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Published on January 21, 2020

17 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset

17 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset

What if your learning potential was something you didn’t even know? What if it was impossible for you to know what you could achieve in the span of a few years?

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, that situation I mentioned isn’t hypothetical. There are many of us who don’t know where our work or effort would take us. But there are those who do know.

How much people can achieve comes down to their mindset — a growth mindset. Dweck outlines all of this in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In the book, she outlines what a fixed mindset is and how a growth mindset thrives from challenges and failures alike.

But there is more than Dweck’s research and analysis. There is a lot of information outlining how beneficial having this type of mindset can be.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset, according to Lexia Learning is like this:[1]

Growth mindset is the idea that, with effort, it’s possible to increase intelligence levels, talents, and abilities. Students who demonstrate a growth mindset believe their abilities develop over time, tend to seek out opportunities to gain new knowledge and broaden their skills, and do not typically shy away from challenges .

To best understand what a growth mindset is, it’s important to know another mindset. When people talk about it, they often compare a growth mindset to a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is a belief that our intelligence and our talents are static. Those who think this way judge whether they have the skill or not. If not, they’ll turn down anything that allows them to grow.

We see this all the time in everyday life.

People turn down management positions because they don’t believe they’re good enough. Or maybe you don’t bother applying for a job because you don’t think you can do the job justice or you’re not qualified.

This is a fixed mindset at work because we compare our own skills with what’s being asked of us.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. These are the people who will throw out resumes for the sake of it, not worried so much if they get the position or not.

What’s the Point of a Growth Mindset?

As you can piece together, a growth mindset is essential to learning. When we believe that our talents and skills aren’t static and that they can adapt and grow as we do, we start to put more effort into all manners of life.

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While what Lexia Learning focused on is the teaching environment, this mindset can apply in all aspects of our lives. From getting more in shape to being a better partner or friend, and more.

When we have a growth mindset, we:

  • Start to look for challenges.
  • Perform better than others. That’s because we see failures as reasons to try again with more knowledge than before.
  • Have a better grasp of why success and advancing in life means for us.

This is only the beginning though. There are all kinds of perks that come from being better at the aspects of our life on top of that. Better health means having more energy to do things and be around the people you care about.

You can say that this mindset is a foundation for a variety of perks that stretch over our entire lives.

17 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

There are a number of avenues for us to be developing a growth mindset. Pick out the methods that work best for you and implement them into your life.

1. Focus on Your Effort

Effort is an obvious one, but in terms of a growth mindset, it’s one you have to be careful about. While we will be working towards our goal regardless, there are elements along the way that can disrupt us.

For example, consider praise. Praise can help us in pushing forward. After all, we all love a nice pat on the back or some words of encouragement. But it’s something that you have to be careful about.

One study has already toted praise as a good intrinsic motivator.[2] But it doesn’t mean any sort of praise works.

It’s important that while putting in the effort, we are praising our efforts instead of our abilities. For example, don’t praise your ability of being great at your job. Praise the effort and devotion to your craft instead.

Why?

Dweck explained it best:

The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question their talent.

Even though this was in a student case, adults are no different. When we focus on our abilities, we push ourselves into thinking of them in a static way. That we’re not able to improve them and that we’ve plateaued.

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2. Ask Different Questions

Questions are the building blocks of learning when you think about them. Going back to what I mentioned above, when we push ourselves to “just try harder next time,” we’re not learning anything.

Instead, whenever you fail, reword your questions. Ask yourself “what could I do differently”, or “what worked and what didn’t?” This strategy helps with kids so they’re not working hard and getting similar results. This applies to adults as well.

3. Get Feedback Proactively

Those questions are part of feedback of course, but you can always look for feedback in other ways.

When you have a growth mindset, it’s almost instinct that you look for feedback. For some, it’s akin to looking for new challenges.

Here’s How to Learn Faster with a Feedback Loop.

4. Be Persistent with Your Purpose

Part of learning is failing and getting back up and trying again. It’s persistence at its core, but you do need to be cautious.

As I hinted at with asking questions, you don’t want to fall into a loop where you’re doing one thing over and over again and getting nowhere. That’s the definition of insanity, keep doing the same work but expecting different results. Instead, make sure that you are moving forward with a purpose.

How you get to that purpose is up to you. It could be looking for a new method of execution, looking at yourself and what you could change.

5. Do Things That Are Tough

Those who have a fixed mindset will avoid tasks that present challenges to them. They would rather stick with what they are comfortable with.

Instead of doing that, throw yourself into the deep end. Even in situations where you’re not fully aware of what you need to do. I’m not saying do anything reckless, but rather be strategic with them.

Ask yourself if you could see yourself getting into that type of work or doing that project. If you have a passion for it, then you’re going to learn more about it; even though at the moment you don’t have the skills to handle the job well.

6. Have High Standards

Having high standards for ourselves has more weight than you can imagine. For some, it could be stressful, but I’d put those standards into something you are passionate about and want to get better at.

Take a study that focused on limits for example.[3] It focused on a group of cyclists who were told to bike as hard as possible for 4000m. Later on, those same participants were asked to do the same track and were given an avatar to race against.

