With it being the start of a new year, I’ve started researching more thoroughly what it takes to “hustle”. I know, you can laugh. To some this might seem like a taboo subject, but stay with me and see if you really know what you think you know. I’ll state the disclaimer that I’m not speaking to everyone. Your “hustle” or your “grind” is probably completely different than mine, but I want to connect with you on the next level. The level where it doesn’t matter what it is you’re working towards, but how you are mentally approaching the challenges. This has become a key concept for me to grasp, understand, or even control. I’m extremely guilty of viewing my own personal obstacles as debilitating events in my life, becoming negative and feeling beaten by them. That is the very feeling I want to bash into the ground to show you how we CAN control our circumstances. It starts with the mindset.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but every day we wake up, our mind is thinking a way that we’ve accustomed it to. It is “who we are”, right?  That is because over time we have habitually created our own thought processes, whether good or bad. Thought processes can be influenced by many, many external things. Things like, who you hang out with, your job at the time, your boss, your parents, who you’re living with, what your room looks like, what type of car you drive, food you eat, alcohol you drink, or the music you listen to – I could go on and on. Those are only a few of our external surroundings that affect how we think about stuff. What I’m finding after listening to countless podcast episodes, reading books, talking to more experienced professionals – there is a much higher wavelength of thinking. If used to your advantage, it can be of great use to how you achieve the wants and desires you dream of in life. Learn to take control of that, your mindset, and suddenly good things start to happen.

I don’t mean this as a fool proof life hack of like, “hey, start thinking differently and your life will magically get better!”

No. Nothing works that way.

What works?

Practice.

What comes with practice?

Forming habits.

Forming the familiarity with a new workout move or new software system at work, or a new mindset – with practice it can become easier and feel more natural. We must practice the mental workout. A workout of our thoughts, energies, feelings, and emotions – all of that. Changing the mindset from one state of thinking to the next takes practice. The more you work on it, the better it can get. This also takes the self-awareness concept to a whole new level. To change the way that you are viewing an obstacle as a threat versus an opportunity, becomes something you can control. A burden versus a good deed. An annoying customer versus a person in need. An embarrassing moment versus a chance for growth. These are sorts of situations when exercising the ability to alter our mindset, can we learn and understand how valuable this skill is to the advancement of our self.

I won’t say I’m the case study to prove this, but if you start paying attention to what these successful people are saying, this is a common trend among all of them. It’s because I feel we underestimate the power our mind has on the outcome of our actions. If we lose our self-awareness, or start to move through the motions on auto-pilot, eventually our actions lose intention. What we choose to do could be doing nothing to help our future self. Even worse, we could lose sight so much of what we are working towards that we fall behind and are hindering ourselves by not being aware of our perspective on our day-to-day actions.

Mindset is everything. By understanding this, you can start to work on two things at once: self-awareness and your mindset. I say both, because I think these two are very much dependent on each other. If you are not self-aware, then you cannot begin to analyze your train of thought, decision-making, and other pillars that make up your mindset. It’s a win-win if you choose to practice working on those because both are very difficult mental workouts. Becoming self-aware can be uncomfortable. You might have to confess to yourself and accept that you are making actions and thinking a certain way that is hindering your potential. You might come to realize your friends are really dragging you down, or your job, or your relationship. It can be a hard workout. But that’s the first step to making a change is becoming AWARE what needs to change.

Strengthening your self-awareness can help the workout of altering your mindset become easier. Throughout working on getting to know better what needs to change, then you know how to alter your mindset to start making those changes. Say you realize your job is really dragging you down or not enough pay, maybe there’s no room for growth in your position – now you are aware of this and you choose to look into other jobs available with better pay, or talk to your manager about your concerns with your job – RATHER than, complaining every day that you don’t make enough money or work for 3 more years in a role that plateaus your career when you could have been learning something new and advancing roles in another job maybe simply by asking your manager what growth opportunities there are for you. But, you had to make the decision, the mindset change, to realize that yes – you are ready to make a change in your daily habits, in your mindset, to get you a better paying job.

Let’s work through one more example. It’s the new year, there’s always a popular resolution about losing weight or gaining muscle. Working out has been the best metaphor I can relate to when thinking about a mindset change. Say your goal is to get six-pack abs. Sexy right? The end result will be totally worth all the work you have to put in to get those six-pack abs, right? YES. Ok, so are you ready for your 3 month makeover? Are you ready to fit gym into your schedule at least 4 days a week? Are you ready to ditch the take-out and cook for yourself at home? The lifestyle changes required for six-pack abs at minimum require 1hr gym sessions at least 4 days a week, clean-eating, and consistent effort to that 3 month long gym schedule. It’s a TOTAL lifestyle change. But that constant MENTAL effort to get to the gym, work through those painful workout sessions, fight the mind who says it’s so easy just to go get Taco Bell on my way home from work, but you have to say no. It’s a work in progress and consistent MENTAL workout you must practice to beat the temptations that will steer you away from your six-pack ab goal.

If you want six-packs abs, you WILL practice the mental workout and literally complete the physical workout. If you want more money in that bank account, you WILL practice the mental workout to strengthen your mindset to make day-to-day decisions that will help it grow. If you don’t want it that bad, don’t be surprised 3 months from now when you don’t have six pack abs. If you don’t want a lifestyle change that bad, don’t be surprised next year if your still broke AF.

I can’t resonate with enough the comparison of working on your body is so similar to working on your mind. You want to see change? YOU have to be the change. YOU have to put in the effort. YOU have to make the personal decision that you are going to learn what you need to do in order to exceed the status quo. You got to care enough about yourself and about your future to acknowledge that the time spent today, this week, this month can be spent working on improving your self so that in time, you will start to see results for the better.

To wrap this up and connect back to the beginning – what it takes to “hustle” is not some salesperson slogan to making racks that day on a big sale. It’s underestimated in its meaning by how much work it actually takes to embody the sense of “hustling” for yourself. To hustle is to have the courage, the confidence, and self belief to put your mind to something and work through the obstacles and push through the challenges until you find the opportunity you’ve been looking for. To consistently work on yourself, improve, learn, fail and try again. You got to have the mindset to know this is the journey you are embarking on, keeping the eye on the prize, knowing you’ll have resistance along the way, believing in yourself wholeheartedly that you deserve the fucking best for yourself and you’ll do everything you can to ensure that you push your limits beyond any boundary you think is there. There are no boundaries. You CAN control your circumstances. You CAN change. You just got to want it.