ne of the ingredients of stress is clutter and unfinished business. When you have both of those in your life, you walk around an unhappy human. That does not bode well for your mental toughness at all. It is a recipe for stress. Well, I know that some people would tell you that mental stress is one of the things that contribute to your mental toughness. I agree to some level, but not this kind of stress of being disorganized and having myriads of unfinished business on your mind for a long period of time. Before you know it, apathy sets in and you give up altogether. When you give up, your mental toughness surfers a body hit.
According to Dr. Myles Munroe, one of the most dreaded days of the week is a Monday. I am told that a research shows that the day with the most heart attacks in the United States is Monday. Someone gets to work already heavily ladden with these two things that I am talking about: Unfinished business (many projects pending, each of them half way done), and clutter or disorganization. This is a terrible combination. The thing with these two is that they give you an illusion as if you needed 48 hours each day to work. No you do not. It is just an illusion.
Perhaps the most quoted person on my blog is Abraham Lincoln, and perhaps the most quoted of is quotes here is the one of sharpening the axe. Here is what he said:
“If I am given 6 hours to chop down a tree, I will probably spend 4 hours sharpening my axe”
This is what I am saying. If you and I would spend just about one hour each day organizing how the rest of the day would go, we would reap tremendous benefits out of it. We get stressed because everything is mixed up in our minds. We have many things that need bandwidth of the mind and time, but we have not allocated them. In turn, our world seems like it’s falling apart. You will find out that some things that are stressing you just need thirty minutes of your undivided attention and they are sorted. The best way to do this though is to planning the week full out before it starts.
The other day I run the 10 Km Marathon in one hour twenty seconds. It was something that always wanted to do. I patted myself on the back as I noted that I run all through, never taking time to walk. The most enthralling thing though was when I “finished” that race. There is so much satisfaction that comes with finishing something. The problem with many people is that they have not learnt how to finish things. I am preaching to myself too.
It is better to have a minimalist approach to life and finish what you started than spread yourself too thin and not get things done. To increase your mental toughness, you have to learn to finish and keep finishing things consistently. One big question that you ought to ask yourself each day is this: What can I finish today? Note down just two things and make sure that by the close of the day, you have moved heaven and earth and finished those things. The secret then is to make sure that this becomes your culture. Consistency is your key. Your development of your mental toughness is to make sure that you are a finisher daily.
I am not saying that you will be able to finish major projects in a day. That would be foolhardy. The secret of being a daily finisher is to set yourself some daily stretching milestones that you force yourself to finish that particular day off of the huge projects. If you are writing a book for example, you may force yourself to finish a chapter in one day having done a rough draft. The second day, you might force yourself to refine the chapter and include things such as stories and quotes and references. These are milestones that you set on a daily basis to achieve. So there is no excuse to say that your project is too huge to complete in a day. That very day, get to know what exactly you will finish within that project, then go ahead and do it. If you make this your lifestyle, I am telling you that you will become the most productive and mentally tough person in your circle of influence.
In a quick recap, we have talked about two power things that you can do daily to develop your mental toughness. First, we have talked about organizing your day deliberately. Second, we have talked about finishing tasks daily. If there is lack of these two power disciplines in your daily activities, chances are that apathy will set in quick. With it will come the law of diminishing intent which says that the longer you wait to do something, the more unlikely you will do it (I really need to get those podcasts started). Stress will also follow and finally, you will not want to be associated with something that you really wanted to do in the first place. That is apathy. Next time you see someone doing what you wanted to do, you get jealous and start opposing them. However, if you could just learn to be a finisher, you will become a motivator for others to also finish. You will become a reference point. You will in the end develop your mental toughness.