To achieve self-mastery, you must develop and enforce several mental mantras. This ensures you are in a state of positivity when you go about your creative process. You must win in the mind before all else. The big picture, and how you will get there, needs to be your singular focus. Never slack on your preparation.
I recently finished the book Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine.
It was fantastic, a straightforward guide to training the mind to attack each day with a positive, unrelenting mindset. In fact, Unbeatable Mind was one of the best mindset books I’ve read to date, in the same league as Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
As I read through Unbeatable Mind, I discovered I had a few things in common with the author. His views on resiliency, intuition, and the warrior mindset are all views I identify with and incorporate into my creative process.
Mark Devine emphasizes the importance of mindset.
It’s not enough to cultivate a physical routine; a mental routine is also mandatory.
It’s true, however, that you need to become regimented and consistent with your physical routine first. For instance,
- I sit in a certain spot
- Listen to certain music
- Type in a certain word processor, etc.
- Work in 30 minute intervals.
- Block out ALL distractions.
These are the physical aspects of my routine that remain steady each time I sit down to work.
But what about my mindset?
How do I focus? Stay positive?
Keep the juices flowing?
As Sun Tzu said, “win first and then go to war.” If your mind is clouded, or worse, negative, then you will not get anything worthwhile accomplished.
There are 4 major roadblocks to avoid when it comes to your mental state.
Mark Divine refers to them as mental modes:
- Procrastination: Avoiding a task
- Perfectionism: Needing something to be flawless every time (you hate mistakes)
- Analysis Paralysis: Over-thinking cause by too much thinking and available info.
- Groupthink: Irrational or poor decision-making influenced by a group dynamic
Without the proper mindset, you will easily fall in one of the above traps. This piece will look at 8 of the mental mantras you need to implement every time you sit down to work on your craft. I’ve also given a verbal mantra which corresponds with each of the 8 points, for you to use during your creative process.
Mindset is everything. Develop a resilient, growth mindset that will “win the day,” and you will be unstoppable in pursuit of your vision.
1. Create a Core Mantra
It’s easy to psych yourself out of productivity.
I’ll do it tomorrow.
No, you won’t.
When you feel yourself getting lazy, or sense an excuse forming on your lips, you need to fire up your mantra.
A mantra is a short saying that elicits a POSITIVE sensation in your mind. Your mantra should fire through your brain like a shot of espresso; killing all sense of doubt and excuse making. The best time for this is in the morning, when you first wake up. Positive self-talk is one of the most underrated aspects of high performance. You want to look into a mirror and recite your mantra out loud.
Mark Devine’s personal mantra is, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” This is a great mantra with everything you need to get motivated into a positive mindset. Feel free to use that one, or craft your own. Recite it daily, first when you get up in the morning, and again when you go about creating and working on your craft.
MANTRA: “Every day, I wake up better. My focus is clear. My commitment is unwavering. Let’s go.”
2. Visualization: Win in the Mind
You must visualize success before you forge ahead. Close your eyes, and breathe deep. Imagine achieving your goal. Ask the following questions:
- What did you accomplish?
- What does this success look like?
- How long did it take to achieve this goal?
Believing you have already won is the first step of any endevour. By understanding what it will take to succeed, you have already won half the battle.
You go forward knowing you will succeed. You’ve seen it in your mind. It’s a foregone conclusion.
In Unbeatable Mind, Mark Divine mentions two specific visualization techniques – mental rehearsal and mental projection.
Mental rehearsal is when you use all of your senses to visualize a future event in your mind. Run through everything you need to do in order to achieve the goal. Similar to a real-life rehearsal, mental rehearsing helps enact a sense of calmness and focus. You’ve run through the process in your head, and because of this practice, the real thing will be made easier.
Mental projection is similar to rehearsing in that you are projecting your thoughts outside of your body. This takes practice and is done through deep concentration and meditative techniques.
How do you look?
How do you feel?
Become one with the action.
As you further master your breathing and meditative techniques, you’ll find this sort of visualization easier.
Meditation + Breathing + Positive Visualization = Winning the Mind
High performers know they will be successful because they have the mental fortitude to will themselves toward achievement. Their mindset is always operating at an elite level. This positive, growth mindset took years to master.
Like the physical act of doing, you must also mentally do each time you perform. Treat success as an accomplishment before the fact and see your best efforts unleashed. This confidence subconsciously drives you through roadblocks, challenges, and difficulties. Your confident mindset will carry you through to completion without fail.
MANTRA: “I’ve already won. I cannot be defeated. I got this.”
3. Risk (and Failure) are Your Friends
Risk taking is a skill; calculated steps towards your passions, goals and desires. It’s the destruction of inaction.
Most people fear risks because they have a fixed mindset. They fear looking foolish if they fail. By playing it safe, these people know that they will never be called out for a lack of knowledge or ability.
By trying new things and attempting “risky” endeavors, you will put yourself in a position to be judged. The best part about this is that you receive feedback, both good and bad. This is crucial, as feedback is mandatory for improvement. Fixed mindset people do not believe in feedback. They believe that knowledge is predetermined; that you know what you know and nothing can change that, for no better or worse.
Practice, risks, and learning are not desirable to fixed mindset folks. To unleash your creative mind, you must accept risk as a necessary component to high achievement.
Understand: You WILL fail. Embrace this. From failure you will learn, adapt, and improve. Your mind will think up new ways to solve problems and offer new avenues for exploration.
Failure is part of the game. No worthwhile breakthrough ever happened without repeated failures. If high performers gave up at the first signs of adversity (like most commoners do), there would be scarce achievement in the world today.
