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Why mindset matters

Achieving goals is as much a mental battle as a physical one. You need a clear, compelling goal; the willpower to follow through with action; and an unshakeable belief in your own ability to achieve your goals. This is where mindset matters.

Recent research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has revealed that your mindset can be a powerful determinant of whether or not you will persist towards goals especially in the face of setback. There are fundamentally two different mindsets that we develop in our early years:

  1. A fixed mindset refers to the belief that your character, creativity, intelligence and performance is pre-determined and static, i.e., that you are born with a particular set of capabilities that are unchanging.
  1. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that those qualities can be developed and cultivated with consistent effort.

People who have a fixed mindset rely on consistently getting positive feedback and validation to reinforce their self-belief, so they tend to stay within their area of expertise or ability, where they can prove themselves over and over again. They expect certain things to come easily to them (e.g., if they believe they are clever, study should come easily) and if something doesn’t come easily, they will give up quickly assuming that it’s outside their skillset.

People with a growth mindset, however, assume that achieving better performance is simply a matter of applying more effort and practice. They view failure as useful feedback to help them stretch and grow and they look for opportunities to continue learning and developing new skills.

Your mindset is cultivated from a very young age, often by the messages you receive and how you’re praised (hint: don’t praise your kids for their ability, praise them for their effort!) but the good news is that you do have the capacity to change your fixed mindset to a growth mindset and reap all the benefits that come from willingness to step out of your comfort zone and grow.

Here are five great ways to start adopting a growth mindset:

  1. Start using the word ‘yet’.

I can’t do this… YET.

I’m not much of a runner…. YET.

I’m not very good at selling myself… YET.

Feel the difference a simple ‘yet’ makes to your ideas about yourself and your capabilities.

  1. Remember progress not perfection.

A growth mindset celebrates every small step towards achieving a positive change and uses feedback as a springboard for growth; whereas a fixed mindset assumes getting it right “first time, every time” is the only option or you might as well throw in the towel.

  1. Unhook from criticism and praise

If you have a fixed mindset you rely on external approval for validation of your ability and see criticism as evidence of your inadequacy or failure. There is no room for taking risks and stretching yourself if you are hooked on criticism and praise.

  1. Celebrate effort, not talent

Our culture and media tend to glorify ‘natural talent’ and we love an overnight success story. This has the effect of making the hard work of success seem not very fun or sexy. Remember that there is no such thing as an overnight success, only committed, determined action.

  1. Learn to love the process

A fixed mindset is very attached to outcomes. Achieving a goal validates their self-worth. Goals are great but achieving them often involves a few setbacks along the way!

A growth mindset enjoys the experience. There will be ups and downs, but every setback is useful feedback, not a dead-end or a reason to quit.

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This article first appeared in the online member community of www.tiffxo.com

 

Cass

Clinical and Coaching Psychologist. Mindfulness teacher. Wife, mother, animal lover.

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