The Mindset Shift That Changed My Life

mindset shift

I have a confession to make. I haven’t always been a big picture thinker. I wasn’t always proactive. I haven’t always had aspirations to change the world.

Rewind 7 years, and I was just another dumb kid coasting along in life. I had no long-term plan in mind, no money, and all I thought about was how long I was going to be able to play video games that day.

In high school I did well enough. I operated with the thought that I would go through college, get a good job, and live a nice comfortable lifestyle, but I had no idea what it was going to be like.

I went through college with the same mindset, thinking my degree was going to get me all I needed to life the life of my dreams. I wasn’t much of a go-getter.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was lost, and I was spiraling towards a life of insignificance.

Self Exploration Isn’t for the Birds

But then something amazing happened. One day something clicked for me. I remember it vividly, because it was the point in time that caused a fundamental shift in the way I live my life.

It was actually an assignment I was given in one of my classes. A career planning class of all things.

We were to keep a journal of what we did each hour throughout the day for an entire week, and then share it with the class.

Admittedly, I thought it was pretty dumb at the time. The whole class was full of all kinds of assessments and self-exploration that I thought was for the birds, but little did I know this tiny week long chronicle would change the way I thought forever.

In retrospect, it was the catalyst to the best mindset shift that ever happened to me to that point in my life, maybe even to this day.

Learning The Value of My Time

My professor opened the assignment by saying, “Who likes to waste time?”

Of course no one raised their hand. But I was actually sitting there thinking, “Hm, I actually waste a lot of time. Maybe I should raise my hand?”

I didn’t, but I probably should have given my daily activities.

Because the assignment was part of our grade for the semester, and because I’m a very honest person, I completed it with 100% accuracy.

I found myself writing things like:

  • Played video games
  • Slept-in
  • Watched TV
  • Went to a party
  • Hung out with friends
  • Played golf (I still do this)
  • Went out to eat

All typical college stuff really, but my college career was winding down at the time. I needed to be thinking about the future.

There wasn’t a thing on my weekly chronicle that was constructive towards a future career outside of going to class – and that’s when it hit me.

The Epic Mindset Shift

That’s what this assignment was for. It was to teach us the value of our time and to provide us an inventory of how we were bettering ourselves, or at least that’s what it was meant to be for me.

And boy did it ever work.

When I turned in my assignment, my professor told me she was amazed by my honesty.

I told her that I was humbled to have done this assignment, and thanked her for the exercise in self-exploration and wake up call.

I stayed after class and talked with her about what I should do. I still remember what she said to me:

“Time is finite and precious. There is nothing we can do to get it back once it has passed. We all have the same amount each day. It’s what we decide to do with it that makes us who we are. Use your time wisely and always make sure you’re thinking about the future.”

It made all the sense in the world to me. In that moment I was transformed. I feel like I went into the classroom that day a boy, and came out a man.

And from that point forward I approached everything with a long-term, big picture mindset.

I went home that night and started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I identified my skills and aptitudes, and chose a career in business technology.

I identified that I had a passion for making a difference in people’s lives, and loved to use the written word to do so.

And I figured out that some day, I wanted to use all of those skills together to make a big positive impact on the world.

The Results of Long Term Thinking

Through the change in my thinking, I went on to receive an MBA in Business, started and sold a technology company, built another company to winning awards for its marketing, helped several businesses grow their online presence, wrote two books, read dozens of others, and now work in a Project Manager role that allows me to life the lifestyle I want to live.

I’m not where I ultimately want to be yet, but every decision I make goes to support that ultimate goal, and I realize the more efficient I am, the quicker I can get there.

So I leave you with this. If you don’t yet know where your life is heading, I strongly urge you to find your purpose. You don’t have to map out a five year plan, but at least figure out why you were put on this planet. Figure out what you’re really good at and love to do.

Once you figure that out, everything you do will make much more sense, and your passion will drive you to achieve that goal.

Photo by Ben Cremin

24 thoughts on “The Mindset Shift That Changed My Life”

    1. Excellent point Dan, and thanks for this post Cody!

      I had a similar experience in college, giving me the drive to set goals and work on them every day. I love the way your professor explained it too.

      Have a good day,

  1. Cool Advice Cody!

    mostly we realize the value of time after it passed but this article is a good reminder. The more earlier one explores himself the more it proves beneficial for life. I like to do the same exercise that your teacher suggested to analyze my daily routine. A day seems too shorter to me with a hodgepodge of tasks :)

  2. This was a great posting and a much needed read for me. Lately I have been wanting to just quit my job, pack up and go…no set plan..just go. I know this is unrealistic but sometimes you need to read something like this article to help ground you a bit… learning the value of time… such an important lesson. It is so easy to get swept up in a routine and a life that is “comfortable” but I hate the idea of looking back and regretting how I spent my time. I am a traveler at heart and I’ve been pretty much travel free for almost two years now (beginning to wear on me..)

    Everything about travel gets me excited and energized! The problem is…the money and the time needed to do so! I lived in London for two years where I was able to travel and see the world! I am back in the states now, working and living…and not traveling. So I guess for me the balance needs to be…work (save), travel, and when I can’t travel perhaps just reading about travel will do the trick! I guess this goes along with the idea of getting enjoyment from the smaller things in life! Travel and reading are my two favorite things so if I can’t travel I can read! I know, I know it’s not the same at all…but depending on the book….sometimes that excited feeling in the pit of my stomach returns!