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What the participants didn’t know about was the avatar was programmed to be faster than their previous time. What happened next was the cyclists either kept up with the avatar and some surpassed them.

What this means for us in setting higher standards is that when we place higher standards in ourselves, we’ll often reach out and strive to hit that standard or surpass it on instinct.

7. Rewire Your Mindset

Our mindsets are all based on what we believe and think. With this in mind, there are a number of things you can work on to rewire your mindset.

Some things to consider are:

  • Acknowledge your faults and look for ways to overcome them.
  • Look at challenges as opportunities.
  • Replace the word “failing” with “learning.”
  • Redefine “genius” too. Being a genius requires hard work. It’s not some unobtainable talent.
  • Seek criticism as positive too.

8. Don’t Look for Approval All the Time

This could also be considered as a way to be more independent when it comes to approval. When we place our efforts towards pleasing a person other than ourselves, we start to lose ourselves.

Instead of focusing on what others think, focus on your own learning and growth in the area.

9. Enjoy the Process over the Result

While the end results are great, that’s not the reason we pursue learning and growth. Yes, there are more perks, but the end results are fleeting and often, people who do something for the sake of end results find themselves stalled. They’re stuck and not sure what to do next.

Instead, when we value the process and find joy in putting the effort and learning, we begin to grow more that way.

10. Spend More Time in Reflection

Self-reflection

is an invaluable tool. It provides opportunities for us to ask ourselves questions. We can also use it as a means to rewire ourselves and to see things in a new light as well.

You can use the reflection time to learn and to process what you are learning.

11. Seek Expert Help

If you’re struggling in an area, sometimes you need someone more skilled in the field to show you the ropes. That’s self-improvement at its core.

Try these tips if you’re not used to asking for help: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

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12. Abide By Brain Plasticity

It’s a fact that our brain isn’t fixed. It’s always making new pathways and is expanding in its own way. Our minds shouldn’t be fixed either.

13. View Improvement as Separate from Failure

We are quick to assume “room for improvement” is another way to say we failed or are a failure. That’s not the case at all.

Train yourself to see it for what it is: room for improvement and growth.

14. Start Saying “Yet” More

Or “not yet.” It’s a powerful phrase because it leaves room for growth. You have not yet reached where you want to be. Sounds powerful right?

15. Learning from Others’ Mistakes

There have been people over years and decades who have gone the same way you’re going now. Sure there may be differences and their journey took different turns, but you can still learn.

Don’t go and compare yourselves to them, but look at those stories to remind yourself that other people have the same weaknesses as you do.

Here’re 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On.

16. Always Be Setting Goals

Whenever you achieve a goal, focus on setting another goal. Getting into the habit that there are more mountains to climb and things to achieve stops us from asking the dreaded question:

“What’s next?”

That question stalls growth and you don’t need it. Avoid it by setting some more goals. More targets to work towards.

17. Think Realistically About Your Time And Effort

It takes time to learn and it takes time to put in effort. Some things will take longer to learn than others.

Be wary of that as some people think they’ll master something in one sitting. It doesn’t always work that way.

Final Thoughts

A growth mindset is limitless as there is always new information being put into the world. We may not be soaking up every bit of information, but having a strategy to grow in areas we care about can help us in our lives overall.

When we start to change the way we think, act, and learn, great things can be achieved.

More About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Luke Carliff via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

8 Brain Exercises for Mental Strength and a Smarter Brain

8 Brain Exercises for Mental Strength and a Smarter Brain

Everyone says that we need to strive for a healthy body. These people are the people who say we should be going to the gym, exercise daily, and eat the right kind of food.

And while that advice is helpful, I feel a lot of people forget about another important part of ourselves: our brain.

Think about it.

When was the last time that you read a book?

Most are likely guilty of not having read a book in years. From 2004 to 2018, the number of people in America leisurely reading has dropped by 30%.[1]

We place so much priority on our bodies, and yet most of us don’t prioritize brain exercises or brain care. Why is that?

Fortunately, with brain exercises, we can reverse a lot of the damage that’s been done. Thanks to massive developments in neuroscience, we understand when our brain is at peak performance and what we can do to maintain it or bring it back to those levels.

Do Brain Exercises Really Work?

The short answer is yes.

First, there is all of Sherry Willis’ work. From her efforts, participants were able to do varying degrees of difficult tasks. Not only that but they were able to do so in an efficient manner than before.

There was also an extensive study that looked at the long-term effects of brain exercises on older individuals. The study provided brain exercises to 2,832 individuals aged 65 and up.[2]

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Over a 10 year period, participants were given training in processing speed, memory, and reasoning. Another smaller controlled group received no such training.

After that 10 year period, the researchers came back after 5 years to see results. While the training did help the older individuals during the 10 years of brain exercises, those benefits were gone after 5 years.

After 10 years of having the brain training, there were no signs of brain improvements.

What this study uncovers is that not only does the training work, but also it’s important to practice this regularly. Similar to our health, if we don’t train our bodies, it’ll deteriorate similar to our brain if we don’t exercise it.

