How A Negative Mindset Absolutely Sabotages Goals and Wastes Time

If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me the question,‘Why don’t I do the things I know I should do?’ I would have a massively full piggy bank! To avoid falling into a negative mindset, succumbing to distraction and procrastination and the resulting consequences, we must address the above question. Procrastinating, by the way, is simply doing something easier or less important than the task you know you should be doing. Furthermore, you often do it against your better judgement.

The first step to understand why this happens is to take a peek into how we are wired. Next, we must commit to working on our mindset. Moreover, decide to no longer tolerate any poor negative thinking. All this does is lead to less than optimal actions and low feelings. Finally, we must make a clear plan to create a positive mindset, choosing our thoughts and crafting good habits. Both of these are the antidote to a negative mindset and wasting time.

How our innate hard-wiring hinders our success and creates a negative mindset

“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day.” Dennis Waitley

1.Our brain has an inbuilt preference for the familiar, which is a leftover evolutionary trait that aims to keep us safe. However, as we are no longer roaming the Savannah escaping wild animals, it’s not relevant today. Merely an instinctive trait that stops our progress and achievement. Moreover, becoming familiar with feeling resistance or discomfort, rather than thinking about how hard things are is key. Taking action rather than falling into our stories about why we don’t want to do this task, which equates to a negative mindset.

2. Next, we have a tendency to move away from pain and seek pleasure. Instant pleasure. However, the problem here is by gaining instant pleasure you create future pain for yourself in the form of regret, missed opportunities and knowing you let yourself down again.

3. We live in a highly digital world, which creates chaos for our attention. Indeed, we have an attention span of less than eight seconds. One second less than a goldfish. Furthermore, unless you create a plan and embrace discipline, your gadgets, notifications and other visual data will inevitably hijack your attention. Ultimately, leading to overwhelm, stress, wasting time, feelings of regret and falling into a negative mindset.

4. If you haven’t created good habits of daily planning and selecting the most important task to tackle first, you massively reduce your chances of success. Planning and doing the hardest thing first, despite the day, time or how you feel, is obvious yet difficult, as it goes against our natural evolutionary traits. Moreover, if you fail here, you will waste energy and risk spiralling yet again into poor thinking and action habits.

Chunking tasks into small bite size tasks is key for action and momentum

5. Next, if your task is large, and you haven’t broken it down into small steps, your brain may not be able to see a clear path forward. It feels hard, so you avoid it and again fall back into your poor habits. 

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6. Finally, the energy of the mind is attention, which means it is a valuable currency. Focusing on what you want prevents negative mindset thinking. Distraction and procrastination simply wastes this valuable currency which serves to make things worse.

7. When you are tired or stressed, you tend to fall back into comfortable habits. Moreover, habits are outside our conscious awareness, in our subconscious mind. Furthermore, as we operate on habit between 45% and 90% of our day, you may well find yourself doing what you know isn’t really good for you.

8. Next, when you ‘wake up,’ you become aware that you let yourself get sidetracked again. Moreover, your next action is critical. Around 80% of people have negative self-talk, part of a negative mindset. What this means is you are likely to fall into this common habit of berating yourself for wasting time. Furthermore, as your thoughts create feelings, your feelings will match your thoughts. As your feelings tend to govern your actions, you will probably succumb to poor behaviours.

Being aware that changing your thoughts, feelings or actions is key. The next step is how to change them.

Seven ways to avoid falling into a negative mindset and wasting precious time

  • The first step is to become aware of when you get distracted and procrastinate. As you run most of your day by habit, chances are you will fall into a time-wasting habit before you become aware of it. Set a timer at regular intervals to wake yourself up and interrupt this habit. Remember, we spend up to 90% of our day operating by habit, so we need to ensure we have good ones. Additionally, taking good actions and installing helpful habits helps avoid falling into a negative mindset.
  • Write a story from the future you – the place of a massive action taker. How you feel and what you did to achieve this. Note the values and disciplines you embraced. You now have a clearer vision and guide. Practice stepping into the energy of the future you and feel how good you feel.
  • Next, create a set of rules for yourself about how you show up and what you do at work. The more you plan what you will do, the easier it is to take purposeful action. Use lower energy tasks and fun activities as rewards. Moreover, get clear on what they will be and schedule these in too.
  • We all have an inner child in us. One that doesn’t like discipline or doing things we don’t want to do. This child still needs guidance, rewards and disciplines – just as we did at school. Break projects into small steps and tasks. Encourage yourself and acknowledge your wins. Become your own cheerleader, supporter and teacher.

Project yourself out into the future and become aware of the consequences of your inaction

  • Step out into the future imagining the consequences of not changing these poor habits. How do you feel? Consider carefully what you haven’t achieved and the opportunities you missed. Finally, who else has this poor habit negatively impacted? 
  • STOP. Yes, that’s right. Instead of falling into a poor habit of doing something less important stop and do nothing. Just  sit quietly and think for 15 – 20 minutes about what you are going to do. When you intentionally do nothing but focus on your project, you start to break the cycle of delay, and time-wasting. Furthermore, you build your muscle of awareness as you are more present and prevent a negative mindset from ruling.

  • Finally, if all else fails, get out and exercise. While it may not be possible to exercise at work, a study from researchers at Yale and Oxford reinforced that people who stay active are happier. In addition, the researchers found that physically active people feel just as good as those who earn $25,000 more per year but who don’t participate in sports. Exercising releases endorphins which help you feel good and is a wonderful antidote to a negative mindset, procrastinating and falling into distraction. As most of our behaviours are driven by how we feel, when you feel good you are more likely to ‘do good.’ Tackle the project with more enthusiasm and energy.

When you change your thinking, you change your mindset. When you shift your mindset you get different results in the outer world. Work on creating yourself a mindset for success instead of falling into a default negative mindset.

About the Author

Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.

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