In a world where we are surrounded by perfection every time we unlock our phone, it’s challenging to not lose ourselves in a whirlwind of self-doubt and a sense of failure. As much as we want to be Positive Polly’s, we catch ourselves daily comparing ourselves to others and feel the slight twinge of disappointment when we assume we are lacking in comparison.

In the workplace, it can be challenging to avoid comparing ourselves to others. Work can be competitive and some bosses aren’t the best at giving quality feedback. So how do we keep pressing forward without adding stress?

Sport Psychology in the office…

In college I took a Sport Psychology class and anytime I think about that class, the phrase “Mental Toughness” flashes like a neon sign before my eyes. If you asked me what the objective of that course was, I’d say “Mental Toughness” because it seemed like that phrase was on every lecture slide and incorporated into every project.

When I graduated, it was almost like I had been hypnotized to revert back to those class lectures when I found myself swimming in self-doubt. I would start my Pity Party and invite all the Negative Nancy’s to join me and the self deprecating thoughts would follow one after the other. A few minutes into this and suddenly that neon flashing light of “Mental Toughness” would project itself onto my forethought’s and my Pity Party would dissipate.

What was it about that phrase that resonated with me? Behind that phrase are words like “focus”, “resilience”, “courage”, “determination”, and “desire”. Many of these words may be familiar because they are used for affirmations to design the world you want to live in. These words are powerful because they are the opposite of “confusion”, “self-doubt”, and “failure”….the very words that begin every Pity Party. Just a few positive words can make you feel indestructible.

What is mental toughness?

Mental Toughness is the ability to extract yourself from the negative moment you’ve put yourself in and come out stronger than you were before. Life is a slippery slope and we all fall down at one point or another but with Mental Toughness, it’s easier to get back up and trudge forward towards your goals.

Some people are born and nurtured into Mental Toughness while others have to work a little harder to develop this skill because it’s a new concept. Try these tips and tricks to help you develop Mental Toughness for the workplace and start your journey towards success!


Self-talk can drastically increase or drastically decrease your performance. Self-Talk is the way you convince yourself if you are capable or incapable of doing something.

Negative Self-Talk sounds like:

“I can’t do _______ because I don’t have the resources to do it”

Positive Self-Talk sounds like:

“I can do ________ when I ask for assistance so I have the resources to complete the task”.

*You will find the majority of Negative Self-Talk comes out as an “excuse” while Positive Self-Talk comes out as a method to problem solve towards your goal.

2. Failure is a learning experience.

There is no try…either you do or you do not. In other words, if you made an attempt and it was a success, congratulate yourself because you did it! Then move on. If you failed, assess what went wrong, learn from it and then move on.

3. Remember that Lions do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

4. Imagery

Use imagery to create effortless and detailed visualization strategies to help you accomplish your goals and remain focused.

Ex: You have a speech to give at work, practice (multiple times) visualizing the success of that speech prior to giving the actual speech.

Visualize the room you are in, the clothes you are wearing, the strong posture you have, and clearly verbalizing the notes on your note-card. Visualize yourself nailing every point, and your audience nodding their heads with understanding, you’re confident because you are prepared and everything is going smoothly. You allow the audience to ask a couple question and because you practiced Q&A with your family and friends, you’re ready for anything they can ask and just like the speech, this portion goes smoothly and you receive an applause and slaps on the back from your coworkers for a job well done.

*You’ve visualized your future, now make it happen!

5. Affirmations

They actually work so do them! On my bathroom mirror I used a white board marker to write three big life goals: “buy a crossover SUV (with the monetary goal)”, “go to grad school (with the monetary goal and the school/degree program I will do”, “Down payment for a house (with the monetary goal)”, and smaller goals like “eat breakfast every day”, “complete ______ project at work”, and a bunch of positive words and phrases like “strength”, “resilience”, “happiness”, “I can”, “I will”, “one step at a time”, “I got this”.

These words and phrases mean something to me and your words may be similar or completely different. What matters is they are positive things you see and say to yourself everyday to keep you focused on your goals and the best part is being able to erase it off the mirror when it’s completed. Little by little I’m chipping away at those big life goals but I’m constantly erasing those smaller goals which is satisfying and encouraging. If the mirror idea isn’t your thing, try sticky notes, a vision-board (dream-board), journaling, or listening to affirmation recordings on your way to work. There are lot’s of options to choose from!

6. Turn the Negatives Into Positives

When negative thoughts creep in, write them down and turn them into positive thoughts. Eventually this will become second nature and you’ll be the Positive Polly that everyone else wants to be!

Negative thought: I can’t do this data point project because I don’t know how to graph them.

Turn it Positive: I’m going to ask Karen (who’s a whiz with graphs) to give a me a quick tutorial so I can complete this data point project.

*Bonus: you’re learning a new skill and building a relationship with your co-worker!

Give it a Try! List 3 negative thoughts you’ve had today, and turn them into positives…then say those positives out loud 3 times because you’re awesome and capable of anything!

Do you know someone who could enhance their mental toughness in the workplace? Share this post with them!

What do you do to mentally prepare for your workday? How do you make it through the workday when things get tough? Share with us in the comments below!

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