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What is your mindset?

What is your mindset?

Our mindset has a profound impact on our life because it determines how we interact, behave, perceive, and engage with the world around us. We seldom, however, give our mindset a second thought, perhaps assuming that it’s innately inborn and something beyond our control. Many people assume that we either have a positive mindset that sees the glass as half full, or a negative one that sees it as half empty. Fortunately, and because of neuroplasticity over time, our mindsets can change and grow.

In our day-to-day lives, our mindset determines how we approach challenges and obstacles. Do we see things from a more negative viewpoint, or do we see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn? The good news is that you can develop and change your mindset in any situation because you have one phenomenal component in your life: choice! You can choose how to see your world around you. Your mindset is the belief you have about something, and we all know that our beliefs aren’t always correct. Beliefs are concepts we deem to be true without having any empirical evidence, but we have the ability to change our beliefs and therefore our mindset.

According to leading mindset researcher Professor Carol Dweck, there are two distinct mindset types.

The Two Different Mindset Types

1. Fixed mindset

As the word indicates, a fixed mindset person believes that our abilities and qualities are predetermined. This means that we’re born with certain predispositions that we cannot change or control. A fixed mindset focuses on winning and achieving for the benefit of being acknowledged and respected by others. A fixed mindset approach requires constant validation from others. If the person perceives that he/she won’t be able to achieve an outcome because of the lack of capability, this translates into them not putting in the required effort because they doubt their success. If failure does occur, the person doesn’t try again but gives up and believes that they aren’t good enough.

2. Growth Mindset

On the other side of the spectrum is the growth mindset – here the belief is that a person’s qualities and abilities can grow and develop with effort, experience, discipline, and engagement. The focus is on learning mastery and competence in self-selected areas. Results and outcomes don’t determine who we are, or what our potential is; rather they’re an indication of the amount of effort we apply right now. If the person doesn’t succeed the first time around, they develop the thinking style of “not yet, but soon”. They get up, contemplate how to approach the situation differently, and try again. Their emphasis is on the process applied not the actual outcome.
You may be wondering why it matters which mindset type you have. It matters profoundly because it clearly affects your ability to achieve goals, performances and being successful. Our mindset type can hinder or enable us, and this determines which strategies we’ll apply. It dictates how we respond to setbacks, the energy and effort we use to tackle situations, and in the end our success in goal attainment. Statistics show that a growth mindset is successful more often and is able to maintain that level consistently.

 

Mindsets in Organisations

If we take this concept one step further and assume that companies operate in the same frame as individuals, we can then conclude that companies have a certain primary mindset culture. Let’s hypothetically assume that a company has a fixed mindset culture, which is shown in its structures, policies, processes, operational activities and task execution. Outcomes and targets are distinctly measured and not attaining them means failure. Mistakes are punished, people are labelled as incompetent, and no learning is taken from mishaps. Leadership cascades that energy into its workforce, which may hamper employees from being self-motivated, creative, innovative thinkers, learners of mistakes, and eager to experiment with new ways of doing things. Growth is overshadowed by the company’s habitual system.

If the above concept is true; should leaders not be focusing on changing their company’s mindset? Companies like Apple, Google, and Virgin actively apply a growth mindset culture and we know what phenomenal success they’ve achieved. Perhaps it’s time to review what parts of your company are stuck in a fixed mindset and which aren’t.

Make the shift to a healthier growth mindset culture where you can learn from mistakes, and focus on the processes you apply rather than the final outcomes.

 

Reference

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: The Random House Publishing Group.

5 Techniques to Stop Overthinking Now!

5 Techniques to Stop Overthinking Now!

Every organ in our body has a specific function which warrants its existence. The mind is no different with its main purpose being to think, process and understand. It will think about things that are relevant and important to us and will equally consider trivial, mindless things. Its full-time job is to think, but that doesn’t mean that all the thoughts we have are valuable to us and warrant attention. We need to use self-awareness to distinguish between the thoughts that are helpful and motivating for us to move in a positive direction, versus those that swirl around aimlessly in our mind resulting in an endless sense of worry, and a repetitive loop anxiety.

