Every January we are bombarded with articles like ‘New Year, New You!’, ‘Be The Person You Want to Be!’ With the greatest of intention, the New Year begins with resolutions that 2017 will be ‘the’ year. Motivated, rested, determined and ready for change you decide to make all the ‘simple changes’ to transform your career, your diet, your exercise, and your life. By January end things will be different – total transformation under way.
Cue Blue Monday, the third Monday in January considered the most depressing day of the year, and you are struggling. So how do you keep on target and make this year the year you are the change you want to be?
Not easy, not simple, it requires effort and hard work but change your mindset, and the rest will follow.
So what is mindset I hear you cry!! It is the way you view yourself and the world around you. According to Professor Dweck, a thought leader in the field, you can have either a fixed or growth mindset. (This is the link to her brilliant TED Talk on Mindset). If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you are naturally good at some things, not so good at others things and that’s just the way it is. You tend to give up when you don’t feel in control or when things get tough.
If, however, you have a growth mindset, you see the value in trying, you are ok with the possibility of failing, and you try to learn from mistakes. You tend to stick to your resolutions; you keep going when things get hard, and you get immense joy from the process.
So while we all have goals or New Year resolutions those with a growth mindset are infinitely more likely to achieve them. But what if you have a fixed mindset? Importantly, according to Dweck, it is possible to change your mindset.
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Be honest with yourself
How often have you made the same resolution about your career, your weight, joining a class, getting fit, or your personal life? If this is you get honest with yourself. Ask the hard questions. Do your resolutions carry real deep personal meaning to you? Did you ever really intend to start the process or are you just talking the talk? Do you want to make change? Or do you have the best of intentions, but can’t just seem to get there. Lesson number one in moving towards a growth mindset – DO NOT GIVE UP. If your resolutions carry meaning for you keep going, especially when you feel like giving up.
Learn from the past – Don’t live in it
The past is in the past. You can do nothing about what you haven’t done. You can, however, plan to do something different going forward. Spend fifteen minutes NOW outlining your resolutions. Write them down, record yourself using your voice memo, whatever works for you. Define what change means to you and what you want to achieve. Be clear and specific but above all remember it’s ok to dream big.
No more excuses
‘Not this week I have a big project on’, ‘I’m not feeling great’, ‘I have no energy’, ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I’ll fail anyway’, ‘I’ve already tried, and it’s too hard’. Stop. If you are serious, no more excuses. Stop waiting until tomorrow, or Monday, instead begin now. Look back over the past 22 days and see what stopped you from achieving your resolutions. What excuses have you been making to yourself?
Analyse any mistakes.
Success is not final, and failure is not fatal. Everybody experiences setbacks, but with a growth mindset, you refuse to allow them to define you. Instead choose to learn from them, put in place practical strategies to ensure they do not happen again and move on.
Re-evaluate your Resolutions
Check in with your resolutions to see if they practical? Ask yourself some of the following questions? Have you bitten off too much? Do you need to refine what your resolution means specifically? Have you put in place an action plan broken down into 6-week bite size manageable chunks? Have you made yourself accountable to somebody else to help you reach your targets? Re-evaluate and move on.
60 Seconds A Day Rule
As your journey toward a growth mindset starts, and you begin the process of real change, it is easy to get distracted. To avoid this dedicate one minute every day to check in with yourself. Ask yourself every night ‘What did I do today to help me reach my goal?’ or ‘What can I do differently tomorrow?’ Think about it, 60 seconds per day is only 365 minutes, or a little over 6 hours, per year. Not a lot of time to keep you on track.
Changing how you have thought for years does not happen overnight. It requires courage and effort. You can achieve this by gradually taking on challenges you have previously shunned, your confidence grows, and you begin to see change. As this happens you develop a growth mindset and your approach changes. You feel happier, more productive and you are more likely to achieve your resolutions.
By Sinead Brady