In my work, I’m often helping people identify and set goals for themselves. So, for much of my time, I’m looking toward the future. Keeping your eyes on your goal is a great advice, but sometimes we need to take a look in our rear-view mirror if we want to be our best selves.

Internal Beliefs and Self-Talk

Beyond just taking a peek in the rear-view, sometimes we need to adjust the mirror to get a better, more helpful look. Setting goals and having the best intentions is a great start, but if there’s something nagging at you from the back of your mind, you need to address that.

Negative self-talk is most often steeped in your past. Without realising that we’re doing it, we dwell on our past mistakes and missteps. We let the anxiety and uncertainty that we connect to those events hold us back. That’s why we need to adjust our rear-view mirror. We need to see the past from a bit of a different angle.

Self-Talk and Goals

When you think about the future, and your goals and desires, what feelings come up? We all want to feel unbridled excitement, hope, and positivity, but it’s not always the case. Even if we are excited and hopeful, there’s often a bit of negative self-talk at, or beneath the surface. Try to pinpoint exactly what it is, in the pit of your stomach, that comes up when you’re thinking about the future. What words go through your mind? What feelings do you experience physically and mentally?

Some common themes that I see with my clients are:

  • I don’t know if I can do this!
  • Other people who have the same goals are better at this.
  • I’m too old to make a change.
  • I’m too young to make a difference.

In addition to being negative self-talk, these are also what we refer to as limiting beliefs. These types of beliefs are exactly what is meant by the term “fixed-mindset.” Your beliefs limit you, and keep you from growing. Part of my job as a career coach is to help people deconstruct and rewire these negative, limiting beliefs.

Practicing Positivity

The thing about changing your mindset, and turning negative self-talk into positive, is that it takes practice. It’s like going to the mental gym. You start small, with simple exercises. Repeating a few positive words to yourself. Listening to the music that puts you in a better place. Taking deep breaths, and remembering to unclench your jaw and shoulders. Once we get used to doing these things, we can create bigger mindset goals.

With practice, you’ll be able to approach even daunting situations, with a positive mindset. Not everything is going to be easy, and sometimes we will suffer from setbacks in our lives and careers. The trick is to change the patterns and words that we are using, when we talk to ourselves about these setbacks. Adjust the rear-view mirror, so that you can see these setbacks for what they are—past experiences that you’ve learned from. They’re in the past; they can’t affect your future unless you let them.

Unpacking the Past

For many people, the recent and distant past both play a role in their internal beliefs. Beyond recent setbacks or frustrations, we can internalize things that we’ve heard about ourselves from as far back as early childhood.

It’s important, from time to time, to take a deep dive into what we are saying to ourselves in these big moments—moments of change, uncertainty, or goal-setting—but also in the day-to-day. What do you say to yourself, and what do you internalize from what other people have said?

My best advice is, don’t put too much stock into what others say, if you know it conflicts with your own truth. You know yourself better than anyone else. When you start talking negatively to yourself, it’s time to stop and recalibrate.

Instead of dwelling on the past, adjust your thought process, and start to think about progress—and what’s going to help you get there. You know what type of talk holds you back and what motivates you. Align your words and messages to be more positive and encouraging, especially when dealing with goal-setting.

Think about this—would your best friend talk to you the way that you talk to yourself?


Adjust the rear-view mirror—look at where you’ve been and give yourself a clearer picture of how you should talk to yourself. Look at what you’ve accomplished, and look at what you are capable of. Focus on the skills you have, and the abilities you have to develop more skills. You don’t have to put stock in what other people say to, or about you. Know yourself, trust yourself, and nothing will stop you.

Get in touch today to take the first steps towards a healthier mindset, and a more successful career!

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