 

Rumination and Reflection

The two self-awareness types described are called reflection and rumination, and they discern the quality and quantity of our thoughts. Reflection and rumination both originate from the same internal source of self-focus; however, they are different in terms of their intention. Rumination is a self-focused perception of the threats to your life; loss, regret, unfair social comparison, or unpacking injustice. It is laden with an undertone of psychological distress, anxiety and endless worry. In contrast, reflection is a curious, open-minded and non-judgemental observation of self (Trapnell and Campbell, 1999). In both cases, our mind is doing its work of contemplating, but the outcome is completely different.

We all know that from self-preservation and societal influence our minds are programmed to look for the negative in all aspects of our life, this means our minds will naturally spend more energy and attention on rumination than on non-judgemental reflection. But is ruminating beneficial to us?

If you are ruminating to understand a past disappointment, frustration or angry moment, it serves you for a certain time but generally once we start to ruminate we can’t stop which results in us overthinking and isolating ourselves. What follows is a vicious, negative downward spiral. Overthinking doesn’t solve any problems. In actual fact, quite the contrary happens – it worsens the situation, makes you miserable, hampers your decision-making ability, impairs your concentration, and drains your energy. It certainly won’t bring out the best in you.

 

 Making the Shift from Rumination

When you are in the vortex of rumination, you feel pushed and pulled in all directions and you will need to become self-aware that only you have the autonomy to halt the process and step away from it. As a starting point, give yourself permission to stop overthinking things, shift to a more reflective mind-set, and work out how you can think about these ruminating thoughts in a positive light.

I am going to share various techniques to stop ruminating. Try one and see if it resonates with you; if it doesn’t, move on and experiment with another one until you find your personal fit.

We all ruminate in our lives but having techniques will assist you to move out of the overthinking space faster to a place of reflection and balance.

 

 

The Five Techniques to Stop Overthinking:

     

  1. Self-Compassion:
    Shift your relationship with yourself to a kind and loving one that is non-judgemental or self-critical. Observe a situation as if you were your loving best friend and then become curious about what you are learning about yourself and what opportunity appears in front of you. Embrace failure, disappointment and inadequacies as opportunities to grow and develop and not to be critical of your shortcomings. Ask yourself questions such as: what could this situation mean; what can I learn from this experience; what opportunity presents itself here; and what strengths can I develop as a result of the situation?

 

  1. Put it into Perspective:
    Learn to sit back and see the situation from a bigger picture viewpoint and ask yourself if this event will matter in a years’ time or even a months’ time. If it is unlikely to have such a lasting impact, then rephrase and reframe your thoughts to: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “this too shall pass”. But if the answer is yes, then shift into reflection mode and become curious and open-minded to determine what you have control over to make it a positive outcome.

 

  1. Loving-Kindness Meditation:
    This is a type of meditation where you consciously send love, blessings and kindness to yourself. Use short periods of five to ten minutes where you go inwards and repeat these three phrases: May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be at peace. Each time you repeat the phrase, you go deeper and really feel the power of the words in your body, in your heart and in your mind. The meditation is extremely powerful and will calm you, increase self-compassion and decrease overthinking.

 

  1. Time Out:
    Give yourself a set time, such as half an hour, to ruminate. You now have official permission to ruminate without feeling guilty. Set a timer and once the time is up you have to stop and engage in something completely different, preferably something fun such as listening to and singing your favourite song, doing a sweaty cardio workout or watching a comedy show.

 

  1. Reframing your language:
    During moments of rumination, we are extremely self-critical and may be using harsh, negative language. We are unlikely to speak to others in the same way but tend to be our most mean and unforgiving to ourselves. A powerful first step in breaking this chain is to become mindful of the negative language and thoughts you use towards yourself. Thereafter, rephrase the language as if you are communicating with a dear friend and apply that to yourself. Pay attention to your tone of voice and how you would like to talk to yourself in the future.

 
Ruminating is a natural phenomenon that we are wired to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us, in large doses. Through continuous self-awareness and discernment of the quality of your thoughts, you can assess if your thoughts are serving you or not. If not, you are likely overthinking things and mainly living in your head. If you bring in a combination of reflection and the techniques described above, you will have the practical tools to transform your thoughts into positive ones and experience a much lighter and easier life.

In the words of John Milton:

The mind is its own place, and it itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

 

Reference

Trapnell, P., & Campbell, J. (1999). Private self-consciousness and the five-factor model of personality: Distinguising rumination from reflection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 284-304.

