Six Ways To Develop A More Positive Mindset
Practical tips that will help you put yourself in a better position to succeed
Whatever you’re looking to achieve in your life, you are going to face some setbacks. How you respond to those will play a big part in whether you are successful or not in your endeavours. But being resilient is easier said than done.
We spoke to mindset coach Caroline Britton who works with athletes and entrepreneurs, about six methods you can try to improve the way you approach your goals. Each can work in its own way, but Britton recommends starting with the first three in order.
1. Know Your Why
“When you’re trying to take your performance to the next level it takes a lot of work, so unless you have rooted yourself in the why, it’s very difficult to keep up the momentum,” says Britton. “That’s why you see people stalling.
“I always recommend writing a one-page mission statement saying what you’re trying to achieve, why, and how you’re going to do it. Then read it every morning. You’re programming yourself.”
2. Use Empowering Statements
Having a positive mantra in mind can boost your confidence, but you need to commit to it – it needs to be personal and provoke a reaction from you.
“Make sure it’s something that really resonates with you and then use your physiology alongside that,” says Britton. “My clients might sit there and say ‘I’m successful’ or ‘I’m an elite athlete’, but they’re not saying it with their body, with conviction. Say it with your shoulders back, chest out, head held high – it makes a massive difference.”
3. Surround Yourself With Positivity
“When you’re trying to achieve something, think about who and what you’re surrounding yourself with. Listen to positive podcasts and audiobooks, read inspiring stories, watch inspiring things on television, and speak to people who have done the same things and got good results.
“If you’re all doom and gloom it will make a massive impact on how you feel and how you act. If you can think ‘Well they did it so I can do it’, you’ll come at it from a completely different angle.”
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4. Do Regular Breathing Exercises
Whenever you’re feeling anxious Britton suggests this simple breathing exercise: breathe in for three seconds, hold for four seconds and then breathe out for five seconds. However, this isn’t just something to use in a pinch. You can make breathing exercises a regular part of your day.
“The exercise brings us back to the present, so all we’re focusing on is our breathing,” says Britton.
“It can be a cure, but also preventive if we choose to focus on our breath throughout the day. Set an alarm on your phone, three or four times throughout the day, to check whether you’re breathing shallowly or deeply, and focus on your breathwork.”
5. Practise Visualisation
“It’s important to be very clear about what you want to achieve and to spend time visualising yourself in that state, because we become what we believe we are,” says Britton. “Our thoughts dictate our feelings and then our feelings dictate our actions. If you’re telling yourself you’re not going to be able to do it and feeling despondent then you act from that place. If you can switch to saying you have a clear vision of what you want to do, it makes you feel empowered, excited and optimistic, and you act from that place and get much better results.”
Britton recommends practising visualisation first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
“Spend ten minutes getting yourself in ‘the zone’,” says Britton. “Sit quietly where you can’t be interrupted and imagine yourself performing at your peak. Feel it in your body. Imagine exactly how you want to perform and feel the elation as you achieve it.”
6. Write It Down
“Journal every day – write down all your thoughts and feelings, including the reasons you know you can perform well,” says Britton. “This is a highly effective form of mindfulness for performance.
“Every time something goes well or you get given a compliment, write it down. It helps build confidence.
“Make a list of all the reasons that you are capable and why you are able to get to where you want to be.
“Note down your strengths and qualities, and don’t focus on your perceived weaknesses. I am a big believer in getting excellent at what you are really good at rather than focusing on working on your weaknesses. What skill do you have that you can become really excellent at?”
“Write down how you felt going into your training, workout or event. What was your mental state? Do you find that when feeling down, in a bad mood or not up for it, you perform worse? Use this to recognise the powerful impact mindset can have and ensure that, come your next event, you’ll be in a happy headspace to perform.”
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.