Being our best doesn’t mean that we should have a smooth journey for our lives. Just because we set goals or expectations for ourselves doesn’t mean that the world will simply let us travel this path. At a time when competition is such a focus, we will face inevitable setbacks, drops in motivation and dark times. However, we need to be careful that setbacks are not seen as a sign that its “not meant to be”. If we keep looking for the “golden run” to our dreams and allow any setback to become a “derailer”, you will end up with more half-started projects than Doc from Back to the Future.
What is an efficient mindset?
Our attitude towards these challenges will invariably determine how we progress through them. We can choose to grow and learn through them, or give up at the first sign of trouble. Whether it is our professional lives or personal lives, every challenge and setback we face is an opportunity. If we allow ourselves to view them this way, we can constantly learn and improve.
Of course having an open mindset to set backs is a terrific idea on paper. In the real world however, challenges often come at inconvenient times. It could be your computer crashing and losing your report two days before it is due, or a staff member leaving in the middle of the busy season. Focusing on our emotions and becoming overwhelmed invariably impacts our performance and final outcome.
We need to consciously bring ourselves back to a solution focused mindset during these times. This not only helps us bring a more positive attitude to challenges, but also helps us logically focus on the meaningful components of the issue. This is what we call an “efficiency mindset”. We need to bring our attention to what we can do to move through the challenge we face, rather than focusing on the cause of the issue or potential negative outcomes.
How do we have an efficient mindset? The “Past – Present – Future” Technique
To build an “efficiency mindset” there is a simple hack you can utilise to help train yourself. However, you need to remember that it is not a “silver bullet” which will rid you of any overwhelming emotion. It is just a technique to use as preparation and to “refocus” on these tangible actions.
What and Why:
We cannot change the past (the source of the problem). We also have no control of the future – only the result of our actions in the present. Worrying about what outcome may result only causes anxiety. We need to focus on what we can do now, to help move through the challenge or problem. Particularly, we need to look for the aspects of the situation which are in our control e.g. We can’t control whether our boss will think the report we are writing is brilliant, complete junk, or somewhere in between.
That is up to them, their biases, and other external factors like how their day is going. What we can control is that our facts are correct, the argument is logical, and the language grammatically correct. Therefore, thinking about what our boss is going to think about the report is redundant. Worrying about something completely out of our control takes focus from aspects of the situation which give you the best chance of writing a top level report (in this example the facts, argument and language).
Make sure to take a break when a problem first presents or you feel overwhelmed and “muddled” by your thoughts. Remember prevention is always better than a cure – try to jump on this as soon as you feel it. Take a moment to create a list of your thoughts, worries, concerns and all the aspects to do with the triggering factor.
Break this list into three areas: PAST – all the factors which have already occurred or related to the cause (those things which we cannot change). The FUTURE – those thoughts and factors which are related to the potential outcomes. And of course the PRESENT – what are the actions which I can do in order to move through the challenge? These are the components that are in our control.
By focusing on these components sitting in the “present” column, we reinforce ourselves to focus on the control we do have in the situation. This gives us tangible “to do’s” to focus on. Having grounding points to focus on is far more effective than trying to lead ourselves away from stress/anxiety provoking thoughts (future and past). Remember – if someone tells you not to think about chocolate cake, what is the first thing you think about?…. If someone tells you not to stress, what do you think of?
These focus points lead our thinking and focus to logically based actions which move us through the challenge. As we move through it and see ourselves “ticking off” the to to-do list we will naturally start to feel more confident about our situation… the hardest part is just getting started.
For more information about an efficiency mindset and how to make sure we are breaking down overwhelming tasks into easy steps, get in touch with our psychologists. Contact us at [email protected] or on (02) 9929 8515