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Words By Tara Wagner

Change Is Hard ‘til You Understand One Thing..Your MINDSET Is Nothing More Than HABITS

Tara in long sleeve gray tri-blend long sleeve shirt sitting on her desk in her office

I will be one of the first people to level with you, personal growth and change is hard, until you understand that your mindset is nothing more than a habit. In this blog, I want to demonstrate that to you with something I call the Oregon Trail Effect.

Change Is Hard ‘til You Understand One Thing..Your MINDSET Is Nothing More Than HABITS. Click To Tweet

In order to teach you what I’m about to teach you, I first need to define the word mindset.

Your mindset is all of the conscious thoughts, the emotions, the needs, and the underlying beliefs that are driving your actions and your reactions. 

Let me say that one more time: our mindset is all of the things that are determining what you do, and the reason all of these things seem so hard to change is because you’re not understanding what they actually are.

They. Are. Habits.

Your thoughts, your emotions, your beliefs, all of it’s actually just a habit, something you’ve done over and over and over again until it has been written, hardwired into your cells, into your DNA.

I call this the Oregon Trail Effect, and I don’t mean the computer game that we played in middle school. (Do you remember playing that in like the seventh grade? We all did, right? “Dysentery for the win!)

What I actually mean is the real Oregon Trail. Years ago while traveling in a RV, we went to visit some friends in Idaho, and she took me out on a hike, and she showed me the actual Oregon Trail.

Now, this was close to 200 years ago that the Oregon Trail happened, right? But she showed me the path that was taken by thousands of wagons traveling the same path over and over again, and now, almost 200 years later, there’s deep ruts in the ground from where the wagon wheels had traveled.

Your mindset is all of the conscious thoughts, the emotions, the needs, and the underlying beliefs that are driving your actions and your reactions. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet
trail with ruts


Seeing the Oregon trail left such a huge impression on me because I realized that this is exactly what happens with our thoughts and with our emotions.

From the time that we’re little, we start thinking something, and as soon as we start making that pattern, it becomes easier to stay on that trail, on that same track, so we continue to think and feel the same way, until pretty soon we’ve had 10’s of thousands or 100’s of thousands of our own little thought-wagons or emotional-wagons traveling down this trail.

We’ve created these deep ruts in our personality, in our emotions, in our thoughts, in our beliefs, and we keep traveling that trail over and over again simply out of habit.

This is why it feels so difficult to change our lives, because we’re not just changing what we’re doing; we’re changing what we’re thinking, we’re changing what we’re feeling, we’re changing our underlying beliefs, and we’re changing, we’re trying to get out of these deep ruts, that we’ve been traveling over and over and over again.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Stuck in a rut,” this is where that comes from.

When we have traveled a trail so long, it becomes almost impossible to get our wheels out of that rut and to create a new path.

train tracks


Once you’ve laid down the track, it’s so much easier for your mind and your emotions to travel that same track. It takes a lot of time and energy to get the train off the track.

And just like a train can’t travel on two tracks (without causing a serious accident,) your mind cannot travel on two tracks without causing some serious frustration and overwhelm.

This is where we start to feel like we can’t make changes, because essentially what we are trying to do when we’re changing our mindset, our habits, our life, and who we are, how we’re showing up, and what we believe, we’re trying to run on two tracks.

We have this old pattern that is insisting that we keep traveling it just because it is the path of least resistance at this point, and we are trying to dislodge from that pattern and create a new one at the same time.

This is why so much mindset work for a little while can make us feel a little bit crazy because our mind is trying to go in two different directions as we’re trying to coach it or train it in this new direction.

Just like a train can't travel on two tracks without causing a serious accident, your mind cannot travel on two tracks without causing some serious frustration and overwhelm. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet

Because everything you do, everything you say, every thought that you allow to continue to play out in your head, every emotion that you hang onto or that you nurture and feed, good or bad, is feeding these habits.

Everything you’re doing is either running on the old track or running on the new track.

If you’re trying to create a new habit, a new way of thinking and feeling and showing up, you have to do that so consistently that you outweigh the old one; that you dig yourself a new, healthier rut before you slip back into the old one.

Everything you do is either feeding a healthy growth mindset or it is taking you in the same direction on the same path that you’ve been traveling for 30, 40, 50 years.

Change is hard when you are not: 

  • Consistent as all get out
  • When you’re not realizing that falling back into the rut is going to be natural. It’s going to be part of the process.

Any time we are developing new habits, we’re always going to have setbacks, we’re always going to have days where our brain just takes over and goes, “No, we’re going in the old direction,” and that’s going to be natural and normal.

It’s going to feel hard if you don’t understand that that’s normal and understand how to move yourself back into what you’re trying to feed, that new healthier mindset or emotional pattern or way of being.

So when you are doing mindset work, it is so important that you treat it like a habit and that you’re working on the same things every day.

I don’t recommend that you jump between multiple things. I don’t recommend that you change up your affirmations all the time. I don’t recommend that you’re juggling so many changes at once that your brain is just exploding, trying to run on a million tracks.

I recommend that you treat this like a habit, and you drill it into yourself until it becomes natural and organic and it’s easy and you can’t not forget it, because you’ve practiced it enough that it’s dug you a new healthier rut.

Everything you do is either feeding a healthy growth mindset or it is taking you in the same direction and on the same path that you've become accustomed to. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet


This training is going to show you the 5 areas that you need to be addressing with any change that you’re trying to make inyourself, in your business, or in your life. If you know that it gets to be an inside job, I want you to start with this training so that you understand how to do that.

Bottlenecks to Breakthroughs is a free 15-minute training that encompasses a decade of experience, training both myself and other people to change their core beliefs, their emotional patterns, and their habits so that they can create success in their life.

It’s absolutely free, and you can get it by clicking the button below or clicking here for more details!


Leave me a comment with any questions that you have on this topic or share any of your favorite mindset habits that you’ve been cultivating.

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