I had an intriguing conversation with a young entrepreneur last week. I haven't been able to shake off the thoughts that followed but let me first share what she said to me. She had recently started her own business and said she was really struggling on a daily basis.
"There are mostly really bad days. But the bad days are ok because then there are days that are a disaster. Only sometimes I have a day that I can appreciate."
I want to reflect on her story in a larger context, not just starting your own business but starting or changing anything important in your life or trying something new.
We all know that doing something new is mostly hard but then it's easy to forget this when it is 'me' who's doing it. It's not easy to step outside of our comfort zone. But what makes life a struggle when it need not be?
Life feels like a struggle when you spend your energy trying to control things that are outside of your control. And when the Universe keeps throwing you surprises on a daily basis and it is easy to get caught up feeling 'why is this happening to me!'. Life seems unfair and it is.
Professor Steve Peters describes this mindset in his book 'Chimp Paradox' as the 'Snow White Mindset'.
I'm not responsible for my own decisions.
I'm not responsible for my own happiness.
Life is really tough and life has always been tough.
I'm a victim of circumstance.
There's nothing I can do to change things.
Your life changes the day you stop tolerating life as a constant struggle.
Life is not fair and some people are faced with more hardship than others, for what ever reason. But to spend your energy trying to 'fix' the Universe will only leave you feeling helpless and deflated.
The first step is to work on your mindset. Many people operate from a 'fixed mindset' where they believe their talents and capabilities are fixed and they can't change their circumstances. Every setback is seen as a failure and a final result.
If you are not familiar with Carol Dweck's work on mindset and how you can 'reprogram' your brain (brain is elastic!) from fixed to 'growth mindset' I recommend you read her book 'Mindset'.
Research supports a link between mindsets and stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is a situation in which people are at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about themselves.
If you wake up every morning thinking your life is a struggle and that there is not much you can do to change it, you will view all your experiences through this lens. But if you are able to develop a 'growth mindset' you start to view setbacks as learning opportunities. The Universe will keep on throwing different surprises your way but instead of feeling that life is unfair you will start to feel excited about your journey and all the potential it has to offer.
The daily challenges remain the same but by shifting your mindset your experiences change completely.
Second step is to look at your expectations and see if they are realistic in terms of the following components:
- Time - Am I trying to achieve too much in too short time frame? Usually we expect a lot from the first year into a project, but nothing happens. And underestimate how much can be done in three years.
- Help - Am I getting the support I need? Am I asking for help from the right people? Or am I trying to do everything on my own?
- Learning - Am I learning the right new skills that will help me to succeed?
- People - Am I surrounding myself with the right people who can support me when I feel down and won't let me quit? Am I expecting this support from the people around me but they are not the right people to deliver the support I need?
- Resources - Do I have realistic expectations what I can achieve with the resources I have right now?
- Outcome - Do I have a realistic view of the outcome? Is my project, career change or business going to bring me the fame, money or spiritual satisfaction I'm looking for?
Reviewing my expectations was vital for being able to grow DrivenWoman. I could have so easily given up in the first year when things were 'not going my way'. In this article I reflect on the day I changed my mindset from tolerating struggle to seeing every setback as a learning opportunity.
What are you struggling with right now? What could you do to develop your mindset and start shifting from tolerating a constant struggle to taking responsibility for your own happiness? Have you experienced this shift already in your life? You don't need to tolerate a daily struggle when you build a success mindset instead.
DrivenWoman is a female only empowerment platform and accountability network, that helps ambitious women to achieve their goals and dreams by creating positive habits one step at a time. Thousands of women around the world have joined our program and are achieving their life goals, which range from entrepreneurial dreams to career change or simply being more confident in their own skin and enjoying life in the present moment.
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