The Art of Changing Your Mind Before You Change Your Life

by David B. Bohl

In a recent issue of my newsletter, I touched upon the concept of a strategic lifestyle plan.

Much like the strategy an entrepreneur might use to develop a sound business model, the strategic lifestyle plan serves as a tool to manage ones life more effectively. The key, of course, being that the lifestyle one carves out for oneself is harmoniously aligned with ones values, goals and priorities.

As I mention in my article, a necessary step to making real, actionable change in ones life is to select alternate options and develop sound strategies for getting things accomplished. Instead of doing things “the way we’ve always done them,” we must learn to shift our perspective and examine every aspect of our existence with a fresh eye and an unbiased mindset.

Basically, this means learning how to change your mind, or your attitude, so that you can then change your actions, and ultimately, your life.

One of the most difficult aspects of obtaining that new lease on life we’ve been searching for, is, in fact, making the mental adjustment leading up to actual change, to the extent that there is a noticeable difference in the way we are thinking and behaving. At first, we might sit down and attempt to rewrite all the rules as we know them. However, in doing so we quickly realize that this is easier in theory than it is in practice. Most people establish set behavior patterns over time. In the same way that the development of such habits was a gradual process, the “undoing” and replacing of said learned behaviors with new ones, will also tend to occur slowly over an extended period of time.

Some tips for success:

Lower your expectations. Believe it or not, when we aim too high we lower our chances for achieving the results we desire. It’s important to think big, but don’t stop at the dream. Practice the art of trimming and shaping your ideals into a feasible plan that works in the real world. Divide that plan into small, attainable goals that are grounded in practicality. Find ways to reward yourself for the progress you make over time.

Go with the flow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your new and improved workstyle and lifestyle. If you’re unhappy, set some improvement balls in motion. If some things don’t go as planned, keep moving despite setbacks. Modify your plan according to what’s going on around you. Know that in remaining flexible, you’re more able to roll with the punches and come out on top.

Assess what isn’t working. Sure, you may be used to doing things in a certain way. But indeed, that “way” might be heading in the direction of obsolete due to changing times and needs. Instead of operating on autopilot, approach your situation with a critical, objective eye. Ask yourself: what’s the problem here? What actions am I taking to try and remedy it? Are those actions working? If not, why, and what are my alternatives? What’s the next step in my plan for improvement?

Live in the now. Most people have a habit of letting past circumstances color their actions. For example, if you recall that your coworkers reacted unfavorably to your suggestions in the past, you might feel less inclined to approach them in the future. Or, if you expect your husband or wife to respond to you in a certain way, you might try to “beat them to the punch” by being predictive about their behavior. This is a very limiting mindset that accomplishes nothing. Instead of dwelling in “what happened last time,” approach each situation fresh and see where your efforts take you.

If this were a business plan we might call this an exercise in “thinking out of the box.” Because it’s a holistic view of our actual everyday life as we live it, let’s call it “embracing a more expansive consciousness.” In doing something as simple as opening our minds, we are suddenly able to find new ways of solving old problems, and can develop new habits and attitudes that bring us closer to fulfillment in our everyday lives.

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