Change your mindset, change your life: 5 mental attitudes to start 2020 right

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It’s 2020! Can you believe it? As a decade ends and a new one begins, we are infused with hope that the coming days will be happier and brighter. And it will be! To ensure that 2020 will be a memorable year for you, consider cultivating these positive mental attitudes to pull you through whatever stage you are in your adaptation in Canada:

5 mental attitudes to sustain in 2020:

  1. Nurture your resilience

    Resilience is our ability to bounce back after an adversity hits us. It’s how you cope or adapt to negative events in your life. Why is it important to build resilience? As newcomers, facing changes and challenges are the top two things that we will experience in the first few years of adapting to Canada. These changes and challenges can be tangible, for example, the cold weather, or intangible like cultural norms. To be able to handle these well and stay on top, we have to be mentally and physically strong. What this entails is picking up habits that will nourish you and keep you grounded. These are things like having realistic expectations on yourself, being patient and kind when things don’t go your way, and having a regular self-care regimen.

    An exercise for you: Make your mantra for 2020. What is a mantra? It is a sentence, a group of words or a chant that you repeat to yourself to provide motivation. It’s a simple reminder when you find yourself in a situation where you need strength. It can be as simple as a bible verse if you’re religious, a favourite quote, or even a single word that is meaningful for you. Examples:

    • Just do it!
    • I am enough.
    • Don’t give up. Great things take time.
    • A negative mind will never give you a positive life.
    • Breathe!

    Suggested reading: How to deal with the stages of adaptation and come out on top

  2. Cultivate an open mind

    Have you noticed how kids adapt faster than adults? In most immigrant families, the youngest ones learn the language, gain friends and adjust to school within just a few weeks upon arriving. Kids find it easier to adapt because they are open to learning. Compared to adults, they are not set in their ways yet which allows them to be more flexible and adaptable.

    Open-mindedness generally means being receptive to new ideas. It is not easy and you may feel lost when you are in an environment where ideas and beliefs are diverse. It will require you to suspend judgement and train yourself to listen and assess things first. That’s how you’ll learn and grow!

    An exercise for you: Canada is home to more than 200 ethnicities. More than 200! Learn about one ethnicity per week or per month. You can start on this page: Ethno-Cultural Groups. It features the immigration story to Canada of 26 immigrant groups.

    Suggested reading: “Pardon me!” Understanding and adapting to Canadian social norms

  3. Be self-directed

    We won’t survive without the counsel and help of family, friends and mentors during our first few days. It is wise to listen, take their advice and ask for their help. However, they can help you only up to a certain point. A big bulk of your success depends on your drive to learn and explore (or even create) opportunities on your own. Being self-directed involves having a set of goals and a plan of action. It also needs persistence and a “can-do” attitude.

    An exercise for you: Have you ever tried an online course? Think of a skill (or a hobby) you would like to learn this year and look for a free online course. Check this article for suggestions: Advance your career in 2020 by taking free courses online.
    Suggested reading: 5 best techniques to boost self-directed learning

  4. Embrace lifelong learning

    Newcomer or not, everyone has to embrace lifelong learning. We are living in a society where changes come rapidly. The only way to stay on top of these changes is to learn and develop new skills continuously. The good news is that learning opportunities are everywhere! Whether formal or informal, you will never run out of venues to learn for your personal or professional growth. What is crucial to becoming a lifelong learner is your willingness to learn and developing the intrinsic motivation to improve.

    An exercise for you: Ask about opportunities for professional development in your workplace. Find out about programs you may be interested in (and have time for) and speak to your supervisor about it. Being proactive about your learning needs is a good way to start the year. It will also let your boss know that you are serious about self-improvement.
    Suggested reading: Reach your goals faster – 5 steps to a personal learning plan

  5. Stay positive

    Scientific studies have proven that optimists live longer and healthier lives. Having an upbeat disposition is credited for low incidences of early death and the absence of coronary heart disease. It is important to note that “optimism” for those in the study meant “confidence in yourself and in their problem-solving capabilities” and not a naïve view where they expect that everything will miraculously go their way.

    In our newcomer journey, there will be many periods where we will feel less confident of our abilities and even sometimes doubtful of the decisions we make. Maintaining a positive mindset will help us get through these rough patches. When you are positive, you have the ability to see the good in any bad situation. This will motivate you to take action to move out of the situation that brings you down.

    An exercise for you: Start the habit of thinking of one thing that you are grateful for before you fall asleep. It can be anything from the biggest to the smallest thing! Doing this everyday will train your mind to look for the positive in any situation. It will also make you a much calmer and happier person.

    Suggested reading: 7 success secrets for Canadian immigrants

Have a great 2020!
Sources: 5 science-backed strategies to build resilience, Kira M. Newman, Greater Good Magazine; Lifelong learning, Skills you need and Studies have shown that optimists live longer and healthier lives; The superrich are superoptimists, Rainer Zitelman, Forbes. Accessed December 17, 2019.

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