Why does it seem that success comes easy to some, but seems impossible to others? It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal or professional goal. They always seem to find a way around obstacles so they can create the life or career they’ve been dreaming of.

Perhaps you’ve always thought that success was only possible under certain circumstances like having a high IQ, wealthy connections, a good upbringing, or a supportive family. If you really pay attention to successful people, you’ll quickly realize no one has a perfect life. In fact, a lot of successful people started out as ordinary as you or me. If you look even closer at successful people, you’ll notice there’s only one thing truly different about them: their mindset.

Mindset is what makes the difference. It sets those who are successful apart from those who are not.

Is Your Mindset Holding You Back?

Karen wanted to be an entrepreneur. She spent years and a lot of money trying different types of businesses. They all started the same way: she’d be really excited about starting the new business. She’d get the supplies or tools needed. Then she’d start working on a marketing campaign. Usually, around six months after she starts the business, she decides to shut it down. She’d always have an excuse like the market wasn’t ready for her idea or that people weren’t willing to pay enough for her to make a profit. She maxed out her credit cards trying to fund these ventures and was barely making enough to cover the rent. Karen’s problem was simple: she didn’t have the right mindset. Even though Karen dreamed of success, she was afraid of it. So, every time she got close to a breakthrough in a new business, she would sabotage herself somehow. Sound familiar?

Gloria was an unhappy dentist who needed a change. She’d always dreamed of starting a blog and traveling the world. Instead, she followed her parents’ advice and settled on a stable career as a dentist. She was just a few weeks away from opening her very own private practice when she started having panic attacks and nightmares about her future. She was miserable but afraid to live her dream for fear she’d end up in poverty. One day, a friend Gloria trusted pointed out the flaw with her mindset.

Are you letting fear hold you back? Karen and Gloria are both intelligent and well-educated. But both are being held hostage by their negative mindset.

A negative mindset can keep you from living your dreams and creating the life you really want. The good news is that you can achieve your dreams and so much more, but only if you’re willing to work on it.

Choose Your Mindset

Some people assume their mindset is set in stone and can’t be changed. These people say things like:

  • “This is just the way I am”
  • “Success doesn’t come easy for people like me”
  • “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
  • “Good things just don’t happen to me”

It’s easy to believe that when you become an adult, your abilities and skills are now permanent and can’t be changed. Some people call this having a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset can lead you to lower your expectations for your life based on what people tell you or what you think is possible for you. For example, you might say, “I really don’t know much about business, so I can’t pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur.”

There’s a second mindset you can choose to embrace. It’s called the success mindset.

This mindset encourages us to try again after disappointing setbacks and failure. For example, your goal is to start your own bakery. You need capital to secure baking facilities and other supplies. You apply for a loan from your bank. The loan officer takes one look at your business plan and rolls his eyes. He tells you that your business plan is poorly written. If you have a fixed mindset, you might leave the bank thinking that your dream of owning a bakery is dead. You may tell yourself, “The loan officer was right. I can’t even write a business plan. How the hell am I ever going to build a successful business?” But if you choose a success mindset, you look at this setback as an opportunity to grow. You say to yourself, “Well, maybe my business plan does need some work. I’ll go to the library and check out a book on how to write a business plan. I know if I study this topic, I can write a better plan.” With the success mindset, you don’t think of your skills as stuck in one place, you recognize they’re something you’re continually working on. Thinking this way can help you overcome obstacles that you’ll encounter on the path to success.

How to Embrace a Success Mindset

Once you make the decision to shift from a fixed mindset to a success mindset, it can be hard to know what your next step should be. You might do some research online only to find vague information that is difficult to put into practice. Here are a few suggestions on steps you can take right now…

Experiment by trying something new

Part of developing a success mindset is trying new things. For example, you want to become a motivational speaker on topics like business and leadership so you start attending Toastmasters meetings to develop your speaking skills. When it’s time for your first speech, you put a ton of pressure on yourself to make sure it’s flawless. Instead, look at your first speech as an experiment. Say something kind to yourself before you start like, “This is just an experiment, I’ll use this speech to learn more about what my audience likes.”

Challenge yourself

If you’ve been eager to try something new but fear has held you back, challenge yourself to do that one thing for 30 days. For example, if your goal is to write a book, you could set a goal to write 1000 words every day for 30 days.

Never say “never”, instead say “not yet”

When you’re faced with an opportunity that’s beyond your skills or abilities, it’s easy to retreat to a fixed mindset and say something like, “I’ll never learn how to use this damn software! I don’t know what I was thinking. I should just give up.” In this situation, you could just take a few classes to learn the software. When you approach a problem this way, you put the focus back on your growth, rather than your skills or abilities.

Recognize your distress

Sometimes, it can be scary to try something new or different. It can be tempting to downplay it or even change your mind. But if you have a success mindset, you can accept your discomfort and remind yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. For example, it’s time to talk to your clients about raising your rates. Ignore your fear and try telling yourself, “I know this is going to be a difficult discussion. But I will negotiate with my client calmly and professionally.”

Your mindset impacts your growth

Do you want to expand the business you’ve started? That will most likely mean learning new skills, networking with more people, or discovering more about your personality. When you have a success mindset, it’s easier to develop the skills you need. This could partially be because you are more willing to tackle the initial discomfort of learning something new.

Your Mindset will affect how you see problems

Some people see problems and get stuck. But a smart person with a success mindset will recognize the problems and search for solutions. Sometimes, the solution might be simply refunding a customer’s money or listening to their complaint. Other times, the solution might be more complex like changing the way you market your products and services. Regardless of the problem, people with a success mindset view themselves as part of the solution. They spot trouble and they act. They take pride in their work. They work hard to ensure their business goals are met while giving the customer a positive experience.