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Are you who you need to be to achieve the success you desire?

Feeling SuccessWe are conditioned to interact with each other and the world in certain ways because a functioning society has certain minimum expectations of its members. We learn to behave in ways that are expected of us, often without questioning whether those behaviors align with who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to achieve. 


When you seek out opportunities to expand as a person and achieve new goals, you may find yourself revisiting the beliefs you have about yourself, your career, and where you fit in. You may find yourself questioning whether this version of you can achieve your new goals. You may wonder if the choices you’ve made in the past and the way you’ve acted or behaved are truly aligned with who you want to be, or if they’re just patterns and habits that you have become accustomed to following. 


Dr. Benah Parker, Vice President of Research and Development for NASP wrote Transforming how the world thinks and behaves with the Human Success Operating System™, a white paper describing seven psychological concepts that support growth and development. Learning to use these concepts can support you in reaching your next level of success.


Conditioning is a term you may be familiar with if you’re an athlete or have ever trained for a big event. You know you need to condition your body to prepare for a marathon or to be strong enough to be competitive throughout a sport’s season. But conditioning is also a very important technique for the learning and behavior change needed to accomplish something new.


In psychological terms, conditioning can happen consciously or unconsciously; it can also happen intentionally or unintentionally. Conditioning teaches people about the world and how it works, about themselves and their roles and abilities, and about anything else that matters. When paired with reinforcement, rewards, and punishments, conditioning is a very powerful tool for learning, habit change, behavior modification, and achievement. 


Identity formation is a critical component in everyone’s development and growth. Your identity is an understanding of the memories, experiences, relationships, decisions, and values that create your sense of self and help define who you are in relation to others. Having a clear identity, as well as mental and emotional alignment with that identity, can be tied to positive mental health, strong self-esteem, personality development, decision making, and motivation. 


Behavioral consistency is a cognitive shortcut that leads people to behave in a way that matches past decisions and behaviors. Interestingly, people tend to choose to stay consistent with past decisions or behaviors even when they have evidence that the decision or behavior did not have a good outcome. For example, let’s say you rely on food as a source of comfort when you are stressed or overwhelmed. You may not love how you feel after you make this choice, but if someone were to give you the option of taking a walk outside or having a package of your favorite cookies the next time you’re stressed, psychological research suggests you are more likely to choose the cookies. 


Behavioral consistency is a huge factor in habit formation, decision making, and motivation. It impacts just about everything you do, including your performance at work, engagement at school, and how you view yourself. 


Growth mindset is a psychological term that has entered the non-academic lexicon in the last couple of decades. Simply put, a growth mindset is based on the belief that one can learn new skills, one has the capacity to learn and grow, and that existing skills or abilities can be further developed and improved. Utilizing a growth mindset in different areas of life has been tied to resilience, determination, and how challenges are perceived and addressed. 


A growth mindset is often contrasted with a fixed mindset, where one believes that their skills and abilities are set in stone. For example, someone who continually says they are bad at math is demonstrating a fixed mindset. In contrast, someone with a growth mindset in regards to mathematical ability may say they are challenged by math and then find a tutor or put in extra time and effort to learn the mathematical concepts that are a struggle for them. 


Resilience is the ability to move on from crises and chaos without long-term negative psychological consequences. It’s the ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned or to get back up after life knocks you down. Resilience can help you deal with or even prevent mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and it provides internal support for coping with life’s uncertainty. 


Highly resilient people find a way to keep moving toward their goals when traumatic events or failure threaten to overwhelm them, even if it means changing course or taking time to heal emotionally. While there is a genetic component to resilience, there are exercises that can be learned and practiced to increase resilience, such as developing a positive attitude, maintaining optimism, and seeing failure as helpful and informative rather than as a negative outcome. 


Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to execute specific actions. It can impact your outcomes on particular tasks, such as playing your best in a big game, and in more general areas, such as stopping smoking. Self-efficacy is a central part of how we perceive situations, see opportunities, and take action toward our goals. 


People with a strong sense of self-efficacy are likely to have a deep level of interest in and commitment to their activities, recover quickly from setbacks, and view challenges as problems to be solved and tasks to be mastered. Conversely, people with a weak sense of self-efficacy are likely to avoid challenging tasks, focus on personal failings and negative outcomes, and lack confidence in their ability to achieve their goals. 


Goal setting is the process of establishing a successful plan of action, creating a vision of a desired and possible future, and determining clear and usable objectives. It is an essential tool for motivation as it gives meaning to one’s actions and provides a purpose to achieving something higher. 


The process of goal setting results in a roadmap to one’s desired outcomes and serves as a tool to ensure distractions and challenges don’t lead one astray. The more intentional and clear the roadmap, the better the chances are of achieving one’s goals. There is a strong connection between goal setting and success; effective goal setting is tied to higher motivation, self-esteem, and confidence. 


Each of these concepts can be developed, implemented, and intentionally grown. NASP supports participants in purposefully utilizing their growth mindset, resilience, and self-efficacy to set and achieve meaningful goals in whatever area of life they are focused on. When you consciously and intentionally step into uncertainty and take ownership of who you are and how you show up, the psychological concepts that are the basis for all NASP programs can act as reinforcements to your growth and address the challenges that keep you from realizing your full potential. 


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