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June 26, 2019 Peggy Liu

A healthy mindset is more productive than just healthy habits

Cultivating a healthy mindset is a skill and investment that will affect not only your career, but your entire life.

The fact that mental health has a direct impact in our work performance has become widespread knowledge in the past few years. This is backed up by research showing that employees with good mental health drive the business’ success. The question now is, what encourages good mental health?

There are troves of self-help manuals floating around on the internet nowadays. Many function like a kind of wellness menu, promising results in achieving a positive attitude and physical health benefits for anyone searching to become happier and healthier. You’re most likely aware of these tips: drink a green smoothie and meditate for 30 minutes every morning, get a gym membership, get at least eight hours of sleep every night, light candles to relax.

These are indeed objectively healthy habits to get into, but simply picking one and sticking to it isn’t always easy. A healthy mindset isn’t just going to be delivered to you on a silver platter, and many people fall back into old, negative habits after a while. Why? Because even if you drink 30 smoothies a month, adopting this one habit doesn’t necessarily mean you believe in cultivating a healthy, positive mindset. Doing so requires a lot of introspection and self-understanding.

So, how does one truly develop a healthy mindset?

A healthy mindset is more than just stopping to smell the flowers (although that doesn’t hurt either).

Practice gratitude

In our current hustle culture, being results-driven has become the norm. But when this mindset is left unattended, our initial visions become a constant, uphill chase to check off the next box until our entire career and life have become a series of checkboxes. Granted, being goal-oriented is a necessary part of running a business, but it is unhealthy when taken to the extreme.

The solution is to practice gratitude. Acknowledge there are things that still need to be done but also be grateful for the work you’ve already accomplished. Allow yourself to feel content, thankful, excited for new things to come. Thinking positively from a place of abundance (and not fear or lack) is what will keep your mental health and ambition balanced. It will also allow your mind freedom to think more creatively and take bigger risks. It’s what will allow you to appreciate the next time you check off another box.

Hold yourself accountable to your work values

For this to work, you must first recognize what your values are. Do you value your relationships? Do you value honesty? Service? Recognition? 

The next step is understanding how you prioritize these values. Every person has an internal hierarchy of what they value, and recognizing your unique hierarchy is crucial to having clarity on how to conduct your business, as well as feeling satisfied with your work.

Once you’ve identified your value system, your actions will start to reflect your values and a healthy mindset will naturally evolve. For example, if you believe in having meaningful connections, you’ll invest time in networking and maintaining your relationships. All of the “healthy habits for success” will develop (and stick!) when you adopt the values they stem from.

Practice mindfulness

Check in with yourself regularly to see if your actions and choices are aligning with your values. Are you sacrificing a personal belief or value to get some higher return in your business? Whatever you have been doing, has it been working for you? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate and re-strategize. Practicing mindfulness is also an opportunity to see if you’ve been having any negative thoughts and replacing them with positive, more productive ones.

Possessing a healthy mindset is important for entrepreneurs because they are building a business foundation from their ideas. Some people may think that following a health regimen and changing certain lifestyle habits are what will achieve this mindset that will, in turn, bring more success into their lives. However, it’s actually the other way around: a healthy mindset creates these healthy habits. In Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that identifying as a person with a healthy mindset first will be more productive in the long run to make those good habits stick.

Cultivating a healthy mindset is a skill and investment that will affect not only your career, but your entire life. This far-reaching influence of principled thinking is only evidence of how truly effective it is.

Peggy Liu

Peggy Liu is a freelance writer and content creator and editor. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English Literature, where she was also a mental health columnist for the student newspaper. When she isn't digging her way to the bottom of a peanut butter jar or petting friendly dogs around Vancouver, she can be found sitting in cafes with a notebook and a cup of coffee.