How do you get the kind of quiet confidence that comes from operating in your zone of genius?
Or experience the satisfaction of moving forward every day unencumbered by fears of exposure and failure?
How do you bust past the income ceiling you keep hitting year after year whether you have a team or you’re working solo?
In my many years of moderately successful self-employment, these are the questions that have plagued me.
Cue the backlog of courses, programs, podcasts, and books which could fill an entire university. But no funnel, no email strategy, no launch formula, no revamp of my business model proved to be the answer.
I’d been looking outward this whole time for the fix; the thing that would propel my career into the stratosphere.
And the solution had been inside me all along.
Little did I realize I was operating under a cloud of conflicting beliefs, attached to childhood stories that were seriously hampering my style. I wanted success, but I was scared of what I’d have to give up to get it. I wanted more money, but I was afraid of how that might change me. I wanted to be more visible, but I doubted my value and self-worth.
My aspirations were bogged down by Stinky Thinking. If I wanted to get to where I really wanted to go, I had to deal with what was standing in my way: me.
There isn’t a human being on this planet that doesn’t deal doubts and fears and worries, so I’m guessing at least some of this resonates with you. The good news is there are a number of fairly easy ways to make mindshifts that will majorly improve the success and enjoyment you feel about work. These tiny-but-mighty actions are simple, everyday things that on their own are helpful. But when done in combination, they will slay the mental dragons threatening to burn down your dreams.
1. Peer power
The catalyst for many big changes is an outside voice giving you a fresh perspective and a kick in the pants; someone who’s not emotionally invested in the stories you been living. Getting a professional coach is one of the first things I do when I need serious grounding and structured guidance in my professional and/or personal life.
Of all the coaching arrangements I’ve experienced, my favorite is a small group format (like 20 or less people and preferably 5–10) with a few private one-on-one sessions thrown in. You get the best of both worlds, dedicated attention plus the incredible insight, camaraderie, and empathy from your fellow program participants. What I’ve learned from my peers in the programs has always been one of the best aspects of my group coaching experiences. And while this isn’t necessarily the deciding factor, small group coaching programs tend to be more affordable than going exclusively one-on-one.
There are lots of coaches and communities around these days — thank goodness because humanity needs them now more than ever. Referrals are obviously a good way to go if you’re interested in working with one. Many have ways you can start working with them on a small scale so you can explore the fit before you commit.
I’ve had some really amazing coaches. Satya Purna’s Biz Reboot is an incredible program that combines business strategy with deep mindset work (via her co-coaches Nicole + Hank of Mastery Global who are fantastic in their own right). Peleg Top emphasizes personal creativity as an avenue to self-awareness, love, and connection. Laura Albers combines her background as a mental health therapist with wellness coaching to help stressed-out professional women reclaim their lives.
If you’re unable to get yourself into a coaching program, look for communities of like-minded folks with whom you can share insights, resources, and support. There are quite a number of these types of groups on Facebook that are open to the public, some of which are moderated by strong leaders. Look for ones that are open to the public and have a lot of recent activity. Ask around and you might find something locally run through community organizations and churches, or start your own mastermind by simply inviting a few colleagues to join you and commit to regular meet-ups.
2. Journaling hacks
There is incredible cathartic, magical power in writing things down. As a writer, I’ve always been naturally drawn to journaling so using it as a mindset shifter has been a no-brainer (yes, pun intended). If you feel overwhelmed or uninspired by a blank page, try one of the following exercises both of which take just a few minutes to do:
No doubt you’re familiar with the suggestion to keep a gratitude journal. Instead of expressing gratitude for things that have already happened, write out your thankfulness for the events, experiences, and people that have yet to come to pass as if they have already happened.
If you have goals, then you have all the fodder you need for Future Thanks journaling. It doesn’t really matter if you do long-form stream of consciousness style writing or bullet journal your way through Future Thanks. The point is to write, visualize, and sit with the resulting feelings of excitement and gratitude for the things you’re working to bring about in your life.
Dump & Flip
Write about all the things that scare you and freak you out about life, about yourself, and about others. Money, relationships, recognition, love, business development… the list could be endless! What you’re trying to do is identify all the limiting beliefs, all the stories you’ve carried with you since childhood about how the world works and your place in it. Get as much as possible out of your head in one go (and every time you do it, there may be new stuff that comes up for you).
The trick is not to leave it at that. You don’t want to brain dump your worst nightmares then close your journal and think, well I’m glad that’s done and run off to Starbucks. You need to flip those limiting beliefs around and dissolve those fears into the bullshit they really are.
Drawing heavily upon Byron Katie’s “The Work”, for every story, every expressed fear, ask yourself if it’s true. If your answer is yes, how do you know with absolute certainty that it’s true? As you peel away the layers, you’ll start to see how ungrounded these beliefs really are.
Next flip the beliefs and fears to their opposite. It’s a little like creating affirmations with the purpose being to diffuse the negative power created when you initially dumped all of your crap onto the page.
3. Meditation any way
I know, I know. I can hear you grumbling now. I get it. For years I struggled to develop a bonafide meditation practice, even while knowing how beneficial it would be to have one. But nothing I tried helped to reinforce the habit until I basically said “F” it, I’m gonna do it my way.
