Here are 5 ideas on how to change your mindset:
1. Accept that your thinking needs adjusting – We’ve all had goals and dreams that didn’t unfold the way we hoped or expected. When this happens repeatedly, we start to wonder what we need to change. But rarely do we look inside at our own thinking as the place to start making changes.
We live in a skillset-driven society that emphasizes learning new skills and improving the ones we’re weakest at. This often fosters the belief that we need more education in order to achieve our goals. Some people go back to school, others take seminars and workshops or read books, always looking for that silver bullet skillset that will make everything fall into place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downplaying the value of skillsets; but more often, it’s our mindsets that need adjustment.
The good news is, it’s a lot less expensive and much faster to change your mindsets than to go learn a new skill. So step one is simply to acknowledge that you’re going to work on your mindsets first.
2. Identify your counter-mindsets – Mindsets are formed through prior experiences and emotional milestones, and the mindsets that aren’t producing the results you want are called counter-mindsets.
Some examples of these are self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and any other negative thoughts that get in the way of your fulfillment.
Around 65,000 thoughts go through our minds each day. Unfortunately, in the case of most people, the majority of them are negative. These “Automatic Negative Thoughts” (ANTs) occur so often that you’re probably not even aware of them (most of us aren’t).
For example: You know that little voice that points out irresponsible spending choices when you’re looking at your monthly budget? Or makes disparaging comments when you look in the mirror?
We all know that voice. It makes you hesitate before approaching someone you’d like to meet. It makes you think twice before starting a business or considering a career change.
All of us have different ANTs, and, without knowing it, we’re habitually allowing them to destroy our dreams. It’s hard to remain positive when that little voice is constantly spouting off and saying things like, “I can’t talk to her,” “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m out of shape,” “I’m not qualified”… yada, yada, yada.
The way to start exterminating the ANTs in your head is to begin paying attention to them. Notice when you hear that disparaging voice, and recognize how frequently it happens. More than likely, you’ll find that your limiting thoughts can be narrowed down to a few key themes. Taking note of this is a major step because we can’t change what we haven’t acknowledged.
3. Flip the switch – Once you’ve identified your top negative thoughts, you need a way to stop them from holding you back. The best technique I know for this is something I call “flip the switch,” which moves thoughts from negative to positive.
For years, every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw were my flaws. Finally, I started practicing the exact opposite reaction – flipping the switch. I’d look in the mirror and force myself to say, “You look good!”
It took some time to get used to it, but the reality is that positive thoughts and negative thoughts can’t occupy the same space, so I was giving my ANTs an eviction notice.
Another technique I find effective is called the “if/then” approach. Once you identify when your ANTs typically show up, apply a thought process that allows you to essentially think yourself past them.
Here’s an example: Say you plan to go for a walk after dinner to get more exercise, but when dinner is over, your ANT shows up. If you start to hear the voice in your head that says you’re too tired, too full, or you’ll never lose the weight anyway, then walk to the closet immediately and put on your running shoes.
Often, just taking one positive step in the right direction is enough to shut those ANTs up. Prepare yourself by creating a list of if/then statements ahead of time.
4. Understand your “why” – Changing your mindsets takes work because formed habits aren’t easy to break. This is especially true since many of our most harmful habits and counter-mindsets were established when we were kids, and we’ve been doing things the same way ever since.
Understanding your “why” is about starting fresh and deciding on one goal or dream that, when you achieve it, will mean a transformational change. Losing weight. Being happier at work. Improving your relationship with your companion. Identify something that could make a huge impact in your life.
After all, if it’s going to take work to make it come true, it better be really meaningful, right?
Once you identify what your “why” is, write down on paper or in a notebook why it really matters to you. Not on a computer… on paper in your own handwriting. This is an important part of building your motivation.
5. Realize that motivation and willpower are not enough – Most people incorrectly believe that motivation and willpower are all that’s needed to achieve their goals. And no wonder they do, since it’s common advice you hear from friends and family to motivation gurus and life coaches.
I asked you to write down your big “why” in step four because that’s where motivation begins. But we all know that motivation can be hard to maintain no matter how important your goal may be–and that’s when willpower is supposed to kick in.
The latest brain research reveals that willpower is like a gas tank. You start with a full tank, but you deplete your supply each time you use it. Here’s what I mean:
You’re trying to eat healthier, then get to work and find Girl Scout cookies next to the fruit bowl. What do you do? Tap into your willpower and resist the cookies. Good for you!
Then you plan to go to the gym after work, but end up staying later to deal with a customer issue. Your willpower is already depleted, and the added stress of not following your original plan doesn’t help.
Do you end up going to the gym? You know the answer, because it’s happened to all of us.
It doesn’t take long to simply give up and abandon our goals when we rely on motivation and willpower to achieve them. They aren’t always enough. That’s why 25% of people give up on a goal after the first week, and 60% quit after the first month.
High achievers understand this reality, which is why step five is simply about recognition… that is, recognizing that achieving your goals isn’t about white-knuckling your way to success.
By accepting this fact, you’ll stop mentally punishing yourself for stumbling or failing to stick to your plan–which will leave you emotionally freer to optimistically try again tomorrow!