If there is one thing that irks and bothers me, it’s when I hear people in personal development say, “Change your mindset. You just need to change your mindset to change your life, to do better.” 

Change your mindset — like how I change my underwear? It’s not that simple. Because if it was that simple, we’d all be doing it. 

So what can you do? What are the things that you practically can do to take steps towards changing your mindset? Because ultimately, yes, it is correct that everything stems from how you think — your mindset. 

There are three things that I have found that have worked for me. But before that, you have to understand one important thing first.

Changing your mindset is not an overnight thing. It is not something you just decide today. The actual practicality of overcoming all the years of stories of the way you’ve been behaving, is something that is a gradual process. It is something that requires you to work towards. 

So here are the three things that I have learned that would be steps for most people to start to make a change towards their mindset.

1. Make the decision. 

In the book How We Change and 10 Reasons Why We Don’t by Dr. Ross, Ellenhorn, he talks about change. He says that personal change has to come from a decision. No one can make you do it. There are no books, no gurus, no ‘how-to’ manual. It ultimately comes down to you, the individual, the person making a decision about the change that you want to make in your life, and then committing to that change. 

So make the decision — who do you want to be? We often think first about what we need to do. We think about it as ‘I’ll HAVE the things, then I’ll DO it, then I’ll BE.’ This is actually reversed. 

We first need to BE, then DO, then HAVE — this is the sequence you need to think about when it comes to making change in your life. 

Start with ‘Who do I need to be?’ What kind of person do I need to be? What are the characteristics of someone who would achieve the goal, the dream that I have? Who do I want to be? I would actually suggest that you start by writing down who you need to be, and list out all the ways of being — not the ways of doing — that are going to help you get there. 

Sometimes we don’t always know the answer to this, so this is where modeling comes in. If there is someone that you see that has, or is achieving, or is doing the things that you want to do, look at them and try and extrapolate: Who are they being? What are their ways of being that have led to them being successful or achieving this goal that I have, and then modeling that. 

2. Build self-trust. 

Every time we don’t achieve the goal that we’re going after, we start to lose self trust. We start to doubt ourselves, we start to doubt what they call our self-efficacy, our ability to go after the things that we want to do. We start to lose faith in ourselves. 

So the very first thing that you need to do to rebuild self-trust is to be in self-integrity

What does that mean? In The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, one of the agreements is to be impeccable with your word. Most of the time, we think about being impeccable with our word in terms of promises to other people. But I would ask you, are you impeccable with your word to yourself? Do you tell yourself that you will do something and then actually follow through with it? Because all too often we’re great at keeping our word to other people, but we are not so great at keeping our word to ourselves.

So be in self-integrity, keep our promises to ourselves.

Next is our habits — building the habits that will help you move towards your goal. And when it comes to building those habits, start small. Set yourself up for success. 

All too often we make these grand plans and decisions that are supposed to change our life, and then we get overwhelmed by all the steps. So think about how you can break this into small steps. What small steps can I do today that will lead to success? What I can do today is that I promised that I will go to the gym. But to start, I am just going to make sure that I get up on time. And then maybe the next step might be to spend five minutes working out little things. Or if you’re trying to eat healthier, rather than saying, “I’m going to completely cut out sugar and carbs,” maybe start with one thing that you can cut out like eating less candy. Instead of eating five pieces of candy, today, I’m going to drop to three. 

Take little steps gradually that allow you to feel some pride in yourself, some pride in your achievement, success motivation, as they call it. The more successful you feel, the more you start to build your self-trust, the more you start to build your sense of self-efficacy — that belief in yourself that you can achieve things. The more you start to build your faith in yourself, leads to you to do more. And before you know it, you are well on your way to truly trusting yourself, and truly being in self-integrity. 

3. Choose the stories you tell about yourself.

Our whole life is stories. 

Everything as we go through life is an interpretation. We choose to apply a meaning to anything and everything that happens in our life. You can have two people who can witness the exact same thing, but they will each tell a different story — a different interpretation of the events based on their experience, history, and upbringing. 

To begin the process of changing your mindset, you need to choose the stories that you believe about yourself — the stories that you believe about what is possible for you. 

As you go through life, you start to tell yourself stories. For example, if you’ve experienced disappointment, you might have started to tell yourself the story that you’re just not a person who can achieve these things. 

“I’m just a person who never finishes,” or, “I’m a person who can never achieve my goals,” and the more you tell that story, the more you start to believe it, the more it starts to become who you are. 

We have to be cognizant of the stories that we are telling about ourselves. Remember that it is a choice, you get to tell the story that you want to believe. 

So what can you do to start to tell stories that are empowering, that are going to lead to you achieving the success that you want to achieve? It might be a big jump to say, “I’m someone who works out every day!” But it could be, “I’m someone who makes a commitment to today, and keeps that commitment.” And then tomorrow, you keep that commitment. Before you know it, you have started to build the story in your mind that you are someone who keeps your commitments to yourself.

Also, be careful about the words you use to yourself and what you say to yourself. 

Oftentimes, the things that we say about ourselves and to ourselves, are things we would never dream of saying to anybody else, and not even an enemy, and especially not a friend. So when you speak to yourself, be kind. Be aware of the words that you use, don’t beat yourself up. 

When you make a mistake, ask yourself: What can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? What can I do differently next time? 

One of the pillars of WORTHY is all about reflection, resting and rewarding yourself. Reflection is such a key part that so many of us don’t ever take the time to do. When things don’t go according to plan, when things don’t go the way we want them to expect them to do, we tend to just close the door on that. We don’t want to go back and we don’t want to look at that. Your failures and the things that don’t go according to plan will teach you so much more than the things that do work out. Taking the time to really reflect on what didn’t go well. 

Changing your mindset is something that you will continually be working on, so keep in mind these three things as you work towards a mindset that will support you in achieving the goals and dreams that you have.

Sandra has a podcast episode on this topic in the WORTHY Podcast:

You can also watch it on YouTube: