Managing our mind is one of the most important skills any business owner needs to master in order to be efficient, productive, and successful. Learning how to manage our minds means knowing how to silence the mental noise and to guide our minds so they work for us, not against us. When our mind is clear and unburdened, that’s when intuition can shine through and we can make our best decisions, achieve results, and be creative.
The following mindset traps are common obstacles to growth and progress and they are massive time and energy suckers. If you notice any of these ways of thinking in your professional or personal life, don’t judge yourself. Understand your mind is doing its job (safety and predictability) and it will come up with all kinds of reasons to keep you in your comfort zone and prevent you from doing anything new or uncomfortable.
Many people use the word overwhelm to describe their internal state without much thought about what it really means. When people say they are overwhelmed, they feel as if they’re simply narrating the facts and that overwhelm happens to be one of those things that just happens to them. Overwhelm is not a circumstance that’s outside of us. It is not something that simply happens to us, it is something we create with our thoughts. For example, someone with 5 things on their to-do list might feel overwhelmed, while someone else might feel relief. The difference in feelings is based on what we think about the 5 tasks on our list.
What to do instead:
Ask yourself: What exactly am I overwhelmed by?
List all of the things that come up. Now, you simply have a list of things that need to be attended to.
Next, circle the parts of your to-do list that are within your control.
Rank all the things you circled based on priority.
Take action on the priority items and you won’t have time to stew in the overwhelm. Now that you know your next step is to take action, there is a chance that other mindset traps will come up as resistance to taking action.
2. All or Nothing Thinking
It may sound like…“I don’t have hours to work on it, so what’s the point in starting”
“If I can’t succeed the first time, I never will”
“One bad thing happened, now my whole day is ruined”
“I don’t have time to do it “the right way” so I’m going to wait.”
“I’m not where I want to be, so it means I failed.”
“I don’t have time to finish it, so why start.”
Or any variation of giving yourself two (usually extreme) options.
All or nothing thinking is a cop-out from trying. It is lazy thinking. It lacks flexibility and nuance. And the worst thing - it pretends to be useful (“I want to do it the right way”) but it’s leading to self-sabotage and stagnation.
All or nothing thinking loses its power when we decide to focus on doing what we can do (no matter how small the step seems) instead of thinking about doing big things, but never acting on them because we’re waiting for perfect conditions.
What to do instead:
“I don’t know what to do,” “I’m so confused,” or “I’ve never done this before,” are some flavors of confusion. Confusion is fear in disguise. At first glance, it appears harmless. It appears like a fact: “But I really don’t know what to do!”
But as much as we may be saying that we don’t want to be confused, confusion is comfortable, easy, and passive. It is easier to be confused than make a decision and deal with its consequences. When we buy into the confusion, we are cutting ourself off from any possible solutions and creativity. We close the door to answers. And we are giving away our precious time, because confusion feeds off of our time and energy.
What to do instead:
Stop indulging in confusion by directing your mind towards finding solutions and being creative. You can do this by asking yourself a few question and letting your mind marinade in them.
Here are a few to get you reflecting in a different direction:
What can I do about this?
What needs my attention right now?
What am I overlooking?
How would someone else think about this?
What advice would someone who cares about me give me in this moment?
These questions will get your brain going in more creative ways instead of sitting in not knowing.
Pause and take a break. Get your mind off of the task when you notice that you’re not being productive. Your body and mind might be needing rest. Allow it. Get yourself out of your everyday space. A new environment may inspire different ways of thinking.
Building a business is a long game, not an overnight success. Remember that successful business is built on putting ideas to practice, a willingness to be uncomfortable, and creating from a clear, focused mind.