We all have dreams, goals, and aspirations, but what is the key to achieving them?
One of the most common pieces of advice is that you need to change your mindset to achieve your dreams. After all, your mindset is key to everything in your life. It affects your health and wellness, financial status, career, and the relationships you have in your life – including the partnership you have with your dog.
Mindset matters, but does just changing your mindset ever really work? I talk a lot about mindset on this blog and podcast. But this time, we’re going to take a deep dive into why mindset matters, how it relates to our habits, and why changing it doesn’t always work.
In this post, I discuss why achieving your dreams isn’t just about mindset. It’s about the actions we take and the dreams and feelings we strive for.
“Anytime that you say you want to change your mindset, what you’re really saying is that you want to change a habit.”
What do we really mean when we say, “change our mindset”?
Like most of us, you’ve probably been advised to change your mindset to achieve the things you want. Maybe your parents, coaches, teachers, or motivational speakers said, “you just need a better mindset.”
You may even give it a crack but then find a few days later that you slip back into old habits. Why does this happen? The truth is that when we say mindset, what we’re really talking about is changing your habits and thinking patterns.
The first step is to understand that there are different segments of the brain responsible for different things.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably heard me mention what some call the reptilian part of the brain. It’s the oldest part of the brain. Then there’s the limbic system, which handles all your emotions, and then the prefrontal cortex, which is the largest part of the brain. That handles all your thinking.
Anytime you want to change your mindset, that desire does not come from the limbic part of your brain. It doesn’t come from the reptilian part of the brain either. Instead, it comes from the prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for thinking.
If there’s something we want to do, be, or have in our lives that isn’t already there, it’s simply because we don’t have the habits in place to support it. So, when we focus on changing our mindset, we really need to focus on changing our habits. It’s our habits that will create the outcomes we want in our lives.
The problem is that our habits come from a different part of the brain, not the prefrontal cortex. They come from the oldest part of the brain, that reptilian part. When different parts of the brain are in conflict with each other, the reptilian brain will always win.
That’s what I mean when I say simply changing your mindset doesn’t work.
In order to create lasting change, to create a life we love, we must work with our brain to understand it and retrain it to facilitate new habits. This all takes small baby steps.
How do we create new habits?
It all starts with a thought and a bit of imagination.
In my Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program where we focus on creating the life of our dreams, one thing I like to do is ask people to imagine they have all the time, money, and resources they want. Imagine what you really want your life to look like. Imagine that you’re already there and get immersed in that feeling.
The reality is that wanting things in our lives is all about that feeling. Wanting a different life and experience is all so we can experience that feeling of contentment. The desire for vacations, a nice car, a house, and a great partnership with our dogs all generate that feeling.
The new car, vacation, or a partnership with our dog don’t have any meaning by themselves. It’s that feeling that we want to enjoy when we have those things that is the real motivator to create change in our life.
Understanding this feeling is important because it drives everything we do. It inspires us to take action. So it’s so important to discover what is truly important to YOU, not your friends or family, not your coach or your neighbor. What’s important to you?
Once you understand what it is you truly want, and why you want it (how you want to feel) … you can take action and create new habits to get there. Remember that it’s not about the goal itself. It’s about feeling the way you do once you achieve it. And your true and deep emotions are the most meaningful roadmap to your heart and the authentic you. Your real feelings are the strongest, most inspiring motivators possible.
This idea is how I have lived my life, and what I’ve taught people to do for about 15 years now.
Start with the baby steps
Understanding yourself and your feelings is a deep process. When it comes to developing habits and changing your life, it’s important to start small. One of my mantras is, “dream big, start small, and keep going.”
Real change starts with believing in ourselves, believing that we can create real change, and then retraining our brains.
We are hardwired to follow patterns and habits, whether we realize it or not. Unless you create new habits that align with your dreams and goals, nothing will change. So during this process, we want to stay connected to our dreams at all times.
One of my favorite ways to create new habits is to have a very specific morning ritual. During the morning, I’m always dreaming and imagining the feelings I want to feel in the future. I set my intentions for the day and decide what the next actions will be for the day ahead.
Having certain rituals are a powerful way to retrain your brain and mind to work in harmony. You have probably heard that famous Aristotle quote I love, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is then not an act, but a habit.”
Below I want to share what Nancy, one of the gals in our Creative Alchemy (CAPP) program wrote to me:
“I needed to find peace in my daily life and to reframe the difficult situations in my life. I knew that Kathy’s methods would resonate with me, and I actually wanted to join the year earlier, but I hesitated. And when the program came up again, I knew I had to join even though I would miss several of the dates.
Kathy’s program suddenly made me understand the true meaning of baby steps. Small changes build confidence and helped me on the road to achieving my goals. It also helped me to realize that there are other people who believe in deeper connections to the world and people around us. My life has changed in small ways that may not be easily visible to other people.
I now have a small voice that speaks to me about kindness, acceptance and considering all the possibilities. I no longer give a standard answer, but I try to give a heartfelt response.
My new morning routine includes listening to a short motivational podcast, and that in turn encouraged me to journal and have deeper discoveries. I feel more peaceful and open. I also express myself more freely and with a greater emphasis on compassion and empathy. Outwardly, my future is still somewhat determined by my circumstances, but my approach to the future will be one where I make choices, release my fears and open up to new possibilities.”
I love that, isn’t that what it’s all about? I think that’s so valuable and important, and I hope it inspires you to take some of those baby steps to change your life and achieve your goals.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrollment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 160, which you can listen to here.