3 effective ways to prepare for ‘mental marathons’ and reduce your stress levels in the process


There’s a trend I keep noticing in my mood and my stress levels every time I have to do something: the better I prepare for that, the less stress I have.

The better you prepare, the better the results tend to be. It sounds obvious, so obvious that seems stupid to write about it.

But I’m writing about this because what I have noticed is that we only apply this concept to certain situations. For example, people know that if they want to practice some physical activity, and improve their performance in any type of physical competition, they need to practice and prepare for it.

The same thing happens when you have a great challenge ahead of you.  Do you have a presentation in front of the board of directors of your company? It’s probable that you will practice and do some rehearsals before the actual presentation.

Off course, it’s easy to deduct that you need to prepare to tackle those “big activities” that bring a lot of stress and anxiety to your life. But what happens with the regular activities that we do on a daily basis, that are constantly absorbing our energy and contributing to increasing our stress levels (even without us noticing it)?

What surprises me the most is that we don’t realize that we also need to prepare ourselves for some of our daily activities. We don’t see the picture: If we prepare for those activities, we would be less stressed during a regular day.

As the body needs preparation, so does the mind.

Have you noticed that some people have a natural tendency to make everything go well? And no matter what happens, they (almost always) have the situation under control?

And sometimes, those same people seem that they are very distracted.

My theory is that these people have prepared themselves to manage their jobs and their daily activities in a way that, no matter what happens, they are ready to confront that. They plan, they train and they know the different scenarios in which a specific situation could transform.

We think is a natural tendency to do things well and to don’t have problems in their lives. But the reality is different: Is not a natural tendency, is not inertia, is just that they are prepared.

And that’s why they seem so distracted with a lot of things: Because they focus on the things that really matter in the moment, and they forget everything else. That’s why they appear to be “distracted people”, but in reality, they are prepared to be focused only on the things they need to be focused on.

It’s also a matter of learning how to manage energy and to decide how to distribute that energy spending. One of the differences between this kind of people and the rest of the world is that they prepare themselves to have the correct amount of energy to spend on the important things when they appear.

So far, these are the variables or aspects I have identified will determine your level of preparation for any situation:

– Realize that your most valuable assets and resources are your time and energy. These are finite resources, so you have to do a correct allocation of them.

– Be aware that you can only focus on a limited number of things. Being indifferent about the rest (unimportant) things around you.

– Not only the “big” or “important” things require preparation. Most of the times, we ignore that the sum of the “little” things creates the majority of our daily stress levels. We need to prepare to face and manage those daily, “little” activities too.

– “Preparation” doesn’t necessarily mean something complex or something that takes a lot of time. In many cases, it just only means doing a little change in a routine. That preparation will help us to be less stressed.

A lot of us have to deal with a situation with our brains: many times, we feel that to change a behavior or a situation, we need to make a big change or put a lot of effort to do it. The brain, by default, undervalues the impact that little changes could have to help us change that behavior.

When we think that we need to “prepare” for something, we think of a marathon. In some cases, preparation is that exhaustive, but other times are much faster and simple. Stop associating the concept of “preparation” with something necessarily complex.

Just think about it. How many times have you arrived at your office, and you just open your email and start working by inertia, not even being conscious of what you are doing? That’s when inefficiency kicks in when you are not conscious of what you are doing.

If you were prepared, you could be improving or thinking about better ways to do your work. But we don’t care, we are unprepared, so we do it as always. The problem? In the afternoon, you could be stressed because you didn’t have time to do other things, other things that maybe were the really important things. We let inertia guide our work.

So, let’s think about some ways to prevent that the inertia takes control of our lives. Let’s think how to prepare better:

– When you go to work, don’t open your email first thing in the morning. Do one meaningful activity before checking the email, it doesn’t matter if it’s something “small”. Remember, the sum of the smalls things is what really helps us to be less stressed.

– After you do that meaningful activity, make a list. What are those one or two things that, if you do them during the day, you will feel you win the day? Just take a Post-it and write those two things.

– Talk more with yourself. Before a meeting, or a presentation or before talking with someone about something, practice with yourself. Practice your speech in your head, or talk out loud. Convince yourself about what you’re saying. If you don’t convince yourself, what makes you think you can convince someone else? As we need to prepare before doing physical activity (stretching) we should also stretch our minds.

Remember, as the body needs preparation, so does the mind…

The day my brother managed to interview a soccer legend. 3 lessons from an unlikely encounter

This is not my story, this happened to my brother, back in 2012. But as he hasn’t told it with enough details, it’s up to me to do it.

First of all, let’s put in context and talk about the main characters of this story:

My brother, a 23-year-old college student. A student like any other. A college student with a compulsive obsession with soccer.

Jorge Valdano, former soccer player, coach, and manager. Jorge Valdano, World champion with Argentina’s team in Mexico’s 86 FIFA world cup. He’s not only a world champion soccer player, he scored the second goal in that final game against Germany. Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid’s idol during the 80’s, champion of two European tournaments and three Spanish leagues. Jorge Valdano, writer, and lecturer, who travels around the world talking about leadership and sports marketing. Jorge Valdano, a legend.

