How to Build a Success Mindset
By Jena Kroeker
‘Tis the season when we freelancers and virtual assistants take stock of our businesses and plan for the year ahead. When you plan for the future, do you have a success mindset? It can make a profound difference in how you perform and how you cope with adversity.
In a previous blog post titled “Five Ways to Create a Winning Entrepreneurial Mindset,” we shared a quote from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It’s worth repeating here:
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
If you want to be successful this year, the most valuable gift you can give yourself is a success mindset. And since it’s the holiday season, we can see a beautiful illustration of the need for this mindset in Frank Capra’s classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Let’s use the main character George Bailey as a case study.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Success can mean different things to different people. In the movie, George Bailey related his success to whether or not he achieved his three main goals:
• See the world (Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, and the Colosseum).
• Go to college.
• Build things (airfields, skyscrapers a hundred storeys high, and bridges a mile long).
What does success mean to you in your freelance or virtual assistant business?
• A full client load?
• Fulfilling work?
• Business growth?
• Increased productivity?
• Greater influence in your niche?
• More visibility online?
• Higher income?
• Good work-life balance?
You could probably add other things to the list too. Our definition of success can differ from others’ views. And we may not look successful to peers and colleagues with different perspectives.
In the movie, we could suggest that George Bailey hasn’t developed his own success mindset. He reaches a point where he believes he’s an utter failure, and it prevents him from fully enjoying his life and work. He’s tempted to give up. That’s why it’s so important to look deep inside and carefully construct a view of yourself that can weather adversity.
And when it comes to goals, an article titled “6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset” suggests being clear about your goal and breaking down the process of getting there into small steps. That way, you can achieve “small but important victories.” And your mindset will help you enjoy each and every one of those victories.
Strategies for Building a Success Mindset
1. Be flexible.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller
One of the problems George Bailey encounters is life throwing him curveballs. Just as he’s about to realize his dreams, something happens where he needs to make hard choices. He often chooses to sacrifice his own goals to save the family business and benefit his loved ones.
But instead of feeling fulfilled, he feels like a failure. When you create a one-to-one relationship between the literal realization of your goals and success, you’re bound to be disappointed.
So, if your exact dreams don’t come true, see how the reality is related to the goals you made. For example, George Bailey may not have built the architectural wonders he was planning to, but throughout his life he built a loving community of people.
At an early age, I decided that my main goal in life and business was to have no regrets. It’s stood the test of time. If I try to achieve something that doesn’t work out, I still feel successful because at least I tried. When I switched my niche to writing and editing, it took a long time to convince people that I was capable of writing. But throughout the process, I reminded myself that I would have no regrets no matter what happened.
In her article, “8 Effective Ways to Upgrade Your Mindset for Success,” Liz Huber recommends changing your language and “[making] it a habit to talk about the things that are going well in your life instead of complaining and talking about your problems. This will encourage a mindset of abundance instead of fear and lack.”
As you cultivate abundance in your perspective, you’ll begin to see that things line up with your goals more than you thought they did. And you’ll gather the strength to carry on.
2. Embrace failure.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
In the movie, George Bailey becomes so discouraged, he wishes he’d never been born. He watches peers leave town and flourish in prosperous careers, while he’s financially struggling, stuck in his hometown.
I’ve failed more times than I can count. I was once asked to step down from a volunteer position because I wasn’t meeting expectations for the role, even though I was trying my hardest to do what was needed. I remember thinking, “I was just fired from a volunteer job. Who gets fired from a volunteer job?” It shook my confidence for a long time.
In a previous blog post, “How to Handle Failure and Success in Your Business,” we suggest that you might become even more successful through your failure. All experiences are valuable, no matter how many times you’ve succeeded or failed.
Maybe it’s time to stop putting success and failure in contrasting categories. We can build our success mindset if we put them both within the category of “valuable experiences” and determine how each one contributes to our success.
If you keep a journal, try documenting your experiences over the next year, and by 2021, you’ll start to see a pattern. That way, as Winston Churchill said, you can go “from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
The article above puts it this way:
“Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.”
3. Remain hopeful.
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The movie ends when George Bailey still has young children. We don’t know what happened later on. Maybe in the future he’ll fulfil his dreams of building things and going to college. Maybe he’ll still see the world! Maybe his prosperous friend will treat him to European vacation. The story isn’t over.
To build a success mindset, it’s important to remain hopeful of future opportunities. No matter what happens now, your virtual business story isn’t over until it’s over. George Bailey packs his suitcase more than once, only to be forced to unpack it because of unexpected events. But I bet if there were a movie sequel, he’d pack it again. He’s on his way to having the right perspective!
Shay Berman shares the following advice in an article titled “Why a Healthy Mindset Is the Key to Successful Entrepreneurship”:
“When negative things happen, take a step back to get a 10,000-foot view. Treat setbacks as chances to get better.
“Where are the opportunities in the bigger picture? Perhaps you didn’t say ‘no’ when you should have. Rectify your choices in the future to avoid encountering the same problem twice…”
What is the 10,000-foot view in your freelance or virtual assistant business? Can you incorporate the experiences of 2019 and determine how they set you up for success in 2020? Spend some time imagining possibilities, take steps towards those possibilities, and leave room for pleasant surprises. Always remain hopeful.
If you haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life, I won’t ruin the ending for you. But I will say that before the final credits roll, George Bailey discovers he’s more successful than he thought. And he learns what’s important to embrace so success and failure don’t dictate his sense of worth.
As we turn the page to a new year and a new decade, examine your own mindset and determine whether you need to change it. Does your view of yourself hold you back and prevent you from building the virtual business you want? Does it keep you from achieving the success you desire?
In our Freelance University Facebook Group, we’re each choosing a word to inspire us this year. What word would you choose to encourage your success? Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments below!
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