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3 Exercises That Can Help You Destroy Your Mental Roadblocks

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mental roadblocks

Whenever I talk to people about how they set goals for themselves, the first barriers they cite to progress are often their own mental roadblocks. They start off too optimistic, or too pessimistic. They put themselves down, or they forget to plan out the next steps in their head. Mostly, they forget to adequately prepare their mind for taking action.

There are various ways for tackling mental blocks and drains on motivation, but from my experience there are a few simple, straightforward tools that can help just about anyone overcome those mental blocks, if implemented properly. The following was inspired by Caroline Webb’s recent book ‘How to Have a Good Day’.

Here are the three mental tools that you can use to help destroy mental roadblocks and tackle your top priorities in less time:

1. Create mental contrasts

James Stockdale was a US prisoner of war in Vietnam for 7 years. During that time, he described the fact that prisoners who were overly optimistic about their chances or too pessimistic were less likely to survive than those who were able to balance their focus on the end goal while having a deeper appreciation of the challenges they would face.

As he puts it, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” This philosophy of duality has come to be called the Stockdale Paradox.

To this end, consider the value of creating mental contrasts in your daily life. Sure, you likely won’t be facing hardships like those faced by James Stockdale, but you may very well find opportunities to balance both a positive outlook on future goals with a realistic understanding of the challenges you will face.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” – Moliere

One way of making sure you spend enough time focusing on strategic tasks which support your long term objectives is to balance positive thinking with negative. This means thinking about what is likely to get in the way of you achieving your goals so that you can address those issues head on without being blindsided by them.

This technique is called mental contrasting, and it requires holding both a positive outlook for the future of a task or activity while simultaneously looking holistically at the challenges and potential obstacles that stand in your way and will prevent you from reaching your goals.

You must balance faith that you will reach your goals in the end with the facts of the current (and often brutal) reality of the challenges you will face on a daily basis. Realistic idealism of this kind is important to drive action and help people achieve their goals. What’s important is that people simultaneously work to envision the goals they are striving for and the obstacles they are facing. The key is to plan for both so that you can weather any storm.

2. Prime your actions with the right thoughts and stimuli

Have you ever listened to a song that put you in a good mood which carried on through the day? Perhaps it made you feel more productive, more energetic, more likely to start a conversation with your colleague or that stranger down the hall.

What you associate with productivity and success can often be manipulated. Once one small part of your brain is activated in a positive way, you may be able to drive productive thoughts and activities throughout the day. This is often referred to by scientists as the spreading activation effect.

One way to drive your ability to tackle priorities is to prime your actions with the right thoughts and external stimuli. Consider the way your brain associates certain feelings with specific thoughts, images, ideas, etc. If you experience one positive emotion or sensation based on a certain stimuli (e.g. sitting in your favorite seat at your favorite coffee shop), you will subconsciously be more productive and more energised to take action and do more efficient work.

Unfortunately, this won’t happen every single time, but the more frequently you make these connections, the more likely it will be that these strong bonds are created. Neuroscientists say that “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Take this to heart as you consider which stimuli to expose yourself to as you consider the best way to stay motivated and focus on your objectives.

“The biggest obstacle to wealth is fear. People are afraid to think big, but if you think small, you’ll only achieve small things.” – T. Harv Eker

3. Conduct a mind’s eye rehearsal

Think about the last time you got ready to do something that was stressful or difficult. Perhaps it was preparing for a presentation or a speech or maybe you were psyching yourself up for a big race or a competition.

Research suggests that our brains activate in much the same way when we visualise something happening as when we experience it for real. If we visualise a speech going horribly wrong, or we envision ourselves tripping up at the starting block, chances are we won’t perform to our highest level when the time comes.

Practice makes perfect, and the more you visualise an activity in the way you would like to accomplish that activity, the more likely it will be that you can make that thing happen. Interestingly, the same neural pathways that are created when we repeat activities over and over again in the physical world are also created when we visualise those activities.

So, next time you want to get something done, consider rehearsing in your minds eye exactly what you want to get done, including every detail of the activity, and exactly what you want it to feel like when you accomplish your goal successfully.

How do you overcome mental roadblocks? Comment below!

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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How to Turn Inward and Detox Your Mind

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12 Things to Give Up if You Want to Be Productive

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Life

5 Tips to Stop the Snowball Effect of Negative Thinking

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Humans are full of complex emotions, but it’s what makes us us. We go through good times and tough times and still keep our heads held high. Life is all about experiencing different things and making memories. Constant change and new experiences are what keep us growing as a person. However, sometimes when we face hardship, it can be hard to move on from it. (more…)

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