“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way.” ~ Carol Dweck
MINDSET. I have read and heard so much about how important mindset is. It is key to our self esteem and our success (however we define that for ourselves). But what is it, really? How is it established and can we modify it?
Mindset.com defines mindset as a collection of beliefs and thoughts. To get more specific, Mindsets are a collection of beliefs and thoughts that make up our mental attitudes toward anything we encounter in our daily lives. These beliefs and thoughts form the foundation of how we react to circumstances, situations and events. Mindset becomes behind the scenes settings that we are generally unaware of but determine how we see and react to things.
A simple way to gain insight into this powerful part of ourselves is to use Carol Dweck’s understanding that there are two types of mindset – fixed or growth.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset is where you believe that your qualities and traits are fixed and cannot be changed. Challenges are avoided, you’ll give up easily when you encounter obstacles and you’ll put little effort into changing as it seems pointless. It’s kind of an “I am what I am” attitude.
Having a fixed mindset can be damaging, especially if it causes you to not even try to improve or explore new things.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is basically the opposite of a fixed mindset. It allows you to believe that challenges are opportunities and there is always the chance to improve your skills. You will not only believe that you can grow your intelligence and skills over time, but you’ll also take steps to do so.
With a growth mindset, you’ll persist when you encounter a setback and embrace challenges. You will also learn from feedback given to you and put a lot of effort into changing. When you see successful people, you’ll try and learn from their success.
A growth mindset basically means you’ll be open to growth and development and are passionate about learning.
How can I know what my mindset is?
One of the easiest ways to see what your mindset is to see examples of the two options.
You have a growth mindset if you believe things like this:
- I’m not a natural writer, I have to learn it
- There is a lot I still need to learn
- Feedback gives me an opportunity to learn how to improve
- Failure is a learning curve
- If I have determination, I can do anything
On the other hand, you have a fixed mindset if you believe things like this:
- Some people are born to be writers and I am not one of them
- I have learned everything I need to know
- Feedback is criticism
- I’m only going to fail so what’s the point in trying?
- I can’t overcome the challenges in my way
A growth mindset allows you to move forward and achieve the things you want.
Examples of switching from a fixed to a growth mindset
If you’re looking to turn a fixed mindset into a growth mindset, consider these examples of consciously changing your beliefs on various topics:
Fixed mindset: “I’m a binge eater. Once I start eating chips I can’t stop”
Growth mindset: “I have tended to binge eat chips and it’s been hard to stop after just one”
Fixed mindset: “I always get worked up over politics”
Growth mindset: “In the past, I have gotten worked up over politics”
Fixed mindset: “I could never forgive someone who betrayed me”
Growth mindset: “So far, I haven’t been able to forgive someone for betraying me”
Fixed mindset: “I’m never going to achieve my dream”
Growth mindset: “It may be difficult to achieve my dream, but I know with effort and dedication I can do it”
Fixed mindset: “It’s too late to learn now”
Growth mindset: “I can learn whatever I need to whenever I like”
These are just some great examples of a fixed and growth mindset. A fixed mindset will see you stuck in old patterns of behavior. You won’t grow or develop your skills and most importantly, you’ll never reach your life goals if you have a purely fixed mindset.
Balancing growth and fixed mindsets
While a growth mindset is important, it shouldn’t solely take the place of a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset can actually have some benefits when it is balanced with a growth mindset.
So, adopting a growth mindset isn’t about completely eliminating fixed ways of thinking. Instead, it’s a great tool for helping you to move forward and learn from your experiences.
Now that you know some common fixed and growth mindset examples, you can start to work on making changes you choose. Learning to recognize your fixed mindset is the first step to adjusting it. Identify areas where you want to change that and begin to consciously move toward a growth mindset. You may find it takes a little time and you may have to work to identify when your old beliefs and patterns kick in.
Use tools like journaling to record where you are, where you want to go and the process along the way.
Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, is a great resource for exploring these ideas. (https://amzn.to/2On3TCn)
“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