• Laura Curta

GOALS: 4 ways your mindset can hijack your success

When it comes to success, there are a lot of things to be said. This article will focus on how your mindset stands between you and your future.

Mindset is a tricky thing and a powerful thing. When we talk about mindset, we talk about how and what we think about ourselves and the world. And I say it is tricky because if you are not careful what kind of thoughts you entertain, they might end up controlling your life (this is why affirmations can be so powerful).

Mindset is a powerful thing because, with determination, can be the one thing that you can fully control… wouldn’t that be nice, in a world which is continuously moving and changing, with you having no control over it?

I will not define success as I think each of you knows what success means for themselves. I just want to tell you that this applies to big and small goals, no matter who you are, where and what you aim for.

Without further ado, I will dive deep into 4 thoughts we often entertain and keep us from succeeding.

1. Making demands

2. Awfulizing

3. Low- frustration tolerance

4. Self-deprecation

1. Making demands

Oh, the dear must, should, can’t.

I have 2 role models when it comes to coaching, and one is Albert Ellis. In his books, he explains that we have practically, only 3 demands from life- and 3 demands create the most significant troubles sometimes we experience in life:

1. "I absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, perform well (or outstandingly well) and win the approval (or complete love) of significant others. If I fail in these important—and sacred—respects, that is awful and I am a bad, incompetent, unworthy person, who will probably always fail and deserves to suffer."

2. "Other people with whom I relate or associate, absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, treat me nicely, considerately and fairly. Otherwise, it is terrible and they are rotten, bad, unworthy people who will always treat me badly and do not deserve a good life and should be severely punished for acting so abominably to me."

3. "The conditions under which I live absolutely MUST, at practically all times, be favourable, safe, hassle-free, and quickly and easily enjoyable, and if they are not that way it's awful and horrible and I can't bear it. I can't ever enjoy myself at all. My life is impossible and hardly worth living."

Demanding and insisting that at all times, under all circumstances and at all costs you perform well, others treat you fair and kind and life doesn’t throw at you a curveball, will only bring you distress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, worry, depression, frustration and the list can continue for another half of page.

Now, do not get me wrong, it is not harmful to have certain expectations, to want some things and do not want others, to wish for all kind of stuff. The trouble comes when your preferences and wishes become strong demands, and everything must happen as you want to happen; otherwise, life and humanity is a rotten place.

Let’s look at some alternative thoughts:

  • I would like to have approval from those around me, but I do not need everyone's approval in every context. I still can be functioning, happy and accomplished individual if some people do not approve of me or if I do not meet everyone's expectations. Also, I wish I perform well whenever I must get something done, but I do not have to always do a perfect job, and if sometimes I fail at this, it's only human, and I can accept it, learn and do better with another occasion.

  • I wish everyone would be friendly to me, treat me kindly and respectfully. Still, if at some point someone is disrespectful of me and causes me distress, it does not mean that this individual is a bad person who does not deserve to walk on the face of the Earth.

  • I prefer to live a hassle-free life, with as little roadblocks as possible. But in case life gets complicated and from time to time, I have to solve problems and face challenges, my life is still worth living, and I can have a fruitful life.

Why is this important?

Because you should understand that you do not own anything to no one, no one owns you anything, and the world is not created to please you and for you to have a comfortable life every day for as long as you breathe.

Nothing is only black or white, good or bed. Instead, this world is good and bad, black and white, easy and hard, complicated and straightforward.

And while success is highly desirable and preferable, it is not a must- failing once, or twice or ten times doesn’t disqualify you from being a decent human being, worthy of a good life. On the contrary, it stresses and proves the fact that you are a human with good times and bad times, winning some battles and losing others, capable of learning, readjusting, finding meaning in every experience and carrying on.

Tips: Pinpoint your musts and shoulds and can't. Create a table with 2 columns: in one column write the demand you have and in the second one, write each one it again, as a flexible preference. When dealing with the demands you hold for yourself, and the world becomes stressful, read the list with the preference and put things in perspective.

2. Awfulizing

Or blowing things out of proportion.

When it comes to success, we have to talk about consistent action, which leads to it. Success won’t fall from the sky, and it doesn’t come to you if you do something about it now and then. It requires consistent, determined, scheduled action- it requires you to have the habit of moving towards your goals- and again, this applies to goals ranging from “I want to eat every day fewer sweets” to “I want to become an astronaut.”

While we can learn how to plan out actions, priorities and create action plans, sometimes life has other plans for us. And here is when we have to deal with setbacks and dealing with roadblocks.

