What is mindset coaching?

Woman looking outside window. Photo: Getty Images

Blanche Clark

Posted August 09, 2021

Change your mindset, change your life.

Ash Barty has credited mindset coach Ben Crowe with helping her become the World No.1 in women's singles tennis. Ben told ABC News last month that Ash consulted him because she wanted to “make sense of who she was, and what she wanted out of life”, and by resolving that, she was able to focus on her goals.

Barty’s Wimbledon win is testament to how a mindset coach can help a professional athlete, but how does a healthy mindset help you in your everyday life? Melbourne psychologist Sarah Godfrey says this idea of knowing “who you are, and what you want out of life” can determine your personal and professional success, as well as help you cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what is a mindset exactly, and how do you change it?

Woman holding notepad looking in the distance

You can measure your success by your energy, contribution to others, and self-growth. Photo: Getty Images.

What is a healthy mindset?

A mindset is a framework for living based on your goals and how you see yourself in the world. A healthy mindset is about looking at the bigger picture rather than day-to-day events. You have your dreams and goals, and you view setbacks as learning experiences and part of your journey. Sarah says the question to ask is: "How does this one failure, or this one success, fit into the ultimate identity that I'm trying to grow and the person that I'm trying to be." Self-awareness – the ability to identify your own strengths, values and beliefs – is a big part of a healthy mindset.

Why does it matter?

Our bodies and environment are constantly changing, but our minds can find that scary. This fear can foster an unhealthy mindset, which inhibits our ability to solve problems, build relationships, and embrace change. "When we have a limited mindset, we struggle," Sarah says. "We use terms such as 'bad luck' or say 'I'm the person that bad things happen to'. We get stuck in a rut and think that our lives are limited and confined.”

Isn’t a healthy mindset the same as positive thinking?

Positive thinking is a thought structure rather than a framework for living. It is when you try to put a positive spin on a negative situation. If you have a healthy mindset, you consider the negative situation within the context of your values and goals and react to it in a way that allows you to grow and adapt to change. It means you're not drifting in life, instead, you're aware of the reasons for your actions and behaviour. If, for example, your relationship ends, rather than dwelling on the heartache, you will consider what you've learnt from the relationship and experience.

What have we learnt from COVID?

A healthy mindset can help you view the pandemic, and lockdowns, as an opportunity for reflection, gratitude and personal development. “The pandemic is teaching us about how resilient we are,” says Sarah. “That means we can take on challenges, take risks, and cope better.” Multiple studies on coping and stress, even before the pandemic, have shown that a positive mindset allows people to reorganise their priorities, which leads to deeper relationships, and a greater appreciation of life.

Woman holding notepad looking in the distance

 Keeping a journal can help you reflect on your goals and progress. Photo: Unsplash

Old habits die hard

Habits are linked to your mindset and incorporated into your way of life. Sarah’s mindset coaching can be about breaking the mental habits that limit our capabilities. “It can take about three to six months to change a thought,” she says. “It’s about starting at a basic level of self-compassion and saying, ‘I’m not perfect, but what little bit of imperfection is annoying me,’ and work on that. When you master that, you can try something else or live in the world with that skill for a little while and see how you travel. It's that idea of a long, relaxing process of growth."

Back yourself

We can spend too much time comparing ourselves to others and measuring our worth by what others achieve or look like. “You have to stand for what you believe in and show the world that you’ve got your own back first. That can happen in little ways. It can be saying no to someone who is speaking rudely to you; standing up for something that you think is unfair, or turning down a job that you think will compromise your integrity. There are lots of ways you can back yourself, and that builds your confidence and self-esteem.”

How do you measure success?

Success has nothing to do with money. Success is about your energy, contribution to others, and self-growth. “Each time we do something that enhances our confidence, our self-esteem, our thinking, and our behaviour, we are building towards that person we really want to be,” Sarah says. “Which is a confident, assured, valued and empathic human being.”

Life coaching versus mindset coaching

Sarah sees mindset coaching as is a branch of psychology and akin to personal and professional development coaching. She says the term "life coaching" tends to include people who have had a life-changing experience, which they share in the hope of empowering others. “Mindset coaching is about helping you find your place in the world and helping you discover the thinking, actions and behaviour that will help you achieve that." Sarah has developed The 15 Focus program, to help busy people find their potential "in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee".

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing mental health issues, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.