How to win the biggest battle of all

The toughest battle you’ll ever fight in your life is the battle within yourself.” — Anonymous

Within each day, each moment of life, each challenge, adversity and mistake, there’s something to be won. Everything we categorize or think of as a loss can be converted into a win. The magic of life is about self-discovery: It’s our job to find the wins, to recognize the opportunities for personal growth and to move forward wiser, more self-aware and better prepared for the next battle.

If we focus and concentrate, using the power of our minds, we’ll begin the process of overcoming the things that hold us back. We’ll start to embrace the battles and view them as part of a longer journey— one that will take us to highs, lows and everything in between. Everything I’ve learned in my business career and personal life has taught me that equanimity is the most important unspoken truth of life.

The moment that we allow life to drag us down, thinking that there’s some indefinite time period before we can recover, is the moment that we surrender our free will. Successful businesswomen like Sheryl Sandberg have used adversity to their advantage repeatedly and have moved forward with brilliance and grace.

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran overcame a major stuttering problem as a child to become one of the most successful recording artists on the planet. Remarkable that someone who struggled with stuttering could wow so many people with the power of his voice. Sheeran refused to give up.

Basketball star LeBron James never gets too high after a big game, and never believes anything is too challenging. In the 15th year of his long, storied career, he has been pressed to his physical limits and yet again, finds himself competing for the NBA championship. He’s lost five times in the NBA Finals. But he’s kept coming back for more.

It’s why he’s a champion and one of the greatest players to ever live.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself, the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us, that’s where it’s at.” Jesse Owens”

Winning the battle takes extra effort and more than we thought possible. But it’s there if we want it. We must accept the challenge and we must do so with a spirit of courage that embraces risk. If you’re not willing to risk, if you just want to play things conservatively and hope for the best, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The conservative route is a loser’s strategy, and yet so many people think minimizing risk in ventures is the right way to play.

The battle within is triggered by external stimuli. We either react to what comes at us or take up the gauntlet and start attacking life proactively with a winner’s mindset. If you sit there and wait all the time, life begins to consume you. The struggle to be successful in your career starts to feel overwhelming every time you let up and think you can coast by.

Your relationships begin to flounder when you stop working for them and think that everyone should “come to you” and things will work out all right. Life is a contact sport and you must be willing to compete and battle for what completes you. This means mastering your emotional and mental abilities through a mindset geared toward continuous improvement.

To be at peace mentally and emotionally, we often need to be at peace spiritually. This means — we have to accept life for what it is, to acknowledge things at face value, then do our best to influence and impact how we want to change things so they will align with our truth — our vision and purpose. It is this vision and purpose that must guide us to win the battle within.

4 Ways to Win Your Battle Within

1. Build in time for self-reflection

Successful people who live boldly and joyfully are great thinkers. They don’t suffer from “paralysis by analysis,” but rather they spend time in deep thought about how they want to design their lives. They think of traps to avoid, they have an excellent memory which steels them against repeating future mistakes. They overcome negative thinking with optimism and hope.

I recommend dedicating a minimum of 15-minutes daily to thinking of all that you’re facing right now in your life. You won’t be able to solve all your problems in 15 minutes, but you will know what you’re up against. You’ll be able to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for each part of your day and you’ll become more resilient for approaching new and old obstacles.

2. Find the environment that will enable you to clear your mind

What place works for you? Does it help you to meditate or find time in solitude in the confines of your own home? Is it in a public space like the library? Is it a church or house of worship? Maybe you need to get out in nature, disengage, unplug and find your inner-voice. We all need peace if we’re going to be great warriors against the things that threaten to derail us.

I encourage you to find a place where you can think clearly and passionately.

“There is an amazing power getting to know your inner self and learning how to use it and not fight with the world. If you know what makes you happy, your personality, interests and capabilities, just use them, and everything else flows beautifully.” — Juhi Chawla

3. Bucket your worries and anxious thoughts into categories

When you struggle long enough with anxious thoughts and fears, you come to a fork in the road. You either do something about it, or you become complacent. Remember this — action is always better than inaction. Compose a list of all your worries and anxious thoughts. Once you have these in one place, begin bucketing them out and categorizing them.

This simple act of shining a light on what affects us mentally and emotionally is vital in helping us develop a winner’s mindset. What do I mean? When you’re able to isolate and highlight the things that threaten you, you’re better able to analyze and target ways to overcome them. You can dismiss some thoughts as unfitting of your time and move on.

Some of our biggest worries or concerns seem very trivial when we open them up to the light.

4. Game Plan

Ultimately, you have to do the work. Better organization leads to better results. Become skilled at planning and executing off the plan you set for yourself. To win the battle you must know your enemies. And you must learn how to defeat them. Kindness, perseverance, gratitude, humility and hard work are all great values that will help you.

Having a plan is a tremendous safeguard against down times and bad thoughts. This game plan will lift your spirits and keep you pointed in the direction to keep fighting on for a new day.

Join my newsletter and let me know if you’d like to work together as you build each day toward living the life you truly want. Let’s GO!

Also check out my Amazon Bestselling book, The Value of You. This will give you inspiration to start planning for success on your journey.

This article first appeared on Medium.