Believe to Achieve: 4 Mindsets for Accomplishing Your Goals
What Do You Want From Life?
Do you have something you would really like to achieve? The more difficult the challenge, the more significant the satisfaction you'll experience once you accomplish it. For instance, after my traumatic brain injury, I had to relearn to walk—an endeavor that required relentless effort. On the one hand, it was difficult. On the other hand, it compelled me to develop a more positive and effective mindset for accomplishing goals. The following mindsets set me up for success when relearning how to walk:
- Paradigm Flexibility
Let’s explore some of these mindsets through lessons I learned on my journey.
First and foremost, do not underestimate the power of positivity. We must believe in ourselves. Yet, developing the habit of positive thinking will not happen overnight. It's possible that you've had negative thoughts for many years. We ought to practice positive thinking as frequently as, or more often than, we unwittingly practice negative thinking. In my case, I trained myself to think positively through writing. I would write action-oriented statements like the following:
- I will relearn to walk.
- I will do well in this class presentation.
- I will get an A in this college course.
Sentences like this undoubtedly enabled me to retrain my brain to work towards these goals.
Surround Yourself With Support
The scope of this strategy extends past intrinsic motivation to those who surround us daily. It is important to eliminate naysayers from our lives, when possible. This is articulated by author Robert Greene in his book 48 Laws of Power, law 10 being to “avoid the unhappy and unlucky.”
“The unfortunate,” Greene explains, “sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead” (77). This is advice that many successful people have doled out. Our inner circle should be made up of positive people who believe in us.
A person is defined by the friends they have, and the wise never make friends with fools.— Baltasar Gracián
2. Paradigm Flexibility
It's challenging to accomplish difficult goals when individuals you believe are friends talk you down or disenfranchise you, but with the right mindset, social setbacks can offer intense empowerment. Spanish Jesuit and philosopher Baltasar Gracián discussed the importance of choosing friends in How to Use Your Enemies: “Although the most important thing in life, it’s usually the one over which least care is taken” (32).
It can help to know that there are those out there who do not believe in us and who say that we can’t achieve our dreams. How satisfying is it to prove them wrong? Thus, there is great value in having both supportive friends and irritating enemies. Everyone has both, and to deny it is the act of a naïve individual. Use your knowledge of your enemies as fuel to burn towards your success.
Love Your Enemies
By shifting your paradigm to love and accepting your enemies, your mind opens to the idea that circumstances are always ideal for your success. This can be explained by the Stoic concept of amor fati (love of fate). When we amor fati, we do not merely accept our circumstances, we appreciate them. As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus puts it, "Don't seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well."
Behind me is infinite power. Before me is endless possibility, around me is boundless opportunity. My strength is mental, physical and spiritual.— 50 Cent
The ultimate description of a negative to positive paradigm shift is in Robert Greene and 50 Cent’s book 50th Law. In the 50th Law, 50 Cent explains, “Every negative is a positive. The bad things that happen to me, I somehow make them good. That means you can’t do anything to hurt me.” In other words, empowered with this philosophy, if your enemy tries to hurt you, they are helping you. Clearly, 50 Cent is an extreme example, as his assailant shot him 9 times and 50 uses this as an example of something that fell in his favor.
Billy Mills Visualized Winning Gold at the 1964 Olympics
Another powerful technique for accomplishing your goals is visualization. With this technique, we imagine what it will be like to achieve our dream. For instance, if our goal is to lose weight, we imagine what it will be like to be skinny. If our goal is to earn a Master’s degree, we imagine what it will be like to walk the stage at the commencement ceremony or even work at our dream job afterward.
As Dr. Jennice Vihauer puts in Psychology Today, “If you take a look around, you will see nothing human-made that did not first exist as an image in someone’s mind. It is impossible to create something that cannot first be imagined.”
Vihauer lists the following variables that influence visualization:
- Picture and describe: The amount of detail and sensation used when reflecting on a visualization directly effects how real it seems. The more detail in a visualization, the more real it will feel.
- Emotional intensity: The deeper one feels about something, the more likely one is to believe that thing.
- Exposure: The more exposure you gain through watching videos, reading books, and having conversations, the more detailed and accurate your visualization may be.
Dedication and practice through application is the fourth critical step towards smashing your goals. This clearly depends upon our intended outcome and overall strategy. For instance, if we want to lose weight, commitment to a plan is crucial. That is, we tell ourselves we are going to stick to our diet, starting now—not tomorrow. No procrastination.
Similarly, when learning a craft, we must make a commitment to practice every day. Of course, with a craft—such as writing—we must practice every day for about 10 years before we attain complete mastery. This is known as deliberate practice, and it requires us to work on our weaknesses. This is the opposite of human nature, since we naturally avoid the difficult and painful, preferring to repeat what we are good at.
Begin practicing effectively by trying the following:
- Focus on the task at hand.
- Start slowly and gain momentum at a comfortable pace.
- Repeat moves, thoughts, or actions frequently and take timed breaks.
- Visualize practicing in your brain with as much detail as possible.
How to Practice Effectively
We are all capable of pursuing and achieving our dreams. We must remember the above principles and believe in ourselves. I am often reminded of the film Million Dollar Baby, when Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman) speaks about “the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.” If you can see it, you can achieve it, right?
- Vilhauer, Jennice Ph.D. “3 Effective Visual Techniques to Change Your Life.” Psychology Today.