MANTRA: “Life is short. I must take risks to get what I want out of life. Fear of failure won’t hold me back.”
4. Focus on the Present
Distractions are everywhere, and it will only get worse as technology continues to improve. Your brain has changed and your attention span has been destroyed. Most people cannot focus for more than 7-10 seconds before being distracted. This is the new normal and you must adjust accordingly. Plan ahead of time by understanding your fallacies and figuring out how you will stay on task.
For me, it goes like this:
- No internet.
- No phone.
- No people.
Just me and my thoughts; alone with no distractions. It feels weird to be disconnected from the world, alone with just yourself. This is a hard environment to create because it goes against everything we now know.
The digital era has certainly made life easier and more efficient. It has also created a ton of time wasting activities. You are bombarded with countless digital methods of communicating, as internet, email, and cell phones reign supreme. Most are now slaves to these devices, stuck in a world of false affirmations and time suck nirvana. Avoid these at all costs.
Work in 30 minute windows to allow for maximum focus.
MANTRA: “I will rid myself of ALL distractions and work exclusively on my work for at least 30 minutes today. My dedication to my craft will not be interrupted.”
5. Destroy Negativity in Your Life
Negative thoughts are the death of creativity, as you will get nothing accomplished in a negative mind state. Not surprisingly, the human brain is preconditioned to be negative, as a check to keep us safe from harm and fearful of threats. You must constantly battle with this faulty condition to break out of homeostasis.
Negative people will also put you in a bad state. You will waste time on gossip. Negative emotions will be provoked, such as narcissism, anger, jealousy. This directly contributes to negative self talk. When you sense yourself going down this black hole, disengage and revert back to positive self-talk using your core mantra, as described in #1 above.
Once you realize how to stop negative energy from taking over, you will be better able to avoid drama and bad thoughts.
MANTRA: “I’m blessed to be alive. Nothing can get me down. I was born for this.”
6. Make Your Goals CLEAR (Expectations vs. Goals)
As Mark Devine explains, there are two types of goals:
- doing goals; and
- being goals
Doing goals are goals where you are accomplishing something. This could be passing a test, writing a book, making X amount of dollars, etc.
Being goals are goals that change your current state. This could refer to improvement, such as becoming more focused, motivated, productive, etc.
This difference is important when crafting your immediate term goals.
Remember: Without a proper time frame, your goals will go unfulfilled. Your expectations need to align with reality.
The real reason most people fail to hit their goals is because they have unrealistic target dates. Maybe you set a goal to lose 20 pounds in a month. Since that is nearly impossible, you are immediately setting yourself up or failure and disappointment. Such a setback might even put you in a permanent funk, fostering inaction and negative self-talk.
Are you giving yourself enough time to achieve your goals? Really examine your time frames.
You must also be wary of goals with lengthy deadlines, as too long of a time frame leads to excuse making and procrastination. Deadlines are crucial, so make sure you figure out how much time you really need to complete your task. A great deadline motivates you to action, giving you enough time to create quality, but not enough time to prolong or waste.
MANTRA: “I have no time to waste. My goals are my light in the dark. They guide me to success and achievement.”
7. Embrace Abundance
Most people have a scarcity mindset; they believe the world contains a fixed amount of everything. In order to get more, someone needs to get less. These people are often stressed out and negative, finding it difficult to root for the success and achievement of others, because it feels like a loss to them. Win-win does not exist because life is a zero-sum game. This approach is naïve and short-sighted.
Abundance is the opposite position; you are accepting that the world is vast and that there is enough for everyone. This long-term focus enables you to work well with others, stay focused, and feel positive emotions. You realize you can find multiple ways to make money, multiple places to live, multiple women to settle down with. You don’t stress out over quantities, because you know the world is there for your taking – everything is at your fingertips.
A scarcity mindset is poisonous and no good will come if you stay in it. Accept and embrace abundance. Realize that you are in control of your life, and your future can be whatever you make of it, regardless of what other’s are doing around you.
MANTRA: “My life is my own. I am worth what I give to the world. The world is vast, and there is plenty for me to take. Make it count.”
8. Be Dedicated (but Enjoy the Process)
Self-discipline must be engrained deep within you, or else you will be inconsistent with your work ethic.
You should work hard. You should work diligently. But you need to have fun with it.
Always being serious is unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to take your craft seriously – just not at the expense of your health and happiness. Step back and laugh once and while, as this helps to avoid burnout, or worse, depression.
Learn to laugh at yourself, especially when you meet difficulties. There is always a time and a place for self-deprecation. Show humility, have fun, and crack jokes. These acts will help to recharge (and redirect) your batteries. Enjoy life as you work hard. The creativity you will unleash will be MASSIVE.
MANTRA: “I need to work hard, but I don’t need to be serious all the time. Laugh; every single day.”
Let’s review the 8 mental mantras you need to develop:
- Create a Core Mantra
- Visualization: Win in the Mind
- Risk (and Failure) are Your Friends
- Focus on the Present
- Destroy Negativity in Your Life
- Make Your Goals CLEAR (Expectations vs. Goals)
- Embrace Abundance
- Be Dedicated, but Enjoy the Process
Your physical routine is important, but your mental state is even more so.
To consistently create value, you must be self-disciplined and in the right frame of mind. It’s easy to get caught off guard or fall into the negativity trap, thus the reason you need to work to cultivate the above mental mantras. They won’t come easy at first, but soon you will find yourself applying them in your everyday life.
Embrace visualization and positive self-talk. Understand the abundant world around you is there for the taking. Your creative mind will take off, and you will be amazed at the quality you will create.
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