Master 3 Mind Shifts to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

Series: Live Your Best Life in 2022, Post 3 of 4

This third post in the summer blog series, Live Your Best Life in 2022, looks at three mind shifts that can help expand your comfort zone to reach your goals a little easier.

  • Self-efficacy
  • Readiness to change
  • Self-limiting beliefs

A 2020 research study investigated the impact and success rate of New Year’s resolutions among a group of ordinary people who made resolutions about their physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. The researchers measured approach-oriented goals (e.g., getting good grades, feeling generally competent), and avoidance-oriented goals (e.g., fear of punishment, threat, or failure). Among the thousand or so participants, those with approach-oriented goals had greater success than (58.9%) than those with avoidance-oriented goals (47.1%).

How did they do it, you may be wondering.

The more successful goal-setters tapped into three mindsets that this post will focus on to help you give you a push towards reaching your goals this year: self-efficacy, skills necessary to change, and readiness to change. Let’s jump right in to learn more about each mind shift.

  1. Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997)

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

Self-efficacy involves control over your motivation, behaviours and social environment. It basically relates to how much effort you put into your goals. In other words, it depends on where you are self-driven and love the bonus at the end of the year (approach-oriented). Or, you can’t handle the thought of a low grade on an assignment, so you put in the late night before the deadline (avoidance-oriented.

The reason that well-meaning goal-setters abandon goals and seem unable to reach lasting change, traces back to your thought life and belief system.  Specifically, what you believe about yourself and your ability and readiness to grow towards your highest self.

Cognitive distortions, or something psychiatrist, David Burns terms ‘thinking errors‘ are exaggerated, inaccurate, or irrational ways of thinking rooted in the subconscious. They can sabotage our goals and lead to psychological damage. You can get depressed and anxious, or have some related mental health issues.

What do cognitive distortions look like?

These thinking errors take on many forms. Catastrophic thinking, overgeneralisation, jumping to conclusions, and emotional reasoning. Here’s a familiar one—the common ‘should’ statements, self-blame, and a belief that your success rests on another person’s need to change.

Stephenie Zamora calls these ‘subconscious stoppers’ that cause us to stay rooted in old patterns, beliefs, and responses wired to protect us from failure, rejection, and disappointment. Subconscious stoppers keep us in a place we know we can survive and feel worthy, whole, or good enough.

When do cognitive distortions surface?

Your subconscious stoppers can surface when your shiny New Year’s Resolutions require you to step outside your safe, comfortable and familiar ways of functioning. If you’re serious about reaching your goals, you may have to engage in new, unfamiliar ways. For some, this can mean signing up for a training course to learn a new skill. Or, to reach out for support from a professional of some kind. Or, any other behaviour that feels risky and where you can’t control the outcome or response from others.

Can you stop or change these distortions?

Absolutely.

The good news is that you are not bound to these faulty thought patterns, and can identify and shift them with support. Doing so can help you become more willing to expand your comfort zones, bringing you closer to reaching your goals.

  • Are you approach oriented or avoidance-oriented?
  • Can you identify any faulty thinking habits in your thought life keeping you from reaching your goals?

Readiness to Change

Psychologists have identified several states of readiness for change that impact your goal outcomes.  Understanding your state of readiness is essential to help you figure out the right time to tackle the desired goal. Remember, make changes when you are mentally ready and have the skills, resources, and time to focus on specific goals.

View the graphic below and recall your goals for 2022. Without judgement, criticism or self-shaming, honestly reflect on where you currently fit in terms of your readiness to change. This will tell you how likely you are to follow through to reach your goals.

Identify Your Limiting Beliefs

How do you move through the stages of change?

Career coach, Kathy Caprino emphasises that our consciousness needs to change before our behaviours can follow. Also, that support, such as an accountability partner, can help us stay on track. Finally, you identify what Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, terms, your internal ‘upper limits’. These include a belief that you are fundamentally flawed and incapable of success and if you do, that you won’t be able to handle success. Also, fear of abandonment if you move ahead and outshine others, you will lose your support base.  I like to think of these upper limits as goal gremlins. 

Facing Your Goal Gremlins

In psychology, they often refer to the nature versus nurture debate, where nature includes our physiology, genetics, and personality traits; and nurture is every external influence or voice in your life that shaped your beliefs, values, and world-views. The voices you trust and listen to typically become internalised and influence what you believe and value about yourself and your capabilities. This includes the factors discussed in this article—self-efficacy, cognitive distortions, and readiness to change.

What do these ‘goal gremlins’ look like in real-life contexts, and how can you fight them so that you finally reach your goals this year? To find out, see the final post in this summer series, How to Fight Your Goal Gremlins.

Disclaimer

The resources available on this website are for inspiration and general use only. If you need professional help with a specific health issue, speak to your nearest licensed medical doctor, counsellor, or therapist. Or, see the helplines below:

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