An empowered mindset means that you make conscious choices followed by intentional actions to take control of your life. It means you take responsibility for creating the life you want and leave victimhood in the past. But how exactly do you do that? This is a special two-part episode (because I’ve got so much great stuff to share). In today’s episode, I’ll be outlining four of the five steps I want you to take to have a new mindset filled with happiness, ease and empowerment. Then next week, you’ll hear that fifth step to help you move into 2024 feeling confident and ready!
In the last broadcast, episode 268: The #1 Reason Why You Don’t Hold Your Boundaries, I explained how having a victim mindset was holding you back from the happiness you want in your life. As synchronicity and the Gods would have it, a wonderful person DM’d me on Instagram asking if I could do something on how to be empowered, and I thought, “What a perfect way to start 2024! My last episode in 2023 told you to get out of that victim mentality and now I’ll give you more specific steps to make that happen.”
What Exactly is an Empowered Mindset?
Your mindset, very simply put, is the beliefs you hold. And beliefs are just thoughts you’ve repeated over and over throughout the years. You end up with habitual thoughts which culminate in your general attitude, values and worldview. Your mindset determines how you’ll interpret things that happen in your environment and how you’ll then respond to those interpretations. (In fact, a quick tip here is that, when something happens you don’t like, I’d like you to start saying to yourself, “The story I tell myself about that is…”).
You can think of a mindset as your outlook, values, frame of mind or your overall philosophy. When you have an empowered mindset, it means you believe you control your life (in as much as we can control anything, of course). It means you create your goals and believe you can accomplish them or get the things you want, step by step.
People with an empowered mindset are confident but also curious. They have a realistic view of their strengths and limitations but always lead with their strengths. They believe they make things happen and that everything is figureoutable. They have a healthy sense of self-worth and act from that place. This isn’t about positive thinking. It’s about a frame of reference within yourself that you can trust. There’s a sense of self-efficacy or a belief in your abilities to achieve the goals you’ve set.
A Few Notes First
Let me be clear that there’s a road to an empowered mindset, but there’s no magic bullet. It’s about consistent practice in specific areas.
If you do a search online (as I did), you’ll often see people saying that to have an empowered mindset you should make sure you’re surrounded by positive people. I really hate when I see this kind of advice because it’s from a victim mentality. Yes, of course, it’s wonderful to have positive, uplifting people around and I hope you have many people in your life like this, but the vast majority of people also have a mother who’s driving them crazy with her complaining and negativity or coworkers or a boss who are argumentative, critical or grumpy a lot.
If you want to get good at creating healthy boundaries with the folks that drive you crazy or figure out how to let go of toxic relationships, you need to buy my new book, Boundaries Made Easy: Your Roadmap to Connection, Ease and Joy. There’s also an audiobook version so you can listen to me boss you around if you’d prefer that to reading.
Let me say unequivocally that you can absolutely have an empowered mindset even if the people around you are negative! This is about you being the dominant vibration in the room! This is about you having this empowered mindset even (especially?) when it’s hard! Way (way) back in episode 113, The Secret to Positive Thinking, I go deep on how to be that dominant vibration in the room and have others calibrate or sync up with your healthier mindset instead of you syncing up to their negative one! Why is it always assumed that a negative mindset should trump a positive one?
I also want to say that another common suggestion is to eat well and exercise. Yes, of course, doing those things will absolutely help you have a more empowered mindset but, for many of us, it’s hard to eat right and exercise when we don’t have an empowered mindset! It’s like an evil Catch-22! So, my steps do not include those things. Once you’re in a good place consistently, you can look at adding some healthier foods or getting out there for some exercise a few times a week. Believe it or not, once you’re in a better place, those things will feel more doable and achievable (and you might actually be motivated to do them)! For now, that’s not where I want you to focus.
The Five Steps to Having an Empowered Mindset
Step One: Start Your Day Right
Before I jump in, let me say that I went deep on this topic back in episode 204, Abby’s Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Day Right. I mean, I got granular and nitty gritty and laid out the exact steps you should take each morning to begin in the right way, so you start the day empowered (so I’m not going to repeat myself too much here).
