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The Mindset and Process that Helped Me Accomplish My First 5 Year Plan

Head Silhouette with Gears Inside of It

Back in 2012, I was entering the working world for the first time, for real. Before that, I’d had internships, jobs and even lived on my own to some extent. But, this was the start of my career. I felt like I was becoming an adult that was making money (no longer college poor) and all those excuses I had for delaying future planning had dried up. This was the first time I gave serious thought to what I wanted to do in life - my career, relationships, health, finances - all of it.

I know that I needed to do something to map out where I wanted my life to go even if I didn’t know what that something was. Well, I was fortunate enough to get introduced to The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. For the first time, I had a template to figure out where I wanted to go and a path to get me there. Here is what 2012 Theo came up with.

Screenshot of 5 Year Plan

I came across this list while I was going through some of my old folders and I must admit it does feel bizarre. It’s like looking at a snapshot of who you were, what your values entailed and where you wanted to go only, years ago. What was even more fascinating to me is how many of these items I was able to accomplish even though I only worked on this list actively for about 6 months. How did I end up, relatively in the same place, if I wasn’t always following the map? For me, it was the incorporation of a meaningful PROCESS and MINDSET to get to the destination.

Developing a Meaningful Process

Four Multicolored Robots in a Row

Have a meaningful process was extremely important for me because I didn’t know what I was doing. It helped me to get started and work consistently towards the goals I wanted to accomplish. Process allows us to focus on the actions instead of having to strategize and make decisions every time we want to take another step towards our goals. A PROCESS defines what you do, consistently. Here are 3 ways that a process will serve you.

1. Automation

If you have ever been successful in completing any goal, you’ll know the value of automation. Executing consistently against any task is the best way to make meaningful strides. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. Automation allows us to concentrate our focus on execution. It also prevents waste and optimizes our willpowers, removing second-guessing and distractions.

2. Growth

Consistency and growth are like peas in a pod. Consistency is the pod that allows growth to be possible. The truth is that overnight growth is exaggerated. Anything worthwhile takes time, effort and energy to realize. Having a process allows you to pursue growth at an optimal rate. You don’t have to rely on inspiration or motivation (although they are really helpful). You just have to commit to executing your process to realize your optimal growth.

3. Commitment

Speaking of commitment, I’ve found that processes have a counterintuitive benefit to assess the goals we are pursuing. Whenever you have a process that offers clarity in what you need to do and you can’t or won’t complete them, that’s an indicator you should pay attention to. Is the process appropriate for your capabilities? Do you want this goal for yourself or because of others? Digging deep and answering these questions will help to determine if you are committed to whatever it is you’re pursuing.

Developing a Winning Mindset

Brain with Circuitry Running Through It

Investing in my mindset was key for me because it helped to define who I was and by extension, who I wanted to become. A shift in mindset for me was the difference between trying to stick to a budget and being a financially responsible person. One is a set of actions to get to a particular goal or destination, the other is a core value and principle that would inform all future decisions. Your MINDSET defines who you are. Here are 3 ways that your mindset will serve you.

1. Direction

Your mindset is your compass in all you do. As a kid, I defined myself as a “good” student. For me, that meant that I paid attention in class, I revised my work, I studied and I completed all my homework. You could make the argument that I was a smart kid, but you could also make the argument that I did well because how I defined myself allowed me to perform well as a student. There are very few of us who can garner success in an area that we tell ourselves we will fail in. Ensure that your mindset is at least pointing you in the direction you want to go.

2. Resilience

Your mental fortitude can come from a place of confidence and self-assurance just as easily as it can come from a place of stubbornness. I am a very stubborn person and while that is something I have to be mindful of and active work on being more open, it’s also a tool that has allowed me to pursue goals that scare me. If your mindset already defines and acknowledges that you bear the characteristics for your end goal, it becomes incredibly difficult for anyone, including yourself, to discourage the pursuit of said goal. Ensure that you’re not denying yourself of success with a self-sabotaging mindset.

3. Fulfillment and Accomplishment

When was the last time you accidentally did something great? When was the last time you stubbled into success? We don’t often accomplish anything truly worthwhile by accident. That goes for relationships, careers, finances, even helping others. Unless you see yourself as the sort of person that can and will achieve great things, the likelihood that you actually will is low. And, the reason for this is pretty straightforward, anything that’s worthwhile to accomplish requires time, effort and energy. It requires consistent effort and dedication. All things that we won’t keep investing unless we have a mindset of success and greatness.

I’ve always indexed more towards a plan, a goal and a strategy. It has served me incredibly well and I’ve accomplished much of what I’ve set out for using this approach. However, as I’ve looked back at past accomplishments it’s clear to me that what kept me going during missteps and failure was a mindset that I was capable enough to get the job done. Process and Mindset aren’t separate entities by perhaps different faces of the same coin, that if we leverage appropriately, will help us to accomplish our most compelling outcomes.

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