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Start Out the Year with the Right Mindset

Before you even take a stab at your new year’s resolutions, make sure you have the right mindset.

I read somewhere that 93% of success comes down to your attitude rather than your natural ability. As we start a new year, there are 4 strategies that stand out in terms of starting off the year in the right foot.

1 – Recognize that you have control over your thoughts

It all starts with your mind and the quality of your thoughts. Thoughts pop up in your mind unprompted but thoughts can also be introduced into your mind. Work it from both angles. Be mindful and aware of the thoughts you have, and challenge the ones that are not helpful at moving you closer to your goals. Even if they’re accurate (ie: my boss is a jerk or I’m unhappy with my health), if they’re not helpful, don’t give those thoughts any energy.

Instead, introduce thoughts that are helpful in getting you where you want to go (ie: I can try to do x, y and z to build up my competency and move to a different position ot advance my career. Or I can get rid of the processed foods in the house.)

2 – Make an deliberate effort to notice what you do have

At the end of the day instead of focusing on not having enough time to accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish for instance, take a few minutes to focus on what you did accomplish. Consciously cultivate this glass half full attitude. You want to train your brain to see, not only what is good around you, but also what you are doing right.

3 – Make changes to thrive

Choose to invest in yourself –in your current self of course, but even more importantly in your future self. Make choices and take actions that will benefit your future self. A state of success doesn’t just happens to people. It takes choices, consistent actions and certain sacrifices often in the short term for a potential gain in the long term. Often, forgoing instant gratification will be necessary, but in doing so, you will be creating new habits and behaviors that will create positive results long term.

Don’t just make a plan; write down your goals and keep them in the forefront of your mind. Making a plan is necessary, but it’s only the starting point. It’s crucial but it’s utterly useless if you don’t execute that plan. So decide what you want and spend a small amount of time coming up with a few strategies as to HOW you’ll make it happen, but most importantly, choose to act on that plan.

Keep the planning short, and spend the majority of your time/energy taking actions that will move you forward towards your goal. Focus your energy on the journey. If those actions don’t get you closer to your goals, then you can go back to the strategy portion of the process and adjust or switch strategies. But don’t spend too much time in the planning process; it only delays you moving forward. Most people spend the majority of their time focusing on finding the right strategies. That’s a mistake. Often that’s a complete waste of time. Once you are clear on what you want, taking consistent action towards that goal is where you want to spend most of your focus and energy.

4- Learn to embrace change

Fear always present when we go to do something different and sometimes taking a pause in the midst of change is normal but you have to push through. Don’t let fear stop you in your tracks and prevent you from taking action or from investing in yourself. Don’t let the temporary discomfort that comes with change lead you to put on the breaks. When you’re face with that discomfort, lean hard into taking action, any action no matter how small or seemingly insignificant and stay away from overthinking.

Using Your Breath to Quickly Calm Yourself Down

Need to calm down quickly?

You can use your breath to interrupt the buildup of physical stress and tension in a few seconds

Forget the well intentioned advice to take a deep breath when you feel yourself getting upset. You need to do the opposite. You should take a deep exhale. More specifically, you should sigh deeply two or three times. 

As it turns out, a sigh is a fundamental life-sustaining reflex that acts as a way to inflate the tiny sacs in your lungs (the alveoli) where oxygen and carbon dioxide pass in and out of the blood, according to Jack Feldman, a neurobiologist at UCLA explains. It keeps our lungs working properly, and that’s why on average, our brain triggers a sigh about a dozen times per hour in humans. Periodic sighs bring in twice the volume of a normal breath and they serve as a “reset button” for your respiratory system. 

More than a regular sigh

Normal sighs happen unconsciously, but as it turns out, we also have another type of sigh that is hardwired into our system which can be used intentionally as an “off switch” to stress when you feel yourself getting frustrated and agitated. 

That sigh breath, which Dr. Huberman, a neuroscientist and professor at the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine calls a physiological sigh, is a bit different and is triggered automatically in people experiencing claustrophobia to induce calm, but they also happen during sleep or periodically during the day. 

But since we have voluntary control over our breath, it’s a breathing pattern that you can use as an instant tranquiliser anytime you need to calm down quickly. It’s a tool you have with you at all times and it takes less than a minute to do! 

The key this tool comes down to taking 2 quick inhales through your nose, followed by a slow exhale through the mouth. It is thought to promote the right balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in your lungs and bloodstream and activate the parasympathetic system, which will interrupt the upward spiral of stress and promote a sense of calm. 

How to use a physiological sigh to calm down quickly

  1. Inhale through your nose
  2. Top that first inhale with another quick inhale
  3. Exhale through your mouth slowly
  4. Repeat 3 times, and a minute or so later, you’ll feel calmer!

That’s it! It’s that simple.

If you want to see a demonstration from Andrew Huberman himself, check out his Instagram post below.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBjgVhXHdwF/

For a shorter version, you can take a look here: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-iajrGH-EO/

And if you find yourself in a constant state of stress, you might want to take a more comprehensive approach to your emotional state which I discussed in this article about fighting off stress and anxiety or sign up now for a complimentary “Success Now” session.

Photo by 傅甬 华 on Unsplash