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Developing a good quality mindset is an important step in navigating life. A good mindset includes one that is positive but also one that focuses on the “what can be” versus simply settling for the “what is”. That is why you should develop a growth mindset.
Author Carol Dweck introduced two types of mindsets in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, she discusses those who have a fixed mindset and those who have a growth mindset as way to highlight that by making small changes in the way we think, we can see an increased positive impact on our lives.
After reading her book and doing further research, things begin to click a little more. I started to reflect and understand the parts of my mindset that were hindering me from achieving the personal success I yearned for. I realized that by making small changes both consciously and unconsciously, I could begin to change my approach in my life.
But I would be remiss to say that it is an easy thing to do. Because boy is it hard! Changing your mindset is a fundamental shift that takes continued practice and discipline. You have to be ready to reflect about your current state and be open to the change necessary to tap into your full potential.
Again, the two mindsets that Dweck focuses on is a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
But before I dive into why it is so important to have a growth mindset, lets focus on what a fixed mindset is, and how it can hinder us in the way we move about life.
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A fixed mindset is kind of how it sounds. It is fixed, and by definition, unchanging. It means that our beliefs, characteristics, level of intelligence and creative abilities are fixed and there isn’t much room to change them.
By having a fixed mindset, you limit yourself because your actions and behaviors follow a pattern that doesn’t allow for you to change or grow. You’re pretty much stuck in a space you’ll always be in, with little changes happening here and there.
Having a fixed mindset also means that you stop yourself from receiving opportunities for improvement and feedback. Instead of focusing on what we can learn to better ourselves, individuals with this mindset assume there is nothing to learn, nothing to work towards.
This type of mindset manifests its way into other aspects of life, not just one specific one. Having a fixed mindset can impact how you approach relationships, your career, your family and friends. It’s about the behaviors that the mind indulges in that’s important.
A fixed mindset stops people from seeking new information, receiving constructive criticism and putting effort into making the improvements needed to be better than they were.
Fixed mindsets are a crutch that prevent us from reaching our full potential and pushing the bar just a little more. Here are some behaviors that are associated with having a fixed mindset:
- Unwillingness to learn something new or change behaviors/ patterns
- Tend to give up on things easily or not follow through
- Doesn’t think there is room for improvement
- Doesn’t ask for feedback or constructive criticism in relationships, at work, etc.
- Avoids doing anything too difficult or challenging
- Doesn’t believe in one’s full potential or ambition to change
These are just a few signs of what having a fixed mindset looks like. By having a fixed mindset, you ignore possibilities to change and improve. You don’t get to seize the moments and embrace things that come your way, because you are stagnant in the way you think.
Your mindset is an important tool in shaping how you approach life. Not just how you approach things at work, or at home, but the way in which you approach everything.
How open are you to facing new challenges? How confident are you in your abilities, even the ones that you’re still working on?
Having the right type of mindset can help you accomplish your goals, achieve success and realize your full potential. Sometimes, potential that you didn’t even realize you had. So instead, it’s time to work towards developing a growth mindset.
A growth mindset means having a mental framework in place for being open to new opportunities and possibilities in your life. It is one that is rooted in one’s ability to learn and and openness to growth.
At the core of a growth mindset is the understanding and belief that you can do pretty much anything by simply putting forth the effort. With a growth mindset, you can cultivate anything in your life with a little work and determination.
It also means you approach life in a vastly different way. Those with a fixed mindset don’t see the opportunities in front of them for them. They miss out on how much their life can evolve by not having the right mindset.
One of the biggest differences between a fixed and a growth mindset is the openness to change and the belief that it’s possible to change your life even in the smallest of ways. Below is a passage from the book that really got to me:
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”Carol Dweck
Woah. That was a lot to unpack. While I won’t unpack it all, I feel though the main theme of Dweck’s point was why aren’t you chasing change?
We should be more focused on facing change, the uncomfortable, in hopes of reaching new heights in our lives. Placing yourself in spaces that force you to evolve and grow is where you want to be.
Honestly, you have to embrace the suck and find opportunities for you to overcome it. How you approach the good and bad in your life, all comes down to the type of mindset you have.
Personally I had to learn how to develop my mindset into a growth one, especially as it pertained to this very blog! When I first started blogging a few years ago, I didn’t really believe in my ability to get it off the ground the way I wanted. I didn’t think much could change.
I was definitely and completely wrong.
But last year I realized how much of a disservice I was doing myself. I pretty much boxed myself out of achieving online success with my blog because I had this very fixed viewpoint that I couldn’t achieve much more than I already had. Heck, I was stopping my journey before even fully getting started.
I had to slowly reprogram my mindset to believe that I could achieve many things, one of which is being a successful blogger. My mindset now focuses more on the possibilities, instead of the dead ends. Not always perfect, but gosh it feels better to at least try.
Think about it. How often do we talk ourselves out of things that we know we can do deep down because a silly voice in our heads said we can’t ? We’ve all been there before, so let’s change that.
Instead of listening to that voice in your head, try to implement behaviors that follow a growth mindset. Start with your goals or challenges that are in your way and think of how you can overcome it. Whether that is learning something new, or making a change to an existing way, look the opportunities that arise.
For example, here are some behaviors that you could hope to see by someone with a growth mindset:
- Eager to learn new things and become an expert at it
- Does not allow setbacks or mishaps to deter them from their goal
- Seeks out criticism/ feedback from others to increase opportunities for improvement
- Loves facing new challenges because they see an opportunity for accomplishment
- Inspired by the actions and/ or success of others
- Sees life as a big opportunity, despite moments of adversity
You see how these behaviors differ from those related to a fixed mindset? Growth mindsets mean that you see the possibility and opportunity in everything. You believe that you can learn and grow, ultimately becoming the person you envision for yourself.
Having a growth mindset also means that you don’t run from challenges or roadblocks. Instead, you embrace them because you know and have the belief you can get past it.
Honestly, having a growth mindset is really about transforming the way we think and approach life. It is something that requires practice and honestly mindfulness. You have to be mindful of the negative self-talk and reprogram your mind to think more positively and openly.
The first step is to be aware and mindful of the behaviors you have that may lead you to have a fixed mindset, over a growth one. Practicing mindfulness is just small piece in this big picture. In order to really develop and maintain a growth mindset, you have to continuously work on your inner self and your outlook on life.
So try switching some of the negative thoughts to positive ones. Again, think of the endless possibilities that an opportunity can bring, not the dead ends it can lead to. Practice telling yourself and believing that you can still stand in the face of a good challenge, because you definitely can.