#SWAAYthenarrative
BETA
Close

10 Ways to Know If You're Performing at Your Mental Best

Self

The brain represents three percent of your body's weight yet it consumes about twenty percent of the body's energy.


Believe it or not, your brain is firing when you're pouring coffee and walking to the water cooler. Your brain is even active when you sleep.

But just because your brain is working doesn't mean it's working well.

Since getting ahead in this world requires some brainpower, it's important to pay attention to what's happening with your grey matter. Fortunately, if you find that you aren't performing at your mental best, there are some things you can do.

First, let's identify whether your brain is performing at its best. Here are ten ways to know whether your mental energy is being used well.

1. Your decisions are balanced between emotion and logic

If you find yourself making purely emotional decisions, you may not be performing at your metal best. People who are mentally strong understand that the best decisions are based on equal parts emotion and logic. Try not to make any important decisions while you're feeling a powerful emotion, such as anger or grief.

2. You face fears head-on

Mentally-strong people don't let fears hold them back. They understand which fears must be confronted and they face them head-on. It's true that some fears, like standing at the edge of a 12-story building, are valid. Other fears, like starting your own business or writing a book, are based on personal insecurities. If you think your insecurities are holding you back, it's time to strengthen your mental aptitude and charge forward. New experiences improve brain function, so there's no way you're performing at your best if you are stuck in the status quo.

3. You're comfortable with change

You've probably encountered someone in your professional career who has an extreme resistance to change. Not only is this person holding himself back, but he also stands to handicap the entire company. It's clear that extreme resistance to change is unproductive, but we'd all be wise to see where we may be resisting in our own lives. The strongest women won't waste a minute on the resistance. Instead, they'll jump straight to adaptation mode.

4. You learn from your mistakes

A Psychological Science study found that people who believe they learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who don't. The difference seems to make sense from a logical perspective. Wouldn't you be more willing to try something if you have something to gain regardless of the outcome? If you succeed, you get everything you wanted. If you fail, you win by learning something.

5. You show gratitude while striving for more

Results from a NeuroImage brain scanning study suggest that the more you practice gratitude, the more gratitude you will feel over time. When gratitude replaces feelings of ungratefulness or apathy, you make room for more positivity in your life.

6. You're constantly working on yourself

A PsychCentral study suggests that you may be able to strengthen the medial prefrontal cortex by learning new ways of doing things. The medial prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is believed to be responsible for noticing details outside of a person's immediate focus. People who are mentally strong understand that there's always room for growth. To strengthen your mental performance, consider kicking any bad habits or addictions you may have and focus on positive growth.

7. You start your day with a cup of coffee

If you've heard mixed things about consuming coffee, you're not alone. The key takeaway is that it has benefits when consumed in moderation. And it may also have brain-boosting effects.

A British Nutrition Foundation study found that coffee has positive effects on mood, cognitive function, and performance. If you're not a fan of coffee, you may get some of the same effects from caffeinated tea.

8. You plan regular vacations

Mentally healthy people may know how to work hard, but they always find time for play. It's important to achieve a work-life balance that works for you. So if you're starting to feel too stressed, it may be time for a vacation. Even the act of planning a vacation can boost your mood, according to a 2010 Applied Research in Quality of Life study. If you truly cannot get away, at least plan some vacation time close to home.

9. You play to your strengths

Doubts and fear can really hold a person back. The strongest among us know to tackle their strengths before moving on to more challenging tasks. Even small achievements can boost your confidence enough to help you tackle more difficult projects.

10. You're comfortable relying on other people

When you are performing at your mental best, you should be comfortable letting go of the reigns a bit. You understand that one person cannot handle everything alone. As people, we need relationships to survive. If you're comfortable delegating and relying on others, you're showing positive mental aptitude.

The brain is a powerful organ that's responsible for virtually everything we do. If you want to succeed in work and life, evaluate whether you're performing at your mental best and make improvements if necessary.

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
4min read
Fresh Voices

My Unfiltered Struggle of Introducing a Product to a Neglected Market

Sweaty Palms & Weak Responses

Early spring 2018, I walked into the building of a startup accelerator program I had been accepted into. Armed with only confidence and a genius idea, I was eager to start level one. I had no idea of what to expect, but I knew I needed help. Somehow with life's journey of twists and turns, this former successful event planner was now about to blindly walk into the tech industry and tackle on a problem that too many women entrepreneurs had faced.


I sat directly across from the program founders, smiling ear to ear as I explained the then concept for HerHeadquarters. Underneath the table, I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants, the anxiousness and excitement was getting the best of me. I rambled on and on about the future collaborating app for women entrepreneurs and all the features it would have. They finally stopped me, asking the one question I had never been asked before, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".