Set yourself up for success with your own Personal Balanced Scorecard

Set yourself up for success with your own Personal Balanced Scorecard

The holiday season is over, and our lives are slowly getting back to normal in terms of our daily routines. Over the last few weeks you may have given your body and mind a well-deserved break and will be getting ready to embrace the year with renewed energy and optimism. Setting New Year’s resolutions seems to be an outdated ritual and no longer in fashion, but the philosophy behind it remains: the concept of self-reflection where one reviews, re-assesses and evaluates the past year. Everyone will use their own method to work out if the past year was great, mediocre, or a not too great, thank goodness it’s over year.

After we have evaluated the past year, we can shift our attention and look forward to the upcoming year; being curious what the stars have in store for us. We might daydream about where we want to be at the end of this year, or we may be crystal clear on the goals we wish to attain. Most often, our annual evaluation highlights for us what we want to achieve, what we want or even need to let go of, and what we want to start with, replacing negative habits with positive healthy ones being a common goal that we strive for. Somehow, that language has a negative energy and seems as if we have to give up something to gain something. Perhaps it’s the combination of wishful thinking, not setting clear goals and sacrificing something that results in New Year’s resolutions being overrated and failing dismally.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water as the concept of evaluation, assessment and setting new goals is a powerful and necessary step for personal growth and development. What if we try it with a more abundant, comprehensive and guaranteed for success approach, such as designing your own Personal Balanced Scorecard? You may be wondering what a Personal Balanced Scorecard is, and why you have never heard of it before. It’s quite simple: the Scorecard has its origins in the business world and only found its way into our personal lives in the last few years. It was initially developed in the early 1990s by Dr Robert S Kaplan and Dr David P Norton with the intention of measuring an organisation’s progress towards its business goals and vision. The framework comprises of a mixture of financial and non-financial performance business goals. Data is collected and scored to determine progress, targets met and deviations. It sounds technically complicated and corporate, but through its personal adaptation to fit and suit our busy lives it has become a very practical and handy method to ensure that you balance your life with all other important domains such as work, family, health, leisure, and travel, etc.

You can design your own Personal Balanced Scorecard and make it simple and easy to use or more fancy and advanced. This will help you to keep focused on the progress of the goals you have set for yourself. The power of the tool is that you receive a visual tool that tracks whether you are on track, lagging behind or totally off course; this realisation will make you quickly reassess, re-evaluate and take action. You can customise how often you want to re-evaluate your progress, either monthly quarterly or six-monthly. Remember it’s your Scorecard and you can make it work for you.

Where to start

Begin by defining and articulating your personal ambition and aspirations, including all areas of your life. You can regard it as your personal balanced life plan which would map out your ideal life for the next 12 months. If you like, you can stretch it to a three- or even five-year life plan. Putting it into small, medium and long-term goals is always a recommended approach.

Write down all the areas in your life that matter to you (work, family, friendships, health and fitness, and finances, etc.). Add the areas in your life that are meaningful and valuable to you. This is a very important point because only if you truly value and find meaning in the domain will you be motivated enough to sustain it with energy and vigour, even when things are not going too well.

What’s next?

Score each domain as you see it right now out of 10. As an example, I would say that I am about a 7,5 with regard to my overall health. Then ask yourself if you are satisfied with this level and if your answer is yes then move on to the next one. If the answer is no, then state what your ideal score would be, so in my case it would be a 9. Think of about three activities that will bring you closer to your ideal goal. Make these tangible and measurable and establish regular dates when you will check-in on how your progress is going.

How to maintain this

Ensure that your goal is broken down into bite size chunks. We tend to be over-optimistic setting ourselves challenges that are too big and then get demotivated when we don’t reach them. Remember that slow and steady usually wins the race. It’s natural for us to have moments where our motivation dips and we question if we can sustain the journey of change to attain our desired goal. Choose people or groups that can support and motivate you in these times. It’s easy to give up, but it’s not easy to persevere. You can also use a professional coach to be your champion throughout the change process.

Today is a great day to invest in your personal development. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t set your 2018 goals yet by using the Personal Balanced Scorecard, you will know exactly what and how to go about reaching your success. If you need support in ensuring your goals become reality and not another dream, drop us an email at info@4seeds.co.za to schedule your consultation. Click here to download a FREE sample of a Personal Balanced Scorecard.

