Have you ever wondered why you sometimes just go on autopilot and wind up working on a Saturday when you meant to go to the grocery store? It’s a testament to the power of habits. Developing new habits can be difficult and takes time, but when you’ve established a new habit, you’ll find that you can do the task automatically without much effort at all. Habits can help you conquer mindset issues and set you up for success.
The Science of Habits
Every habit begins with a three-part process called a “habit loop.” There’s a cue or trigger that tells your brain to act, then there’s the action itself, and finally there’s what we think about as we perform the action. The final part of the process is the brain’s reward that helps it remember to do the action every time the trigger occurs.
When a habit is deeply ingrained, the brain can devote almost no resources to performing the habitual action. This means your mind is free to do other things, which is why you often daydream during a habitual drive.
There are two keys to successfully utilizing habits. First, realize that habits are very hard to break, but fairly easy to replace. If you have the habit of being in a certain mindset in a specific situation, don’t try to break the habit. Instead, replace it with a more useful mindset habit, one that serves you well.
Secondly, it’s important to be intentional about setting your habits. While habits are performed on autopilot, your life should definitely NOT be on autopilot. Use intentionality to recognize your habits, choose which ones serve you and which ones don’t, and purposefully develop specific habits to strengthen your mindset and set you up for success.
Habits to Strengthen Your Mindset
There are two primary types of mindset. A fixed mindset is one that believes improvement is difficult or impossible. You feel that you’re being tested, rather than using challenges to grow. You may believe that you have to prove your capability. A fixed mindset often fears challenges, failure, and change.
On the other hand, there’s a growth mindset. A growth mindset focuses on continuous improvement. You embrace challenges and look for chances to improve and grow. You don’t fear failure because you believe that you can learn from mistakes and do better next time. Rather than proving yourself, you see yourself as a work in progress.
Generally, a growth mindset is more helpful and brings more success. You’re more willing to take risks and learn new things. Challenges are not threatening, and failure is not a judgment. Creating habits to develop a growth mindset can bring personal growth, professional success, and increased happiness and satisfaction in life.
Here are some habits to develop to strengthen your mindset:
- Persistence. Create a habit of continuing to work on a problem even after you want to give up. In the beginning, it may help to set a time, perhaps 5 minutes beyond your frustration point. Gradually extend the time. You’ll find that when you keep trying, you’ll solve more problems and gain satisfaction and confidence.
- Take a Pause. Instead of impulsively blurting out the first thing that comes to mind when you’re asked a question, think of at least two different answers. If there’s only one right answer, think of at least two ways you can phrase the answer. Taking the time to think through a problem in a different way is a great habit that can bring new insight.
- Respond to Challenges with Curiosity. This habit requires you to consciously change your mindset in the beginning. When a challenge arises, instead of being frustrated, confused, or afraid, choose to be curious. Ask questions. See the challenge as an adventure.
- Take Responsible Risk. Stretch yourself to try new things, even when it means you might fail. Volunteer to lead a project, or offer a new idea, or explain a possible improvement to a process to your boss. When you stretch beyond your comfort zone and make a habit of taking responsible risk, your mindset will change to embracing risk and challenges rather than shrinking from them.
In the end, you choose how you respond to the world around you. Challenges and risks will come. Will you develop habits that will let you embrace them and learn from them? Or will you remain mired in old mindsets that tell you to protect yourself from change and failure? It’s up to you. Choose intentionally, then create habits that make it easy to take action. For those who have taken your Kolbe A Index™, work within your MO, to make your habits something that is second nature to your instinctual behavior. If you haven’t taken a Kolbe A Index™ and are not familiar with the conative portion of your brain, give me a call.
A strong mindset leads to healthy, focused, decisions that drive the success of everything you do. I’d love the opportunity to help you build a strong mindset. Contact me today by scheduling an appointment online!