2020 hit most of us hard. However, without denying the negatives, I’d like to focus on the upside of navigating the chaos. After all, as Sun-Tzu says: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”.
You may have heard about the Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset theory. This describes how a flexible, open-minded attitude can benefit us in the long run. I believe that everyone is capable of acquiring a growth mindset through conscious practice.
Adding a positive mindset to this concept, we are not only able to embrace challenges and learn from our mistakes, but are also able to do this mindfully. Mindfulness in this context means being self-aware, accepting imperfection and seeing the glass half full, whilst keeping our feet on the ground.
What you can do to practice a positive mindset:
- Start with your values: what’s important for you. People often give advice based on their own experience. But your desires and capabilities will be unique, so check in with yourself: what drives YOU.
- (Re)discover your strengths. Positive psychologists suggest that we feel more fulfilled in our existing environment by using character strengths daily. Take the VIA survey to find out what yours are – it’s free and offers a good insight into your current priorities.
- Prioritise. Once you are clear on what matters for you, assess what needs to be done now, later or never… I use a prioritisation matrix to see how to allocate my time.
- Find your creative. What inspires you? Taking time off for creative hobbies can boost your positivity.
- Read, learn, develop yourself. And listen to others’ perspectives.
- Network and surround yourself with mentors from different backgrounds and nurture these relationships. Social connection is the strongest protective factor for depression, while being kind to others benefits both them and our own wellbeing.
- Ask for feedback and do so consciously. People often receive vague feedback because they don’t outline what area they want to understand better.
- Ask for help. ‘It’s OK not to be OK’ was frequently mentioned in 2020 which supports breaking the stigma which surrounds talking about mental health / ill-health. Asking for help is a strength not a weakness.
- Stay up-to-date with technology. What can make your life simpler?
- Be mindful how you use social media, who you follow, what emotions they trigger. I consciously follow positive thought leaders who offer solutions instead of problems, while it’s also useful to have a bit of both.
- Music has a powerful impact on our mind and certain melodies can reduce anxiety and improve motivation, even performance. We put together a relaxing playlist we use in meditative workshops, you can access it HERE.
- Declutter, physically and mentally. Besides clearing your home and mind, decluttering also reduces stress levels, frees up your time and helps your decision-making.
These are just a few tips of the many available. However the crucial part is to understand what works for you.
Putting the theory into practice
As a relatively new business, we’ve had our fair share of challenges. I’ve had to quickly adopt a growth mindset so that I could analyse the situation and pivot multiple times over the past two years. The pandemic has spurred many businesses to change quicker and often more effectively.
We ultimately overcame the challenges of 2020 through team spirit, hard work and technology.
We started our journey solely providing physical wellbeing retreats and workshops around Europe, including a cruise in Croatia around the Dalmatian Islands (which I was particularly excited about). When the chaos started in March 2020, most of our planned events were cancelled.
We had to turn our ‘troubleshooting mode’ on, and within a weekend we moved all of our events that hadn’t been cancelled online.
I can’t emphasise enough the power of community. During the first months of lockdown, new professional friendships evolved through LinkedIn and other online platforms. We found ourselves surrounded by those willing to help. I am eternally grateful to those individuals who supported us through this journey.
We listened to our audience and after some trial and error, we decided to organise our retreats virtually. We launched the UK’s first ‘Virtual Retreats’ during Mental Health Awareness Week. The goal was to provide our attendees with a holiday feeling in a calming atmosphere, support their wellbeing management through purpose-driven activities, create a special occasion for them to connect, while also having great fun.
Over the last year, we have had many challenges, failures, rejections, fears and anxieties, so it’s more important now than ever to celebrate the wins.
One piece of advice to highlight among the many lessons the pandemic has taught us, from a great mentor: ‘Keep this ability to think differently and be able to pivot effectively not only during harder times but when things calm down too’.
The resilience many of us have practiced during 2020 will be of great benefit in our future endeavours.
About the author
Andrea Meszaros is a positive psychology trained holistic coach and founder & director of Talent Courtyard. This is a London-based wellbeing start-up which hosts community-focused creative wellbeing events, organised both for individuals and for businesses.