No matter how long you’ve been in business, whether you’re a solo PR pro or leading a small team, you may have noticed the whispers of self-doubt sneaking into your consciousness.
If you’ve ever found yourself to be your own worst enemy — through perfectionism, impostor syndrome, analysis paralysis or just an ongoing stream of negative thoughts — you may find comfort in knowing you are not alone.
When Tracey Piechocki, marketing strategist and second-generation owner of Illustrated Designs, began to talk to some of her longtime clients about these thought patterns, she was surprised to learn that they experienced the same things, no matter how successful they or their businesses were.
This launched Tracey on a journey into the world of mindset that ultimately gave her the tools to stop negative thoughts in their tracks and grow both her comfort zone and her confidence.
In this episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Pro Podcast, Tracey joined Karen and Michelle to talk about how this shift in mindset has changed the way she does business and to offer tips for PR pros ready to make the shift for themselves.
Making the mindset shift
When Tracey finally woke up to the impact that her negative thoughts were having on her life and her business, she knew that something needed to change.
“I decided that I wanted to fight for a better life,” she says. She began reading books and blog articles and trying meditation practices. “I found ways to catch myself in the middle of having those negative thoughts and learned the exercises to kind of push them aside.”
One of the books that Tracey points to is “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” written by Carol S. Dweck, who coined two terms to describe underlying beliefs people may hold about their own abilities to learn and change.
People operating from a “fixed mindset,” Tracey explains, often avoid challenges or give up easily, believing that the effort isn’t worth it. They may also ignore feedback or feel threatened by the success of others around them. Even though this isn’t a pleasant place to be, Tracey says people get stuck here because it’s familiar.
Choosing a “growth mindset,” on the other hand, helps people embrace challenges, learn from criticism and persist in the face of setbacks.
“The growth mindset obviously is going to take us out of our comfort zone,” Tracey says, “But it's where we grow as individuals and business owners. If you can recognize where your mindset is at any given moment, you can make adjustments to improve it.”
Tracey has seen mindset work make a significant impact on her life and her work. She says she is able to rebound more quickly when she has a negative interaction during the day, and she can be more productive overall.
“I actually feel my comfort zone expand,” she says, “And as I do that, I notice that my stress level goes down and that I'm more productive.”
It has also made her more aware of the mindset her clients bring to the table. If she thinks that a fixed mindset might be holding a client back from success, she asks some guiding questions to figure out how to get them back on track and allow them to recognize how their thought patterns might be getting in their way.
But if that limited comfort zone and negative thinking is bringing down a whole team or project, Tracey says that can be a sign it’s time for her to walk away.
“Part of success is being able to know that at the end of the day, when I put my head on that pillow, that I did the best I could,” she says. “And if there is someone who's draining my energy somewhere, it's not allowing me to be my best and that's taking away from my success.”
6 tips to start shifting your mindset
For business owners and PR pros who might be new to the idea of growth mindset, Tracey suggests some simple exercises to get started.
1. Identify your strengths
Write out a list of what you’re good at and focus on those things. If you find yourself in such a negative space that even making a list is difficult, that’s okay. Ask people you know well and trust to describe you.
“It's a fantastic way to learn how other people see you differently from how you view yourself,” Tracey says. “Chances are, they're going to see you as more talented than you think you are. They're going to see you as more of an industry expert, and they're probably going to see you as more confident than you feel.”
2. Write or say affirmations
Tracey first learned about affirmations from the book “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,” written by Shad Helmstetter. The idea is that these positive statements help to reprogram negative self-talk into more encouraging messages.
“Write them down,” she says. “Take any negative thought and find something positive. Flip it, and then read those positive affirmations to yourself first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed.”
3. Reward yourself for the small wins
“As solopreneurs and business owners, we tend to gloss over our wins,” Tracey says. “We chalk them up to luck or some other external factor. Sometimes we're so busy moving on to other projects that we don't take that moment to just appreciate what we accomplished.”
But celebrating even the small accomplishments — what she calls microrewards — can really keep you going and help build momentum as you’re growing your comfort zone.
4. Nix perfectionism
Tracey says it helps to know that we often learn more from our mistakes and failures than we do from our successes.
“Every time something doesn't work, just pick yourself up, evaluate, adjust your plan and keep moving forward,” she says.
5. Focus on those you serve
As PR professionals who work hard to see your clients succeed, it can help to move the focus from yourself and instead really consider the solutions you offer.
“What we’re all doing is bigger than us,” Tracey says.
6. Reframe your ‘have to’s’
“It's a simple exercise but it's so easy to do,” Tracey explains. “Instead of saying all day every day — ‘I have to do this, I have to do that’ — say ‘I get to.’”
Reframing your responsibilities as opportunities shifts your thoughts toward feelings of gratitude that can help your mindset both in and out of work.
We want to hear from you! Do you have any additional tips to share to help shift your mindset? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #solopr!
Photo Credit: t:marrio31