Hi everyone, it’s Stephen and welcome to Week 3 of our reset course where we’ll be looking at developing helpful mindsets for improvement. So by now, you should have an idea of your pillars and compass point – if you have no idea what I’m talking about then I’d recommend, clicking on the link in the description to weeks 1 & 2 of the reset course and completing those activities.
We’ll be looking at our mindsets and thought-patterns this week – which can seem like quite abstract topics – however, as you’ll see in this week’s workbook, these are all concepts that you can practically work on to change the way you approach self-improvement.
So rest assured that I won’t just introduce vague concepts, tell you that you should adopt them and then end the video. However, it’s also important to recognise that they’re not items that we can tick off a checklist, it will take work to develop these thought habits.
So, with all that said, in this video, we’ll be exploring three mindsets that will set you up for success in the rest of the course. These are ‘Focusing on what you can control’, ‘Slow and steady progress’, and ‘Being your own detective’. Let’s get started.
- Focusing on what you can control
Firstly, let’s begin focusing on what we can control. This is particularly relevant currently, where there is a lot of frustration in the world and it feels like a lot of things are happening to us. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you can think of times over the past year when you’ve let the situation get to you, leading to feelings of frustration, helplessness or depression.
However, if we think about the limited amount of time and energy we have in a day, given the choice, would you want to spend that energy worrying about the weather, or a post that annoyed you on social media, or other things that you don’t have a say over, or would you spend as much time and energy focusing on tasks, thoughts and behaviours that are within your control or influence.
Now, we might have some influence over things like our health, wealth and relationships, but these things are all also ultimately affected by things that are outside of our control. Our genes might have an impact on our health, our wealth is reliant on customers or employers valuing our skills, and you better believe that the other people in our relationships will influence how they’re going.
When you break it down, we actually only have 100% control over very little – our thoughts, judgements and behaviour are about it. So, as much as possible, we should focus on those. For me, coming back to this idea has been such a useful anchor when thinking about my own self-improvement work.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t care about other things, or that you won’t get frustrated, sad, or feel invested, of course you will. But we want to get to the point where we can recognise when we’re worrying about things that we can do nothing about, catch ourselves and then try to take steps to move our focus to something that we can affect. We want to move away from a reactive mindset (i.e. having things happen to us), to a proactive one (when we’re able to plan and control). If we keep practicing this, over time, we’ll naturally begin focusing our time and energy on things that we can influence and can do something about.
- Slow and Steady Progress
On his website, habit expert James Clear explores the concept of slow and steady ‘continuous improvement’. Improving slowly, 1% each day will eventually add up and is the best way to sustain an improvement going forwards. It may not be sexy, but it works.
Clear states that the typical approach in improvement of setting a goal and then trying to achieve it as quickly as possible often ends in burnout, frustration and failure. If you think about any previous goals or resolutions you’ve made in the past, maybe you can relate…
However, if we work on continuously tweaking our habits and behaviours slightly towards our goals, we’ll not only see progress in a more balanced way, but it’s often easier to sustain those good habits for longer.
I love this model because it’s forgiving and works really well with our compass points. As we’re only trying to improve 1% each day and we’re clear on our current direction, it’s a lot easier for us to just pick our goals back up the next day if things don’t quite go to plan.
We all have off-days, but instead of crashing and burning like in traditional goal-setting or resolution-type approaches, we can view our improvement in the long-term.
So, let’s aim for slow, sustained progress. We want to get 1% better because we’re not just wanting to achieve short-term goals, we want to sustain these improvements and create healthy habits that will benefit us in the long-term.
- Being your own Detective
When working on self-improvement it’s easy to step into the trap of self-blame if things don’t quite go to plan, even if those plans were unrealistic expectations in the first place. It may sound silly, but if we review our progress as if we’re a detective, it helps us focus on the system and finding the right approach for us. Plus, detectives are cool.
Imagine you’ve set a goal that you want to do 30 minutes of yoga each morning just after you get up. You go to bed, smile on your face, imagining your future toned-self 6 months down the line being able to balance your entire body on your elbow.
After a night of sweet, relaxing yoga-based dreams you wake up the next morning… but it’s still dark, and a little cold in your room, and it’s warm and comfy in your bed. “Just 5 minutes more in bed won’t hurt”… “You don’t have to start right away”… “Maybe just wait for the room to get a little warmer”…
You fall back asleep and wake up annoyed at yourself that you didn’t get up out of bed. You start to think maybe you’ll start tomorrow, or you’re just not a yoga person, maybe you just don’t have the self-discipline.
This is a very common thought process and is one of the main reasons resolutions often don’t work – people are relying on self-discipline, they don’t make any other changes and are expecting different results. The thing is… as MuchelleB mentions in her video on how discipline doesn’t work, just relying on self-discipline is unhelpful because when you fail, you blame yourself, get demotivated, frustrated and end up quitting.
However, if you sit down for five minutes with your detective hat on then you can start to explore why it didn’t work and experiment with different techniques and tweaks to your approach. Maybe you move your alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Maybe you sleep in your yoga clothes so you’re ready when you get up. Maybe adopt Mel Robbin’s 5 second rule and pretend you’re a rocket and count down from 5 before launching yourself out of bed.
Whatever approach you take the idea is to try techniques out – continue with what works and drop what doesn’t. And if something doesn’t work, it’s just because you haven’t found the right system yet. Everyone’s system is going to be slightly different, and may differ depending on the day, time and your energy levels – but, it’s a puzzle that can be solved, so pop your detective hat on and challenge yourself to figure it out.
So that’s it, those are the 3 mindsets that will help on your self-improvement journey. This week’s worksheet (linked below) will help you understand your current thought-patterns and reflect on these a little more. We’ll then continue to check in and adopt them over the next 3 weeks of the course.
As ever, remember to share your progress with the other people taking the course in the Discord Server or in the comments section. Were any of these concepts new to you? Any in particular strike a chord? I’d love to hear about it.
In week 4 we’ll move on to our final module on mindful action and explore how best to plan our goals for success.
Have a good week everyone, and I’ll see you next time.