How we approach our work is greatly dependent on our mindset. If we’re in a good place, it’s effortless. If we’re stressed or unhappy, everything feels exhausting. As important as it is to be good at what you do, your craft, it is equally as important to practice your approach and master yourself.
Here are five ways to cultivate a positive mindset:
1. Make Time for Input
If you’re constantly in “output” mode, you will eventually run dry. Output mode is whenever you are calling upon yourself to create, to work, to “do.”
Input mode is when you are replenishing yourself—your knowledge bank, your inspiration, your emotional state. Reading is an input. Watching a good movie is an input. Listening to music is an input. Meditation is an input. Sleep, especially, is an input.
You’ll notice that whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed, “input” activities tend to be the first to go. You feel like you have so much going on that there is no time to rest. Instead, you continue pushing yourself (output, output) until eventually there’s nothing left, and you crash.
Remember: Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Make time for input activities. It will help keep you in a positive frame of mind, and help sustain you over long periods of time.
Note: Also remember that what you input is just as important. Watching re-runs of Wheel of Fortune is not the same as watching an Oscar-nominated film. Choose your inputs intentionally.
2. Read, Read, Read
I am a huge advocate for reading. As I said, reading is an input activity, but more importantly, it is essential for constant growth. Reading is what exposes you to new ideas, teaches you things you would otherwise never have the opportunity to learn. Reading is a well from which you should be pulling endless amounts of inspiration.
Especially in the morning, reading is a great way to get your brain (which operates like a muscle) stretched and ready to go. When you read frequently, you are cross-training your brain to stay ready to work. And if you don’t read often, you’ll notice that your thoughts can fall sluggish.
Some people prefer to read books. Some read blogs. Some read fiction, some read nonfiction. I would say: Read everything. But at the bare minimum, read something.
3. Surround Yourself With Positive People
You are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time.
Look around. If you’re surrounded by smart people, they will raise your standard and you will become smart, too. Conversely, if you’re surrounded by not-so-smart people, then that will become your standard, and you will fall into similar patterns.
Part of cultivating a positive mindset is surrounding yourself with people that do the same. Regardless of whether or not they are successful or good at what they do, remember that their mindsets will begin to rub off on you by default. So don’t just look for people who are skilled—look for people that embody the qualities you too strive to embody.
Over the years, I’ve come to notice a very interesting pattern (in both myself and others) when it comes to practice.
Confidence is the result of not just doing something well, but knowing you do something well. When you practice often, you get good. When you get good, you feel confident about your abilities. When you feel confident about your abilities, you take more risks, practice even more, and ultimately become a master of your craft.
Similarly, if you do not practice, you won’t feel good about your skills. If you don’t feel good about your skills, you won’t take as many risks, you’ll get down on yourself, you won’t practice as often, and you’ll make very few strides on your path to greatness.
Part of cultivating a positive mindset is to make sure you are doing all the little things that will help support where it is you want to go and what it is you want to do. No amount of positive thinking can replace good habits or daily practice. So, put them in place as daily essentials, so you can then focus your efforts elsewhere. If you can count on yourself to have the right habits in place, you will free yourself to focus and work on more ethereal concepts—such as positive thinking and risk taking.
5. Find a Mentor
And finally, the key to cultivating a positive mindset is to find someone you admire who can teach you how they’ve done it.
There is no faster and more effective way to learn in life than to find a mentor. Even being in the presence of someone who has learned how to master their own mindset, you’ll begin to pick up their approach.
Why this is so crucial, and such a wonderful thing to have, is that a mentor is someone who has already gone through their own journey. They have overcome challenges and found their own secrets and practices enabling them to create their own unique approach. By studying someone who already operates from that mode, you will learn both what it is that allows them to be so successful, while at the same time going through your own process of discovery—except at a much more rapid rate.
Mentorship can be difficult to find. Remember to stay both hungry and humble, and true to your own practice, and one day the mentor will reveal him or herself.
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