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The Quickest Way to Create a New Mindset

The Quickest Way to Create a New Mindset

    Our Internal Reality

    We all want to change our internal reality on some level. The way we think, interpret, react, cope, expect, process, interact and communicate. The way we create our own experiences: good and bad. The way we manage our fears. Or, perhaps, don’t manage them. The way we avoid the big decisions. The way we wait. And wait. And wait. That is, procrastinate.

    The way we see ourselves. Talk to ourselves. The way we feel. Our emotions. The way we deal with stressful situations. Or, perhaps, the way we create stress in our world. The way we see the world and us in it. The labels we give things. The meaning we give certain experiences. The way we give away our power. And take it back. The way we look for approval. And acceptance.

    The way we beat ourselves up. And make ourselves unhappy. The way we pretend. And act. And deny. The way we continue on with the same unproductive and destructive patterns, habits and behaviours. The way we have the same pointless conversations about the same issues with the same people. And produce the same less-than-desirable results. Forever. The way we do the same things over and over and then curiously wonder why nothing changes. The way we start things we never finish.

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    Yes, we all want to change on some level. We all want to become a better version of us. To learn, grow, evolve and adapt. That’s why we explore personal development stuff.

    So, what is the single quickest way to create internal shift? To change the way we think, feel, interpret, react, cope, expect, process, interact and communicate? Three simple words:

    Experience new things.

    Do Different to Be Different

    When we do things we’ve never done before, there’s an instant and automatic internal shift. Expectations, emotions, attitudes and beliefs (about what’s possible for us) change. The internal shift is simply a byproduct of a new experience. Of doing something we’ve never done before.

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    Change comes from doing. For the most part, we don’t ‘think’ ourselves different; we ‘do’ ourselves different. So to speak. We need to ‘action’ our way to internal transformation. Which is why the theory of personal development is worthless until it becomes a practical reality. Until the concepts and ideas are turned into behaviours. Some people are theoretical geniuses but practical idiots. They talk a lot but do very little.

    Change comes from doing. Which is why an article like this can be transformational or worthless – it all depends on you.

    The Runner

    For the forty-five year-old woman who runs a half-marathon for the first time in her life, the transformation will be more emotional and psychological (internal), than it will be physical (external). She finishes her event and without focusing on anything other than the physical process, she has gained more confidence, her standards and expectations have changed, she’s less fearful and she’s more excited about her future possibilities. Her new experience has created internal shift.

    The Ex-Scaredy Cat

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    Then there’s the insecure, fearful guy who runs into a burning house and saves a child. In an instant, his default setting is changed forever. He does something that he never thought was possible (for him) and with one brave, selfless action, many of his self-limiting beliefs are smashed. He is empowered. The world is the same but he is different. Therefore, his world is different.

    The Graduate

    There’s the self-proclaimed dummy who enrolls in university, does the work, develops the study-skills, learns the academic language, passes the exams and gains the degree. She is forever changed. The ability was always there but the confidence wasn’t. Her self-limiting thinking and self-sabotaging behaviours become a thing of the past – as a byproduct of doing something she had never done.

    The Traveller

    There’s the woe-is-me guy who visits a third world country. He instantly realises that his horrible life in the USA is actually fantastic. And that his lifestyle is actually one of privilege, not disadvantage. He identifies that his self-pitying, negative attitude has always been his problem. Without even looking for it, his experience in another part of the world teaches him to acknowledge, value and appreciate what he has (which is plenty). Nothing changes but everything changes.

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    The Business Woman

    There’s the girl who sets up her own business. She doesn’t think about it, plan for it or talk about it (any more). No, she actually does it. In the first twelve months of owning her own business, she learns and grows more than she has in the last twelve years. The experience changes her.

    And Me…

    While I am constantly reading and studying, the place I’ve always learned the most, had my biggest breakthroughs and experienced my biggest (internal) shifts was when I stepped out of my over-thinking mind and experienced new things.

    If you’re like me (an experiential learner), then perhaps it’s time for you to experience something new? To do something you’ve never done. And no, it doesn’t need to be a major event so don’t talk yourself out of it before you even start. It might be something relatively minor like trying yoga, talking to a stranger, going for a jog, learning an instrument, doing some volunteer work, asking someone out for coffee or even leaving a comment on this site.

    Or, maybe you should think about it for a while longer?

    Share an experience with us that created a significant internal shift for you.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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