What separates the winners from the also-rans in any field of life?
Why do so few get to the top even though many others also make the effort?
Is it luck, fate, or just being born with a natural gift that enables some people to do much better than others?
These are all questions I’ve had at different stages of my life. I’m pretty sure you also would have grappled with these if you’ve ever felt that you’ve received the short end of the stick when it comes to chances in life to forge ahead.
Have you not looked at someone else’s achievements and felt, “What has this person got that I don’t have?”
Well, I don’t have a sure-shot formula for success that I could distribute and guarantee results. If I did, I’d have been a very wealthy man by now! What I have learnt over the years, however, is that our mind is a very powerful source of energy that plays a key role in how our lives turn out.
We don’t often think of our mindset as a possible reason for our efforts not producing results the way we’d like. And, to be fair, sometimes extraneous factors do affect outcomes. However, my experience has taught me that underestimating the power of the mind can certainly devalue your efforts. If you have a powerful tool at your disposal, not using it because you’re not entirely convinced of its utility is never a good idea.
If you’d like to improve your chances of your efforts turning into desired results, a mindset shift might be worth trying. It’s like sharpening your axe as you try to cut down a tree. Your efforts will be far more rewarding.
I would like to share with you 10 steps to making a mindset shift. These steps are collated from my experiences, those of other people, and various other resources that I’ve come across on my personal development journey.
1. SET GOALS – Your goals must be specific, measurable, and time-bound so there’s a structure to work towards. Having properly set goals helps the mind tune itself towards the actions needed to achieve them.
When I arrived in NZ as a new migrant, I had only one goal at the top of my mind – to find a job. My desire to start working and earning money made me desperate, and I didn’t spend enough time researching the market and setting myself specific and relevant goals for my job search. Consequently, I found myself at the receiving end of hundreds of rejections. I was in “spray and pray” mode, shooting off applications left, right, and centre. I realized in hindsight that it was not the best approach to set a goal.
2. SET BOUNDARIES – One of the main issues involved in being efficient is the prioritization of work. This includes your work and the work you do for others. If you try to please everyone by being too accommodating, chances are you’ll please no one! That’s because you’ll be spreading yourself too thin, which will impact your efficiency. Setting boundaries and being assertive enough to say “no” when you have to is one of the keys to becoming an achiever.
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – Trying unconventional ideas can solve what seem like insurmountable problems. When I faced rejection after rejection during my job search as a new migrant, I thought of study as an option to expand my contact circle. Within a couple of months of enrolling as a student, I found a connection that helped me speak with a business owner. After 10 months of futile attempts to land an interview, here I was talking with a potential employer. And bingo, I had my first job!
4. SETTLE YOUR MONKEY MIND – The conversations you have with yourself are critical because they dictate the actions you’re going to take. A mind that focuses on the negative and constantly reminds you of the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure will keep you stuck. Be aware of these “mind monkeys” and tame them!
5. BE AWARE OF THE OUTSIDE NOISE – If it’s not your mind holding you back, it could be the views, thoughts, and opinions of others that could be putting the brakes on your development. It’s important to recognize whose opinions to value and whose to ignore. Trying to please everyone is not just impossible, but unnecessary. Don’t let the “what will they think” mentality become a speedbreaker on your road to success.
6. FOLLOW THE 3P FORMULA – Patience, Perseverance, and Persistence are the keys to achieving success. Keep doing what you have to do and let the results take care of themselves. Of course, goal-setting involves tracking your progress but getting too attached to the outcome will cause frustration when results don’t appear. Good things often take time, and you have to be in to win, so use the 3P formula to stay in the game.
7. EXTEND YOUR COMFORT ZONE – The unwillingness to try new things or take small risks will leave you in autopilot mode and feeling stuck. Take small steps outside your comfort zone so you minimize your risk. It’s too easy to say, “This is too tough”! You will never know what you are capable of unless you step outside your comfort zone. Uprooting myself and changing countries in my mid-30s was a leap out of my comfort zone but, many struggles and lessons later, I found my groove.
8. KICK THE ‘BUT’ – If you find yourself saying/thinking “Yes, but…” frequently, it’s time to adjust your mindset. “Yes, but” is an excuse, a cop-out. Your creativity gets stifled by the “Yes, but” because your mind is already coming up with reasons why not to take action. It’s better to think of “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…” when considering the implications of taking any action. You then give your mind a positive confirmation bias rather than going into self-sabotage mode.
9. STAG INSTEAD OF BHAG – I like to think of goals in terms of small steps rather than the “dream big” variety. Small Tiny Achievable Goals (STAG) instead of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) make it easier to get started because they don’t seem so daunting. Some dreams can turn into flights of fantasy that get grounded even before take-off. With STAG, your action steps can begin right away.
10. ADOPT THE 3D PRINCIPLE – The 3D principle involves Determination, Dedication, and Discipline. Determination gives you the will to achieve your goal, and it is often driven by the strength behind why that is important to you. Dedication is what you need to stay committed to the process. To be able to play the long game, you need dedication. Discipline is the spine of your journey, connecting the dots to bring home the prize. Nothing worthwhile usually comes easy, so discipline is needed to do the hard yards.
Incorporating these 10 steps into your life will bring about a mindset shift and make it easier for you to achieve your goals.