That means when they said sit up straight, I remained lying down. When they said put your feet on the ground, I thought no, I’m more comfortable curled up like a ball. What worked for me is to meditate either at night on my way to dreamland or in the morning while I was still half asleep. This just so happens to be a great time for meditation since your brain waves are shifting from theta to alpha and back again — the ideal state for reprogramming the subconscious mind.
Meditating in bed also happens to be way more comfortable (to me) as I can sprawl out or cuddle with my pillow (or hubby). There’s also pretty much nothing else to distract me. The day is either done or it hasn’t quite started yet.
If you prefer listening to music or pre-recorded guided meditations, the free app Insight Timer literally has hundreds of thousands of guided or music only meditations within every time length you could want. It’s amazing! My absolute favorite meditation teacher on Insight is Kenneth Soares. I also suggest you get some earbuds that feel comfortable when you’re lying on your side. I got an $8 pair from Amazon. The audio quality isn’t great but they sure beat the over the head one I’d been using which was uncomfortable as hell.
Decide if you want to give it a go at night or in the morning. If you do it at night, be prepared to fall asleep and wake up later with your earbuds tangled around your nose. If you do it in the morning, set your alarm to wake you 20–30 min before you intend to actually get out of bed. If you’re super sleepy, reset your alarm in case you fall back asleep while meditating.
Finally — and this is key — do meditation however it feels good to you. Forget about trying to do it “correctly”. If doing it another way means you actually do it instead of wishing you had, that’s a big win. For me this approach made all the difference, and now I have a legitimate meditation practice that I do every day without fail.
4. Multimedia manifesters
There is a treasure trove of books, podcasts, and videos that cover the gamut of neuroscience, brain chemistry, quantum physics, energy, meditation, EFT, and everything in between. It can be overwhelming to be sure which doesn’t exactly generate those positive happy vibes we’re going for.
Basically go with whatever medium you like best. Then give yourself ten minutes a day to read, listen, or watch something. It’s a small commitment that you can squeeze in practically anywhere. I mean how often do you blow through 20 minutes on Instagram?
For me it’s books, even though I’m a god-awful slow reader. For this highlighter and dog-earer reader, I learn best when I can see things. Here are just a few of the ones stacked on my nightstand, queued up on my Kindle, or on hold at the library:
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
- Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield Thomas
- Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- The Creation Frequency: Tune In to the Power of the Universe to Manifest the Life of Your Dreams by Mike Murphy
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
- It is Done!: The Final Step to Instant Manifestations by Richard Dotts
- The Big Leap by Gay Hendrichs
For you audiophiles, you can get pretty much all these books through Audible. If you’re looking into podcasts, Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness and Rachel Hollis’ Rise are two I recommend.
Of course there’s tons of great stuff on YouTube. Lest you get lost in the ‘Tube tunnel, check out Abraham Hicks and Brad Yates to start.
5. Picture it now
Creating a vision board is a powerful way to describe all the things and experiences and feelings you want to have for your business and life. Images can represent much more than words can do alone. Having a vision board serves as a tangible reminder of your goals. Looking at it every day can quickly put you in a state of inspiration and excitement about what’s to come.
Making a vision board is extraordinarily fun. I mean you get to find images that represent your dreams! You don’t need to wait until you have a bunch of magazines to get started. Search Google’s image database on relevant topics. Or go to the world’s biggest vision board, Pinterest. Go crazy. This is your life you’re creating!
Vision boards become truly powerful when you reference them regularly, ideally daily. If you’ve collected images digitally, print them out and do the whole cut-and-paste thing so you have something physical to look at. If you created your board in the physical realm, then take a picture of it when it’s complete so you have a copy you can store on your phone and computer.
6. Move through your emotions
Alright, this is not going to be me getting up on a soapbox to expound the benefits of exercise. You already know that. This is about little things you can do to pull yourself out of a slump, to squash the fear, to bring out your silly side, to diffuse the tension you feel, or to call up your inner badass.
Your brain doesn’t know the difference when you’re fake-smiling or doing it for real. The endorphins get released all the same. It’s no coincidence that ‘motion’ is nearly the entire word of ‘emotion’. Movement gets stagnant energy — especially the heavy kind like doubt, anxiety, and stress — flowing. Think: Unstick the ick.
There are all kinds of things you can do from EFT to Kundalini breathing to jumping up and down or taking a walk outside. Try whatever feels best. It honestly doesn’t take much physical movement like this to change your mood. Here are two of my movement go-tos:
Desk dance party
This one’s easy. Bust out your favorite dance playlist (classic Michael Jackson is always on mine), pop out of your chair, and bust a move. If you’re a standing desk sort, well, you’ve got a leg up on us desk sitters!
Okay, if you work alone, there’s no shame. Pull out your best-most-awful dance moves. If you’re in a co-working space, well, I’ll leave it to you to decide when and where. Hey, you might be able to pull your co-workers into the fun!
