Failure. What a scary word. But it doesn’t always need to be perceived as such or as the end all be all. You can learn how to change your mindset and see failure as something necessary to achieve your dreams and goals. So, in this article, you’ll learn the differences between growth vs. fixed mindset and how you can thrive under periods of hardship rather than fearing you don’t have what it takes. Let’s dive in.
Growth vs Fixed Mindset: What’s the Difference?
According to Carol Dweck, the psychologist who coined the terms fixed and growth mindset in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the difference is, “In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome“.
And how these two approach challenges is critical to understanding the difference. For example, someone with a fixed mindset, when presented with a challenge like going back to school after losing their job, may think, “There’s no point. I can’t learn a new skill. I’ll fail “. On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset may say, “I haven’t studied in a while, but I can learn a new skill and build a better future for myself“. Those with a growth mindset thrive under adversities, and those with a fixed mindset fear their traits and abilities cannot improve with time. But they can, so let’s learn how to develop a mindset that achieves their goals no matter the obstacle.
How to Change Your Mindset: 7 Tips
1. Identify your mindset
Take a moment to learn how you approach challenges. Do you approach them with curiosity? Or do you avoid them like the plague? If the latter, start taking notes about how this mindset is affecting your professional and personal life. What do you wish to improve? Indeed building awareness is the first step to learning to perceive failure as a temporary setback rather than a set-in-stone deterrent to your goals.
2. Use the word YET
After identifying your mindset, begin investigating your thoughts. For example, how often do you say, “I’m good at this one thing, or I’m not”? This statement is very fixed and leaves little room for improvement. Those with a fixed mindset often experience cognitive distortions like black-and-white thinking. For example, they believe they’re wonderful at managing their finances or they’re terrible – there is no gray area. But if you insert the word YET, your mindset can drastically change. Yes, this word is powerful. So, in the same example, say, “I’m not amazing at managing my finances yet, but I know I can improve with time”. Do you see the difference?
3. Value the process
How often do you get tunnel vision and focus only on the outcome? Every little win and step in the right direction somehow goes right past your eyes. You’re not alone. It’s easy to get swept under by the currents of our ego. But when we focus only on the end result, we can get discouraged and give up before we succeed. So, take a step back and review every action, behavior, and decision you’ve made. You’ll see that it’s the process that’s rewarding, and you’ll learn to value every win helping you to achieve your goals.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
One of the best ways to learn how to change your mindset is to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Often. For example, start with a new hobby you’ve never tried or a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn but feared. Perhaps learning a new instrument or language or even taking up rock climbing. The point is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to learn to trust yourself and see that once you get past the discomfort…magic exists. You recognize you are capable of excelling at anything with effort and time.
5. Accept mistakes
You’re human, and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. There’s no way around it. However, it’s a truth that becomes easier to swallow once you start accepting it. But mistakes aren’t always bad, either. Indeed, they are little golden nuggets of growth. And when you start reviewing your past mistakes and failures, you’ll see several moments where you can extract lessons. These lessons provide areas you can improve and areas where you excelled, despite the chatter of your inner critic. So, don’t shy away from them.
6. Set realistic goals
It’s easy to get too big for our britches and set unattainable goals that feel exciting. But the problem with this is that we often set ourselves up for failure and reinforce the belief we can’t grow or adopt a new skill. So, instead, set SMART goals;
- S: Specific
- M: Meaningful
- A: Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Trackable (or time-based)
For example, if you want to change careers, write down what you want to achieve, small goals to break down the larger goal, a plan for accomplishing the goal, and coping mechanisms to overcome any obstacles that get in your way. Writing it down with a thorough plan will help you achieve your goals the SMART way.
7. Trust yourself
We often get in the habit of seeking external validation for our goals and capabilities rather than listening and trusting ourselves. Unfortunately, when you seek others’ opinions, if their answer doesn’t meet your expectations, you may quit before you begin. Therefore, remember that failure is necessary to achieve your goals. And if your loved ones don’t support your goals, it’s okay too. As children, we’re taught to view failure as scary. Getting a bad grade, not getting into the university you want, or receiving the dream job means we should give up and focus on what we’re good at. But you can change the course and decondition yourself from this myth. Listen to that voice within you that wants you to excel, succeed, and challenge yourself.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Learning how to change your mindset is not an easy feat. It’s a process that requires effort, consistency, and self-belief. If you don’t shower yourself with kindness during your healing journey, you’ll reinforce setbacks as reasons to stay in your comfort zone and avoid taking risks. So, love the person you are and know that every step forward is helping you to achieve what you desire.
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