How important is a positive mindset? For many, the New Year is a definitive marker to signal a time for change. But without the right mindset, these goals can feel overwhelming and too easily slip to the wayside. Before you launch full speed into going after your resolutions, take some time to reflect on 2022 to strengthen your mindset and achieve everything you want in 2023 and beyond.
1- Outline your accomplishments and successes
When you think about what you want in the new year, it’s common to focus on the things you didn’t do or achieve in the previous year. You might find yourself saying things like, this is the year you get that promotion or learn that hobby or lose that weight. It may not seem like focusing on the things you want is starting in a negative mindset, but when you think about what the new year can bring that the current one didn’t, you’re actually focusing on failure instead of success.
Instead, take time to focus on every single accomplishment and success you’ve had throughout the year. No success is too small for this list. Write down personal accomplishments and professional achievements. Did you help your neighbor shovel their driveway? Write it down. Did you lead your team in a project at work? Write it down. If you find that it’s hard to remember the success, this might be a good time to start a journal and list your wins at the end of every day so you can flip back to celebrate not just on New Year’s Eve, but throughout the year.
By focusing on your successes, you are reminding yourself of every positive event you achieved. This triggers the reward system in your brain, triggering the release of feel-good hormones. Success is addicting for exactly this reason. A positive mindset helps you embrace optimism and joy of the previous year and is paramount for continued success.
2- Internalize lessons learned
While you’re riding the joy of success, this is the time to reflect on what didn’t work. This may seem like following your positive thought process with a negative one, but you don’t want to simply list your failures. Instead, you want to think about what didn’t work and why.
Emily Fletcher from Ziva Meditation encourages you to change the question, “Why is this happening to me?” to “Why is this happening for me?”. It’s changing one word, but that word changes your mindset from a negative to a positive. It isn’t the event that matters, but what lessons you can learn from it.
Your brain doesn’t like an open loop. If you ask yourself why things happen to you, it will seek out examples of how you were wronged. So by changing the question, your brain then starts to seek out examples of what you can learn and gain from each event. It’s a small distinction that makes a huge difference in how you process events in your lives. There’s always a lesson in every event, both the good and the bad. By focusing on those instead of the events themselves, you can change into a positive mindset by always seeking opportunities instead of focusing on the downside.
3- Write down the possibilities
This is where you welcome your dreams and put them on paper. Write down everything you want to accomplish. Again, this list isn’t limited to things you think are possible or realistic. This is a list of every single thing you want for the year. Focusing on a long list of potential events and achievements may feel overwhelming, but if you open yourself to exploring what you want without limit, you may end up being surprised what lands on that list.
Often, you choose goals that you think are achievable or that you think others want you to achieve. These aren’t bad goals, but they may not be the right goals for you. A goal should make you nervous. It should make you a little afraid because that’s when your brain goes out of the comfortable habit loop and becomes active. When you write down all of your possibilities, you will know what stands out, what makes you nervous. What you really want shines through like a beacon and those are the goals you should focus on for the new year.
4- Make a plan
It’s normal to think of setting a goal as a finite thing. If you want to lose weight, you go on a diet and go to the gym every day. If you want to learn a foreign language, you buy a program and practice every day while you commute. If you want to write a book, you sit down and write 1,000 words every day. Sound familiar?
Knowing what you want and what you need to do to get there is only part of making a plan. The other part is planning for everything else. What happens when you have a bad day, or even a bad week? What do you do when you feel stuck or unmotivated? How will you work through any obstacles that come up? Can you think of what those might be?
Making a plan for success is trying to answer as many questions as you can about the reality of executing your goal. You should have small goals to mark success, a list of people you can turn to for advice or motivation when things get hard, an understanding of what tools and resources you will need as you make progress, and an idea of what you think is going to happen as you work towards your goal. Having a plan is vital to maintaining a positive mindset where you believe success is possible.
5- Be flexible
Part of getting in the right mindset is also knowing that things will go wrong. No matter how well you plan, or how achievable your goals may seem, things will go wrong. You will hit roadblocks and obstacles. There will be tough days and rough weeks where you doubt and question if you can reach your goal. But if you know that this is normal, you can prepare for these hard times in advance.
Flexibility also means being aware that your goal may shift or change as you progress. Maybe the thing you set out to do isn’t feasible anymore in terms of getting you to your longer-term goals. Or perhaps a new opportunity arises that makes more sense. Knowing that goals shift and change happens helps you adjust your mindset well in advance.
Setting a goal or resolution isn’t a set it and forget it process. It requires getting into the right mindset by adjusting how you look at difficulties and obstacles while preparing rock-solid plans to achieve your goals.
Watch this video for more on the power of mindset: