I don’t know who first said those words, but I grew up hearing them and I don’t remember a time when I was not aware of the meaning of that statement. In fact, the older I get, the more meaningful this statement becomes.
So much of what you accomplish in life is only possible when you first believe you can accomplish it. Said another way, so much of what goes unfulfilled in life is a result of a lack of belief in yourself and what might be possible should you be willing to try.
I have met many people who I thought had a ton of potential and that much of it was untapped. I have also met a lot people who I felt were unique and as I got to know them better became even more convinced that they were capable of achieving at a level beyond where they were currently at in their life. In these instances, it was my belief that the common thread was a fear of failure.
Fear of failure is a topic in itself for another time, but for the purposes of this example, let’s just say that it is a trait that is unique among humans. For some reason, many more people than not tend to focus on what they cannot do versus what they can. Worse, many people who think they cannot do something only think that is the case because they have never actually tried to do whatever it is they think they can’t do.
This thought process is akin to the one that you may use when determining what foods you don’t like. In most cases, you may only think you don’t like something, but you have never actually tried it.
If you are one of these people, try this exercise. Instead of thinking about what you cannot or have not done, focus on what you can do and have done. Give yourself an opportunity to build some momentum toward the development of a positive mindset. For example, at the end of a busy day, think about what you crossed off of your to-do list instead of the things that you just couldn’t get to.
There is nothing wrong with looking back on each day in order to evaluate what went right and what went wrong, but if you give yourself some credit for what you accomplished versus just kicking yourself for what you didn’t do, you may find that you eventually will empower yourself to start feeling better about what you are doing and to think about what else might be possible.
Another common element that can detract from a healthy and positive mindset is the concept of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is whatever circle you draw around yourself at any given time that allows you to feel safe and relaxed. You need comfort in your life and there are definitely times when it is healthy to allow yourself to feel protected and warm and to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with those feelings.
You do not need as much comfort as you might think, however, and in that sense the importance of comfort is a bit over rated. If you think about the greatest, most exciting times in your life, comfort is not likely to be one of the first thoughts those memories invoke. In fact, those exciting times were likely only possible because you stepped out of your comfort zone. You gave yourself the opportunity to learn something new or experience something totally different and outside of your routine.
Providing comfort to others is noble. Seeking comfort from others, especially when times are tough, is necessary. Retreating to your favorite chair or putting on your softest slippers at the end of a hard day is an essential luxury.
However, allowing your comfort zone to enable you to stand pat, to not venture into the unknown at least a little bit, or to somehow make it okay to not apply yourself toward worthwhile challenges is completely unacceptable.
Do you find that you approach new situations, such as a get together with a new neighbor or the start of a new class, with dread or that you concentrate on all of the things that could go wrong? If so, recognize what you are doing. While it may be easy to talk yourself out of attending one function or to put off taking that next class, making a habit of doing so will only lead to a very small and constantly diminishing comfort zone.
When you try something new, especially if it involves putting yourself out there for others to see, something will likely go wrong. If, however, your mindset is positive and you choose to concentrate on the side of your mental ledger that keeps track of what goes right and what is gained, the things that don’t go so well won’t be nearly as important to you as they once were.
There is always room for improvement in just about everything that you do, but improvement isn’t possible unless you are out there doing something to begin with. If you strive to improve as opposed to letting the thought that your endeavor won’t be perfect stop you from trying, you are moving forward with purpose and toward fulfillment and achievement.
When you take the steps that are necessary for you to develop a healthy and positive mindset, you also send a strong signal to those around you that you are confident and that you are dealing from a position of strength. You indicate that you are someone who is interested in taking an active role in determining the outcome of situations with which you are involved.
When you have the right mindset, you form the foundation for good decision-making. Once you make good decisions on a consistent basis, anything is possible!
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.