Our biggest obstacle is ourselves. On average, 77% of what you think on a daily basis is negative, self-defeating, or self-deflating. And 95% of what you think today, you also thought yesterday. We are creatures of habit, for good reason. It saves a lot of precious energy so that we can be mindful and open to our current surroundings. But we are only in the seat of our conscious mind, on average, 5% of our day. That leave 95% of our day with our subconscious mind at the helm. This is great news for anyone who has a well balanced relationship between the conscious and subconscious, or for those who have retrained their subconscious so that their best-self is their past of least resistance. But for most of us, this can be a startling realization.
Personally, I have struggled with mental health issues for most of my life. Although I am now way healthier, happier and more aware of my balance than I ever have been, I still struggle occasionally. What I have realized is, so does everyone! We are not alone in our struggles.
When we know what we are working with in our mind and body, it becomes much easier to carve out the path to sustainable and enjoyable change. For example, we often assume that we can increase our overall happiness by achieving more or getting more of what we want. Wishful thinking. We have a set point or baseline of happiness that is a combination of our DNA, experience, mindset, experiences and upbringing. When we experience something amazing, our happiness increases for a few hours or days. But it settles back down to our baseline, and that can be jarring and frightening if we had an expectation otherwise. And inversely, we can experience trauma, defeat and tragedy, and our happiness dips way down below our "normal." Good news, it is short-lived. You will bounce back up and settle back into your baseline. Happiness is an inside job. If you are not satisfied with your average experience of happiness, or your baseline, then your work is in the way you talk to yourself. When you change the way you perceive the world, aka your mindset, you change the way you experience the world.
While I see the importance of setting goals as a catalyst for bold living and making necessary changes to align with core values, I have also realized that the act of setting goals is not enough. Through my history, I have set some big goals. I have accomplished enough of these goals to recognize that my happiness is not waiting in the hands of an external reward.
More than goals, we need to adopt a goal-setter mindset. What is a MIndset exactly? It is what you focus on, the energy you emit, and your perception of failure, growth and success which shapes your experience of reality. The ultimate goal here is to conserve and create quality positive energy to fuel the journey of your life. If your mindset is draining your energy, than you can set all the goals in the world and have the very best intention, but that won't be enough to keep you motivated and bring you peace and joy along the way. The journey is your life, not the destination.
With this is mind, how do we get our subconscious and conscious mind to work together?
In the book Switch, by Dan and Chip Heath, they tackle what it takes to lead change while knowing the complexity of the two minds we all have in our head. First, we need to create a road-map of sorts so our conscious mind knows what steps to take. Second, we need a deep sense of Purpose and Why behind the desired change or action. And third, we need to be mindful of our environment and surround ourselves with support and inspiration, edit as we go, and find our flow.
Your road-map will evolve as you get moving and become more clear on where you're headed. That is the fun of the journey. A little bit of uncertainty is what turns an ordinary old day into an adventure.
As I put together my current 5 key steps to a Goal-Setter Mindset, I noted how 6 months ago my steps looked different. And I am aware that when I go through this process 6 months from now, again my wording will most likely change. It is important to allow ourselves to be inspired and guided by others, but it is even more important to learn to be our own inner-motivator. My 5 key steps may serve you well, and you may be able to adjust, tweak and evolve to create a list more on par with who you are now and where you are headed.
Take time each morning to connect with yourself. Let this be a new experience, focused on being present and mindful versus just going through the motions of a "routine." Connect with your breath, tell yourself what you need to hear, set an Intention based on what you need to keep in mind to honor your growth and your balance. Choose to surround yourself and connect with inspiring people throughout your day who will support you in keeping your fire lit and your heart open. We need to lean on each other occasionally, but we also need to know it is up to us to keep ourselves motivated, moving and grooving.
Be a student of life. Let yourself be a beginner. Enjoy the process of trying something new and being open to the perceptions of others. We crave routine but we also need novelty. Switch things up throughout your day to ensure you are bringing in new sensations and stimuli that will support you in your mindfulness. We are creatures of habit. We learn a lot as we step back and notice our reactions and choose to respond instead. Be fascinated by what you notice in your patterns. Be interested, not interesting. Lastly, motion is lotion. When we sweat and move our bodies, we release growth hormones in our brain that will help us learn, adapt and evolve into the wise and best-self creatures that we have the privilege to be. Sweat is for our brain, not just our body.
3. LET GO
What we think we own, actually owns us. Find freedom in your life by acknowledging that everything is fleeting and temporary. Enjoy the moment for what it is and then let it go. Tap into your flow throughout your day. There are activities/hobbies that you already have and love in your life that bring you into a state of flow. Yoga, painting, creating, cooking, running, meditating, researching something that lights you up, walking and smiling at strangers, etc. There are many ways to find your flow and this is where you will fill your tank with quality fuel for your day. We can't be all effort, strategy and force. We need to let go. We need to let ourselves be and find joy in the simple things. Let go of limiting beliefs. Let go of thoughts that make you feel small, incapable, stagnant or unworthy of what you desire. You get to choose what you focus on and what you tell yourself. So tell yourself what you need to hear and let yourself be.
"When you give something space to be, you allow it to move and change" Mary O'Malley
There is a time and a place for reflection, and it is not all day everyday. Carve out five minutes each night to reflect on your day, acknowledge where you showed strength, what you are proud of, what you are grateful for and what you need to focus on tomorrow to keep your growth and momentum rolling. Notice if you are carrying anything with you from your day. Write down what you need to remember and then let go and allow yourself to tap into self-love and balance to finish your day.
Growth is not a straight and upward trajectory. It dips, dives, circles, ebbs and flows. In a snapshot of time it easy to beat ourselves up when we perceive ourselves as taking steps backward. But really, it is all forward progress as we learn and grow the most from our darkness, our missteps and our "failures." Let yourself be in process. Let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be vulnerable and open to your depth and your struggles. When you can learn to smile through your challenges and rise above the momentary shadows, we bounce back quicker and with more resilience each time. This work is not about avoiding failure, it is about learning and loving our imperfections. No failure is a final failure. It is all experience and it is all an important part of the journey. Let your cracks show and others will find the strength and courage to let their cracks show too.
"It is all forward progress, even when it seems like everything is falling apart" Mary O'Malley
What are your steps to the Goal-Setter Mindset? In other words, what are your steps to Happiness? I would love to hear what you create.
Keep in mind....
1. Create your road-map. Keep it simple and adaptive so there is room to flow and grow.
2. Be grounded in your Why and your Purpose. It is the journey, not the destination, that matters in the end. Find your fuel.
3. Be mindful of your environment and tweak as needed to ensure it is conducive and inspiring for the change you are creating in your life.
Happy Trail Blazing xoxo
Whatever you focus on, you create more of
Where your mind goes, energy flows