10: Commit to Your Goals

This can be a tough one. It can be scary to commit to something that might or might not work out.

I went to see Carol Dweck yesterday in a small talk given in central London. She spoke about her book, Mindset, and the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that effort means that you aren’t smart or talented, and so you if it doesn’t come easily, they won’t do anything to get better. Those with a growth mindset believe that you can work toward becoming better at something and that mistakes are a good way to continue learning.

In order to fully commit to a goal, you HAVE to have a growth mindset. There will be set-backs and you may have to learn new skills. You have to work on optimising your strengths and figuring out how to work around or strengthening your weaknesses. Do Not go for perfection in the way a fixed mindset sees it – as nothing can go wrong. Go for “perfection” in the way a growth mindset sees it – working toward making what you do better and better along the way.

My goal is to start and improve a private practice in psychotherapy. I have begun to follow this goal by getting into a CBT programme at Oxford, finding a space to do my therapy, starting a twitter & facebook page that will eventually be linked to a website (as will this blog), and through networking as much as I can!

So, make those goals and go for them! They can be a small goal or a big one, it doesn’t matter, but find that passion!

6: Develop Strategies for Coping

This is where a therapist can come in, if need be, but we can all find healthy ways of coping when faced with moments that are challenging. No one has a life that has no challenges, and why would you want that? Challenges and taking risks make life meaningful and interesting. It’s truly the only way to learn.

You need to have an arsenal of ways of dealing with the variety of issues that can come up. From deep breathing to journal writing to running for hours, each can be a way of coping when the manure hits the fan. And if you can practice these things when faced with a low stress situation, then when the high anxiety hits, you’ll be good to go.

If you find that you are struggling more than you’d like, then find a good therapist – they can help you find the skills you already have, teach you new ones and work with you to apply them. Here’s one of my favourite things to do in times of stress – a deep breathing visulisation:

1. Sit comfortably with your back straight but relaxed.
2. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath.
3. Breathing normally, and try to follow the inhalation and exhalation.
4. Follow your breath, not your thoughts. Every time your mind is distracted by a thought, bring it back to the breath.
5. As you breathe out, imagine you exhale all your negative energy in the form of a color you don’t like, which completely disappears into space.
6. As you breathe in, imagine you inhale blissful, positive energy in the form of clear calming color, which fills your entire body and mind.
7. Breathe in, and hold it, then breathe out, focusing on the clear, calm feelings pervading your body and mind.
8. Before you rise, mentally decide that today is going to be a good day.
9. Throughout the day, try to keep this clear, blissful feeling inside and make it the starting point for all your thoughts, words, and actions.

And you can find tons of music on youtube to go along with this visualisation. Hope it helps!