Discover the Hidden Power of Beliefs

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To make any meaningful change, you need to start believing new things about yourself. This pattern became obvious to me as I looked back on my own growth from previous years.

In 2014, I never saw myself as a “business person”… until that one summer when I started my online business.

In 2015, I never saw myself as a “number’s person”… until I started taking a statistics class in college.

In 2016, I never saw myself as a “morning person”… until I started meditating.

You get the idea. Your beliefs influence your actions, and your actions support your beliefs. Powerful stuff, right?

Let’s explore the hidden power of beliefs today. They’re one of the most important ingredients that drives your growth.

So, who do you believe you are?

That’s a serious question to explore. Dig deep. Be curious and honest with yourself. Then ask yourself: is this belief useful to me? If the answer is no, it’s time to change the belief.

Luckily, changing your core beliefs doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. It’s a matter of changing your mindset.

Fixed versus growth mindset

Every year, I revisit Carol Dweck’s book Mindset to remind myself that I must challenge my own beliefs.

First of all, you must understand that you are not a static being. A fixed mindset means that you believe you are born with certain attributes, talents, and intelligence… and that’s it.

The result? You become anxious and unhappy because you always have to prove yourself to others. Failure at a task becomes internalised as a “I’m a total failure and I’m not good at this”.

As you can see, a fixed mindset is limiting and potentially dangerous.

When you believe in fixed traits, you resent effort and become vulnerable to adversity. You’re stuck in a either/or scenario. Either you are great at something or you’re not. I’ve been there myself, and let me tell you it’s exhausting.

In other words, the fixed mindset is not always useful. Yes, you may have certain endowments and talents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on them, or shouldn’t explore other areas of your life.

People with a fixed mindset tend to stick to their comfort zone since they know they can succeed there. Unfortunately, they never challenge themselves and rarely venture into the unknown.

When you step into a growth mindset, you understand that you can become more. It’s very liberating as you start thinking to yourself:

“I am not great at this yet.

That one little word triggers a whole new set of beliefs about who you can be and what you can do.

Building identity-based habits

The problem with most personal growth goals (especially your fitness goals) is that they are performance or appearance-based.

“I can do 100 push-ups in a row” or “I want to lose 20 pounds”.

James Clear argues that we must start to change the beliefs about who we think we are. He suggests working on identity-based habits instead.

The process is pretty straightforward:

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

I really like this approach, especially the idea about the small wins. It lets you build up your confidence. Let’s look at a few examples.

Grow your beliefs with small wins

Want to become a programmer?

Identity: Become the kind of person who is able to write code.

Small win: Sign up to CodeAcademy’s Javascript course.

Want to become a better son or daughter? 

Identity: Become the kind of person who stays in touch.

Small win: Decide to call your parents every Sunday morning.

Want to become more fit? 

Identity: Become the kind of person who never misses a workout.

Small win: Do pushups Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

In my humble experience, proving the identity to yourself is far more important than the results. It’s also more fun.

Don’t get stuck in your beliefs

It’s so easy to get trapped believing you are a certain kind of person, who only does certain kinds of things. But of course that’s not true.

With a growth mindset, you can change who you are. The first step is to believe you can be somebody else. Second, you take action to re-affirm your new set of beliefs.

What new beliefs would you like to have about yourself? Explore that question, and see where it takes you.

Next article: 10 Personal Growth Goals Worth Pursuing.

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6 responses to “Discover the Hidden Power of Beliefs”

  1. Virginia Reeves Avatar

    Olle – good definition of a fixed mindset and tips on how to increase the open mindset, confidence, and success.

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Thank you, Virginia!

  2. Virginia Reeves Avatar

    Olle – so… in the past 2+ years since you ran this article, what beliefs have you changed that affect your actions and behaviors? Would like to know what you’re doing now. Tom and I are traveling more, I am doing less on the computer as I spend extra time with enjoyment reading (I’m 68 and run my own time totally), and I stay in good shape with walking and swimming. My outlook is one of acceptance and enjoyment of life as it is (largely(helped by avoiding almost all news that might irritate me). Looking to start new projects in the creative field (incorporate some writing but other stuff too).

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Virginia – it’s great to hear from you, and thanks for leaving such a good question. We’ve both been on quite the journey during the past few years, haven’t we? 🙂 It makes me happy to read about you and Tom’s lifestyle: being able to run your own time is one of life’s greatest freedoms.

      I’m currently working as a marketing manager at Spoon Agency, where I’m lucky to work with some truly talented and helpful colleagues. I learn so much from them! To reach my current position, I’ve had to upgrade my beliefs about leadership, decision-making (the learning community over at Farnam Street has been most helpful with this, as has my discovery of mental models), money (I’ve challenged my old beliefs and started investing smaller amounts in various funds, i.e. the power of compounding), health (I can do a lot more than I think, if only I push myself, it’s all about finding the right community and mentors to help you), and much more. My outlook is living life on my own terms, according to my own inner scorecard, not someone else’s. It’s challenging, for sure, but it’s also more fun 🙂
      Thanks for following my blog over the years, and good luck with your new projects! I’m finishing up my new book, I want to release it during the fall, stay tuned!

  3. Virginia Reeves Avatar

    I never really had any mentors and I’m sure my jobs would have been much better with one or more. Leadership and making decisions – something I think most people deal with as long as they are willing to keep learning and growing. Your own scorecard – keep that one going Olle. I worked with in marketing managers at a large firm (special effects for TV and more) for 8 years. It was interesting. Set aside the time for taking care of your health and keep up that investing. Best wishes.

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment, Virginia! I think the mentor/mentee relationship is so important, and can benefit both parties. Sticking to your own scorecard, while taking care of your health, is essential to living your best life in today’s hectic world. Best wishes, Olle

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