make Changes to Your Diet

Experimenting with diet is another place to start to develop mental strength. Again, this will be personal to you, so choose something that makes sense and that isn’t too extreme that you can’t maintain it. I chose to eliminate gluten, dairy, and sugar to reduce the inflammation I’ve been experiencing in my body and I know I feel better when I don’t eat those foods. 

Here are some other ideas to get you started: 

  • Eat one fruit or vegetable at every meal
  • Don’t eat food with any added sugars
  • No drive-thru food
  • No processed or packaged foods
  • Prep breakfast or your lunch the night before
  • Make a meal plan for the week and stick to it

Choose a small, manageable change and stick with it for one week. If you don’t stick with it, examine why. Was it because you didn’t plan ahead or went to the grocery store hungry? Maybe you ate out and ordered “your usual” without thinking. As you examine the reasons, you’ll probably notice how affected you are by your environment, which is the next component of developing mental strength. 

Manipulate Your Environment

By manipulating your environment, you can take away the opportunity to fail. Planning meals and grocery shopping with a list are big helps in supporting the choices you make surrounding food. 

Another way to create an environment that supports mental strength is to embrace ideas from minimalism. The less clutter, information, or distractions you have, the clearer your mind will be. Less “stuff” means fewer choices you need to make about it, less to keep organized, and less visual mess. Think about keeping an outer environment that reflects the inner environment you want to have. You have the power to change external objects and situations in your environment to support your goals. For example, the simple act of keeping a bottle of water by your bed or in the car can help you increase your water intake. 

Limit Your Exposure to Advertising & Media

The last way you can support your mental strength is to limit your exposure to advertising and the media because both can be extremely damaging to your mindset. 

Like most people, during the pandemic I subscribed to a lot of online news sources. I wanted to know what was going on, so I’d spend most mornings reading headlines and a few stories. Looking back, I can see how much extra stress I brought into my life. Yes, staying informed is important, but news headlines are very negative. I even began to seek out sensational and negative headlines. 

Advertising is everywhere, and it often uses scarcity or psychology to influence you to make purchases. Even the “harmless” scroll through Facebook exposes you to tons of targeted ads that you may not think your brain notices, but your subconscious certainly does. Honestly, why else would there have been a North American toilet paper shortage? 

If you're serious about developing your mind, then it needs to be as clear as possible. Try reducing your exposure to advertising and media wherever appropriate. Staying informed is one thing, but be mindful of the types of information you really need and where you’re getting it from. It might take some creativity to create an empowering informational environment, but it is possible. I chose to not read any news until after 11:00am, and since I’m usually well into my day by then I spend less time on it. There are also ways to limit your phone usage and the sites you visit on it, or you could set a no-screen policy for certain times of the day. 

As you develop the mental strength it takes to follow through with the things you say you will, your life will move ahead more easily. If you’d like help in committing to a plan and following through while exploring why you may not have been successful in the past, I can help. Choose to work 1:1 with me or get on the waitlist for the next opening of The Extraordinary Life Tribe.

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