“Once you change your mindset, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

You love what you do… or at least you used to.

For some reason, it’s not the same anymore. Now when you think about work, your heart becomes a clenched fist. You feel it squeezing in your chest at every mention of task A or project B.

It doesn’t make sense because you used to love what you do. Now, you’ve lost the passion and excitement about the value you bring. It seems as if what you do hasn’t any meaning.

What happened? Why is there no longer a glimmer in your eye when you talk about your efforts?

I ask you this, but the truth is, I don’t think you know.

I get it. I’ve been there before.

A few months ago, I was studying for an important licensing exam. Actually, important is an understatement. This exam is career-determining. If I didn’t get an excellent score, I would have no chances of getting a satisfying job. The fact that you can only take the exam once added to the pressure.

Needless to say, I worked harder than I ever have before. I was not going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. When I say I worked hard, I mean I spent every single day—even the weekends—studying from 5 in the morning to 10 at night. My university had closed because of COVID-19, so I was able to dedicate my entire existence to this one goal, that is, not only passing, but excelling on the licensing exam.

It took me 9 months to finish preparing, yet by the 7th month, I was spent. I would wince when I looked at my books. I would get nauseous when I heard the voice of a lecture playing. I pushed through those feelings, anyway. But day after day, I found myself neglecting my goal more and more.

I didn’t care if I understood one chapter before moving on to the next. I had lost my motivation to excel. I was going through the motions, but there was no spirit in my actions.

Even though I was still working, I had given up. I just wanted to be done. I was no longer aiming to exceed; I decided I’d just be satisfied with the minimum required to pass.

I knew I should have taken a few days off. That wasn’t an option, however. My test date was near, and a single day off could put me days behind schedule.

I went on like this for weeks. I swallowed the feeling of nausea that stirred my insides while I read word after word wondering how much more I could take it.  

Then something happened…

I learned that two other people from my class would be taking the same test as I was in the same period. Where I’m from, not many people take this exam. I was shocked at first, but then the more competitive side of me awakened. If they could do it, I could, too.

It was as if a switch was turned on inside me—I felt a surge of energy and motivation.

It was in that moment that I realized I was the problem I had been facing. I let myself fall into negative thought spirals and constantly put myself down.

When I heard that others were taking the test, I snapped out of my stupor. I realized that if I didn’t push myself, I would never succeed.

Mindset Is Everything

Having taken the exam, I am now able to step away from the arduous journey and reflect on what went during those last months.

I was tired and burnt-out, but what started me on a downward slope was my attitude and mindset.

I forgot why I had begun this long and taxing journey. Sure, I knew I was doing this to get a good job, but why?

I had unconsciously separated the goal from the feeling.

“To get a good job” lost its meaning. I started not for a six-figure salary or to add initials at the end of my name. I chose this path because of the passion I feel when practicing it. I chose it because of the joy it brings me.

Yet, that wasn’t what came to mind when I reminded myself why I was working diligently.

I had shifted my focus from the sentiment to the material. Material goals are never as enticing as the way the results makes you feel.

You Are Stronger Than You Think

A second reason for my loss of hope and inspiration was the self-doubt. The closer and closer I got to my exam date, the more I felt like I wasn’t ready for the strenuous eight-hour exam.

I started asking myself questions, like “Am I ready? Can I carry on? Should I give up? Maybe it’d be better to postpone.”

It didn’t help that I would take practice tests and doubt my answers, only to later see that if I had more confidence in my abilities, I would have gotten more questions correct.

Making senseless mistakes sent me down even lower. How can you improve if you know the right answer and still choose the wrong one?

If you feel helpless, you act helpless. If you feel like you won’t make it, your behavior ensures that belief holds true.

I didn’t know it then, but all I had to do was trust myself and my abilities. I was getting answers wrong because I was doubting myself. I wasn’t giving it my all because I thought I wouldn’t make it even if I tried.

You have overcome so much already. Trust that you are ready to face the challenges ahead even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Don’t Hold Yourself Back

I struggled and was so close to giving up during the last months of my test preparation. I reached such a low point that I would cry as I got ready in morning. But one event relit the fire in my soul and helped me escape the hole I was digging myself into.

I discovered that I had the ability to change my mentality. If only I had realized that earlier, I would have saved myself a whole lot of misery.

So many people are stuck in the same trap I was. They lose sight of the goal they are working toward and lose the meaning it gives their lives. Furthermore, they doubt their abilities in ever turning their lives around.

Are you stuck in a demoralizing mindset? If so, what beliefs are holding you back?

Layla Ashraf, founder of ShutUpAndAchieve.com, is a driven achiever who inspires ambitious people to take control of their lives. She spreads the idea of wholesome productivity, helping achievers multiply their time, set realizable goals, and live their wildest dreams while still having time to focus on what matters most. Get her FREE eBook, 3 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Guarantee Success. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.



Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.