When’s the last time you were supposed to do something important, but you put it off because your brain told you “No, we’re too tired, and doing this will be so boring and awful. Let’s do it later”?
According to the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people actually achieve the goals they set out for themselves every New Year’s Eve. When things get hard, people want to retreat to their comfort zones instead of pushing forward.
When you work for your mind instead of the other way around, it can be incredibly hard to find the motivation you need to achieve your goals.
But did you know there’s ways you can take control of your mind and build a way of thinking that works specifically for your growth?
That’s right, there is — but it all starts with realizing you’ve gotta change your mindset.
Step 1: Identify the Mindset You Have and Things You Want to Change
A mindset is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a mental attitude or inclination.” Essentially, it’s just the way your brain tells you to think about things.
The first thing you’ll want to do is accept the fact that you have a mindset that needs changing, and realize that you’re going to have to put in some work to make the necessary changes. But don’t let that scare you off — after reading the remainder of this blog, you’ll realize that you’ve got more than enough power to do so.
You’ll also want to accept that there’s no quick fix to taking control of your mind. It might take you a while, and you might slip up a few times, but that’s only natural. However, there are little things you can do every day that will become second nature to you over time.
Now that you’re ready to let those little mistakes roll right off your shoulders and teach your mind how to think, let’s move on to the good stuff!
There are two main categories of mindsets: growth and fixed.
If you have a growth mindset, you most likely believe basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hardwork. This particular mindset commonly comes alongside a love of learning and resilience in the face of hardship.
If you have a fixed mindset, you believe basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are innate in nature — meaning you believe you were born with these traits and these traits alone will create success for you without you having to put in much effort.
If you’re looking for some more information about the types of mindsets and how you can go about identifying yours, you can head to this fantastic article from Forbes.
There’s really no right or wrong answer here, and it’s important to understand that it’s possible to have different mindsets for different areas of your life. However, starting to piece together the way you think about things will help you identify the right strategies for overcoming toxicity of the mind.
Next, think about the specificities of why your mind doesn’t work for you. Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve, and what gets in my way of achieving it?
Create an ongoing list that you can refer back to over time. For example, do you struggle with getting things done on time? Can’t find the motivation to get back to the gym? Write down what you have to do and what stopped you from doing it.
Doing so will allow you to identify your counter-mindsets — and that’s where the fun really begins.
Step 2: Identify Counter-Mindsets and Change Your Language
That little voice in your head that tells you, “Ew, don’t wear that shirt, it makes you look fat”?
That’s your counter-mindset.
Your counter-mindset commonly appears in the form of negative thoughts. Maybe it tells you that you look bad in what you’re wearing, or that you don’t have the skills to achieve your goals, or that everything is always going to go wrong for you.
What most people don’t realize is that your perception is your reality. If you think only negative things, you will become an inherently negative person.
It’s vital that you identify these intrusive, harmful thoughts and do what you can to stop them in their tracks by changing them into positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations are statements that are commonly used to overcome negative thoughts. When you repeat them to yourself, you’ll start to believe them, and will eventually be able to use them to create positive change in your life.
To get started, draw a line down a piece of paper dividing it into two columns. Write your negative thoughts on one side and a positive affirmation on the other.
For example: For intrusive thoughts, you might be thinking, “This thing I have to do is just so hard, I can’t do it. I don’t have the skills, and it’s going to be a disaster.”
For the positive side, write, “This thing I have to do might be hard, but I’ve got lots of resources I can turn to if I get stuck. I might still be growing my skills, but I know I’ve got what it takes to learn how to do things right.”
Keep an ongoing list of positive affirmations that you repeat to yourself every day. This might seem a little silly, but you’ll be surprised when, down the line, you realize you only have positive things to say about yourself, your goals, and your life.
Step 3: Identify Your Passions and Seek Fulfillment
Whether it’s helping people, creating things, or something else entirely, find what it is that makes you tick.
Rather than focusing on trying to make yourself happy, instead focus on doing things that give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
This will help take the stress off of you when you do something that doesn’t directly result in your happiness. Unfortunately, we can’t be happy all the time, but that shouldn’t serve to make us more unhappy.
Think of it like this: Doing that annoying thing your boss told you to do isn’t necessarily going to make you jump for joy, but it will fulfill you because you’ve used your skills and knowledge to help someone achieve their goals — and yours.
If you focus on finding a sense of purpose, the joy of what you do will surely follow.
Step 4: Start Small
If we could easily change everything we want to about ourselves overnight, you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this blog.
That’s why you’ll want to start small. Remember: All good things take time.
Starting small will help you take the pressure off yourself when trying to change your mindset. There might be a long road ahead of you — but you know what? Every step you take, no matter how small, only serves to move you forward along your path and closer to your goal.
For example, if you want to eat healthier, try doing a meatless Monday every week and focus on feeding yourself lots of veggies. If you want to get things done, set a series of 20-minute timers for yourself where you work without any distractions. If you want to start working out, do one pushup a day, adding on as you go.
If you find that one pushup a day is too slow for you, that means it’s working! You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to add on to your routine once you’ve developed the basic building blocks.
The key thing here is to start small and work your way up at a pace that works for you. If you stick to it, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you grow.
Step 5: Remember to Be Kind to Yourself
One last thing: Remember to be kind to yourself. Just because we fail doesn’t mean we’re bad people — it’s our ability to pick ourselves up from failure and keep going that makes us so great.
And let’s be real: It’s hard to break free from a toxic mindset.
But if you focus on identifying what it is you want to change, filling your life with positive affirmations instead of negative thoughts, and sticking to a pace of changes that works for you, your toxic mindset will wither and crumble to dust.