My 2014 Life Hack Plan – Hack My Mindset

Scenes at Lafayette College

Scenes at Lafayette College

I used to be obsessed with resolutions – I created personal manifestos (still have them in fact), goal lists, detailed diary entries, etc. In retrospect, I realized that I didn’t actually complete things well because I didn’t have the drive and I tried to automate my goals instead of taking control for my actions. It’s stated that to keep a New Years resolution you have to practice starting from Jan 1st until March. I realize that many people have the drive and persistent to do that rationally, but I sadly am not one of those people. So I realized that there’s a more obvious way that works well for my personality – hack my mindset.

Instead of focusing on a list of tasks I want to accomplish, I’ll focus on the mental acuity I’ll need to do so. That helped me narrow my list from 20 items to four, as everything else will fall into place afterwards. Here are my Mindset Resolutions for 2014:

1. Strengthen my impulse control: I used to have terrible sleep problems – as most college students do. I’ve gotten farther into my original goal of exercising regularly, but I still have a long road to go to keep a daily schedule. Instead, I’m focusing on having more inner strength and regulation: If I say that I’m never going to up until a certain time, I’ll keep thinking it until its a fixture in my head. This may not work for everyone, but it helps me to keep up to date and phase out the lazy parts of my persona until its 11 PM and all I can think is “it’s bedtime.” This also means scheduling my fun time until its ready, and not being sucked into other projects/activities just because I’m asked.

2. Flash card my studies:  While I’m the type of person who can do long-term in-depth study sessions, I like to do them in quiet areas, which outside of my room, is a very fleeting thing in college. But you can study at all times, so if I’m in noisy areas or studying with friends, I prefer making and reviewing study cards. Not everything can be learned with route memorization, but considering that I’m doing a senior capstone, learning how to build a website, and taking Spanish for the first time in 3 years, I can definitely use it to automate a few things in my mind.

3. Develop a ‘diet-Extrovert’ persona:  I’m an INFP, which (pretty accurately) describes me as someone who is very active in deep, one-on-one conversations, but not well tuned to large groups or sparse conversations. I don’t consider this a bad thing necessarily, but it also means that I’m not quite the best at networking, public speaking, etc. But I actively battled that in 2013 by signing up for group events, networking fairs, and speaking at a host of events. I still get nervous at the occasional speech, but I’m willing to push forward by drawing on my extroverted qualities and utilizing them for my own purpose.

4. Be open to risk, rejection, and growth: As much as I love participating in social causes, I realize that this puts me in a bit of a controversial stance: I’m an African American female who is active in feminist, LGBTQ, race & ethnicity,  economic development, and social justice clubs. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, but I also know that while I’m applying to jobs I could be seen as a too risky or radical hire. I’ve accepted that, and ultimately I decided that I need to be as authentic as possible. At some point in my career my stances may or may not come up, but it would be  disingenuous to pretend since these experiences have made me who I am.

For the casual reader, this means that instead of making a laundry list of resolutions, thinking about mental-improvement abilities over self or skill-development. What can you change about your mindset instead of just thinking about a specific, abstract skill? Additionally, instead of thinking in year-long terms, think about what you can start now which will cause lifelong benefits, and work your way back into a mental strength you can turn that into.

What do you want to change for your future personal development?

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