People can typically fall into two categories when it comes to the way your mind naturally works. From the day we stop going to school, we either sport a fixed mindset or foster a growth mindset. Because up until a certain age, we are more or less forced into cultivating a growth mindset. But once we’re full-fledged adults without anyone standing over our shoulder pushing us, the responsibility of growth is on us.
People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve simply always had. But that’s not true. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, skill level, emotional intelligence and creative ability are static givens, which we can’t change in any meaningful way. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. What we think about ourselves and our abilities decides how we act and lead our life.
But how do you cultivate a permanent growth mindset?
Target one small negative belief first
Sit and think. What’s the one mental habit you’ve picked up that hurts your growth most?
Mine is judgment. I judge people for how they drive and lose my mind when I see someone litter. I get sucked into political debates on Twitter and come away feeling dirty.
I know that this tendency to judge is not serving me. It robs me of my mental energy, and I’ve targeted this part of my mindset to work on; to replace judgment with compassion.
Visualization creates our future
Think of scientists. They visualize the results they want out of an experiment and then figure out a way to get there. In fact, scientists at the Institute of Neurology in London have shown that those who visualize a better future are more likely to create one.
Seek out new challenges
Even though you may struggle or fail, the amount of growth you’ll experience through your willingness to engage in the process and try things that ask you to stretch in new ways will be powerful and could have a profound influence. Not only on other areas of your life, but on your approach to what it means to encounter challenge and difficulty in general.
Set learning goals instead of performance goals
Commit to learning every day as opposed to seeking goals that prove your worth. For example, instead of setting a goal to lose 30 pounds, commit to eating healthy every day. Instead of the goal of being a professional runner, commit to running every day.
Focusing on the process as opposed to the outcome helps us look for small, continuous improvements that add up over a period of time. By shifting to learning, we can consciously choose a path in which hard work, effort, deliberate practice and persistence will be the key to success.
Growth and success doesn’t come in a day. It’s a result of years of hard work in which learning never ends.