    “Eat, Pray, Love” did that for me and now I just read the book “Until Brazil” by Bethe Lee Moulton and the feeling is back! It’s about a married woman, in a steady job looking for a little excitement! She goes on a business trip to Brazil hoping for a promotion and instead gets immersed in a culture and an experience that she will never forget! – recommend 100% – It has given me the little escape that I so desperately need! Time to be an adult right? And make adult decisions! “The bottom line is, life is about creating happiness. ” – My new mantra!

    Time to make things happen, time to put some value in my daily life :) Thanks so much, looking forward to reading more.

    1. I’m glad my story could inspire you Kellie. It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on the things that make you happy and you’re well on your way to making much of it happen. You don’t have to do everything, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something,

  3. What a great story, on many levels. You took an opportunity to learn something about yourself, even though you weren’t that keen on the exercise. Out of curiosity, I did a similar exercise about a year ago. I didn’t do it for a week, but for a couple of days I kept track of my time. I learned a lot, too. For one thing, I learned that I interrupt myself a lot! I will be doing one thing, and then I will stop to do any number of things–check email, get some water, make a phone call, whatever. My time record revealed how distracted and scattered I can be, making it take much longer to complete anything. So good for you for figuring this out and doing something about it!

    1. Very cool. I imagine this would be the case for many people, especially with the growing amount of distractions in the world today. It’s so tough to stay focused. To be honest, I haven’t done this exercise in a while. It can be really enlightening. Thanks for sharing and for the kind words, Galen.

  4. This story was truly inspirational for me! Thank you so much for writing this, Cody!

    It took me a long time to come upon this mental shift, and I wish it had gotten through to me much sooner. I have always had drive and motivation. I spent my 20’s building a decent career for myself, but came to realize that I was missing the element of passion. I was working hard at a job that I tolerated, even sometimes enjoyed, but it was not what I was passionate about.

    Now 30 years old, I have realized what I want to do am finally pursuing it. Finding your purpose in life is crucial!

  5. As for me, I’m only beginning to start my “mental shift.” I have already wasted 3 years of my precious time without doing something since I graduated from college – something to make my life wealthier and more meaningful. In our country, graduating from college doesn’t guarantee us to have a stable job, and I’m one of the evidences.

  6. Nice post, Cody. As the years pass, we learn more and more that time is absolutely “finite and precious.” Because of that, I like to turn time into experiences as much as I can. As I look back, I remember those experiences more than I would the minutes that I wasted. Plus, the experiences build a life worth remembering.

  7. Phew, I’m glad I have my life planned out. I always wanted to be a doctor and here I am a medical student. I’m working hard and I have no complaints at all.

    Your story was inspiring, thanks for sharing Cody.


  8. Keeping a journal and writing down what you do and what you’d like to get done opens up doors: both literal and conceptual. I started journalling in the late 1990s as a senior in college. It’s led to a completed book, “A Train Called Forgiveness,” and second coming out early next year. I have a good teaching job and I operate a blog. I play and record music. I rarely watch TV, play games, etc. It all started by writing. See more of my writing at

  9. Nice post Cody.

    When I first started tracking how I spent my time, I was shocked at where it was going. I thought I was working towards what I wanted, but I discovered this little time wasters all over the place.

    It all starts with awareness. (being aware of your time)

    With awareness comes the ability to choose differently and take different actions.

  10. Very true, Cody. Time is indeed finite and we will never be able to reverse the time and productivity lost. Very honest post. It is very inspiring to know that you were able to accomplish so many things after your MBA by just changing your mindset. I would think that in addition to your mindset it must have also been your determination.

  11. Great read for those that are unsure on what direction to take in life & to become more aware of how valuable time is.

  12. Very good advice!
    When I woke up this morning I was thinking to myself “I will be successful and I will help others”

    And then I signed into my blogger account and I saw your post.
    God sure works in mysterious ways.

    Thanks again for your message =)

  13. Right on the nose Cody. It also never ends. Life is a journey of continual exploration and growth. Re-evaluating our priorities is part of it. It ensures that as your values shift so does your life.

  14. Great article Cody. As you continue to challenge yourself and refine your goals, you’ll find that ultimately you will never be where you want to be.

    That’s the joy of of enjoying your journey. :-)

  15. Fantastic post Cody, really inspiring.

    I totally hear you. I went through a life changing experience myself when life got on top of me and, well, to be honest with you, I tried to end it. To realise that I have lived 26 years on Planet Earth but had never truly lived changed my life. I began to see my life ahead of me as a blank canvas, anything was possible – what did I want to create, what did I want to do, who did I want to be.

    I wonder how many people exist on Planet Earth for the whole of a life time but have never truly lived.

    Thanks for the inspiration Cody!

  16. Thanks! I’m glad that in addition to great changes you made for yourself, you are inspiring others by sharing your story. Some find their purpose early on and others by deciding on each step based on what they are called to do at any given moment. Being deliberate, intentional about how I spend my time has definitely made a difference in my life and the life of people connected to me. I’m living my life the way I want to, I choose to, instead of just letting it happen to me.

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