What’s wrong with wanting to be kind and help other people? Nothing, but at some point trying to be all things to everyone eventually takes its toll. Why can’t we just say NO and walk away? For most of us, saying yes and putting others before ourselves has turned into a habit that can be detrimental to our own health.

The good news is that you can break a habit simply by building the right mindset.

That ditch is real

You never really know what someone is going through behind closed doors. There was a point about five years ago in Carrie Clark’s career where she felt completely stuck and frustrated. On the outside, everything looked peachy – Carrie was successfully balancing family life and work life. But on the inside, she felt deflated.

Carrie was always doing what a parent, spouse, or child wanted her to do.

“I was saying yes to everyone else except myself,” she says. “I knew there had to be a better way to live.”

Over the course of a year, Carrie learned to let go of her ego and judgment – coming out the other side healthy, vibrant, and happy. Now Carrie coaches career professionals to uplevel… to take back their lives AND most importantly to say yes to themselves.

She says taking control starts with foundation…ing.

Foundation…ing (a pseudo word that Carrie made up) is the way we stay grounded and focused on our core path. 

She cites a quartet of actions that we can undertake to make our day count: meditation, self-reflection, movement, and release.

“I recommend starting off the morning strong with a short meditation. Even five minutes of connecting with yourself and doing a bit of breath work makes a huge difference,” says Carrie. “After checking in with your mind and body, set an intention or what I refer to as a sweet affirmation that sticks with you throughout the day. Set it and forget it.”

The next stage of foundation…ing is movement. “If you don’t open up your physical being, you go straight into life. You know you will help everyone else so take some time for you.”

And finally, release comes from letting go.

Rewire your brain

Once you change your language, you change your mindset notes Carrie. “Words carry with them a lot of energy,” she says, “and how we use them is so fundamental to motivation or deflation.”

Case and point. When was the last time you said “I have to” do something? That obligatory verb is heavy and demotivating. Conversely, “I want to” carries with it much-needed forward momentum.

“We need to flip that script and make a conscious effort to reshape our self-told stories.”

Carrie offers a quick-fix formula for those times you catch yourself derailing: awareness (what am I saying or feeling?) – negative self-talk = positive mindset shift

She also shares a straightforward exercise anyone can do to help shift energy to a positive light. “Place a rubber band on one wrist. Each time you say or think negatively about yourself move the rubber band to the other wrist. The whole point of this practice is to notice the negativity in the moment and swiftly bring awareness to it through conscious movement.”

Simple. Impactful. Easy. Strategies to live powerfully and on purpose.

Looking to reset your mindset?

Here are four concrete ways to set yourself up for success.

Design a routine. The secret to productivity lies in routine and creating a ritual to kickstart your day not only provides structure but also helps you to incorporate a healthier lifestyle. Take it down a notch in the morning by weaving in mindfulness, gentle movement, and a bit of nature. At the end of the day, write down the best parts of your day (3 Gs: gifts, gratitudes, and gains) and then jot down something to look forward to tomorrow. 

Form a team. One of the best ways to feel supported, nurtured, and loved is to pull together a team of positivity. These people can be friends, a coach, family, or a group of like-minded individuals who hold you accountable. Cultivate the atmosphere and energy you want to keep.  And own it. Surround yourself with people who root for you.

Establish better boundaries. We need boundaries as a measure of sense of self and to ensure that our relationships are mutually respectful. Use your voice, proclaim your hours (to yourself and to others), and stick to shutting down at the same time each day. Weak boundaries leave you vulnerable. Firm boundaries empower.

Use an alarm. An alarm is your best friend. Set an alarm on your cell phone for five minutes before you leave for an appointment or take a call. That five-minute alarm helps you shift gears to the next scheduled focus so that you can transition out of what you are doing and be fully engaged and present in the next “want to” on your agenda.  

Shelly Nyqvist is a certified life and travel coach, writer, workshop leader, and MEscape expert who helps people like you to dream more, achieve more, and become more through travel.