Mindset is Key: Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Have you ever had an opportunity to try something new but thought to yourself “eh, I probably won’t be very good at it …so there’s no point?” Many people feel like if they aren’t going to be great at something, they shouldn’t do it. There can also be an expectation to be the very best at something new on the very first try. If not, they deem themselves and the experience to be a complete failure.

In our society, we are always working to be our best, which is great but can also lead to feelings of shame or inadequacy when we feel we haven’t succeeded.

Today I want to talk about one of the best approaches and differences between those who overcome challenges and those who feel defeated or intimated in the face of a challenge.

The scenario I was describing in the first paragraph tells the story of someone who has a fixed mindset. With a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and they cannot be changed or altered. For example, “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible” or “I can’t pick a career in the medical field because I’m bad at science.” A fixed mindset tends to be extremely limiting and establishes lines that cannot be crossed.  People with a fixed mindset document their strengths and run with them. However, they lose out on the opportunity to develop and improve in other areas due to fear of failure.

Alternatively, we have people who function with a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that their abilities can grow with time and experience. This mindset doesn’t see not being the best as a failure but rather a starting point. Once they know where they are, they can work on building on that to promote progress in whatever feat they are taking on. For example, “Science doesn’t come as easily to me so I know I’m going to have to work a bit harder to learn the material to become an excellent nurse” or “Today I can’t touch my toes but I wonder what exercises I can do that might help me get a little bit closer.”

Stepping into a growth mindset may help you achieve things you never thought possible and be kinder to yourself in the meantime.

Here are a few quick steps towards developing a growth mindset:

  1. Develop self awareness – Learn about your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Embrace your weaknesses – We all have them and the ability to acknowledge and accept them will help you in the long run.
  3. View challenges as opportunities – Life would be pretty boring if every time we were faced with something new or scary we ran away. A challenge is an opportunity to learn, stretch your mind and improve over time.
  4. Practice patience – Learning something new can take time. Our brain takes time to stretch and create new connections so be patient with yourself throughout this process.
  5. Prioritize action and effort over success and achievement – Everyday will not always be a win. Be aware of that and place the value instead on the fact that you’re showing up and you’re trying. Try to let go of the ties you may have to the outcome (at least for now).
  6. Make time for self reflection – When you find yourself falling back into the fixed mindset, it’ll be great to remind yourself that though you may not be all the way to your goal yet, you have made significant progress from where you started. Being able to track your learning and effort can help you to feel more successful in the long run.

So now that we’ve talked about the benefits of stepping into a growth mindset, I want to challenge you to take the leap. What is one thing you’ve been holding yourself back from or telling yourself you can’t do? Go try it and leave the pressure to be perfect behind!

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Chelsea Connors