Taken back by the question, I responded, "I just know". The question was powerful, but my response was weak. While passionate and eager, I was unprepared and naively ready to commit to building a platform when I had no idea if anyone wanted it. They assigned me with the task of validating the need for the platform first. The months to follow were eye-opening and frustrating, but planted seeds for the knowledge that would later build the foundation for HerHeadquarters. I spent months researching and validating through hundreds of surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

I was dedicated to knowing and understanding the needs and challenges of my audience. I knew early on that having a national collaborating app for women entrepreneurs would mean that I'd need to get feedback from women all across the country. I repeatedly put myself on the line by reaching out to strangers, asking them to speak with me. While many took the time to complete a survey and participate in a phone interview, there were some who ignored me, some asked what was in it for them, and a few suggested that I was wasting my time in general. They didn't need another "just for women" platform just because it was trending.

I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve. I became irritated. Just because HerHeadquarters didn't resonate with them, doesn't mean that another woman wouldn't find value in the platform and love it. I felt frustrated that the very women I was trying to support were the ones telling me to quit. I struggled with not taking things personally.

I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve.

The Validation, The Neglect, The Data, and The Irony

The more women I talked to, the more the need for my product was validated. The majority of women entrepreneurs in the industries I was targeting did collaborate. An even higher number of women experienced several obstacles in securing those collaborations and yes, they wanted easier access to high quality brand partnerships.

I didn't just want to launch an app. I wanted to change the image of women who collaborated and adjust the narrative of these women. I was excited to introduce a new technology product that would change the way women secured valuable, rewarding products. I couldn't believe that despite that rising number of women-owned businesses launching, there was no tool catered to them allowing them to grow their business even faster. This demographic had been neglected for too long.

I hadn't just validated the need for the future platform, but I gained valuable data that could be used as leverage. Ironically, armed with confidence, a genius idea, and data to support the need for the platform, I felt stuck. The next steps were to begin designing a prototype, I lacked the skillsets to do it myself and the funding to hire someone else to do it.

I Desperately Need You and Your services, but I'm Broke

I found myself having to put myself out there again, allowing myself to be vulnerable and ask for help. I eventually stumbled across Bianca, a talented UX/UI designer. After coming across her profile online and reaching out, we agreed to meet for a happy hour. The question I had been asked months prior by the founders of my accelerator program came up again, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".

It was like déjà vu, the sweaty palms under the table reemerged and the ear to ear smile as I talked about HerHeadquarters, only this time, I had data. I proudly showed Bianca my research: the list of women from across the country I talked to that supported that not only was this platform solving a problem they had, but it's a product that they'd use and pay for.

I remember my confidence dropping as my transparency came into the conversation. How do you tell someone "I desperately need you and your services, but I'm broke?". I told her that I was stuck, that I needed to move forward with design, but that I didn't have the money to make it happen. Bianca respected my honesty, loved the vision of HerHeadquarters, but mostly importantly the data sold her. She believed in me, she believed in the product, and knew that it would attract investors.

From Paper to Digital

We reached a payment agreed where Bianca would be paid in full once HerHeadquarters received its first investment deal. The next few months were an all-time high for me. Seeing an idea that once floated around in my head make its way to paper, then transform into a digital prototype is was one of the highlights of this journey. Shortly after, we began user testing, making further adjustments based off of feedback.

The further along HerHeadquarters became, the more traction we made. Women entrepreneurs across the U.S. were signing up for early access to the app, we were catching investor's attention, and securing brand partnerships all before we had a launched product. The closer we got to launching, the scarier it was. People who only had a surface value introduction to HerHeadquarters put us in the same category of other platforms or brands catering to women, even if we were completely unrelated, they just heard "for women". I felt consistent pressure, most of which was self-applied, but I still felt it.

I became obsessed with all things HerHeadquarters. My biggest fear was launching and disappointing my users. With a national target audience, a nonexistent marketing budget, and many misconceptions regarding collaborating, I didn't know how to introduce this new brand in a way that distinctly made it clear who were targeting and who we were different from.

I second guessed myself all the time.

A 'Submit' button has never in life been more intimidating. In May 2019, HerHeadquarters was submitted to the Apple and Google play stores and released to women entrepreneurs in select U.S. cities. We've consistently grown our user base and seen amazing collaborations take place. I've grow and learned valuable lessons about myself personally and as a leader. This experience has taught me to trust my journey, trust my hard work, and always let honesty and integrity lead me. I had to give myself permission to make mistakes and not beat myself up about it.

I learned that a hundred "no's" is better than one "yes" from an unfit partner. The most valuable thing that I've learned is keeping my users first. Their feedback, their challenges, and suggestions are valuable and set the pace for the future of HerHeadquarters, as a product and a company. I consider it an honor to serve and cater to one of the most neglected markets in the industry.