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Updated: Apr 30

So, as Veterans, we are all guilty! We all reminisce about the good times when we were back in the military. We miss the structure, security, camaraderie, lifestyle, etc. Some veterans are almost obsessed with it that it controls their lives to the point that they cannot move forward. How do you move forward? That is a great question! You must change your mindset from living in the past to driving towards the future. You need to set goals!

Everyone has had goals and dreams that did not come true. Ninety-two percent of people say that the goals and resolutions they set for themselves every year never get achieved. This must mean that a common denominator is something holding them back.

After studying the eight percent who accomplish their goals, some indicators about what these high achievers do differently.

These eight percent come from all walks of life. They can be single, married, or divorced; educated or high school dropouts; poor, middle class, or wealthy; a wide variety of ages and ethnicities; from everywhere in the world. No matter where you are in your life or where you came from, you can set big goals and achieve them.

The critical commonality among the top eight percent is a similar set of success-oriented mindsets that guide their thoughts and actions. You may have these mindsets or be practicing opposite mindsets without even realizing it.

A definite way to determine whether you need a mindset overhaul is to answer this question: Are you accomplishing your goals regularly and living your dreams? If your answer is “yes,” read on, and you will probably recognize why. If you answered “no,” these steps could be game-changing for you.

Seven ideas on how to change your mindset:

1. Accept that your thinking needs to be adjusted – We have all had goals and dreams that did not evolve the way we hoped or expected. When this repeatedly happens, we start to wonder what we need to change. But rarely do we look internally at our thinking as the place to start making change.

We live in a skillset-motivated society that emphasizes learning new skills to improve your life. This often cultivates the belief that we need more education to achieve our goals. Many go back to school. Others take seminars, workshops, or read books, to find that desired skill set that will make everything fall into place.

The value of skillsets should never be downplayed; it is our mindset statement.

The great news is that it is a lot less expensive and much faster to change your mindsets than learn a new skill. Step one is simply to recognize that you are going to first work on your mindsets.

2. Identify your counter-mindsets – Mindsets are developed from past experiences and emotional milestones. Mindsets that do not produce the desired results are called counter-mindsets. These include self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and any other negative thoughts that get in the way of reaching total fulfillment. Around 65,000 “Automatic Negative Thoughts” (ANTs) go through our minds each day. Unfortunately, many of these thoughts are harmful, and you are probably not even aware of them.

For example, that little voice points out irresponsible spending choices when looking at your monthly budget or makes critical comments while looking in the mirror! We all know that voice. It makes you hesitate before approaching someone you would like to meet. It makes you pause before changing a career or starting a business.

All of us have different ANTs, and subconsciously we habitually allow them to destroy our dreams. It is challenging to remain positive when that little voice is constantly spouting off negative things like, “I cannot talk to her,” “I am not smart enough,” “I am out of shape,” “I am not qualified,” and so on.

The best way to eliminate the ANTs in your head is by paying attention to them. You must hear that disparaging voice and recognize its frequency. You will likely find that your limiting thoughts can be narrowed down to a few key themes. Noting these themes is a significant step because we cannot change what we have not acknowledged.

3. Flip the switch – Once you have identified your top negative thoughts, you need to find a way to keep them from holding you back. The best technique is called “flip the switch,” which moves thoughts from negative to positive. Instead of seeing flaws in the mirror, you need to flip the switch and force yourself to say,

“You look good!” This will take time to adjust, but the reality is that positive thoughts and negative thoughts cannot occupy the same space, so I gave my ANTs an eviction notice.

Another effective technique is called the “if/then” approach. Once you identify your ANTs and their frequency, apply a thought process that allows you to essentially think yourself around them. Here is an example: Say you plan to go for a walk after dinner for exercise, but when dinner is finished, your ANT begin to create voices in your head that say you are too tired, too full, or you will never lose the weight anyway, then walk immediately to the closet and put on your running shoes.

In many cases, just taking one positive step in the right direction is enough to shut down those ANTs. Prepare a list of “if/then” statements in advance.

4. Understand your “why” – Changing any destructive mindset takes time by breaking habits, primarily since many of these habits were formed in our childhoods.

Understanding your “why” is about deciding on one goal that will mean a transformational change when achieved—losing weight, being happier at work, and improving your relationship with your companion. Identify something that could make a significant impact on your life.

Once you identify your “why” is, handwrite it down and express why it matters. This is an integral part of motivation building.

5. Motivation and willpower are not the only factors in achieving goals– Most people incorrectly believe that motivation and willpower are only needed to achieve their goals.

Step 4 helped identify the big “why,” which is where motivation begins. However, we all know that motivation is hard to maintain, no matter the importance of the goal. This and when willpower takes over!

Research reveals that willpower can be compared to a gas tank. Your journey with a full tank and deplete it each time you use it. Here is an example:

Your after-work gym visit is challenged by staying late at work to handle a customer issue. Now that our willpower has already been depleted, the added stress of not following your original plan will not help.

Is going to the gym still an option? It does not take much to simply give up and abandon our goals. We must rely on motivation and willpower to achieve them. They are not always enough.

High achievers understand this reality! This is why this step is primarily about recognition…recognizing that achieving your goals is not about white-knuckling your way to success.

