One of my favorite quotes is, “The mind is everything, what you think, you become.” It is so true. Mindset is a critical component of success in business, sports and life in general. There is also quantitative research to back this up. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck examined mindsets among young students. She found that children who have a growth mindset that intelligence can be developed are better able to overcome academic challenges than those who have a fixed mindset that intelligence is predetermined. Another study on middle-aged adults, completed by researchers at Yale and Miami, revealed that those with more positive beliefs around aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging. So basically, your mindset can prolong your life!
Another way of looking at this phenomenon is in terms of a scarcity mentality versus an abundance mindset. Stephen Covey initially coined these terms in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Scarcity mentality refers to people seeing life as a finite pie, so that if one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else. Most people, particularly in the corporate world, have been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality. It’s no wonder when promotions and raises are scarce, resources are limited, managers hoard information, micromanagement abounds, and generally, short-term thinking is the norm. A scarcity mentality is what keeps many of us from achieving our goals. An abundance mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.
The next question is, how can we make the shift from a scarcity to an abundance mindset?
1.) Focus on what you have
If you’ve been thinking about a career change but haven’t taken the leap, you’re probably having thoughts like, “There aren’t enough good jobs out there,” “I don’t have enough transferrable skills,” or “Who am I kidding, there’s too much competition.” These are all ideas based on scarcity, what you don’t have. A scarcity mentality sees limitations instead of opportunities. Instead, turn those around to thoughts like, “Wow, I have 25 years of marketing experience, which will be a huge asset if I decide to start a business” or “Over the last ten years, I’ve made great contacts which will be essential when I start networking for my next job.” If you’ve just been laid off, instead of wallowing in self-pity, think about how great it is to finally have the time (and maybe the money if you received a severance package) to think about what you REALLY want to do with the rest of your life.
2.) Surround yourself with people that have an abundance mindset
You know those people who always seem positive and see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty? Find them and start spending time with them. Attitudes rub off, and if scarcity-minded individuals surround you, you will need to counteract that to make a career change. As Tony Robbins says, “The quality of a person’s life is most often a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.” Ask yourself if you look up to the people with whom you spend time. If not, you may need to search for other people living the life you aspire to.
3.) Create win-win situations
A scarcity mindset believes that if one person wins, another loses. Try to create win-win conditions in your life to combat this manner of thinking. Look for ways for both parties to leave with a sense of accomplishment and a better feeling about the relationship. Consider practicing this in both your personal and professional life. This often means listening without judgment or censorship, fully understanding what a win-win means for both of you, and brainstorming solutions until you find one that satisfies both parties.
4.) Incorporate gratitude into your daily life
According to Oprah Winfrey, “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” It’s very difficult to feel fear or sadness while feeling grateful at the same time. Practicing gratitude is one of the most widely recognized methods for improving one’s overall well-being. In 2007, Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology, began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental and physical well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and the effects tend to be long-lasting. One way to practice this is to write down five things you are grateful for each day. Or, if you really want to incorporate this practice into your life, you can create a gratitude journal. Remember to include even the simplest things that you might take for granted, like the comfortable mattress you sleep on or breathing clean air.
5.) Train your mind to recognize the possibilities
An abundance mindset allows you to see more in your life: more options, more choices, and more resources. One fascinating Harvard study found that when we focus on one particular thing very intently, other possibilities that are right in front of us can go completely unnoticed. The brain can only absorb so much, so if your belief is “I can’t do it” or “it’s impossible” then any other thoughts contradicting that will get thrown out. Start training your mind to loosen its focus and create an expanded awareness. Ask yourself if you had all the time and money in the world and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing? Questions like that will help to open your mind up to what’s possible.
Ultimately, just remember what you believe is what you receive.
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