Did you know that each of us holds an internal representation of ourselves, the world, and our place in it?

This means that every one of your thoughts, habits, behaviours, rules, beliefs, stories and strategies exist within your brain as a chain of connected neurons.

And … what you believe as reality is really just a series of patterns stored inside your brain.

What does this have to do with goal setting?

Everything! Understanding how your brains work is key to unlocking your potential, influencing others, and achieving your goals.

The MINDSET Checklist covers three fundamental productivity principles:

First, we all experience reality differently, and everyone’s reality is essentially distorted (yes, even your own).

Second, each of us can reshape our internal reality.

Third, reshaping our internal reality is the key to overcome limiting beliefs, building self-confidence, and goal achievement.

Cultivate A Growth Mindset

It’s challenging to achieve your goals when you hold onto a fixed mindset. On the flip side, a growth mindset makes goal achievement far easier.

A growth mindset was popularized by author Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset.” Here’s a summary from her website:

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Your first step in the MINDSET Checklist is to begin cultivating a growth mindset. The next step is to widen the gap.

Widen The Gap

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor E. Frankl

To develop a growth mindset you need to start paying attention to all of your patterns of automatic thinking and behaviour.

Every automatic thought or behaviour has a trigger + response. The trigger is the stimulus, and the thought or behaviour is the pattern that runs in response to the internal or external trigger.

The challenge is to widen the gap between the trigger and the running of the automatic thought or behaviour.

A simple example of this is what happens when someone cuts you off while driving. Do you calmly let them into the lane and adjust your speed accordingly, or do you get angry, honk your horn, and start driving aggressively?

Practice Mindfulness

“The biggest mistake most people make is to not see themselves and others objectivity, which leads them to bump into their own and others’ weaknesses again and again.” – Ray Dalio author of “Principles.”

The practice of mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety. It shortens the recovery time from emotional hijacks, helps you keep calm under pressure and will improve your ability to bounce back after setbacks. It also helps to increase your self-confidence, self-awareness, and overall level of happiness and personal satisfaction.

Practice mindfulness both on and off the mat. On the mat refers to a daily meditation practice. Download an app to get started. Off the mat relates to being mindful through the day. Refer to the NOW Checklist for a list of mindfulness practices.

Record Life Lessons

Once you start down the path of mindfulness, you will want a place to capture insights and other ah-ha moments. This could be a written journal or any one of the many available apps.

The three buckets that I make a point of capturing are life lessons, brain rules, and leadership principles.

Are you looking for an example? Every item in The ULTIMATE Goal Setting Checklist started out as a recorded life lesson.


Your ability to accept feedback is one of the single most important skills that you can develop and is an essential part of self-awareness and professional growth.

If you get defensive, make excuses, or lash out, people will stop giving you feedback and even worse, will only tell you what you want to hear.

However, not all feedback is created equal.

While I appreciate the effort it takes to provide constructive feedback; I only accept feedback from people that I trust and care about me on a personal level.

This enables me to ignore the feedback of “internet trolls,” those with a hidden agenda, and other negative individuals.

If you would like to learn more about feedback, I highly recommend the book “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott.

Regular Reviews

The point of regular reviews is to reflect on the previous period, identify areas of improvement, and plan what you want to accomplish in the next.

Around the last week of December, I complete a goal review. This is the traditional annual review where I look at the goals that I set last year, identify areas of improvement, and set new goals for the next year.

However, I don’t stop there.

Around April / May I complete a skill review. Specifically, I assess how I measure up to the 12 Measures of Mindful Leadership. 

And finally, around August / September I complete an integrity review. This is where I assess how I am living up to my values, identify areas of personal growth, and make appropriate adjustments.

Craft Your Story

“You can never solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place.” – Albert Einstein

I started this article stating that each of us holds an internal representation of ourselves, the world, and our place in it. And that every one of our thoughts, habits, behaviours, rules, beliefs and strategies exist within our brain as a chain of connected neurons.

Each of the previous items from the MINDSET Checklist enables us to explore and understand this internal matrix of patterns stored inside our brains … which is also called our story.

The practice of mindfulness enables us to understand the story that we are playing, free ourselves from the limits of our current story, and make the tiny shifts required to craft the story of the person we are meant to be.

You have all the tools you need (or you can learn them) to craft the story you where meant to live. Start crafting today.

In Summary

The MINDSET Checklist covers a lot of ground in the area of goal setting and achievement.

First, open the doors by embracing a growth mindset and widening the gap.

Second, walk the path of continual improvement by recording your life lessons, being open to feedback, and conducting annual reviews.

Third, craft your own story by practicing mindfulness.

When you follow these principles, you can expect an increase in your self-confidence, self-awareness, and overall level of happiness and personal satisfaction.

Check out the next article in this series where we explore living on purpose.

P.S. Do you have any questions about mindfulness? I’d love to hear them. Post your question in the comments below.

The Ultimate Goal Setting Checklist

Everything you need to know about setting goals that you can actually achieve.

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