• John Panepinto

How To Build Mental Toughness - Four Proven Strategies

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

david goggins mental toughness

We are living in an era of abundance right now – gone are the days where we had to hunt our own food, build our own shelter, and defend ourselves from wild animals each day.

Our great ancestors who lived in those times quickly learned the importance of having mental toughness, will-power and self-discipline.

If they weren’t mentally strong, they would never have survived.

If they didn’t feel like getting up and hunting food – they would starve to death.

If they didn’t feel like building shelter for the night – they would freeze to death.

When your back is against the wall, and you have no choice but to do the things you know you need to do - you find a way to do them. No matter how hard they seem, or how you may feel about doing them.

Fast-forward to today - survival is no longer a daily challenge.

With this - a new dilemma has been brought upon the masses.

With nothing to harden us, we’ve become mentally soft. There is a serious lack of mental toughness across modern civilization.

‘Victim’ mentalities are everywhere to be found, and temptations are controlling lives everywhere you go.

Your purpose, goals and dreams require that you rise above this.

Today I am going to teach you how you can become mentally strong like a gladiator; so that no matter what is thrown at you, you are able to conquer it – through four powerful practises you can implement into your life.

In hardening your mind, the same obstacles and challenges that used to break you will become your greatest sources of energy – and you will conquer them with ease.

Why We Lack Mental Toughness:

build a strong mind

The issue is that when things are “good” or “easy”, you get comfortable.

When you get comfortable you begin to give in to temptations. You stop doing the things you know you need to do, to reach your goals.

Maybe it means you hitting that snooze button when you’re supposed to wake up so that you can get 10 more minutes of sleep.

Maybe you skip the gym because you’re tired or frustrated.

Maybe you stop reading books because you’d rather watch The Office on Netflix.

In each of these cases, you are relinquishing your will-power and discipline. With that, you are also actually relinquishing mental toughness, and you're relinquishing progress towards your purpose and goals.

Do the hard things in life (path of most resistance), and you’ll end up having an easy life of abundance.

Keep doing the easy things (path of least resistance), and you’ll end up having a hard life of scarcity.

Pick the path of most resistance, harden your mind, and you’ll never look back.

The Power of Mental Toughness:

mike tyson mindset

When you are mentally tough you begin to embody a few things:

Say you have a goal of getting shredded in the gym and you have put together a plan to get there that requires you go to the gym 5x per week.

A mentally tough individual is going to get those 5 days in no matter how they feel, or what else is going on in their life.

When you are mentally tough – you are a true professional towards your craft.

The truth is the pathway to greatness is hard (though very much worth it).

So you must be disciplined, mentally tough, and cultivate an unbreakable will.

The Mindset Shift Required:

david goggins mindset

Before employing these strategies, you will need to make a very important mindset shift in your thinking.

The same mindset shift that all who achieve greatness have made.

When things get hard, you must be able to answer the question “why am I here?” or “why am I doing this?”.

Find a very powerful ‘why’.

Then you must live by this “why” of what you’re doing, rather than living by how you feel about doing what must be done.

This will allow you to separate emotions from logic, and do what must be done regardless of how you feel that day.

So start by determining and understanding the ‘why’ behind your goals.

4 Strategies to Build Mental Toughness:

The root source of building mental toughness is to do hard things regularly and deliberately face uncomfortable situations.

This is how you ‘callous’ your mind as David Goggins puts it.

So here are four actionable habits you should adopt to build that mental toughness.

1. Wake Up Early and Work Out

The absolute best starting point to building mental toughness is getting in the habit of waking up early and working out.

On days I work out, I wake up around 5:00 am.

Waking up early enables you to start your day off by being pro-active; being awake while others are still sleeping.

Working out enables you to start your day off by leaning into discomfort in favor of growth.

For as much as people like to believe working out is a way of building your ‘physical’ muscles, it is very much a way of building your ‘mental’ muscles as well.

There will be days when you are tired, there will be days when you are frustrated, and days where you flat out don’t want to go to the gym – but by pushing through that ‘inner’ dialogue and going to the gym regardless - you build great discipline in yourself.

Going to the gym on days you don’t feel like going will harden your mind.

Taking your workouts seriously and pushing your limits will also help to strengthen your mind.

There is nothing more rewarding than being on the verge of ‘quitting’, then having your mind say ‘F That’, giving you a ‘second wind, and pushing you through the remaining reps of a workout to a result you never thought you could do.

Make a habit of getting in the gym at least 3-5x per week, and stick to it with discipline.

Also, once you get in the gym – take your workouts seriously and use your mind to push your limits.

2. Take Cold Showers

Cold Showers are a game-changer. It’s one of the most convenient ways you can strengthen your mind from the confines of your own home.

Cold showers aren’t comfortable, and your mind will instantly try to trick you into warming up the water – but resist this urge. The longer you can push through that discomfort and find comfort in the discomfort, the easier it will be for you to push through other ‘uncomfortable’ situations throughout your day.

Whether it be having a hard conversation, doing a presentation, or really anything that gets you out of your comfort zone – cold showers are a great way of building up this mental muscle.

I go deeper into this in my blog on 4 Great Habits To Improve Your Life – but in short, if you start your mornings doing something hard (taking a cold shower), the challenges that come during the rest of your day will seem more manageable.

On top of this, Cold Showers have a tremendous amount of health benefits – including reduced stress, and a stronger immune system.

3. Deliberately Cut Out a Bad Habit

Any time you feel trapped against your will and you ‘give in’ to temptations – you are weakening your mental toughness.

Whether it be smoking cigarettes, excessive partying, opening social media first thing in the morning, eating junk food, or really any bad habit – you must learn to resist that urge and deprive yourself of it.

Checking social media is one of the biggest ones. Each time you check it, you get a dopamine hit and it fries your dopamine receptors. Every little notification, or update, gives you that burst of artificial dopamine.

Since Social media doesn’t progress you towards your goals, its actually a low ROI habit – so cut it out and limit it as much as you can.

It will be tough at first. But you must break this habit to build mental toughness.

If you are able to successfully withhold from that urge and exercise your will-power, you will reclaim control over your mind and it will empower you.

4. Face Your Fears

We all have fears.

Some are rational fears that are designed to protect us, like fearing a pack of wolves.

And some fears are irrational and are designed to prevent us from growing or reaching our greatest potentials, like being afraid of starting that ‘dream’ business of yours.

When you learn to conquer your fears and push through them deliberately, you harden your mind and extinguish the intensity of that fear.

Things like public speaking, having difficult conversations, or chasing your dreams and standing by them; are all common fears many of us have.

For as much as we avoid doing them and remaining in our ‘comfort zones’ we are actually missing out on the opportunity of growth.

By deliberately facing your fears, and accepting whatever outcome may come – you actually harden your mind and build mental toughness.

Fear is a sign-post for growth - so find your fears, and conquer them!

The Bottom Line:

david goggins greatness

If you want to achieve greatness – you must build mental toughness.

When you look at anyone who achieves greatness, they all have an unbeatable will, a serious discipline towards their craft, and a willingness to conquer their fears regularly.

In implementing these four practices into your life, I promise you will find yourself hardening your mind by the day and progressing towards your goals by night.

Get after it!

My Challenge To You:

  • Make a habit of getting up early and working out

  • Take a cold shower tomorrow morning

  • Identify a bad habit of yours you currently have – make a plan to cut that habit out.

  • Find something you’re afraid of, and conquer it!