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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 September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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