However, I do want to say a few things right now.
The reason you need to put a huge focus on how you start your day if you want to have an empowered mindset is because of momentum. As I’ve mentioned before, I want you to imagine that you have a car on top of a hill. That’s you starting your day. What generally happens is that the car starts rolling down that hill right away. You hit the snooze button ten times, your first thought is that you didn’t get enough sleep and you’re tired or chastising yourself for not getting to bed on time the night before. Maybe you’re already running late and rushing around, dying for some caffeine that you can’t live without. This is, literally, the equivalent of laying in bed smoking cigarettes and eating a box of donuts and then thinking you should have a productive day.
Not going to happen.
You’ve got to keep that car on top of that hill! You need to guard that momentum and keep positive momentum moving as opposed to negative (that’s when that car rolls down that huge hill and gains momentum all day until it’s 4:00 and you realize you’ve been rushing around all day, reacting not acting, and now you’re exhausted and just want to eat foods you shouldn’t or have a nice big drink). That car has rushed to the bottom of the hill and now it’s crushing you and you’re thinking you’re going to have an empowered mindset? Again, not going to happen.
Researchers at the University of Tier, Germany, found that we get stressed right at the beginning of our day, just by waking up. Within minutes of waking up in the morning, you release a bunch of stress hormones because you start thinking of the day you have ahead of you, which triggers this fight/flight/freeze response I’m always talking about. This, in turn, releases stress hormones like cortisol into your bloodstream.
To combat this, you want to start your day with positive thoughts and feelings. You want to get that positive, empowered mindset momentum going!
What NOT TO DO:
So there are two things I don’t want you to do.
- Don’t stay up past your bedtime! I say a lot that your day doesn’t start when your alarm goes off. Your day starts when you set your alarm the night before. You’re not going to feel empowered all day when you’ve had a shitty night’s sleep. Make it your top priority to stick to a reasonable bedtime for a month.
- Don’t hit that snooze button. This is crucial, and I’m going to tell you the four reasons why hitting the snooze is bad for you:
a. Snoozing ruins the behavioral conditioning between the stimulus (your alarm) and the response (getting your butt out of bed). If you were to get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off, it would eventually become an automatic response and the struggle would go away!
b. That morning alarm struggle has lasting effects on your day because of something called sleep inertia-grogginess which leaves you weak and struggling to perform even basic tasks. Studies have found sleep inertia can take two to four hours to shake, even when you feel fully alert!
c. Robert Rosenberg, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff in Arizona, says that if you snooze and start to fall back asleep after your first alarm, your body gears up for another full cycle of sleep. When the second alarm jerks you awake during the beginning of your next sleep cycle, that incomplete cycle is what leaves you with worse sleep inertia. Again, you end up with this sleep and grogginess residue, which makes you more tired all day. Then, you’re likely to crave coffee or sugar for half the day just to get yourself moving. This, in turn, affects your nighttime rest and a really nasty cycle takes place in your life.
d. Lastly, this is your first commitment of the day and you’re not keeping it! You’re starting your day with “it’s not enough.” I didn’t get enough sleep. You don’t want to start your day with this as your first thought. So, from a psychological and physiological perspective, get your tushy out of bed as soon as you hear that alarm. I guarantee you (yes, I said it) that you’ll feel better, more alert and never want to hit the snooze again if you do this for just two weeks straight.
You have to make yourself a priority every, single day. You come first. It can just be a few minutes, but you’re setting yourself up to start the day in a positive frame. So, setting up a morning ritual that puts you first is the most critical part of your day. This is the way to stay ahead of the negative momentum.
As part of any morning routine (you can do as little as 10 minutes to start), keep a separate notebook (that you actually write in) where you keep track of your abilities and strengths. Take a moment and recognize what you did well or what you followed through on the day before. Notice your abilities and the power to change your circumstances.
