Photo by Heather Bode

Photo by Heather Bode

When you look back on 2017, was there anything you wanted to do but didn’t? If so, what held you back? Perhaps it was a new challenge, race, or ambitious project that you really wanted to do but for whatever reason, you didn’t pull the trigger. Maybe you wanted to improve on a skill but couldn’t figure out how. Or, if you’re like so many of us, you found yourself sidelined by negative self-talk that prevented you from truly reaching out beyond your comfort zone.

Although I’m reluctant to talk about things like New Years Resolutions, I do think that a new year is a great opportunity to focus on the simple practice of getting your mind right. And by doing that, it can change your approach to so many aspects in your life, from trying new and scary things to performing at your highest level.

So as we head into the great unknown of a new year, here are three simple mindset shifts that can help you reach new heights in 2018:

CHANGE “I CAN’T” TO “I WILL”

How many times have you said “I can’t do this?” when it comes to something difficult? And then just…didn’t? “I can’t” is such an easy default, and ultimately can be a time-saver in life. Because once you decide definitively that you can’t do something, it’s highly likely that you just won’t do it. But what’s the fun in that?

For just about everything in life, there’s a secret invisible word that follows the phrase “I can’t”. What’s that word?

YET.

“I can’t…yet.”

And all of a sudden, the entire meaning of that phrase changes. Because now it’s not about never trying something. It’s about putting in the work to learn. And once you do – you will realize that the work is worth it.

The negativity behind “I can’t” becomes a drive to succeed through the phrase “I will”.

Here’s an example. I spent years teaching a beginner roller derby skills class. There was no prerequisite for entry – we taught the basics starting with how to stand up and move on your skates. When I would talk to people about this class, I can’t count how many times people would respond by saying how cool that sounded, but that they just couldn’t do it. And that would be the end of that.

But then I’d go teach a new group of people. Most of these people hadn’t been on skates since their third grade birthday party. They were terrified, but they were there and eager to learn this scary thing.

They weren’t the “I can’t” people. They were the “I will” people. And over the years, I watched so many of them learn and grow and eventually become all-star skaters.

But it all started because they saw the invisible hidden word after “I can’t”. They saw the “yet” and they turned it into “I will”.

So can you.

Anytime you hear yourself saying “I can’t” – add that “yet” and turn it into “I will”. And see how your life changes as a result.

DESPITE THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD TELLING YOU THE OTHERWISE…BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

This can be a tough one. For many of us, the default setting when approaching a difficult task or challenge is to look at it and assume it’s not something you can do. Even if you’re doing everything you can to turn an “I can’t” into an “I will”, there’s still usually that nagging voice that wants to tell you that whatever you’re trying to do is not possible at this time, or perhaps even any time.

Here’s the thing: at this precise moment, the voice is right.

If you don’t believe that you can do something, you won’t be able to do it. There is no amount of training in the world that can beat self-doubt. So it’s time to get rid of it.

Here’s an example for you. In my early days doing Spartan Races, I believed that I’d never be able to complete the monkey bars obstacle. I’m a petite human with small arms and tiny hands. The bars in the obstacle are wide, far apart and spaced at different heights. Every time I approached that obstacle, I automatically assumed I’d fail and have to do a 30 burpee penalty. And every single time…I did the 30 burpee penalty.

In the meantime, I was training my upper body and grip strength and felt improvements in those areas. But I still didn’t believe I would ever be able to complete the monkey bars.

Then, about a year ago, I did a Spartan Race with a team. When I got to the monkey bars, that self-doubt crept in. I made it about three bars across and fell off. Despite all my training, I still couldn’t get it. But then one of my teammates stepped up to the bars. There she was, in all of her five foot tall glory, short arms and tiny hands effortlessly moving from bar to bar as she made quick work of the obstacle and rang the bell at the end.

Something changed in me at that very moment.

I just watched my teammate obliterate my excuse for never being able to do the obstacle. And all of a sudden, I believed that I could. I decided to try again. And wouldn’t you know it? I made it all the way across for the first time.

My training for the obstacle only worked when I first believed that it was possible. And I have been successful on that obstacle ever since.

There’s a famous saying that goes like this: whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t…you’re right.

So if you want to do something difficult or challenging or adventurous, you first must believe that you can. Convince yourself if necessary. And get a support system, because more than likely, people around you will believe in you far sooner than you believe yourself.

But you can. And you will. Believe it.

WHO CARES IF YOU’RE READY? TAKE THE LEAP!

I talk to or read Facebook posts from so many people who say they’ll sign up for a race or even a workout program when they’re ready. But what is ready exactly? How is readiness determined? Who is the arbiter of readiness?

To me, saying you’ll wait until your ready is an excuse to delay doing something that scares you. And that means you’re delaying the awesome feeling of accomplishment that comes after you do that scary thing.

Let’s just stop that now, shall we?

Signing up for that race or workout program or whatever that thing is that scares you is not the last step in the process. It’s the first step.

Make the commitment. Sign up. Get that event date on your calendar. THEN you can get ready.

Using a race as an example, by taking the leap and signing up, you now know exactly how long you have to train. From there, you can put a plan into place to help you feel confident and ready to crush the race.

Stop coming up with excuses that only serve to keep you from doing cool stuff.

Don’t wait until you’re “in better shape” or until you don’t have to run by yourself or that you’re afraid that you’ll finish in last place. Don’t even for a second begin to think that last place is a bad thing.

Because you know what? Last place is still ahead of the person who didn’t try.

So make a promise to me and, more importantly, make a promise to yourself. If you’ve been waiting to sign up for a race or event or anything until you feel ready, stop now and just sign up. As in, today. Make the commitment and then get excited. You’re about to have a remarkable year!

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