The beginning of fall is a perfect time to reflect on how our year has gone so far, and how we want the last few months of it to look. Our mindset is an integral part of how we experience life, and if we’re feeling stuck in a rut or dissatisfied in any way, sometimes giving our mindset a refresh can help.
So, what does “refreshing your mindset” mean, exactly?
“To me, this means taking a big step back from your current way of being and hitting the ‘reset button’ on what’s possible in life,” says alignment coach and SparkVision founder MaryBeth Hyland. “To feel refreshed, you need to be able to observe your current mindset without judgment and understand where it’s serving you and where it is not.”
Hyland says there is “incredible value” in refreshing your mindset. “To be able to shift your perspective enables you to live an entirely different life – one that is filled with intention and purpose from letting go of beliefs that aren’t serving you.”
Signs it’s time to refresh your mindset
Of course, you can choose to give this a try any time, but there are also some telltale signs that you might need a reset.
Some signals include, “when you’re feeling drained constantly,” says Hyland. “When you are feeling overwhelmed. When you’re tired of being in an internal battle with yourself.”
How to do it
We humans very easily get set in our ways and, as a result, making changes is not easy – but it’s also not impossible. David Copeland, a psychology professor and director of the Reasoning and Memory Lab at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sheds some light on the process.
“Routines and habits tend to be practised over and over, so not much thought is needed to take those actions – when they are cued, the mind just follows the well-practised procedure,” he explains. “One reason why change is difficult is that our minds prefer less draining and easier activities. Moving through one’s day on autopilot is much easier than making changes, which require a lot more effort and attention.”
The same concept applies to our mindset.
We adopt certain worldviews that set a foundation for our perspectives of the world, society and other people, Copeland says. “As with habits and routines, people are resistant to changing this worldview because it forms the basis of their thoughts and changing it would require a great deal of mental effort.”
Typically, he says, people adopt what’s known as confirmation bias, where they actively seek out information that matches their current beliefs since it’s easier to remember because it fits in nicely within their current worldview. “Information that does not fit into the current worldview is likely to be forgotten,” he adds.
Although it might appear the odds are stacked against us if we want to make a change, understanding how our brains work and why changing our patterns is difficult, is helpful.
As for the first step to succeeding at making a change? It’s wanting to make a change in the first place.
“… the person has to want to change and to recognize that change is possible – if there is little to no motivation, then the person will not try hard when things are tough or when obstacles appear,” Copeland says.
Once you’ve committed to making a change, it’s important to set goals for what you want to do and how you’re going to do it.
“People can try to change, but if they rely on things such as willpower (e.g., to try and resist succumbing to an old habit or way of thinking), they tend to fall back on old patterns,” says Copeland. “This is because willpower requires a lot of effort – and as mentioned earlier, our minds prefer a less effortful and automated approach than one that requires a lot of energy.”
When setting goals, Copeland says it’s important to focus not just on big ones, but on smaller goals that can be achieved on a particular day. By breaking your main goal down into smaller chunks, you can create a system that will help you establish a new routine or pattern. The key is to make it easy, Copeland says, because our minds like to take the easy path.
When creating your goal-setting system, it’s a good idea to incorporate rewards for yourself when you have followed through on changing your thoughts or actions.
“Just like giving praise (or a treat) to a dog for learning to sit, humans can also benefit from positive reinforcement,” says Copeland. “A reward does not have to be anything grandiose – it can be something simple or small, as long as the person sees it as something positive or as something of value.”
Three tips to refresh your mindset
Here are three actionable tips you can try to refresh your mindset this fall:
- Practise personal development (such as workshops, training or coaching) or go on a retreat, Hyland suggests.
- Reflect more often, Hyland recommends. You can do this just by spending a little time thinking about your day or week or try journaling or meditation as well.
- Reframe the situation. “For example, instead of focusing on the negatives of an activity (e.g., calling it a chore), people can try to think of the positive aspects of it (In what ways is it fun? How can you benefit from it?),” Copeland says. “Instead of thinking that people have fixed abilities (smart people will always be intelligent, while not-so-smart people will never be intelligent), remind yourself that people can change based on the right type of strategic effort. Some people who tend to focus on negative thoughts might benefit from reframing by telling oneself positive things about one’s abilities.”