Resilience through growth and change

Resilience through growth and change

Resilience is an essential component to our overall wellbeing. Not to mention that it is a fundamental strength to have when engaging with dynamic change situations. We might think it is an inborn trait and that everybody has it, but that is a false assumption.

Resilience is core strength to obtain in this ever changing world, where seldom one day is the same as the next. Adversity and flexibility are survival tools and we need resilience when the going gets tough. When things do not play out the way we planned or hoped for.  That adds to many days.

Resilience is standing up when we get knocked down, to dust ourselves off after a fall and have the energy to try it all again. We do this because we believe that the end result is worth it! We want to give it all and we know that a setback will not stop us from trying again and again.

A growth mindset and resilience are like mother and daughter. I guarantee you that you will experience failure in life situations and that you might detour before you reach a goal, but it is all about your mindset during the process. Focusing solely on the final destination, the outcome is draining and often a recipe for disaster. The smarter method is to concentrate, plan and work on the multiple processes that lead to the desired outcome. For these continuous forward-moving mini-steps we require resilience, as the path is seldom smooth.

The brilliant news is that resilience can be learnt and developed, but how? As a starter by asking these questions:

  1. Why not? We often find millions of excuses of why it will not work but let us for a moment think why it could work?
  2. Design and create a personal “pick-me-up” mantra that you can repeat to yourself over and over in tough times. Do not sensor it, even if you think it is cheesy. If “Just do it” works for you GREAT. Program yourself for success. What is your personal positive mantra?
  3. Develop a reliable and supportive social system around you for those moments when you cannot do it yourself. A person who you can lean on for encouragement and motivation. Who gives you the strength to try again, because they know you can.

Resilience is a mental mind muscle we all own but in some of us it is more prominent. Visualize resilience as your personal six pack. Some of us have really worked our tummy abs and have developed an admirable six pack whilst others have opted to relax the muscle and make it is less visible. Fact is we all possess these stomach muscles; we just need to train them consciously. Resilience is exactly the same, an impressive six pack. Train that mental mind muscle and become more resistant to life’s “punches.”

Sound all too easy? Guess it is when you commit to develop your resilience muscle.

Before we leave you to train that resilience-six-pack the question might be “What’s in it for me?”

Here are 5 reasons on how you can benefit from resilience.

  1. Cope better with pressure and stress
  2. Feeling more energized at work or with life
  3. Improve focus and attention span
  4. Enhancing personal self-development and growth
  5. Build stamina to commit, engage and perform

Happy training!

The missing link in New Year’s resolutions

The missing link in New Year’s resolutions

We are constantly being bombarded by the media and social networks with tips and advice for making New Year’s resolutions. You can’t open any social media platform these days without seeing recommendations on goal setting, planning, resolutions, statistics and self-improvement advice. The suggestions are endless… “try this, stop that, and change this…”, and the list goes on!

 Research shows that more than half of the population do not make New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to know how that figure can be true if we look at the information flood in the media? Also, a meagre eight percent of people successfully accomplish their resolutions. The generation who are under 30 seem to be the most successful with thirty-seven percent of them who are successful with their resolutions. With such a low success rate, I find it hard to believe that we still continue with this “mindless” tradition.

 Let me transgress for a moment and explore the origin of this tradition. New Year’s resolutions date back 4000 years to the ancient time of the Babylonians who celebrated New Year for three months from January to March. During this time, the Babylonians promised their Gods that they would dutifully repay their debts and return borrowed objects to their rightful owners. These intended gestures were so that the Gods could bestow blessings and good fortune onto the people. Fast forward to the 21st century and this religious tradition has shifted to us making promises to ourselves on self-improvement and development.

Studies have shown that self-improvement focuses on four main topics. Forty one percent of people resolve to enhance their personal development and education, followed on the heels by forty percent promising to improve their money matters. Then there are thirty-four percent who focus on health and weight topics and twenty-two percent on cultivating healthier relationships.

Also, the origin of the word “resolution” stems from the 14th century Anglo-French and Latin language and directly translated means “to break down into small parts”. Taking the lead from this definition, it provides a possible answer as to why by the end of January our positive intentions have petered out and lost energy.