Wonder Woman / Superman pose
When you’re feeling particularly run over by your inner critics, your kids keep throwing clean clothes in the laundry, and your computer crashed again, it’s time to pull this one out. Stand up, put your hands fisted on your hips, puff out your chest and say out loud “Not today.” Be your own crime fighter against stress and stinky thinking. I kid you not, it really works! (Thanks to Nicole of Mastery Global for this one.)
7. Affirmations in gratitude
Being a wordsmith, I love quotable quotes, catchphrases, and clever summary statements about life. So for me, doing daily affirmations or mantras really work. There is something powerful about summarizing a goal or a desirable state of being in just a few memorable and repeatable words.
A lot of people like to use “I am” style affirmations. I am peaceful. I am wealthy beyond measure. I am strong and resilient. But these don’t resonate with me when I’m feeling quite the opposite. Instead, it feels phony to claim “I am healthy and vibrant” when I’m nursing a bad cold and feel like crap. The words and my feelings about my present reality are a total mismatch.
For me, it works better to phrase affirmations and mantras as statements of gratitude. Much like the Future Thanks journaling exercise, I can say something like “Thank you for my vibrant health and strong body.” This acknowledges what I desire to create while also recognizing that I’m in the process of creating it. The wording change is subtle but it can make a big difference in how well affirmations work. It puts you in a place of gratitude which is where manifestation and permanent mindset shifts happen.
8. Two daily questions
Recently I came across two questions which seem simple yet they’re quite profound.
What can I do today to be proud of myself tonight? (source: Jessica Eley)
Sit with that question for just a minute. When you got a bunch of unsubscribes from that email you sent yesterday, you have a big proposal to get out, and school just called to say your kid’s sick, how do you keep the swirl of emotions from throwing you off course? This is the question to ask (after you stand up and do Wonder Woman / Superman pose).
I mean, what is it that you want to feel when you lay your head down tonight? It’s pride in the work you did, the conversations you had, the love you shared. It’s the satisfaction of knowing you did your best and got into the flow — at least some of the time — and made progress on your goals. So this question brings everything into focus for the here and now. The answer may be as simple as finally booking the massage appointment or taking ten deep breaths before you go help your kids with their homework.
This second question is great to ask when you’re in the throes of procrastination and doubt or you catch yourself sliding back into routines that don’t serve you:
If I keep doing what I’m doing now, what will my __________ look like this day next year? (source: Ed Gandia)
It can be so hard to make small changes and feel like they’re having any impact. It’s hard to sit in the gap between where you are now and where you dream of being — whether it’s richer, slimmer, more connected, more visible, more peaceful. It’s especially hard to mind the gap when the present is quite pleasant yet you still yearn for more. This question is an excellent way to put current choices into perspective, to realize that those baby steps do mean you’re walking forward, that micro-improvements compound over time to total transformation.
To recap the 8 mini mindset practices:
1 Peer power — Join small group coaching and/or masterminds
2 Journaling — Hack it with Future Thanks or Dump & Flip
3 Meditation — Do it your way…any way
4 Multimedia manifesters — Infuse your brain with any combo of books, podcasts, or videos
5 Picture it now — Create a vision board
6 Move through your emotions — Have a desk dance party or strike a Wonder Woman / Superman pose
7 Affirmations of gratitude — Make your mantras statements of thanks
8 Two daily questions — What will make me proud tonight? What will this time next year look like?
Incorporating these practices into my life has made a massive difference in the way I feel and how I think. Eight might sound like a lot but consider how many things you do between the time you wake up and you get out of the shower. Start with one thing, get it going, then layer in another. The Two Daily Questions is a perfect jumping off point. You don’t have to get anything or go anywhere or talk to anyone. You simply give yourself a minute to ponder the answers.
There’s no one right way to do any of these practices. The only thing to know is they’re all useful and whichever ones you decide to incorporate into your life need to be done on the regular. The same as taking showers to stay fresh and clean or exercising to stay fit and healthy.
You can change only what you’re aware of
If you want to make improvements in your business, knowing what to change is key. For so long I thought it would be something to do with my business model or pricing or getting better at sales calls. All those things are important and can be improved to be sure. But by far the biggest area of growth has been discovering and dealing with what’s been going on inside my head. These days I feel unstoppable. I feel extremely excited about the vision I have for my business and the progress I’m making daily to make it happen. These mindset practices have made all the difference, particularly when layering them into my days.
Making mental mindshifts, clearing the blockages that you unwittingly hide behind will unlock the success you yearn for. You’ll experience a whole new level of insight about who you are and how you want to be in the world. For me, it’s unleashed a flood of ideas and creativity. You’ll also feel much more confident and calm tackling the tasks of your day. I’ve personally gained more focus, and I’m better able to discern the urgent from the important. That frenetic energy that so often ruled my days is noticeably absent now. When something comes up that brings down the high vibes (because #reallife), you’ll be able to bounce back quickly and get your head back in the game.
Everything you need to get yourself to the next level in your business — and the level after that and the one after that — is already inside you. No Facebook ad strategy or mastermind or keynote speaking opportunity is going to do for your business what you can do right now, this very minute, to change what’s really holding you back.