It can be pretty easy for us parents to slip into a pretty stuck mindset. The lack of sleep, constant nagging from the kids, financial stresses...the list of our worries can be quite extensive. However, we can combat this by developing an understanding of the two pillars of positive mindset: gratitude and self-determination. If you haven't yet read the first part of Staying Positive as a Parent, find it here.
The balance between gratitude and self-determination is so important. If you lean too much towards gratitude you are unlikely to achieve growth, and growth is one of the greatest joys in life. However, if you have too much self-determination and not enough gratitude then you will quite simply never be happy! It won't matter how many goals you hit, how much you achieve, it'll never be enough.
Self-determination is the principle of having control over your own life and circumstances. This isn't to say that everything in your life is your fault. That is a common misunderstanding I come up against when I explain about self-determination. Many people think I'm saying that if you are in control then anything bad which happens is up to you as well. Although this can often be the case, sometimes stuff happens to us which we can't help.
It is important to understand the difference between fault and responsibility. If someone crashes into your parked car then it isn't your fault, but it is your responsibility. If a storm fells a tree and it takes out your roof that isn't your fault either, but it is your responsibility.
Your family lifestyle may not be where you want it to be, but whether or not that is your fault is mostly irrelevant. What is important, however, is that it is your responsibility! This is a key principle to consider when staying positive as a parent.
Self-determination is the understanding that although you can't control everything which happens to you, you can control how you respond. You can't fix what other people do, or how the world may seem to work, but you can work on how you think and feel about it all.
This may seem like I'm oversimplifying things, but it really is simple. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy to work on this stuff, but it is simple. One of the first things to consider is how your thoughts control your actions. Your actions are dependent on how you feel, and how you feel is dependent on your thoughts. The best part is that you have more control over your thoughts, and therefore your feelings, than you probably realise!
Now, I'm not saying you have to control how you feel all the time. That's not really possible, or even a good idea if it was. It's normal and healthy to allow yourself to think and feel a whole spectrum of human emotions. Many people, however, feel that they are at the mercy of their thoughts and emotions, and this doesn't have to be the case.
I have had struggles with severe depression and anxiety, as recently as within the last six months. I know that if you are struggling with these sorts of things then it makes following this advice a lot tougher. But I also know from personal experience that it isn't impossible, and the payoff is huge.
It all comes down to having a 'growth mindset'. This means believing that everything about you is subject to change. Your health, your fitness, your intelligence, your finances, your confidence...all of it can be worked on and improved. People can lean more to either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset overall, but many of us have a growth mindset about some things and fixed mindset about others.
We are all born with a growth mindset, otherwise we would never learn to walk, talk, or do anything else! In order to undo the conditioning from years of society telling you to have a fixed mindset, there is one foolproof strategy: choose.
You choose whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset! Simple? Yes. Easy? Not quite. This will take some reprogramming, but start by asking yourself this one question any time you come up against a challenge.
What would I do/how would I react to this if I had a growth mindset?
You can probably think of an answer to this in most situations, and once you have an answer all you need to do is act on that! Voila, you have taken a step towards growth mindset.
If you struggle to visualise what you would do with a growth mindset, ask yourself what someone with a growth mindset would do. Maybe even pick a certain person you hold in high regard who clearly has more of a growth mindset and ask yourself how that individual would respond?
This kind of reprogramming will take time, and I recommend supporting yourself by reading around the topic. For growth/fixed mindset try the book 'Mindset' by Carol Dweck.
Read more: Investing In Yourself
So how do you actually harness this principle of self-determination? Well the simplest step is by setting goals and targets. Writing down what you are going to do is a powerful move to tell your mind that you mean business. Setting goals and targets shows yourself that you are in control of your life.
You don't need to set long-term goals to begin with, it can often be tough to visualise where you want to be in ten years time. Start by setting yourself three simple tasks per day and see how you get on. Each evening ask yourself what three things you could aim to achieve the next day. It could be hoovering the lounge, posting a form, drinking more water, getting a haircut...anything really. When you tick these things off your list give yourself a pat on the back, celebrate the small wins.
Small tasks like this may seem insignificant, but they add up. If you complete three tasks each day that will be 21 each week, around 90 each month, and over 1000 in a year! Three tasks per day is sustainable, and the name of the game when changing your lifestyle is making everything sustainable. Another book I will take this opportunity to recommend is 'The Compound Effect' by Darren Hardy.
So to sum this up: when faced with a challenge, ask yourself how you would respond with a growth mindset; and each evening set yourself three simple tasks for the following day. These two simple strategies will help you stay positive and get stuff done.