Step Two: Don’t CRAVE
Now that you’ve started your day with your intentional empowered mindset, you’ve got to stay on top of your thinking throughout the day to keep that car on top of the hill! Don’t allow negative momentum to pick up speed. I’ve written a ton about how to be mindful, and you should absolutely download my Mindfulness Starter Kit if you haven’t already, but there are five specific things I want you to watch out for (which you can only do if you’re mindfully in your moments) each day to keep that empowered mindset. You can remember them with the acronym CRAVE.
- The “C” is for don’t Criticize or Complain or allow yourself to be around others who are doing it
- The “R” is for R If you’re feeling resentful of anyone or anything, you’re giving the control of your life over to that person or thing. There’s no way to have an empowered mindset when you’re steeped in resentment.
- The “A” is for not Attacking others or blaming them for anything that’s happening in your life. And, again, not allowing others to attack or blame you. If this is difficult for you, again, you need to get a copy of my book, Boundaries Made Easy: Your Roadmap to Connection, Ease and Joy today, or do a keyword search on my website for boundaries and give yourself a mini-course!
- The “V” means don’t act like a Victim in anything
- The “E” means that you need to watch any feelings of Entitlement
In the end, it’s about only focusing on what you can control, not what you can’t (which includes anyone else’s behavior).
Step Three: Loving Kindness
Having an empowered mindset is so much easier when you’re not filled with hate, resentment or frustration for yourself or anyone else. The relief you’ll feel when these feelings aren’t omnipresent will, literally, change your life. There’s a lot of great research about the benefits of loving kindness meditations, which are basically guided meditations, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
I have a free Loving Kindness guided meditation on YouTube (and who doesn’t want to listen to my voice more?!) that you can listen to anytime. Practice it two to three times per week for one month and you’ll absolutely notice some huge changes in how you feel every day and with your ability to maintain your empowered mindset.
Step Four: Set Reasonable Goals Daily
One of the quickest ways to lose an empowered mindset is to set unreasonable goals for the day or to have set no real goals besides “getting through your to-do list.” To-do lists are the worst when it comes to having an empowered mindset but there is something you should be doing instead and that’s scheduling.
Let me explain. You know that list that you’ve been writing and re-writing for the last month (or six months)? You know how you’ve had “clean the garage” on that list forever? And you know how you never actually clean the garage, but you’ve gotten really good at writing down that you’re going to clean the garage? Yeah, well that needs to change, and I want you to think of never writing a “to-do” list again. Instead, you’re going to schedule in everything that was on your list and actually get it done.
So, clean the garage is now on your schedule for May 15th from 9:00-12:00. Yes, maybe that’s five months from now, but so what? That’s the only time you really have to get it done anyway. And you know the best part (other than the fact that you’re being realistic about when you can really get this job done?) The best part is not seeing this on your list day after day and feeling bad because you’re not doing it (yet again). Psychologically, not having to-do lists is good for your soul.
Along with scheduling, I’d like you to incorporate a concept from motivational speaker Brian Tracy, which he calls “Eat the frog.” Basically, this means that you want to schedule the hardest thing or the item you want to do the least, at the very beginning of your day. You want to eat that frog first and get it over with. Otherwise, it sits there, and you’re dreading it and finding reasons not to do it. This is why I work out first thing in the morning – I don’t have all day to talk myself out of it.
Step Five: Cultivate a Growth Mindset
As I mentioned earlier, this is a special two-part episode and next week will be all about Step number five, which is how to cultivate a growth mindset which is key to having an empowered mindset!
Resources for Having an Empowered Mindset
Pruessner, J.C. & Wolf, O.T. & Hellhammer, Dirk & Buske-Kirschbaum, A. & Auer, Anne & Jobst, S. & Kaspers, F & Kirschbaum, Clemens. (1997). Free Cortisol Levels after Awakening: A Reliable Biological Marker for the Assessment of Adrenocortical Activity. Life sciences. 61. 2539-49. 10.1016/S0024-3205(97)01008-4.