You hear about mindset a lot these days. Mindset is the golden ticket of self-improvement in many circles. Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? An abundance mindset or a scarcity mindset?
Choose the right mindset, and everything good will come your way. Have the wrong one, and you’re doomed to stay stuck. Don’t worry, there are a plethora of life coaches out there who will help you change your mindset so you can achieve anything you want.
What is a mindset and how do we shift our mindset? Our mindset is the way we view ourselves, the world around us, and our work. We shift our mindset when we see the world and ourselves in a new light. Such shifts of definition and imagination inside our minds change the choices we make, the way we feel, and how we interpret our circumstances.
It sounds abstract, but it’s real.
When it comes to life advice given by the world, we need to have our discernment sensors on high alert.
Most errors start with a grain of truth that hooks people, then swings them unsuspectingly into error because of false and often unstated assumptions.
The life-coachy assumptions popular in the world today are based on a worldview antithetical to Christianity. Thus, their advice gradually leads people astray, just like Flatterer in Pilgrim’s Progress. What they say sounds good, looks good, and is presented well, so we go along with it.
We need the same reprimand as Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress after being caught in Flatterer’s net: Why were you not reading your Bible such that you could see through the deception?
The grain of truth in worldly life coaching is that your mindset matters. How you think about the world and your life matters. And, how you think about yourself, the world, and your life is within your power to change.
A default error many of us have is to assume that our thoughts and our feelings simply happen to us. This is not true. So there’s room for the life coach advice of the world to swoop in and show us that we are able to change our thoughts, change our attitudes, and that doing so will change our lives.
So far so good. It actually goes beyond that, however. We are not only able to change our thoughts and feelings, we are actively responsible for our thoughts and feelings. We see this in Scripture, where we ought to be turning for all idea-validity checks:
be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of GodRomans 12:2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.Colossians 3:2
However, you actually can’t have responsibility without God, and the world is missing God. Responsibility implies accountability. It is to God that we will be held accountable and therefore why we are responsible. Someone created us and put us on this earth for a purpose and will hold us responsible for our actions when we die.
When we as Christians live as if that truth is irrelevant, as if we can listen to people who actively oppose that truth without consequence, we are joining the wrong team, walking the wrong path, and there will be consequences, because God’s Word and God’s control is real and really working in the world.
Their lies and false assumptions don’t, won’t, and can’t ultimately work.
The lie most worldly life coaching is built on is that there is no God. It’s as simple as that. Because their advice does not recognize God as God but rather denies Him outright or by teaching that His existence (or not) doesn’t matter, doesn’t make a difference, they cannot offer wise counsel. They are the blind guides.
Because they deny or ignore God’s existence, they end up teaching that we are the makers of our own life. Their guidance is a way to be a better god for yourself. Some even go so far as to claim that we can “manifest” the life or even things we want. That is, that we can be creators in the world.
If our mindset shifts lead us to think we can be as God, we will not go good places – in this life or the next.
The fundamental mindset shift all others must be based on to be wise, prudent, and fruitful is that we are God’s creatures, made for a purpose, given duties, and required to worship and obey not ourselves but the triune God alone.
Given that premise, which should be a given for all professing Christians, there are mindset shifts that help us be more effective, more satisfied, and more happy. Whenever we shift our mind away from the world’s false ideas and ideals and define our responsibilities, our roles, our selves, by God’s standard given in His Word, we will be happier and more productive.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:54
Here are three mindset shifts that I have found to be exceedingly fruitful in my own life.
Mindset Shift #1: Service Mindset
The messages in Disney movies, romance novels, and social media ads encourage us to be true to ourselves, to follow our hearts, to do what’s right for us.
Such messages make sense in a world where we are expected to be our own miniature gods, creating our own realities and demanding acknowledgment and honor from others.
Attractive and tempting as such a mindset is to our selfish, sinful selves, it’s a mindset of falsehood that will take us nowhere good.
God, the triune God of Scripture, is the One True God, and he bids us come and die. We are called to die to our selfishness, to our own agendas, to our sin. We are called to live to God, for God, through worship of Him and service to others.
Life is not for ourselves. Life is for God, for service to others. Unexpectedly, we find joy, peace, and satisfaction not in getting our own way, but in giving ourselves for the sake of others.
Whenever we feel self-pity creep in, resentment rise, or frustration increase, we can pause, recognizing the self-centeredness of such emotions. We can put them to death by replacing them with gratitude to God and a choice to serve others.
The dishes, the laundry, the ten millionth tidying up of the living room – each instance is a time we are serving not ourselves, but others. In that, we joy while practicing love.
Mindset Shift #2: Interval Mindset
When we choose goals or projects or outcomes we’re working toward, we tend toward the idealistic.
We get a vision then we make lists and plans for making that vision a reality. Dreaming about it is invigorating and inspiring. Evaluating our lists and getting started on them is daunting.
So we fall short again and again.
When we spend more time thinking about the end of the project, the realization of the goal than we spend working toward it, we’ll remain stuck and overwhelmed.
A planning trick that has helped me get unstuck is to shift my thinking off the long-term vision and goal and toward a smaller, achievable milestone on the path as my actual goal.
Instead of planning a full scope and sequence for a fully-educated eighteen-year-old when said child is only five, plan the next school year that will help him experience the world and fall in love with books.
Instead of imagining a fully organized (and immaculately clean) house, pick a particular drawer or surface each week to clean and organize. There’s no guarantee such a plan will get you to the fully realized clean and organized home, but you’ll make more progress than if you try to plan out the complete system on paper first.
As you choose the scope of your work, don’t think in long-term idealized hopes, but in short-term, baby step action steps.
Mindset Shift #3: Discipline Mindset
How often do we wait to do a job until we “feel like it”?
While it’s true that a job goes faster and is more enjoyable when we’re in the mood for it, that doesn’t mean that we should wait until the mood strikes to do our job.
It is also true that sometimes the mood comes on halfway through the job. Getting in the mood often starts by getting started, not by waiting around, drinking more coffee, or scrolling Facebook.
I frequently say that starting is the hardest part. We make it harder when we set up the requirement to feel like starting before we do.
Instead, we need to choose the discipline mindset, the mindset that starts when it’s time and looks for the feeling to follow rather than following the lead of whatever feelings arise.
Need some mindset help?
One of the ways I build better attitudes and change my mindset is by using an alignment card. By putting truth intentionally in front of my face regularly, and repeating it, I set my mind on what is right rather than on myself and my internal defaults.
Check out my alignment card guide and get a few free printable alignment cards to get you started: