How To Have A Success Mindset When You Don’t Think You Can Do It

 “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”  -Henry Ford

You know that in order to achieve your big goal you have to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve it.

So you try.

You visualize.

You imagine yourself having already achieved it.

You attempt to experience the feelings you’ll have when it’s achieved . . .

But still, no matter how much you try to believe it, you just can’t seem to do it.

If you’re really honest with yourself, your goal seems improbable at best, if not impossible. You just can’t wrap your mind around the idea that you can make this big thing happen.

You can lie to yourself. Psych yourself up in the mirror while you paste a confident smile on your face to show to the world. But you secretly wish that the personal development experts were wrong.

You wish there were a way around the success mindset because you know that when it comes to this goal, you just don’t have what it takes.

And because your brain can’t cross that chasm, you give up.

But what if there was a way around it?

What if you could have a success mindset even when you really don’t believe you can do what you want to do?


A Case Study

I had been working with my client, Dana, for a few weeks when she asked me this very same question.

She really wanted meaningful work, but at 55 she was less-than-optimistic that she could find a good job.

“I want to believe I can get a job I love, but who is going to hire me? And if I don’t believe in myself, why should they?”

“Instead of focusing on that big goal,” I said, “let’s focus in on what you can believe right now.”

As it turned out, there were lots of little things that preceded Dana’s big goal that she could wrap her mind around.

She could write a great resume and knew how to dress for success. She was amazing at meeting new people and could strike up a conversation with anyone.

Lesson: If you’re having trouble believing you can achieve your big goal, instead of focusing it, focus on a stepping stone goal you can believe in right now.

Here’s what you can do:

Write your big goal at the top of a sheet of paper.

Then, write 10 0r more things you’d have to do or make happen before that big goal could be achieved.

Keep writing list items until the steps begin to feel easily achievable. Then focus on believing in the very last item on your list.

Your list might look something like this:


Run a 3 minute mile.

Run a 4 minute mile.

Run a mile.

Get off the couch.

Get the idea?

The closer your goal is to where you actually are today, the easier it will be to believe in it. Keep setting goals you are able to believe in, and when you look back, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.

So tell me, what is the goal you’re having trouble believing in, and what are some of the small steps you’ll use to get there?


Jessica Sweet is a coach for bright, creative people who are stuck in dull jobs and want to start making a living doing what they love. 
She is also a trained therapist and Master’s level social worker. Read her blog and get access to the 7 day “Live Off Your Passions” course at and join the Facebook community at