If you recite, “I’m worthy of success” every morning, will your consulting business grow? Not likely. Instead, adopt the three mindset techniques below that can make a real difference.
Your attitude is critically important to your success and, of course, your personal happiness. Recent research reveals that a positive outlook precedes heightened productivity and accomplishment.1 You achieve more because you’re in good spirits.
Plus, studies indicate that buyers of services (like consulting) are more likely to choose you over a competing consulting firm if you are more confident. (If you’re more confident and you come to meetings with truffles, you’re a shoo-in for the project.)
So, should you listen to daily affirmations to boost your self-esteem and confidence, as many self-help gurus, books and websites proclaim? No.
Listening to an hour of affirmations every morning for a month is guaranteed to do one thing: waste a full day of your life.
Proponents of daily affirmations misunderstand the evidence and dangerously misread the science.
Experiments in neuroplasticity suggest that your thoughts can change the structure of your brain.2 However, regularly, religiously hearing (or speaking) a positive statement won’t make you think it. In fact,
- If you don’t believe a positive statement, you may mentally access contrary evidence and reinforce your negative self-image.
- Attempting to drown out negative feedback with positive “self-talk” can inhibit you from learning from your mistakes.
Net: simply listening to affirmations won’t help.
Are there exercises that can reliably boost your self-esteem and confidence and, therefore, open the door to better results for your consulting business?
Yes. Here are three:
3 Mindset Exercises that Work
1. Reflect & Project
Learning stems from reflection—mentally and physiologically connecting thoughts. Such as tying, “I am confident in the value of my work” to memories of clients offering praise for your deliverables.
Every Friday afternoon, choose up to five beliefs you would like to strengthen (e.g., I am self-confident) and assign one belief to each, upcoming weekday.
- Reflect on your assigned belief statement:
- What evidence do you have that the statement has been true in the past?
- Write down your evidence in at least one paragraph of prose.
- Project your assigned belief into the future:
- What would it feel like for your belief to be absolutely true in the future?
- Mentally rehearse what a situation would look like if your belief were true in the future. What would you do and how would you act?
- Write about your projected experience.
You can delete your writing when you’re done. Journaling helps embed the thoughts in your brain.
2. Acknowledge & Recommit
Scientific evidence shows that trying to ignore or drown out negative thoughts is ineffective; however, focusing on what you value and desire produces meaningful change.
Every Friday afternoon reconfirm (or refine) what you truly value and desire from your consulting practice. For instance: flexibility to spend more time with your family, or financial security, or a lasting legacy. Then update your plan to achieve your goal. What are the concrete, granular next steps?
- Acknowledge negative thoughts when they occur. If you hit an obstacle, such as losing a project, don’t deny it hurts. Admit that sucks and feels rotten, then…
- Recommit to your plan and the granular next steps you need to complete.
3. Listen with Respect
One reason self-affirmations (a.k.a. autosuggestion) are ineffective is you don’t believe the messenger. Yourself. For good reason. You know your thoughts are biased and your views are distorted. Also, you realize that your clients are the true arbiters of your value (in terms of consulting).
At least once per month, solicit the input of someone you respect who is familiar with your work. Find someone who:
- Has walked your road before you. You instinctively trust and believe someone who has “been there, done that.”
- Is willing to listen attentively.
- Will point out your mistakes in a positive frame with direction on how to improve. (Berating you doesn’t generally help.)
- Will offer honest praise and support when it’s warranted.
After your feedback session, Reflect & Project. Connect your learning to evidence, rehearse future success, and write it all down.
There’s no doubt that improving your mindset can enhance your consulting business.
Whether or not you’re able to follow my recommended practice of massive, daily chocolate consumption (purely to boost endorphins, of course), you can absolutely utilize the three exercises above to boost your profits and happiness as a consultant.
Is there a positive belief you’d like to work on starting this coming Friday? Maybe even some belief you already hold but want to reinforce?
Publicly committing will help you stay accountable and will inspire other readers, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.