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What I learned using “controlled environments” to launch successful projects and test ideas

I learned about the “controlled environment” concept in the zombie movies, where they show some kind of virus or disease spreading around the world and everything becoming mayhem because something wrong happened with the controlled environment where the virus was being tested and stored.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a controlled environment is an environment which is artificially regulated to ensure conditions such as temperature, air quality, etc., remain stable; the condition or state of such an environment.

So it’s basically a context where you can control variables to see the outcome of an experiment, and how that outcome changes if you change a variable.

The interesting thing is that we can apply this concept to anything we want. We can make experiments in any context we want.

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3 ways to overcome the fear to talk to important people

On a previous post, I wrote about the fact that many times, the things we never think about are the ones that could take us to the next level.

And one of the reasons why we avoid to think about those important things is because some of them scare us.

One of those things is taking those conversations, or sending that email that we know could be very uncomfortable, but deep down, we know it could take us to the next level.

It’s probable that the reason why we avoid that conversation is because we consider the other person to be in another “league” or we feel some kind of intimidation:

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How to learn something from every person you meet

Sometimes, the things we never think about are the ones that could take us to the next level.

I think there are two reasons why we never think about some things that are important: Because we don’t have them on the radar or because we don’t consider they are important.

One of those things that we don’t think about (or we don’t give enough importance to) is the influence that a person can exert on a specific moment of our life. Interacting with other people is something that most of us do several times during a day, and that’s why it becomes something normal, just part of the routine.

Often, the problem that something becomes routinary is that we forget the goals and the benefits of why we are doing it.

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Motivation is overrated. Learn a system to transform motivation into action

There are some concepts that are quite overrated. One of those concepts is “motivation”.

When I hear things like “That person is very motivated, he will achieve everything he decides to do” or “Motivation takes you wherever you want to go”, I feel the people who are saying that are really overestimating this concept.

Yes, motivation is very important, but it’s only one component among many others that you need to have if you want to achieve your goals and materialize your projects.

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3 practices of successful companies that you can apply on a personal level

There are many aspects in which people and companies behave in the same way. At the end, the hearth of companies is the people who work there, and we share the same end goal: create value. The main objective of companies is to create value for the shareholders. For us, it’s the same principle: do things that create value, things that make us feel satisfied, happy, useful.

And if companies and people have the same kind of objectives, ¿What would happen if people start using some of the practices that companies use to reach their objectives? Could we be able to replicate some of those practices and adapt them to a personal level?

Here are some options:

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Quality questions create a quality life. 4 questions to improve your work and your life

As Tony Robbins says, “Quality questions create a quality life”.I’ve only had a couple of job interviews in my life. I have been fortunate to have jobs that I’ve always enjoyed.

I’ve only had a couple of job interviews in my life. I have been fortunate to have jobs that I’ve always enjoyed.

What I’ve noticed is that the traditional questions people use to interview a job candidate (or when you are dating someone trying to better know that person) are inefficient, and they don’t give good information to determine if the person is a good fit for the company or for your life.

By recounting the questions I’ve been asked, and what I’ve read about the theoric “good hiring process”, I have come to the conclusion that some improvements could be made to those questions. In many cases, those questions are so wide, so poorly defined, that the other person can answer with the first thing that comes to his mind, and everything can be bullshit.

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A powerful word that will improve your decision making ability

Would you share this blog post? It all depends. If I were the one reading this, and someone asks me this question, I would probably say ‘no’ at first. But then, if I see a proper incentive, and I think about the opportunity cost, maybe I would say “It depends”.

It goes unnoticed, or we forget, but perhaps the “it depends” term is one of the most powerful concepts to put in perspective and try to find the incentive that any situation can offer us.

By nature, we tend to quickly discard or ignore anything that doesn’t give us confidence or something which we can’t feel immediately attracted for. Think about the opportunity cost of what you just read. By not having a filter, something that stops us from responding to a situation in “autopilot” mode, we can lose valuable opportunities.

And you might be thinking “discarding or ignoring something that doesn’t generate trust is called intuition, and it’s a good thing”. And you’re right about that. Intuition acts as a valuable filter that helps us identify things that we feel are not right for us. But, what would happen if we combine intuition with the “It depends” filter?

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The ultimate method to effectively include a new habit into your daily routine

How important tradition is. In any aspect of life, it plays a significant role.

Tradition, on many occasions, brings a sense of familiarity, which translates into a sense of tranquility. The known things, what we have experienced before, and what we like to do on a regular basis, becomes something easy to digest and that, after all, is what we could define as a state of tranquility.

However, that tranquility can become routine. And sometimes, if we stay in routine, we could stall and stop growing. Growing up and moving forward involves having to start doing other activities and ‘acting’ in unknown scenarios.

And that’s where we don’t know what to do. As we are not familiar with new activities, the mind start to resist, it starts to push us to procrastinate, and insisits on being constantly distracted…Here is where problems begins.

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