A new year is here—cue the reflective blog posts everywhere. Sometimes I don't feel like New Year's is a big event because I come back from the holidays and my life feels like it is in the same spot (well, because it is). Yet something about the tradition does make me feel like I'm hitting "reset" in a way.
This year, I want to focus on real mindset methods for success that are doable and accessible.
We are going to set ourselves up for hitting our goals with an actual mindset shift and habits that are achievable.
Luckily, this method only requires a minute or two but can have lasting impact. This skill can not only help in business and careers, but in any situation where you are facing a challenge.
But First: A Gratuitous Flashback
The “me” that I was in January 2020 when I got my first big client had to do a lot of mindset work, but I’m proud because shifting my mindset has helped me to grow into the person I am today.
Back in 2020? I was scared SHITLESS. (Sometimes I still am! But I know how to manage it much more effectively now. ;) ) If you’re starting something new and looking to grow, you might be able to relate.
In December 2019, I had just left my job cold turkey to pursue being a business owner and copywriter. I had no idea I would add business coach to that list. But that's how it goes, isn't it? None of us can predict the future....so how the heck do we even reach our goals, or even try, when the unknown is so scary?
I'm going to be 100% transparent, I was not good at sticking with my goals and had low self-worth.
In 2019 I was in debt, in a toxic work environment in an underpaid position, miserable and riddled with insecurity. Everything in my life was affected, even my self-esteem. In the US and many other countries, we tie our self-esteem to external factors: salary, family, vacations, cars, homes, our looks, our productivity, and so on.
But the truth is, we are born with all of our value and worth intact. The essence of who we are and what we mean is innate and inseparable from us.
You Can't Earn Self-Worth
You don't "earn" self-worth through external factors. There is nothing to "earn".
Read that again.
In fact, if you tie your self-esteem to any of these things, take jobs for example, the minute you have a setback, make a mistake, or get a rejection email from a potential client, you spin out and start to doubt yourself.
So in order to shape my external environment for the better, I went internal.
I am privileged in the opportunities I have had and the position I was in at 29 to be able to focus on my business: I was single, I had a Master's and writing skills, no children, and in December 2019, I took out my meager retirement of $3,000 to fund the start and help with rent while I was waiting on that first big client.
But trust me, I have many of my own personal and environmental challenges I have had to overcome.
To do that, I practiced untying my self-esteem from any mistake I made, and positioned it instead as a challenge that was solvable.
I know that's easier said than done. I promised you at the beginning of this an actual mindset skill you can use anytime, anywhere, so without further ado...
Mindset Skill: Muting the Voice of Fear
(Disclaimer: I am absolutely NOT a therapist or medical professional–far from it.)
Here's a powerful cognitive skill to create that mindset shift every time you are anxious or disheartened when going for any new goal, and it doesn’t take more than a minute or two.
This is based on cognitive psych skills I have learned over the years through trial and error. All you need is something to write with—phone, paper, computer, etc.
I promise that once you start using this skill more and more, you won’t even need to write anything down, you’ll just start using it like a strengthened muscle.
First think about this: When you make a mistake, what happens? Your heart races, and if you tie your self-worth into your productivity or external successes you probably have a voice that says, "no no no, stop, don't try anymore we can't do it, just go back to what we know."
That voice? It's actually trying to protect you from feeling bad or anxious. It’s trying to bring you back to your safety zone and away from a challenge by activating fight or flight.
We often don't even realize it's there. Reacting to a situation based on that voice is on autopilot. We automatically give up on things before they even start because of what it is subconsciously telling us.
It’s therefore helpful to slow yourself down and listen consciously.
Learning how to take a step back and see events in a more removed way is key to understanding why you make the choices and feel the emotions you do.
Let's break it down into simple cause and effect, then go over the steps to practice countering the urge to run away from a challenge.
Situation: Mistake/Challenge >>>> Negative Feelings >>>> Voice >>>> Course of Action//Reaction (Ie: giving up when it gets hard)
Step 1: SLOW DOWN and observe your situation after a setback or mistake. I mean it, literally write down this pathway above, but insert your situation. Then write down the feelings it is bringing up. Name them specifically.
Step 2: Observe the reaction, AKA the voice. What is the voice saying (if you can't hear a "voice", what are the beliefs about yourself and your ability that are coming up because of this setback)? Write it down.
Step 3: What is the course of action you WANT to take because of this voice/these beliefs you have? Is it giving up? Going back to a job you hate? Ditching plans with friends or family?
Step 4: This is the tricky part. What SHOULD you do to keep moving towards your goal? Write it down. For example, is what you should do to reach your goal be continuing to network and send out 20 meaningful connects per day with potential clients despite the voice of fear? Whatever you should be doing is probably NOT what the voice is telling you.**
**That being said, always listen to your intuition. If you are doing something that isn't safe or right for you because you are trying to "earn" external self worth, DON'T. Intuition is DIFFERENT from this voice of fear. They are not the same.
Step 5: Talk back to the voice and ask “is this really true? What are the actual facts of the situation”, then, practice hitting mute. Now that you have written it down and held space for how you are feeling and what the voice is telling you, you are now going to cut it off from having an effect on the course of action you choose, because it isn’t and doesn’t have to shape your reality.
Finally, honor yourself and make a choice based on the path you want to take to get to your goal.
Action vs Reaction
This method becomes easier and easier through practice once you realize that your thoughts and feelings are not always the truth of the situation. You do not have to believe the fight or flight reaction your body is having because of a challenge or setback.
That sounded pretty hard to believe when I first heard it, and I definitely rolled my eyes, but hey, the alternative was to keep living how I was living and just reacting to the voice, not consciously acting and making choices.
We cannot control everything and we can’t know the outcome of our choices. That won’t change.
However, you can change. You can control your actions rather than reacting.
In this way, you will start to act and lead, rather than impulsively react to thoughts and feelings that aren’t necessarily the truth.
One powerful way to start is using this mindset skill until it becomes second nature to do. Right now, you might be reacting, but you can shift this into action and positive change for yourself.
You probably have heard a variation of this technique, but have you practiced it yet?
Lasting mindset transformation comes from the little day to day choices we make, and acting on conscious choices is a lot more empowering than listening to that voice telling us all the reasons “we shouldn’t”.