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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

Think about a self-improvement goal you have, like becoming a better public speaker, earning a promotion at work, or losing weight. Be honest: What’s been stopping you from achieving, or even making progress, toward your goal?

Do excuses like these sound familiar?

I’m a naturally shy person — speaking in front of people makes me nervous. I’m not a good writer, so I’ll never get promoted. I have a slow metabolism, and I’m not an athletic person — losing weight is impossible! If so, then what may be holding you back is a “fixed mindset”.

You’ve probably heard this term, coined by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck. She outlines the idea of growth mindset and fixed mindset in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Essentially, it’s the (erroneous) belief that your abilities are more or less finite and what happens to you, good and bad, is largely due to forces beyond your control, such as natural born talent and luck.

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For example: The only reason my presentation went well was that Sally was feeling sick, so this time she didn’t outshine me. Or: I can’t do yoga; I have always been really inflexible.

As Dweck argues, a fixed mindset is what stops many of us from trying to improve in certain areas where we think we’ve hit our ceiling. In truth, of course, we’re all capable of reaching new heights. It’s just a matter of shifting from a fixed mindset to what Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” a belief that we actually are in control of what we achieve.

Yes, we all have inherent limitations; no matter how hard you try, you may never play tennis like Serena Williams. But, there’s a giant territory between being better than you are now and being the best in the world.

If you have a growth mindset, you think:

If I stretch 10 minutes every day, I will become more flexible or If I take a class and practice every day, I will become a better writer. 

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You’ll take on self-improvement projects and you’ll persevere through challenges because, deep down, you know you can succeed.

If you think you’ve been holding yourself back with a fixed mindset, how do you go about shifting to a growth mindset? Here are 5 ways:

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    1. Get Expert Help

    Can’t even run around the block? Find a running coach experienced with beginners and have her create a training plan for you that includes running with other novices. You’ll be amazed at how far you’re running in just a couple weeks.

    Hopeless in the kitchen? Take a cooking class, and learn to make two new dishes. With expert guidance, accountability, and social support, you’ll soon have the confidence to step out of your comfort zone.

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    Once you get a taste of accomplishment, you’ll be ready for the next challenge.

    2. Look Around You

    If you’re not able to recognize your own ability to improve, look to family members or friends for evidence that effort and perseverance pays off. Maybe a friend set out to learn Spanish and became fluent.

    If you instinctively think, “She’s obviously good with languages,” reframe your thinking. Are you really going to take that accomplishment away from your friend? More likely, she studied hard and practiced often.

    3. Praise for Effort, Not Skill

    When you get in the habit of recognizing effort in others, you’ll start to change the way you think about your own abilities. Instead of telling a friend, “You’re such a good cook!” say, “I love how you’re always collecting recipes and trying such interesting dishes.” Rather than telling your child, “You’re so smart” when they ace a math test, say “You studied hard for that and deserved a good grade.”

    Acknowledging effort over talent is a subtle but important change to make when working to adopt a growth mindset.

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    4. Compete with Yourself

    Yes, caring how we rank is human nature, but caring too much is counterproductive and fuels a fixed mindset.

    We all have our strengths. What’s important is not how you compare to others but how you compare to where you were yesterday, last week, or last year.

    Are you moving forward and making progress in the areas that you care about? If so, that’s all that matters.

    5. Learn from Failure

    When you have a fixed mindset, the voice in your head says, I didn’t make the sale because I’m terrible at closing.

    Challenge this mindset. Could it be that you didn’t prepare enough to answer all the clients’ questions? What could you have done differently to change the outcome? If you think about it hard enough, you’ll probably come up with lessons to apply to your next sales opportunity.

    More Tips about Changing Your Mindset

    Featured photo credit: Natasha Brazil via unsplash.com

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    Sharen Ross

    Marketing Strategy Consultant

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    Last Updated on April 7, 2020

    4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset

    4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset

    How many opportunities have you missed because of a bad mood or being stuck in feelings of frustration?

    I know I’ve certainly missed a lot. In fact, I can recall an exact time when I missed a great deal of opportunity. I was at a party filled with highly influential people. However, my girlfriend and I had just gotten into an argument because of my irrational expectations of how she would behave, and I wasn’t thinking clearly. I didn’t have any desire to talk to anyone or be open to interesting conversations. All I could think about was myself and my anger and frustration. I was caught up in this story; I was telling myself that I needed to be angry and I needed to show it. I can only imagine the opportunities I missed because I wasn’t flexible in my thinking.

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    The mindset you need, then, is one of flexibility and not rigidity. You must be able to go with the flow of events without being disappointed by your expectations. This open-minded approach is a necessity if you want to be happy and experience rapid personal growth. These four ways below will tell you how to develop a flexible mindset.

    1. See the feeling for what it is and accept it.

    When you begin to notice yourself feeling frustration and anger, use that as a trigger to pause for a moment. See the feeling and sit with it. Don’t act, but stop and accept that you’re feeling this way. Understand that this feeling is just that ‒ a feeling. It’s not who you are, but merely a passing cloud in a sky full of clouds holding different feelings.

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    2. Know that it’s OK to feel frustration and rigidity.

    It happens to everyone. No one is perfect or immune to anger. It’s OK to feel this way. Give the feeling some space and compassion. It’s impossible to feel thankful and angry at the same time. By giving this feeling ‘some love’, you’re improving your mood and making it easier to come back to happiness. If you think of the feeling as a cloud, imagine opening up the sky and giving it the room to float away.

    3. Notice what’s around you ― and breathe.

    The key is to be in the moment. Too often we’re caught up in life and it whizzes by without us ever realizing it. Sit back, relax, and focus on your breathe for a bit. Feel it go in your nose, down your throat, into your stomach, and back out again. If you imagine your frustration as a thermometer, the more frustrated you are, the more it fills up. You need to give yourself time to allow it to cool off and that level to go down. Then, look around and be thankful for everything you see.

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    4. Realize it’s OK to say, “I don’t know”.

    It’s OK to not know how things should be. It’s also OK to not know how things are now. Not knowing sets you up to be able to freely investigate. Why are things this way? What series of events took place that caused this feeling? What unreasonable expectations did I have that put me in this place? Once you understand, you can fully let go and change your course going forward.

    I hope these four steps help you let go of your rigid mindset and develop the flexibility to be happy and to experience personal growth. This shift in mindset will stop life from giving you lemons to make lemonade and start giving you whatever you desire. Just remember to pause, breathe, embrace, let go, and move on.

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