By accepting this, you will stop mentally punishing yourself for stumbling or failing to stick to your plan–which will allow you to be emotionally freer to optimistically try again tomorrow!

6. Start small to eventually finish big – This may sound counterintuitive; however, setting small achievable goals is the best way to change your mindset and reach your dreams.

How small? How about this: one push-up at a time.

If your goal is daily exercise, your small, attainable goal is to do a single push-up each day.

If you would like to reduce the stress in your life, your tiny goal might be to meditate for one minute every night.

If you want more affection with a loved one, your mini-goal could be one extra hug or kiss.

Each of these examples requires almost no motivation or willpower to accomplish. And yet, each is a positive step.

Here is the trick: Decide that your goal is the minimum and do more if you feel up to it.

A lot of the time, you will do more and will feel great because you are overachieving. Some days, the minimum will be met, which will feel great because the goal was achieved.

How can these goals make an impact? It is because massive change requires small steps, repeated daily, which create momentum and yield positive cumulative results.

The top eight percent of achievers understand this; however, most people never try this strategy because they believe it is pointless to start so small. Wrong! Over time, consistently hitting small goals will form new mindset habits, which is progress toward revamping thinking to reach the biggest dreams.

7. Get comfortable with the “FAILURE” word – The steps for changing your mindset that have been outlined so far will help you move forward with confidence toward achieving more of your goals and dreams. However, it is critical to understand that it will be hard work.

That is why high achievers are comfortable with FAILURE.

When most people hit an obstacle, they make an excuse or give up. The only thing keeping High achievers from achieving their goals is to stop trying, so they never stop! They know that obstacles will be encountered, and failure is inevitable.

The key is to prepare for failure mentally. Know that it is coming, and not allowing it to scare or make them give up. When failure happens, they seek feedback and adjust accordingly to reach their goals.

You can do this by allowing yourself to fail. It will take the pressure off getting a perfect result, and you can be ready to learn from mistakes and make any adjustments that will keep you moving forward.

Changing your mindsets does not happen by accident. It happens by choice, and these seven steps should help get and keep you on the right track.

The Past, Present, Future Mindsets

Another perspective in changing your mindset is to address the past, present, and future mindsets. Many people cannot develop the skill to see the future and reflect on it. But we are willing to do the things unsuccessful people are not willing to do. We want to excel. It is crucial to develop an ideal strategy that will maximize your success and exercise your mind. You must reprogram your mindset to create a clear vision of a future that is exciting for you. The clearer your vision is on your future self, the more you desire to make that self a reality. By providing a clear picture in your head of what you want, it allows you to get where you want to go.

Past-mindset—People who dwell in the past think that everything important and meaningful in their lives has already happened. “The good ol’ days.” They would rather return to their pasts instead of focusing on the present or even the future. They reflect on what was and reminisce on what they used to be. Everyone is familiar with this type of talk, fondly talking about past high school parties or college football games. They have no destination with no desire to look ahead. The past is much more appealing to them.

They are typically resistant to change and have trouble sticking with anything challenging. Past-mindset people are those who resist self-improvement. Their “best self” already occurred, and they are not looking to change and get better because what can be better than the past? This is their philosophy.

Present-mindset–Present mindset people are not ruled by the desire to go back in time like the past mindset folks. They are not focused on the future, either. These are the folks who need to be pushed to look and envision their futures. They are just content with it now.

Future mindset—These people are always envisioning their futures, allowing them to constantly grow and evolve. They are not afraid of change or taking on new challenges, and they are always looking to improve.

A future mindset is imperative to make changes because it allows you to develop, grow, change, and improve constantly. In future mindsets, they are not forced to set goals. It is automatic.

So how can you develop a robust future mindset to achieve what they desire in life?

Brainstorm and write down all the goals you want to achieve within the following year. If the form of words, like lose weight, gain muscle, more money, better health, more significant work satisfaction, more friends, vacation. Any realistic goals that you feel will make a difference in your life within a year.

Now write those words down into affirmative statements. Make sure they are “I will statements.” Now once you have written down those affirmation sentences, do they make you excited? If not, revise them until they do! Your future should excite you more than your present or past!

After developing a series of optimistic statements that motivate you, you need to read them every morning and evening. Read them out loud, multiple times daily, with confidence. You must believe each statement with absolute conviction to creating your future reality!

Review these affirmations monthly. If needed, tweak them, and upgrade them! Do not downgrade them, ever! You are destined for bigger, better things! Make a conscious decision to envision desired accomplishments in your future instead of reminiscing on your past. Envision your happier and more fulfilled self. This clear vision of what you want to accomplish and envisioning your future self will become easier as it becomes a habit through practice; it is powerful and liberating!

This exciting new vision of yourself is what sets your desire to make things happen. If you are not excited about your future self-vision, then the desire is simply not there.

Once you have recited your future mindset statements enough times to commit them to memory, your mind will guide you towards your future self. The struggle will be minimal to make your future a reality. Practicing this future vision exercise teaches your mind to fully visualize and harness your true potential.


7 Mindsets (2021). Changing Your Mindset and Achieve Your Goals. Retrieved from

Yeager, B. (2021). Past, Present, Future Mindsets. Retrieved from

Image provided by John Heintzelman (April 2023).

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