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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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Anupam Nath

    Apr 21, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Amazing Lines, Really Inspired me.
    Thanks

  2. Anonuogharan Tanrose

    Mar 31, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Thanks mark. I know this information will be very helpful. Already feeling it.

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Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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