“You are who you are and what you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change who you are and what you are by changing what goes into your mind.” — Zig Ziglar
Goals are a great tool to focus your attention and actions on a specific outcome. However, you can’t just set a goal and then expect everything to fall into place. Even if you have a plan to achieve your goal and then you do everything on that plan, sometimes you still don’t get where you want to be!
What we think as well as what we do is important. There are numerous studies in psychology which show that what you believe about your own ability, actually influences your performance and how successful you will be.
This means that you could be sabotaging yourself before you even get started, merely by thinking unhelpful thoughts or holding unhelpful beliefs.
Do you tell yourself any of the following things?
“This is impossible, I will never be able to do this.”
“I have tried everything and failed.”
“What is the point, I am just destined to be…overweight, stupid, lazy” (insert any other mean adjective you tell yourself here).
“I can’t do it so I won’t even try.”
“I will never be as good as X person so why bother?”
If you have answered "Yes!" to any of the above, then you may have what psychologists call low self-efficacy and a fixed mindset. This essentially means that you have little belief in your own ability to achieve success and you don’t think that the situation is going to improve any time soon.
As children, we have a wonderful disregard for our own limitations. This is why we grow up saying things like “I want to be an astronaut or a supermodel or the president”. We don’t let something stupid like probability or real life get in the way of our dreams!
But as we grow older, we experience setbacks, negative events and failures. This is normal but it is also painful and can damage our sense of self. Sometimes these feelings are so damaging that we decide that we don’t want to feel them anymore. And so to protect ourselves from this awful onslaught We
This is fine if you are happy where you are. But if you want to do something different, then you need to you need to have a new self-protection strategy.
Enter the growth mindset.
The growth mindset is the opposite of the fixed mindset. The growth mindset acknowledges that you are not where you want to be, and where you are now is not your preference, but that there is the possibility of improvement and growth.
The growth mindset sounds like this:
“I have not learnt to do this yet, but I will keep practicing.”
“Every failure is a sign that I am taking action and moving in the right direction”
“I will learn from my failures and with time and effort I can get better”
“I know it might not be easy and I might not get what I want but I’m going to give this everything I’ve got”
“Everyone is different, but I want to be the best version of me.”
Research often shows that your past behaviour predicts your future behaviour — if you have done it before, you will do it again. Having a growth mindset actually liberates you from your past. It says, “Alison, even though you have never managed this before and you have tried 100+ times, this time could be different, this time could be it.”
When you have a growth mindset you welcome failure, in fact, a track record of failure is often necessary before success.
When you have a growth mindset you recognise that failure is just an event, it does not define you or mean that you are a failure, and it certainly does not influence the outcome your next attempt.
When you have a growth mindset, you can zoom out and see the bigger picture. You see yourself starring on your own growth journey. Some days on that journey you will take two steps forward and three steps back, other days you will leap ahead five steps at a time. Your only job is to not step off the path and give up completely. No matter how painful it is, or how slowly you are moving.
When you commit to achieving a goal you embark on that journey without a map, knowing full well that it will be difficult, and painful and sometimes boring and often long. You expect to struggle, and cry and feel frustrated and hopeless. In fact, those feelings are like helpful signposts directing you on to the next part of the path. If you don’t feel them you may well have gone off track!
The only thing that will keep you going is knowing that you can do it and you will get there and you won’t stop until you do.*
Thomas Edison. (the man who took over 3,000 attempts to create the first domestic light bulb) said it best, “success is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
So are you ready to think about where your growth journey will take you?
Maybe you have a medical problem which means you can’t run 10 marathons in 10 days. Or perhaps being a billionaire requires a lot of luck as well as skill and hard work. But do you think it is still a failure if you go from complete couch potato to running a half marathon? No! Is it still a failure to double your salary in one year? Definitely not!
You should not discredit the time, effort, learning, mastery and self-discipline that you practiced in order to get to level up and get to a new personal best. None of that is wasted. Everything that you learnt will help you in your next goal attempt or will prompt you to re-evaluate what is important to you and where your focus should lie next.
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