I first learned about the growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset when I watched a youtube video about Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford. Before that, I had no idea what a growth mindset even meant and that I was stuck in a fixed mindset.
Most of us have been raised to be very outcome-oriented which is mainly a consequence of our upbringing and of how the educational system works. When writing exams at school or university, we are primarily judged on our end results and receive the respective grades. The same goes for projects at work.
When we set expectations and somehow don’t achieve them (which can happen to anyone at any time), we are inclined to be frustrated and think that we are not good enough.
It can even get so far that you develop anxiety, panic attacks, and feel like you are worthless. Unfortunately, this tends to happen more and more in our society because we are so results-driven.
When facing adversity or problems, someone with a fixed mindset will think that they are simply not good, talented or naturally-gifted enough. More often than not, it then often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because you are so scared of failure that you won’t even try again. People with a growth mindset; however, think that they can achieve anything with time and judge themselves not on the basis of the end-result, but on the basis of the process and the consistent work they are putting in.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH SHIFTING TO A GROWTH MINDSET
Personally, I used to think that I am just not good with computers and technology in general. So every time I was faced with a challenge in these areas, I was very scared, hesitant and already assumed that I would fail again. I often ended up not even trying which was also a way of protecting my self-image of being a person who is “naturally not good with technology”.It was only during my second uni degree, when I started developing a growth mindset. I first heard Tom Bilyeu, the host of one of my favorite podcasts “Impact Theory” talk about it and since your environment and the mindset of people around you (even if it’s podcast hosts) tends to have a profound impact on you, I shifted my mindset over time and could suddenly do things that I never thought of possible before.
From then on, I made the resolution not to praise myself for the end result anymore, but for the process and that I am willing to put in the work every single day.
I also use this method for my workout routine. I work out every single morning as part of my morning routine and instead of having a specific goal in mind such as toned legs or losing X amount of kilos, I am proud of myself every day for putting in the work.
The funny thing is that once you develop a habit and decide to enjoy the process, you don’t put pressure or expectations onto yourself and the results come as a result of showing up on a regular basis. In my case, I’m fit and have a toned body because I work out every morning as a fun habit and I enjoy it that much because I don’t feel the pressure of reaching a particular goal.
My growth mindset also helped me at uni. During the exam periods, everyone was stressed but I wasn’t and was instead completely happy and relaxed. Why? Because I believed in myself and in my abilities instead of stressing out about the possible outcome of the exams in advance. I was simply feeling proud of putting in 3-4 hours of study every day and enjoyed the process. In the end,this mindset again helped me to achieve amazing results without sacrificing my happiness, self-care and well-being.
Even when things are tough at the beginning (which is totally normal), please don’t give up and I would recommend praising yourself for the PROCESS, that you are showing up everyday, not the result as such. In this way it is much more likely that you will end up achieving what you want and you feel less stress and pressure on the way to your goals.
THESE ARE THE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
In my opinion, everyone can develop a growth mindset and you can start today. So these are some action steps you can take:
1.Praise the process (aka putting in the work on a regular basis) instead of praising the outcome.
2.Stop tying your self-worth to things outside of yourself and focus on your own path.
3.Start journaling and write down at least 5 affirmations every day for at least 30 days. This could for instance be: “I am someone who goes after my dreams” , “I love myself deeply and unconditionally” or “I am the kind of person who enjoys the process and puts in the work every single day”. Thereby, you shift your self-image and it will have a profound impact on your life.
4.It’s really important to be conscious of our thoughts. So, next time you catch yourself being too perfectionistic and think that you’re not good enough, use this as a trigger for deciding to think the opposite. I always tell myself “I can do anything and I strive for progress, not perfection.” Instead of saying “I can’t do it” you can also add the little word “yet” and it will have a completely different feel to it.
In conclusion, shifting to a growth mindset will improve your self-insight, your self-esteem and since your focus is on learning and doing cool stuff, while not caring about results and success, it is easier and more enjoyable to do, whatever your goal is.
Have a wonderful week,