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3 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Reach Your Goals

The way you see yourself in the world and the way that you think the world sees you impact your thoughts and actions. The thing is, it's difficult to figure out our own mindsets because that's the only way we know how to interact with the world. It often takes input from other people to become aware of how we see things.

You’ve likely heard of the growth mindset vs fixed mindset. But there are plenty of other mindsets that might be holding you back. Here are three common ones and what you can do to work past them.

1. The Hustle Mindset

What is it?

The hustle mindset has been really big over the last few years. It’s that idea that we always need to be working, moving forward, and going after the next big thing without stopping to rest and care for yourself. If you’ve ever said “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” you’ve fallen victim to the hustle mindset (or you party too hard).

I was stuck in the hustle mindset for much of my time in college, and though it does lead to results, it also leads to burnout and exhaustion. Small spurts of hustle can be great motivators and help you accomplish big things, but it’s not a healthy place to spend the majority of your time.

If you can’t tell me the last time you took a day to do absolutely nothing, you routinely say “yes” to more than you have time for, and you find yourself physically incapable of giving less than 110%, you have a hustle mindset.

If you aren’t sleeping 8 hours each night and don’t take time for enjoyable but unproductive activities, you might have a hustle mindset. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk, you have a hustle mindset.

How is it holding me back?

The hustle mindset is a tricky one because it seems like you’re operating at peak productivity, and this may be true for spurts of time. However, there are two main issues with the hustle mindset.

1. You can’t do this forever.

You are human. You need sleep, good food, and exercise. When your phone’s battery is low, you plug it in. Just like your phone, you can’t go forever without taking time to recharge your battery.

2. Relaxing is productive.

Letting your mind wander, procrastinating for a bit, or taking some time to enjoy a spontaneous bit of fun all boost your creativity and problem-solving abilities.

I saw this all the time in other students when I was in college. Too many people (especially CS students) would spend six hours staring at the same homework problems without finding solutions to them. On the other hand, reading over the problems, going off to do something else for a while, and then returning often generates a solution.

Your brain solves problems while you do other things. Give it a chance to work its magic.

How do I shift my mindset?

The thing that has helped me move away from the hustle mindset is reminding myself that self-care and taking time off are productive in themselves. They give your mind and body a break from the usual bustle and let it repair so you can take on the next activity with more focus and energy.

Taking time to relax also gives you a healthier, more well-rounded perspective on life and the things that you’re pursuing with your time.

Letting myself take breaks has also made me a much happier person. Don’t get me wrong, I love being productive and checking things off of my to do list does make me happy, but taking the evening off to cook a nice dinner and hang out with my fiance brings about a different kind of happiness. They both serve each other and lead to a more fulfilling life.

If you have a hustle mindset, you likely live by your calendar or to do list. Use that to your advantage and schedule in some time for yourself. Putting my me-time on the calendar helps me because it shows me that I’ll still have time to do what needs to be done even if I take some time off.

2. The Victim Mindset

What is it?

If you have a victim mindset, your understanding of the world is that everything is working against you. Someone out there—or even just the universe—intends to make your life as hard as possible.

The red lights on the way to work made you late on purpose. Your kid left her toy right where you’d step on it because she wanted to hurt you. The store running out of the milk that you want is a personal affront.

You rarely notice the good things going on around you, but it’s easy to spot the bad. One negative event means that your entire day was terrible, but one good event never means you’ve had a good day.

Existing is exhausting. You often end your days feeling grumpy and hurt even if you aren’t quite sure why. You find yourself dwelling on negative things days, weeks, months, or even years after they happened. You feel like your life is out of control, and you’ve likely given up trying to do anything to reign it back in.

How is it holding me back?

The victim mindset is reactive rather than proactive. It seeks to place blame rather than accept responsibility.

But if you aren’t proactive about going after what you want and you don’t accept responsibility for your own happiness, you’ll never get where you want to go.

The world isn’t going to just deliver you into your dream life, especially if you’re spending all of your time being negative. You could change so much and accomplish your dreams if you put the onus on yourself.

When you take a place of victimhood, you give away your power.

How do I shift my mindset?

Well, first of all, no one is out to get you. The world is not working against you.

Shifting this mindset comes down to your perception of the world, and our perceptions are impacted by our biases. To embrace your power and responsibility, you have to explore your biases. One of the biggest culprits is confirmation bias.

You’ve convinced yourself that the world is out to get you. You are the victim. Naturally, you look for events that confirm this. You notice and remember every negative thing that happens without ever seeing the positives because you believe they don’t exist.

Look for examples that say otherwise. What events have happened where your actions positively impacted the outcome? What good things happened recently? Have friends help you if you need it. They’ll likely be better at seeing your life in an unbiased way.

Practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal and write down three things that you’re grateful for each day. Set reminders on your phone to stop and smell the flowers.

Challenge yourself to try something new. Approach it with a positive attitude and you’ll likely find that it turns out well. You may even surprise yourself with the success you find.

Gaining confidence and control through small successes helps you shift your mindset to one where you hold the power to change your life.

3. The Perfectionist Mindset

What is it?

I doubt I have to explain what perfectionism is.

You’re a perfectionist if you often procrastinate because you're afraid that your work won’t be good enough.

You’re a perfectionist if you struggle to finish projects because you keep finding things that aren’t quite right.

You might be a perfectionist if you have to know everything about a topic before you get started on a project.

You might be a perfectionist if you fear judgment from those around you because you think your work might not be good enough.

How is it holding me back?

The perfectionist mindset keeps you from getting started, and it prevents you from declaring things “done” and unleashing them into the world.

Staying productive, tackling new projects, and moving forward toward your goals is difficult enough as it is. Fighting perfectionism wastes time and energy. It also causes unnecessary stress, anxiety, and fear of judgment.

Depending on how set you are in a perfectionist mindset, it could keep you stagnant for years. You may feel that doing nothing at all is preferable to doing a mediocre or even bad job at something. (Spoiler: it’s not. Even if you mess up, you’ve learned something. If you do nothing at all, you aren’t moving forward in any way.)

Even if you fight through your perfectionism to get work done, it causes you to overthink, overanalyze, over-research, and over-plan.

How do I shift my mindset?

Know that “perfect” isn’t a real thing. It isn’t something you can accomplish, or come objectively close to accomplishing because it is subjective. There isn’t one exact definition of perfect.

I link this video all the time, but it is the best explanation that I know of as to why perfection isn’t real.

That video alone shifted my mindset, and I’m typically not a perfectionist.

Aside from the lessons in the video (getting 80% of the way and letting it go so you can move on and the subjectivity of perfectionism), I like to keep two phrases in mind:

Done is better than perfect.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

“Done” and “good” will help you reach your goals. So few people even reach that bar that if you’re doing a decent job and you’re finishing the project, you’re way ahead of the game. Something unfinished and unreleased will not move you forward.

By shifting your perspective and knowing that “done” and “good” are good enough, it becomes easier to avoid the pressure to be perfect.

No one has ever been and no one will ever be perfect, so no matter who inspires you or who you look up to, know that they are imperfect. Their imperfection didn’t hold them back. In fact, it very likely helped them reach the place that they are today.

Recommended Reading:

How to Align Your Actions to Your Priorities

How I Got a 4.0 in Computer Science

Let's Talk About How We Talk to Ourselves

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