The first step to success is a positive mindset. Hard work and talent are important, but if your mind isn't in the right place, achieving your goals will be a struggle.
Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll agrees. He says that choosing the right attitude is the most important decision he makes on a day-to-day basis.
"It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position," he says. “I've discovered through the years that life is made up of about 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I respond to it."
To cultivate a positive mindset everyday, there are a few simple things you can try.
Set an Intention
When we wake up late, scarf down breakfast and rush through traffic, we're not living intentionally. As a result, we spend our day reacting to what happens to us, instead of deciding how we want our day to go.
When you set an intention, you take control of your day. You can do this as soon as you wake up, when you make your breakfast or in the shower. Ask yourself the following questions: “What one thing can I do today to make this a good day? How do I want to feel? What would I love to happen today?”
Repeat a Mantra
Sometimes we set an intention in the morning, but then we forget about it by the time we sit down at our desk. For this reason, it can be helpful to attach a word, phrase or sentence to it and repeat it throughout the day.
If your intention for the day is to “Be patient and understanding when talking to staff,” your mantra could be “Be patient” or “Patience.” Write it down on a piece of paper, or add it to your phone as a reminder. When you find yourself getting frustrated, repeat it to yourself quietly.
When you're having a tough day, the easiest shortcut to feeling better is appreciation. Instead of dwelling on what's bothering you, appreciate what you can. These thoughts can be “I love my car,” “I love how I can always find a good parking spot at work,” “I'm grateful for my job,” “I love the way my office is decorated,” or “Liz always says 'good morning' to me, she's always so nice.”
When you start to appreciate the things around you, you'll find even more things to appreciate, and the better you'll feel.
We're often so busy racing through our day that we don't breathe properly. When you breathe deeply from your belly, your body releases tension, you feel more relaxed and your mind becomes calm and clear. Most of the time, we take in shallow breaths from our chest, which actually increases tension and anxiety.
Take a few minutes out of your day to breathe deeply. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling your belly expand. When you breathe out, you should feel your belly flatten again. Continue to breathe in and out for five to ten minutes.
One of the most powerful ways to improve our mindset is to visualize ourselves achieving our goals and living the life we want.
Many successful people use this technique, including olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. “"I always visualize the run before I do it," Vonn says about her races. "By the time I get to the start gate, I've run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I'll take the turns."
Close your eyes and imagine yourself having a successful day. Focus on how it feels after you've finished important tasks and imagine the praise that you get from your coworkers. The more detailed your visualization, the better.
“The most effective imagery involves all five senses,” says Michael Gervais, Ph.D., a performance psychologist in Los Angeles. “You should be so immersed in a mental image that it seems as if it is actually happening.”
Rethink your Media
We often consume media without thinking about it. We have the TV on as we get ready for work, we listen to talk radio in the car, and we have music playing in the background as we work. Be mindful of what you are exposing yourself to on a daily basis. Do the TV shows you watch and the music you listen to make you feel happy and inspired? Or do they drag you down or make you feel anxious?
Consider making more uplifting media choices, or limiting your consumption in general. Instead of constantly checking social media and hourly news updates, devote one or two times a day to these activities. You may consider giving up reading the news entirely. Don't worry about missing anything. If something really important happens in the world, you'll hear about it.
Hit the Reset Button
No matter how good our intentions are, sometimes we get thrown off course. We receive bad news, a client snaps at us or we feel uninspired. Luckily, we can reset our day whenever we want. Think about how you want to feel for the rest of the day. What actions can you take to feel this way?
If it's too overwhelming to think about your entire day, focus on the next hour, half-hour or ten minutes. How do you want to feel during that period of time? What can do to get there? This may be finishing a single work task, talking with a coworker or simply sitting in a comfortable spot and relaxing. Don't think about anything else until that period of time is over.
Be patient with these methods, and you'll start to see how your mindset shapes your behavior and achievements. No matter how hard you work or how much time you put in, a positive mindset will help get you where you want to go.