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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement
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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.

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    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 July 21, 2021

    What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement

    What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement
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    If I told you that there was one activity that you could do frequently that would dramatically accelerate your rate of self-improvement, would you do it?

    SWOT Analysis may very well be the solution to your problems of feeling lost, unproductive, worried about the future, and the general struggle that inevitably arises on the road to personal development. It is quick to carry out, reliable in terms of changing your perspective, and effective in getting you the results that you desire.

    So what exactly is this SWOT Analysis? You will find everything you need to know about it below as well as how to do it and all of the amazing benefits that it will bring to your life.

    What Is SWOT Analysis?

    SWOT Analysis is a business term that has steadily made its way over into the world of personal development due to its effectiveness in getting things to improve — whether that be a company or, more recently, a person.

    S.W.O.T. is an anagram that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. When assessing these four key pillars in life, it gives a very good picture of which direction you should be heading in and even highlights some of the best ways to do it.

    All in all, it is a great way to reflect on past actions and to decide on the best way to move forward.

    How to Do a SWOT Analysis

    Carrying out a SWOT Analysis is relatively simple. The best way is to take out a pen and paper and write down four columns: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From there, you can begin to fill out each one and apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in.

    If you are considering expanding your enterprise, you might want to write down the current strengths and weaknesses of your business as well as the opportunities that you could possibly move into and the threats that you might need to minimize.

    If you are an individual looking to improve yourself, you can carry out a SWOT Analysis either on the micro or macro level. A micro example would be focusing on one specific area of life. For example, you could write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when it comes to dating, productivity, or changing your job.

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    You can also take it to the macro level. You might simply write down your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats across all areas of life — or simply the areas that you want to focus on for now.

    SWOT Analysis is very easy to do and is excellent for the bigger picture stuff. Here is a rough template with a few questions across various areas of life that you can use for your own personal development purposes:

    Strengths

    What professional qualifications do I have that make me stand out from everybody else?

    What do I exceed at where most people are either average or below average?

    What achievements have I been awarded?

    What struggles have I overcome in the past that give me hope for the future?

    Weaknesses

    Where do I fall short where others seem to excel?

    What bad habits do I have?

    What thoughts tend to hold me back?

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    Opportunities

    Is there any significant advancement happening or about to happen that I can take advantage of?

    Is there a new position in a company that maximizes my skillset?

    Is there a gap in the market that I could potentially fill?

    Is there an opportunity that is low-risk (i.e. I can fail fast and decide if I want to keep pursuing it)?

    Threats

    What competition do I face in a certain area?

    What is the most likely thing to throw me off course? Is it me?

    If there was an economic downturn, would I be in a position to survive? Could I even turn it into an opportunity?

    Benefits of SWOT Analysis for Self-Improvement

    Now that you know what it is and how to do it, you may already start to see all of the benefits for your personal growth that can come from a SWOT Analysis. If you haven’t already started to think about how to use it in your own life, here are a few ideas to get you started.

    1. It Gives You an Actionable Plan

    One of the most obvious benefits of doing a SWOT Analysis is the fact that it gives you an actionable plan. It is rare for someone to actually sit down and write out their strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats they are facing, so you will be getting well ahead.

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    More importantly, taking the information from all four of these areas allows you to create an effective plan for yourself going forward — whether that be doubling down on your strengths, a plan to overcome your weaknesses, or how to leap at one of the opportunities in your life.

    SWOT Analysis is designed specifically to drive actions and decisions — it is not simply a discussion exercise that you put to one side once you are finished with it.[1]

    2. It Allows You to Zoom Out

    Far too many people are so trapped within their day-to-day activities that they forget to see the big picture. Not being able to see the forest for the trees is one of the things that hold many people back from reaching their full potential.

    SWOT Analysis allows you to take a moment of reflection, see the big picture, and then to make an informed decision about what your everyday tasks and activities are going to be, rather than the other way around.

    It is important to be able to zoom out from time to time to make sure that you are on track with whatever your objectives are in each area of life. SWOT Analysis is the best way to do just that.

    3. It Helps You Recognize New Aspects and Patterns

    One of the unique things about SWOT Analysis is that it manages to combine different areas of your life and lets you see patterns, opportunities, and much more that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

    An example would be the combination of your strengths and your opportunities. When you look at both of these side-by-side, you get a good idea about where the crossovers are, and, as a result, you get a clear picture of what opportunities are worth pursuing based on your strengths.

    Another example would be looking at your strengths and threats next to one another. When you have a decent idea about what your strengths are in a certain situation, you can start to see how those strengths might come in handy when it comes to mitigating certain threats that you might face.

    The truth is, any combination across SWOT Analysis creates a unique perspective that will be extremely useful for your own self-improvement.

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    4. It Minimizes Risk

    Branching out from the previous point, a SWOT Analysis is carried out to help minimize risk [2]. Although this is primarily a benefit from a company’s standpoint, it can also be helpful from an individual’s perspective as well.

    On a personal level, risk can come in a variety of forms. It might be an imaginary risk that feels real, like asking your crush out or asking your boss for a raise. It might be an actual risk where you are thinking of expanding your business or entering a new market where you have little experience. Either way, seeing the threats you face as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you have allows you to go down the path that minimizes risk and maximizes gain.

    5. It Can Marks Stages of Your Path

    An interesting way that companies use SWOT Analysis is that they carry it out every month or every quarter in order to reset and recalibrate their destination. It can be used in a similar way by you as well. Just like there are certain times when businesses use them, there are certain times when you should use them.[3]

    Every month or every couple of months, take the time to do a SWOT Analysis to see how you are progressing. What strengths have been added? What weaknesses have been discovered? What opportunities have revealed themselves or been lost? What new threats are you facing and which have been removed from the picture?

    Not only will carrying out a SWOT Analysis on a frequent basis accelerate your self-improvement by helping you see where you want to go with less distraction, but it is also nice to see how things change and, hopefully, get better.

    It is also worth looking back at your SWOT Analysis from the start of the year when you reach the end of the year to see how far you have come.

    To Wrap Up

    So there you have it. SWOT Analysis might just be the tool and technique that you have been waiting for to truly take the next step in your self-improvement journey. It is practical, easy to carry out, and effective in terms of planning your next moves.

    Whether you do it on a consistent basis to ensure that you are moving in the right direction or you only do it when you feel lost, SWOT Analysis will always be right there waiting to help.

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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    Reference

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