In 2006, Carole Dweck released her paradigm-shifting book: The Growth Mindset. And with this book, she unleashed the secrets to self-improvement that were right in front of our eyes the whole time.
Easy in principle, but harder to make it a lifestyle, having a growth mindset will give you the power to believe in yourself and go after the things you want in life.
So, let’s get down to business. What is growth mindset and how can you implement it in your life?
What is a growth mindset?
According to Carol Dweck, we operate under one of two mindsets: a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset.
A growth mindset means you understand that you have the ability to improve. You can learn more knowledge, get better at activities, improve your relationships, and push past your barriers. It all depends on you trying and allowing yourself to take that journey of learning.
A journey with many twists, turns and uncertainties. A journey that can often lead to failure. But having a growth mindset means you know that failure isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a steppingstone to learn a new lesson and keep going.
On the other hand, a fixed mindset assumes that you’re born with your intelligence, talents, etc at birth. Meaning no matter how much you try, you’ll never improve or be good enough.
We see this often when looking at athletes and musicians. People assume that people at the top of their sports, or heading the charts, are born with an innate talent that cannot be replicated. They are the chosen few at birth.
But this isn’t actually true. Sure, they may have biological advantages that make them stringer, faster, or have a better ear for pitch, but that doesn’t mean they could sing or play one day and be the very best.
No, that pleasure is reserved for those who practice their craft every day. A talent without practice takes you nowhere. But practice without “talent” can take you far.
It all depends on your self-belief that you can improve your skills: that is what the mindset is all about.
How does a growth mindset improve your life?
When thought leaders try to instil confidence in people, one of the first questions they will ask is:
“If there were no barriers to cross, what would your dream life look like?”
And people will often talk about having a great job, lots of money, and healthy relationships.
That’s what the growth mindset is: life without self-imposed barriers.
When you have a growth mindset, you put yourself in the driving seat of your own life.
And when you believe in your ability to improve your skills so you can pursue a life of meaning for yourself, there are incredible benefits, such as:
- Lower depression and anxiety
- Improved happiness
- Better life opportunities
- Felling more fulfilled
- Being unafraid to try and fail
- Improved relationships
It may sound too good to be true, but trust me, you’d be surprised just how much you can accomplish when you believe you can.
Six ways to develop a growth mindset
Lifestyle changes are rarely easy, but always worth it. Here are the six most influential pieces of advice to help you make your journey into developing a growth mindset.
1. Embrace mistakes and imperfections
The very first step you need to take on your growth mindset endeavour is to accept that mistakes and imperfection are not only expected, but they are also guaranteed. And that’s a good thing!
There is not a single person on this planet that is perfect.
We’re all flawed, and we’re all worthy. So embrace it.
Because the more you can embrace your mistakes and imperfections, the more willing you’ll be to try new things. Things that bring you closer to your goals and dreams. Things that invite meaningful change into your life. Things that stop you feeling stuck.
And that is the beauty of a growth mindset – the messy imperfection that constitutes a beautiful experience.
2. Practice positive affirmations
So, embracing mistakes and imperfection sounds easy, right. But if you’re not of that mindset, it’s actually extremely difficult.
Many of us have an internalised script that reads:
“If I fail, if I am not perfect, I am not worthy.”
And that, my friend, is simply not true.
Your brain can think thoughts that are untrue, but the great news is you don’t have to believe it anymore.
To start rewriting your internal script, practice positive affirmations daily that inspire you to cultivate a growth mindset.
Try a few of the following:
- I am worthy of love regardless of my achievements
- I can learn new things
- I am allowed to fail and learn from my mistakes
- Failure is good. It helps me grow
- I believe in myself and my ability to improve
- I allow myself to be a beginner
- I don’t have to be good at something to have fun doing it
- The only opinion of me that matters is my own
- I am in control of making my dreams come true
- I am loveable, I am worthy, and I am capable
3. Reflect on your progress daily (but with kindness!)
Progress is a funny thing. One day you’ll feel unstoppable, and the next you’ll think you’ve taken ten steps backwards.
At school, we were taught that our learning should be linear. That is, the more we are told, and the more we practice, the better we will get.
The truth is a bit more complicated and far less glamourous.
Progress goes forwards, backwards, up, down, left, and right, all in a short space of time. It slowly moves forward, but there are many backsteps, mistakes, and times when you want to give up on the way.
I realise this doesn’t sound the most inviting, but I’m not here to sell you a dream, I’m here to help you make real change in your life.
And being prepared for the fact that multiple setbacks are PART of progress and not a hinderance is essential for your journey.
So when you try something new or something you want to improve, and you take a step back, feel your feelings but don’t quit. Instead, remind yourself that stepping back is really stepping forward.
After all, an arrow has to be drawn back before it can fly forward!
4. Face your challenges and your fears head on
There was a popular book released in 1987 by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
And that’s exactly what you should aim to do.
Fear is normal. It’s the voice in our head telling us not to try because we might fail.
But the strength of having a growth mindset is knowing that no matter if you fail or succeed, you’re strong enough to keep going.
Because when you fail, you don’t actually fail. In reality, you either succeed, or you learn a lesson.
5. Stop looking for outside acceptance
Growth mindset is all about self-belief. But when we depend in the opinion of others for reassurance, we give away some of our power.
We tell ourselves that the opinion of someone else is more important than your own opinion.
That’s especially true when people tell us we shouldn’t or we can’t.
Often, they mean well, but they scare us out of finding out for ourselves.
So next time you’re looking for guidance on whether you should do something or not, look within and trust your gut.
You’ve got this.
6. “It’s about the journey, not the destination”
Many goal setting philosophies encourage us to fixate on an endpoint and work accordingly.
For some people, this works. For many, it doesn’t.
And there’s a very simple reason why.
Having a defined goal that you have to meet, means leaving yourself vulnerable to failure and disappointment.
You adopt an all or nothing approach that means when you hit a hurdle, you’re more likely to quit. Instead, having a growth mindset is all about embracing that journey of improvement. Goalposts change all the time, but journeys never end.
Growth mindsets open doors you thought would always be locked
Developing a growth mindset gives you back the power to take control of your life and start working towards your dreams and goals.
It instils you with the self-confidence and self-belief to know that if you keep trying, you WILL make progress – you are not stuck where you are.
It won’t be easy, but what worthwhile journey ever is?
Take it slowly, embrace the bumps along the way, and remember that no matter what happens, you’re capable and worthy of growth.
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