Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: What's the Difference?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t; you’re right.”

These wise words by Henry Ford provide the perfect summary of how your mindset affects your ability to learn and achieve.

Because if you believe there’s no way you can possibly improve, why would you bother trying?

That’s exactly what the innovative theory of growth mindsets vs fixed mindsets aims to explain.

So, what is a growth mindset, and how can it benefit you?

Defining mindsets: Growth vs Fixed 

In 2006, renowned Psychologist Carol Dweck released her revolutionary book “Mindset,” where she explained her findings on motivation, beliefs, and self-improvement.

The most significant takeaway from her book is the ideas of “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset.” But what do they actually mean?

Having a growth mindset means you believe you are capable of learning new skills and improving your knowledge through practice, classes, studying etc. 

On the other hand, having a fixed mindset means you believe that you’re born with a fixed level of intelligence, talent and skills, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t improve on it.

While these two mindsets form an integral part of modern classroom teaching, you can use them to level up in all aspects of your life, no matter your age, occupation, or circumstances.


What’s the difference between Growth vs Fixed mindsets?

From the definitions above, we know that the fundamental difference between having a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is that you believe you can improve your intelligence with a growth mindset. In contrast, a fixed mindset shows a belief that intelligence is 100% genetically programmed and unchangeable.

But the intricacies of these two mindsets run slightly deeper.

Fixed mindsets are the equivalent of placing an unbreakable ceiling right above your head. And when you believe that nothing you can do will allow you to improve or progress, you stop trying, and your belief comes true. In psychology, this is known as a “Self-fulfilling Prophecy,” – aka whatever you believe about yourself will come true.

On the other hand, those with growth mindsets understand that nothing is set in stone. While they are aware that improvement takes a lot of time, patience, and missteps, they know there is always room to grow.

The outcome is that those with a growth mindset tend to have higher self-esteem and self-confidence as they believe in their own abilities to work towards what they want.

However, for those with a fixed mindset, their self-confidence is hindered by the idea that their genes and society put them in a tight box with no possibility to escape and reach for more. 

How to cultivate a growth mindset

I think it’s fair to say that a growth mindset is much more preferable to a fixed one. So how can you start to build a growth mindset for yourself? Here are our top five tips: 

  1. Challenge your inner beliefs 

It all starts with the way you think about yourself and your possibilities. If you currently have a fixed mindset, you likely have the following types of thoughts when faced with a challenge:

“I can’t do that.”

“I’m not good enough to succeed in this.”

“There’s no way I could learn that!”

These limiting self-beliefs keep you stuck where you are. So the next time you want to improve a skill or learn something new and one of these thoughts pops into your head, 

challenge it. What evidence is there to show you definitively can’t do it? Does something being difficult mean you can’t do it?

When you get into the habit of questioning your unhelpful thoughts, you are able to access a growth mindset that will help you on your journey to self-improvement. 

  1. Push yourself outside your comfort zone

There is a reason comfort zones are synonymous with the self-improvement movement. Your comfort zone is the land in which your self-limiting beliefs reside.

By trying new things that might make you uncomfortable, you learn for yourself that you are capable of much more than you thought you were. And that is exactly what having a growth mindset is all about!

You don’t need to dive headfirst out of your comfort zone to reap the benefits, either. Instead, write a list of things you want to do that you’re scared to do and then start with the least scary.

After each try, you’ll feel a little bit more confident in your ability to take on new challenges.

  1. Create SMART goals

If you are someone that likes to plan, creating a SMART goal will help you outline the steps you plan to take to expand your mindset.

You can use the examples you made in the list above to plan precisely how you will step outside your comfort zone.

Create Goals

  1. Find an accountability partner

It’s easy to bury your head in the sand when things get hard. And if you’ve spent your whole life believing you can never achieve more, then challenging that belief is going to be very uncomfortable (but worthwhile!).

If you know you’re someone that avoids discomfort, find a loved one you can trust to keep you accountable on your journey.

     5.  Journal your progress

Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is hard, as we’ve already established. And it takes time. And if progress is slow, it might feel like you haven’t made any progress at all!

That’s where your trusted journal comes in. Every day, write a few sentences about how the day went and how your journey is going.

Over time, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come!

Final thoughts

Having a growth mindset allows you to push past the limiting beliefs you’ve created for yourself to achieve the dreams you thought you never could. 

We’re all able to learn new skills, knowledge, and talents, no matter what level we are at now. So don’t mistake it being hard for being impossible!

So, now is the time to break your own glass ceiling, cultivate a growth mindset, and charge full steam ahead to the life you’ve always wanted!

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