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Keeping motivated and planning for better times ahead

It would be an understatement to say that this year has been a particularly difficult one for all of us. The impact of the past nine months on our mental health and personal freedoms cannot be over-stated. As I write (November 2020) we are in our second period of lockdown. Although not quite as severe as the first, many of us will be pining for old times when we could meet our friends, family members and colleagues whenever and where-ever we wanted and enjoy the freedom of community gatherings, concerts, sporting or other social events.

There is some light on the horizon in the shape of a potential new vaccine, but that may not be rolled out to many of us until well into the new year. In the meantime, how do we remain up-beat during the dark days of winter and in the face of a virus that continues to wreak havoc.

To me it’s about maintaining a positive mental attitude, which I would argue is the key to achieving pretty much anything we want in life. In my book, Your Bigger Future, I dedicate a whole chapter to the topic of ‘Healthy Mind’. Much of the content is, I believe, relevant to our current COVID situation.

I think to a large extent having a positive mental attitude is about developing a clear vision of your life ahead. In essence, it’s about getting through hard times by planning for better times. One of my sources of inspiration for many years has been Dan Sullivan, CEO of Strategic Coach®. He once posed me a question that enabled me to develop this vision: “If we were meeting here again in three years’ time, what has to have happened both personally and professionally for you to feel happy with your progress.”

This one question provided me with the basis for setting achievable goals that could be flexed as my situation changed, but would keep me refreshed and motivated, focused and committed in the months and years ahead.

For me, another major factor affecting my mental attitude can be the level of stress and / or anxiety I am experiencing. A certain level of stress can be a motivator, but too much stress is harmful for physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, the ability to manage stress effectively is an important part of maintaining a positive mental attitude. In my book, I’ve listed my top ten ‘stress buster’ tips that have helped me along the way. You can read them in this free downloadable chapter.

There is an old saying: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” attributed to Henry Ford. Another favourite quote of mine is from Dan Sullivan who says that the only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people have successful habits. We can change our habits in order to adapt, improve and adjust to life’s constant changes. This enables us to cope with and take control of our lives, leading, I believe, to better mental health and a positive mental attitude.

Another component of a good mental attitude is about being ‘in the present’. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone when you suddenly realise that the other person is ‘not there’? Maybe they look preoccupied or their eyes have glazed over. This undoubtedly will have made you feel belittled, uninteresting and unimportant. Conversely, when someone pays proper attention to what you’re saying, looks engaged and interested, it makes you feel good. Being ‘in the present’ is all about being aware of the here and now, making the best use of your time and not missing an opportunity because your mind was elsewhere. As Dan Sullivan says: “Wherever you are, make sure you are there.”

Maintaining a positive mental attitude can be difficult when we’re going through hard times, such as the current pandemic. However, I am convinced that by believing we will get through this period, planning for and looking forward to better times ahead we will be able to deal with whatever life throws at us.

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