We are living in one of the most exciting times in the history of our human race. Freedom, wealth, and opportunity are expanding far and wide. If there’s ever been a time to live authentically and chase your dreams, the time is now. But to make the most of this opportunity, you might first need to do some work on your mindset.
I grew up believing that there were very specific rules for creating a good life. You finish school, go to college, get a “good” corporate job, get married, have a family, retire … Then you get to spend the rest of your days doing what you love. Looking back I can see a major flaw in my former way of thinking. I was waiting until my days were numbered to start creating a life I loved.
That mindset began to change in 2010. I accepted a new position at work the previous fall that had me traveling four days a week across four states. I quickly grew tired of my usual music and talk radio. Within months, I was an audiobook and podcast addict.
While traversing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I stumbled upon a thought leader who challenged everything I ever believed to be true. I listened to the book, Linchpin, by Seth Godin. And for the first time, I saw things like passion, creativity, and authenticity as possibilities, not just impractical daydreams. I couldn’t un-hear this message and slowly began planting seeds for a complete mindset overhaul.Perhaps your challenge isn't finding a better project or a better boss. Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
Nearly a decade later, I’m a completely different person than that compliant and complacent 30-some-year-old girl. I have transformed mentally, physically, and spiritually. My life is moving in a direction I never could have imagined and all of that boils down to mindset.
Here are five key ways my mindset has transformed.
I Value Authenticity
I spent a good portion of my life pretending to be someone I was not. For example, one of the things that was drilled into my head was the importance of being an extrovert. Whether at home, school, or work, the message was the same. Only the assertive extroverts get ahead.
As you might predict from what I set up, I’m not a natural extrovert. So I spent most of my life making sure no one discovered my secret. One of the craziest things I did was lie on personality tests. I’m an INTJ in the Myers-Briggs assessment. But for the first 30-some years of my life, I straight up lied and tested as an ENTJ.If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you'll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
This might seem crazy, but the idea that I could be myself blew my ever-loving mind. And terrified me at the same time because I had no idea who that person was. That was the start of rediscovering and become my awkward and authentic self.
I Live in Gratitude
The environment I was raised in was rather negative. One of the most common phrases I heard growing up was, “Life’s a b!tch and then you die.” I heard a lot about how everyone is trying to screw you over. And I learned that if something good happened, that meant that the other shoe was about to drop. But in spite of the negativity that surrounded me, I never lost my ability to dream and hope.Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
One of the things that helped me let go of that negative mindset was starting a gratitude journal. For the last seven-plus years, I have written down what I’m most grateful for every day. My daily gratitude practice taught me that you don’t have to be grateful FOR every situation. But you can be grateful IN every situation.
We all have less than stellar days. You don’t have to be grateful that you backed your new car into a tree. But you can be grateful that the damage doesn’t need immediate attention and that you finally found your way.
I Give Generously
Instead of believing that we lived in world of abundance, I grew up with the belief that there was a fixed supply. You can learn more about the fixed pie fallacy in this post. But the premise is the belief that everything in life is a zero-sum game. If your neighbor gets a raise that means someone else is going to lose that amount.
Fortunately, I had wonderful mentors and experiences that taught me that life doesn’t work that way. Wealth creates more wealth. Generosity creates generosity. And love compounds love.Some people are gift givers by nature. They love their tribe, or they respect their art, and so they give. Not for an ulterior motive, but because it gives them joy. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
I learned that the key to being truly generous is giving without expecting anything in return. Expectations lead to disappointment. Learning to give for the sake of giving leads to joy. And let’s be honest, what’s
I Value Change
Somewhere on my journey, I learned that if you quit or change course, you’re failing. So I stayed working for a terrible company instead of looking like a failure. I know it sounds crazy, but our subconscious beliefs can be stronger than reality.Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfortable zone. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
Little by little I found the courage to change. As I changed, I felt more confident about where I was headed. Rather than fearing change, I began to seek it. And as the changes got bolder, my life got better.
Life is change. When you resist it, you live in fear and scarcity. When you accept it, you step into the process of evolving into your best self. You let go of the idea that happiness can only be found at the destination and enjoy the journey of becoming.
