"Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance." — Samuel Johnson, English Writer
It’s no surprise people who have accomplished great things often say it’s mind over matter. Science has shown that mindset can sometimes be the biggest factor in reaching your goals, whether they’re personal or professional.
When you are hard at work on your goals, it is easy to push yourself to the back burner. But by taking care of yourself -- your actual self, the person who you are with the feelings that you have -- you enhance your ability to achieve success and keep going.
If you're looking for help with that process, start here: the Ink+Volt Spiritual Self Care Worksheet. It is all about nurturing your inner self, which is at the heart of everything you do.
Making reflection and self-awareness a part of your real life, right now, will drastically change the way your life feels. When your life has space for you to grow and thrive, everything feels easier and you can do much more of the stuff that makes you feel fulfilled and happy.
Small changes in your mindset can play a huge role in accomplishing your goals. Here’s how.
Learn to develop a growth mindset
The way you think about yourself and your process for reaching your goals could change everything, and may all hinge on your focus on the journey, rather than the destination.
That advice might sound kind of corny, but psychologist Carol Dweck has concluded it’s why some soccer players are good and others are great. It’s also why tests aren’t really a good measure of intelligence.
Dweck’s work focuses on two mindsets — fixed mindset and growth mindset — and how they affect goal outcomes. With a growth mindset intelligence can be developed, while a person with a fixed mindset has “static” intelligence. In simpler terms, each of these mindsets sees failure differently.
“Failure is information — we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else,’” explains fellow researcher Carol Diener.
People with fixed mindsets often learn for “performance,” Dweck says.
For example, a student with a fixed mindset may memorize a multiplication chart, but if they’re only memorizing that information so that they excel on the test, they're not really integrating that knowledge or growth into their self-perception.
Growth mindset achievers set goals to learn or solve problems. They want to understand how multiplication works, and because they do, they also happen to excel on the test.
They’re learning in the process, and if they mess up one multiplication problem, they don’t see it as a setback. They see it as a learning opportunity. These two mindsets are fundamentally different in how they set and work toward goals.
Learning goals may help you more than performance goals. This is why.
If your goal is to learn, then you can't really fail, so long as you are continuing to learn. A byproduct of learning can be mastery, and mastery can cause lots of good things to happen (feeling more fulfilled, making more money) but those finish lines aren't the goal.
Instead of facing a problem as a failure, see it as an opportunity. Ask yourself:
- What did I learn?
- What didn’t work?
- What did work? (Failures aren’t usually absolute)
- What will I change next time?
This shift in mindset can help you stop thinking you’ve failed and help you build on what is working.
Making reflection part of your process helps greatly with developing a new mindset. As does making time for slowing down, thinking your thoughts, and getting in touch with what you really want.
Empower your internal dialogue
Language is important, especially when you’re setting and working toward a goal. How many times do you say you “can’t” do something? Can’t, whether we mean it figuratively or literally, is often a conversation ender.
Can't, as an idea, takes away our power. If I can't do something, there is nowhere to go from there.
When you find yourself using language that takes away your power, start noticing - and then rephrase.
Reaching goals requires having the belief that you can achieve the things you set out to do, and so using language to your advantage is an easy way to think your way through it.
When you think, "I can't talk to my boss about a raise" - remember that actually, you can do lots of things.
"I can review my work from the last year and make a solid case for a raise."
"I can send an email setting up a meeting."
"I can communicate clearly. I can withstand disappointment. I can think on my feet and speak up for myself."
A simple way to overcome the “can’t” trap is to ask yourself every time you say you can’t what the reasons why are. Simply slowing down and asking that question can lead us to find many things that we actually can do, even if it means the process takes longer or requires us to push our comfort level.
After all, a little bit of progress is better than none.
Keep up with discipline
No goal is obtained without it, but discipline and the motivation to enforce it, can be hard to come by sometimes. Think of discipline as a mindset, because it’s all about keeping focus and staying on track.
While every person and goal is different, discipline can look like developing good habits, continuously auditing your work, or surrounding yourself with people who will inspire you to meet your goals.
Having a few good tools can make discipline much easier. A good daily planner or weekly planning deskpad will allow you to build your schedule in a way that supports your goal journey. Envision your end result and then, week by week, create a plan and space for reflection.
Just saying you want to accomplish something doesn’t mean you’ll do it, but having the mindset to sit down every day or once a week and sit with the details of what worked and what didn’t will help you know which next move is best.