Perhaps the answer lies in our mindset thinking? Our New Year’s resolutions might be hairy, audacious goals that we truly want to achieve, but with an unrealistic timeframe. It took us time to master our existing habits, and obviously, they cannot be undone in 10, 30 or even 90 days. We consciously, or sub-consciously perhaps, repeated the negative habit on a very regular basis, which allowed pathways to be developed in our brain. If we look at neuroscience, the evidence suggests that neurons that fire together wire together. To replace negative with positive wiring, we must undergo two simultaneous processes. Firstly, we must stop thinking and doing the negative stuff so that with time the neuropathways starve and die-off. At the same time, we should very diligently and regularly engage in new positive behaviour to get new pathways connecting with each other. This process of the new neurons starting to fire together can take anything from ninety days to six months, depending on the conscious regularity. Only after six to nine months does the new positive habit become automated and part of our natural behaviour.

A second reason for the high New Year’s resolution failure rate is that we are not crystal clear of the underlying reason, the WHY, for the desired change. The WHY factor is a very important and often overlooked component and is the motivation driver that keeps us focused and committed when we have wobbles, self-doubt, exhaustion or feel overwhelmed. Start with understanding the WHY for the New Year’s resolution. Write down reasons and benefits WHY you want to pursue change.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to change for the better and setting resolutions, however it’s a mindset to keep throughout the year. Going back to the Latin origin of the word “resolution” (break into small parts) we should consider breaking down our resolutions into monthly ones. At the end of every month we should take stock of the progress made, the learning experienced and then celebrate our wins. It’s important to do all three of these elements every time.

New Year’s resolutions are positive intentions and promises for our own self-betterment and improvement, so let’s move the success ratio upwards.

Starting 2017 with the right mindset will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions

Starting 2017 with the right mindset will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions

The year is just about done! You’ve survived another twelve months that at some times felt like time was flying past and other times was dragging. For some, 2016 was a magical year while for others a challenging one. Either way, we’ll all agree that it was an adventurous year filled with unexpected events, surprise outcomes, joyful moments and heart-breaking sadness. Like a good soap opera… a bit of something for everyone.

December is usually a time for reflection where we look back over the past year, and look forward to the new one. We savour moments, events and people who made the year unique and special, and think about personal changes that we need to make or things that we want to do differently next year. We all have dreams and goals; some are large and will take proper planning while others are small. Then there are those niggly behaviours that we want to change; we want to stop this or that and start something else. Both involve that dreaded word “change”!

Planning on setting goals

Even with the best intentions, we sometimes don’t move forward towards change. We’ve got the willpower and desire, but external factors get in our way. We need to learn to prepare and expect these external factors and work with or around them. You may not be able to control your external environment; however, you can control how you choose to perceive them.

Are these factors excuses or opportunities?

Are they moments to be flexible, and realign our thinking so that we can achieve our goals?

The path to goal attainment is like a treasure hunt. You know you’ll get to the finish line but on the way, you encounter challenges, detours and obstacles. That’s life – it doesn’t flow in a straight line.

As you reflect on what changes you want to make next year, take some time to answer these 10 questions will crystalize your way forward and help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions:

What precisely do I want to change?

  1. What will I gain from the change?
  2. Out of a score of 1 to 10, how much do I value the outcome?
  3. What are my options to reach my goal?
  4. How am I going to track my progress?
  5. Whose support can I count on?
  6. What will indicate that I am stuck?
  7. When am I going to start?
  8. What action am I going to take in the next 3 hours, 3 days and 3 months?
  9. Who is going to partner with me and hold me accountable?

Often, we don’t have the discipline to hold ourselves accountable. It’s human nature to find reasons when we start going off track. We don’t have the willpower to stay outside of our comfort zone, and it takes loads of energy to persistently do something differently and progress is at a snail’s pace.

When you’re working towards stretch ‘Everest goals’ it is advisable to have a coach and mentor by your side. It’s important to do this right from the start and not only when it gets tough. Find someone to cheer you on, be your sounding board and raise you up when you are feeling low.

If you need assistance in setting your 2017 goals or want a coach to support and motivate you, please send an email to info@4seeds.co.za. Alternatively contact us for our coaching package specials.