I Strive for Self-Acceptance
I’m going out on a limb and guessing that self-acceptance isn’t easy for many of us. Most of us are our own harshest critics.The secret to being wrong isn't to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn't fatal. ― Seth Godin Click To Tweet
The funny thing is that the harder I am on myself the more I retreat into fear and not enough. I honestly can’t think of a single person who benefits when I’m stuck there, including myself. So I’m learning to truly love and accept my authentic self. And in the process, I’m letting go of a lifetime of paralyzing perfectionism.
Like most things, it’s a journey. And as with anything truly worth having, it’s worth the effort. It all begins when you decide to change your mindset.
Four Ways to Nurture Your Mindset
1 – Focus on Learning and a Growth Mindset
Growing up, I naïvely believed that when you graduate from college, you’re done learning. Linchpin inspired me to think differently.
The more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know. The more I realized I didn’t know, the more I wanted to learn. I realized that I had always loved learning, I just mistakenly believed that it had to come from a school.
I discovered that learning doesn’t have to be formal or a big production. It can be as simple as being intentional about the media you consume. Rather than picking up your phone and browsing social media, open a book. Instead of mindlessly flipping through channels, take an online course. Turn off the usual talk radio and dive into an audiobook on your way to work. There are endless fun and entertaining ways to learn and grow.
2 – Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Part nature, part nurture, I was an anxious little girl. I never would have imagined I’d be doing the things I’m doing today. The old me wouldn’t dream of writing the things I’m sharing in this post. Nor would I have driven around rural Mexico … at night.
But over the years I’ve come to realize that the best experiences happen once we break out of our comfort zone. I wrote some thoughts about how getting uncomfortable has changed us in an Instagram post. You can read it below.
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Have you ever noticed that the very best life has to offer is just outside your comfort zone? — @jer11scherer and I just returned from a Mexican adventure that was pretty far off the typical American tourist route. Other than two servers and a hotel receptionist, no one spoke English. The towns we visited we tiny and there was almost no information about them. The roads were rough and it was normal to come to a complete stop every dozen kilometers because there were cattle in the road. — Although we LOVE these trips and always have an amazing time, there are plenty of moments that are uncomfortable and even downright stressful. These moments are wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. They change who you are, how you see the world, and function as a team. Not to mention, they make the best stories and memories for years to come. — What’s one of your favorite memories that came from stepping outside your comfort zone? . . . #theyearofwholeheartedliving #courageclarityconfidence #loveyourwholelife #meaning #authenticity #shineon #hollygoeswild #hollyandjer #advenscherer #notallwhowanderarelost #visitmexico #jalisco #maito #cabocorrientes #celebratelife #celebratelove #domoreofwhatmakesyouhappy #travel #gypsysoul
Always be open to trying something new. Live life as though it’s an exciting experiment. If it scares you (within reason), it’s probably something you should try.
3 – Learn to Trust Your Intuition
My intuition has always been strong. Listening to and trusting it … that’s another story.
It all starts by learning to stop and listen. This can be a challenge in our always-on modern society. It doesn’t really matter where you find it. The key is to identify a couple of ten-minute chunks of time with no distractions so you can stop and listen. This can simply mean turning off the radio for the last 10 minutes of your commute.
4 – Stop Worrying About What Other People Think
I originally published this post in December of 2015. Looking back, I can see that I hadn’t stopped worrying about what other people thought. I just stopped listening. Which is a good is a start.
It’s hard because I believe that part of it is hard-wired into us. But I also know that trying to make everyone else happy is guaranteed to eventually make you unhappy. I love what Brené Brown wrote on the subject in her book Daring Greatly.
“When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits gets crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.”― Brené Brown
Choose who and what you listen to wisely. And that includes yourself.
My journey to live a more authentic, grateful, and generous life is far from over. I have to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, trust myself, and let go of the opinions of others each and every day. But I wouldn’t change a thing because I live with more contentment, gratitude, and joy than I ever dreamed possible. And it all started by shifting my mindset.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December of 2015. It has been completely revamped for accuracy, comprehensiveness, and readability. Please enjoy and feel free to share this newly revised content.