Combining the dear wish of being consistent with life’s different plans for you, you might start to stumble and sometimes stop for a while from achieving your goal. Let me tell you a personal story: 3 years ago I began to go to the gym consistently (finally, after trying to do so for about 2 to 3 years!). I got into the flow, at 6:20 AM I was there all equipped and working out with pleasure. Until… sometimes, I had to skip a day because I had some other stuff to do, and they required my attention immediately. Or I had to switch gym days. “How awful! If I skip a day, I might well skip a week or even give up the damn thing- anyway, look at how inconsistent I am.” This kind of thoughts took a toll on my moral, my motivation.

Not only that I had to deal with other urgent and pressing matters, now I had to deal with self-criticism, negative self-talk and feeling like I failed (succeeding at this was quite important as it took me a generous number of years to finally bring myself and go to the gym and like it).

The moral of the story?

Stumbling and getting lost, doing things less than perfect does not mean everything is down the drain. It means that at this moment, in these particular circumstances, you didn’t manage to do everything you proposed to do and performed exactly as you wanted to.

On a diet and today, you ate a piece of cake? Very well! I hope you enjoyed it. Starting now, go back to your healthy eating plans.

Studying to be a doctor and you failed an exam? Too bad! But it’s not the end of the road. Pick up that book!

On your way to mindfulness and personal development but today you lost your sh*t and behaved less than desirable? Well, it can happen to all of us. Know what triggers you and do better next time.

3. Low frustration tolerance

Together with the demand and expectation of things going smoothly always be treated right and life always the fair comes frustration.

Now, let me tell you one sure thing: we underestimate how strong we are, and we overestimate how terrible things are.

Yes, some things are awkward and uncomfortable. Yes, sometimes you have to put in more effort than anticipated and try a bit harder than you expected. BUT it will not kill you. At it’s minimum, it will prove you how capable you are- capable of carrying on through tough times, resilient and able to problem-solve. At it’s best, you will succeed at whatever you put your mind to.

You know what?

Going out from your comfort zone comes with pain and a bit of struggle, clumsiness and a bit of uncertainty.

The more you expose yourself to new situations, the more you learn.

The key is to take it a step at the time, be patient and give yourself space to grow- indeed, it would be preferable for everything to go smoothly and you not to feel any kind of pain and discomfort but if you do, it is ok because it is part of the maturing and becoming wiser process.

4. Self deprecation

Let’s set the record straight from the very beginning: because you made a mistake it doesn’t mean you are incompetent, because other people do something similar with what you do it doesn’t mean that you are not needed, if someone is dissatisfied with your performance it doesn’t mean you are rubbish and if someone gets ahead of the game for sure it doesn’t mean you are a loser meant to be the last every time.

Stop talking sh*t to yourself about yourself. We can be our own worst enemies, but that doesn’t mean that we have to.

Dive into self- awareness and get clear on who you are, what are your strengths and acknowledge that you can improve if you want to.

You are not your deeds. You are a human being, alive, capable of thinking and acting- this is what you are by default. Your actions can be desirable or undesirable, your endeavours can be successful or less prosperous, you make bigger or smaller mistakes, sometimes you do not have everyone’s approval, and sometimes you make big plans which end in ashes. That does not mean that you, as an individual, as a human being, are not valuable, with no purpose whatsoever, an evil, rotten creature, forever doomed to fail. This is so far from the truth! The truth is as simple as this: sometimes you do good things, sometimes not. Sometimes you are achiever, sometimes you struggle, for a while, you can have everything figured out and then a time comes when you have to figure out your life. You just are.

Why this matters?

If you simply are, every day you have the choice of what, how, and who you are. Create a vision for who you want to be and how the world will remember you. And aim for bringing it to life.

If you simply are, every day is a new chance to overcome past regrets, failures and disappointments without downing over them, but learning from them and carrying on with your life elegantly and practically.

You can learn, adjust and adapt. You have talents, skills and knowledge. And every day you have the change of being you, of starting over, of doing better. And don’t we all wish for this, at times? To receive a new chance to start over?

Besides, what’s all that negative self talk good at? It will not improve your mood, nor solve problems. No one raised above their despair by bullying themselves. So, what do you choose to do? No one reached the heights of success, walking hand in hand with an enemy. Are you your enemy or friend?

These are 4 ways of thinking which take over your reality and keep you hostage in a circle of disempowerment. Keep an eye on your internal monologue, what you tell yourself about yourself and about the world at large. You might not be able to control or even change what happens to you, around you or to others.

But you do have a choice. You do have something to say about how you allow the world to shape your existence.

What’s even better news, is that all the above are valid for everyone, from all walks of life, no matter what their goals are.


I have a free, easy to use workbook to help you catch your thoughts and take a closer look at them: The Thought Journal. Also,check this Habit Journal which can help you create long-lasting habits worthy of your time.

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