We hear a ton of different advice when it comes to being successful.
Manage your time, get up early, network with other successful people, learn new skills, gain knowledge, and more.
All this helps but won’t work if one thing is missing.
If you don’t have the stamina, or the ability to put in the physical or mental effort for long periods of time you can put in the hours you need to be successful.
Want to be a successful author? Then you need to sit in a chair and type away for long hours.
Want to be a painter? Then paint day after day for years and hone your craft until the world starts loving and paying for your work.
How about being a successful entrepreneur?
Then you definitely need stamina. You need it to create new products and services, to find new customers and build relationships.
It is not only for sportspeople. You need the stamina to succeed in every walk of life. The big question is how do you build it?
How To Increase Stamina
The first thing that comes to mind is to work on the body. That is true. So, let’s start there and then learn about other ways to build your stamina.
Take Care Of Your Body
Do more than what you do currently with your body. If you are totally sedentary then start by walking. If you already walk then walk a little longer every day.
Add some stretching to the mix. Practice yoga. Think of it as a stretching routine that also offers additional benefits for the mind. Keep it interesting. If you work out indoors then go out in the woods or in the park a couple of times a week to get some fresh air in your lungs. And, if you can take long hikes once or twice a year, do that.
Practice Intensity And Focus During Work
Think of workout and how you build stamina there. You build stamina by touching the peak of your capacity. So one by one increase what you are capable of doing. If you are able to sit and focus for one hour then try doing it for 75 minutes. And next time when you do it, do it for a little longer.
Make Food Your Friend
An athlete needs to eat more than someone who is not. For everyone else, one thing works when it comes to eating right. Instead of worrying about what to eat, eat less frequently. Keep a gap of 5-6 hours or longer if between two meals. If you can, try not eating after 8 or 9 pm. That is it.
I know this is against the ‘small meals often’ advice, but eating less frequently is important. Because when we are eating continuously our body works overtime and spends a lot of energy to digest the food. This energy is better used for creative and productive work. When we work during hours when the body’s energy is not being spent on digesting food, there is a lot of it available to spend on whatever you are trying to do.
Learn To Sit Right
With the right posture, you spend less energy than when your posture is not right. We spend a ton of our time sitting so it helps to be mindful of how we sit. A good deal about sitting right is sitting with our spine erect with no support. We can start by practicing this for 30 minutes a day and take it forward from there.
Try replacing your chair with a stool. When I go to cafes I avoid taking the chair. I choose a bar stool instead. This allows me to keep my back straight. I have seen it helps in keeping my back straight and keeps me alert for long hours.
Train Your Mind
In Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, Jesse Itzler wrote on the first-day training with David Goggins (the seal who went on to become an NYT bestselling author) asked him to do pull-ups and he did his usual 6 pull-ups. That’s when Goggins asked him to do 100. Itzler said he can’t. By the end of the day, Goggins made him do 100. The lesson here is that our body is often limited by what our mind thinks it can do. But we can always do more. So we got to train or mind to do more.
The practice I shared above, sitting and focusing a little longer every day, is a good starting point. I trained myself to not use warm water for a bath during winter season over the past 3 years and it has helped me a great deal in terms of how alert and agile I felt during the cold winter.
Also meditate, because it increases our ability to focus and stay calm in situations when there is chaos around. When we are calm we can go on for longer than we have.
Train your mind to do the same shit over and over. Only better with passing time. Set hours for your work and then stick to them no matter what even on days when you do not feel like. Like how Stephen King sits down to write every day between 8 and 8.30 am, no matter what.
Make Your Work Interesting
It is easy to practice working for long when you are doing something you love. But the kind of work we do is not always interesting. There are boring bits. Some days, more than others. Then what to do? Think of ways to break the monotony. Either use the sandwich approach – do boring work in the middle of the interesting work – or put tough and boring work at the beginning of the day when you have more mental strength. Also once a week spend time doing what you love for long hours. So that your mind and soul are satiated and you can live through boring work without killing yourself.
Take Time To Learn About Your Body To Increase Its Efficiency
See what works for your body. Experiment. And see what makes you work at your peak. Is it a starting ritual or a particular environment where hours just seem to flow? Learn what works for you and then use it to your advantage.
There you have it, all that you can use to increase your stamina and do your life’s work.
You don’t have to stop what you do. Keep doing the way you do things while you work on fine-tuning this special dimension in your life.