Which Brain Exercises Are the Best?

According to research done in 1999, our brain reaches peak performance between age 16 and 25.[3] After that, our cognitive functioning – our ability to mentally process and carry out tasks – declines naturally. This doesn’t mean that we will be mentally incapable of working after a certain period of time though. Rather, our ability to change, process certain tasks, and introduce new processes will be tougher.

Understanding this is important since brain exercises are designed to keep the brain functional all around.[4] Examples are being able to do daily tasks, retaining memories, and keeping focus. This might not be a big issue right now but, it becomes more pressing when you get older and there are threats of dementia, amnesia, and Alzheimers — mental issues that could be stopped through regular exercise of our brains.

The question is, what sort of exercises are best for us?

Simple: personalized brain exercises.

Many people have tried all kinds of tactics to exercise their brains. And while there is research to support a variety of these claims, there’s more scientific support behind this particular form of training.

The strategy has been proven by Dr. Sherry Willis, a professor at the University of Texas. Through her research, she proved participants became more efficient at performing typical tasks at varying levels of complexity.[5]

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Participants were able to write shopping lists to being able to operate technical equipment with ease.

The big question now is where can you find these sorts of programs?

Since this research emerged, many businesses have been formed to help in this area. Training can be as simple as playing Sudoku to having full-fledged programs given out by various apps.[6]

8 Brain Exercises to Strengthen Your Brain

While having a personalized brain training course is great, not everyone is mentally prepared for them. Instead, people may find it better to strengthen their brains in other ways.

While these methods lack built-in long-term challenges or personalization, those can be mitigated. That is, if you want to start taking care of your brain as much as you want to look after the rest of your body.

1. Exercise

Studies from 2006 show that exercise has tremendous benefits on our brain. Specifically, exercising can protect our brain from shrinkage as it ages.[7]

While exercise may not be the most engaging or challenging brain exercise, this is one way to get the best of both worlds. Not only that, but you can add a layer of challenge by doing different exercises.

This helps because it teaches our brain to fire off new signals to our brain. This increases our brains plasticity – the ability to change and think differently. Thus doing new exercises will strengthen our brains.

2. Drawing Maps

A lot of us remember the streets we grew up like the back of our hands. We can navigate it with ease with no challenge.

But have you ever drawn it out before?

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One good challenge is to draw out the streets and what your neighbourhood looked like. Try to recall iconic landmarks and place them on the map as well.

Once you’re done with the map, find a real map and compare it with the one you drew. More often than not, you probably missed a few spots here and there. This happens because our brain doesn’t store that specific information for very long. Once we know where we want to go, our brain typically signals us to go a familiar route. We subconsciously comply and think nothing else of it.

Regardless, drawing a map can help us strengthen our brain and is a step above physical exercise since this demands more brainpower. I’d also encourage you to challenge yourself further and draw larger scale maps. Why not draw a map of the United State and write in all the state’s locations and capitals? Why not do the same with Canada?

3. Learning Something New

Barring personalized training, the best form of brain exercise stems from doing something different. Starting something new requires a lot of mental capacity.

Not only are you learning to do something new, but you also need to keep yourself motivated to continue doing it. Because of this, learning something new will keep us on our toes.

What’s also nice is that the activities don’t need to be really challenging. For example, one study had two groups and was asked to do different activities.[8] One group was asked to learn new skills like quilting or digital photography. The other was asked to watch movies or listen to the radio.

The study found that those quilting or doing digital photography had a better memory than those who had more leisure activities. They proved this by giving the individuals memory tests.

4. Socialize

When we get older, we tend to have a smaller circle of friends and thus, talk less and less. What’s saddening is the lack of social activity negatively impacts our mental health.

We’re obviously social creatures, so it should come to no surprise that being socially active is one way to exercise our brain. It also is one way of fighting back dementia and Alzheimer’s.[9]

Even if you are an introvert, seeking social interactions clearly has short-term and long-term benefits. Some ideas to be socially active is by joining clubs, going for daily walks with people, volunteering in your community, or staying in contact with your family or past friends.

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5. Doing a Jigsaw Puzzle

Big or small, research shows that this exercise recruits multiple cognitive abilities.[10]

6. Playing Card Games

Similarly, card games both online and offline can prove useful for your brain. One study in 2015 found that card games activate various parts of the brain.[11] Games included poker, crazy eights, solitaire, bridge, and gin rummy.

7. Learning a New Language

I mentioned earlier that learning something new is good but, it doesn’t always have to be a physical skill. Learning a new language activates many regions of our brain while also boosting cognition.[12]

8. Taking a New Route to a Familiar Destination

That or simply go down a different road. This doesn’t apply to driving or travelling but to any sort of problem that you deal with in life. By pushing yourself to think of other alternatives, your brain receives a number of benefits from making a simple change as these taxi drivers discovered.

Bottom Line

A lot of the reasons to consider brain exercises in our lives is similar to our health. As you can probably tell, these exercises do not take very long. They can be easily integrated into our daily lives.

Furthermore, brain exercises improve our focus, memory, and ability to complete daily activities. To stop doing brain exercises is to remove all of those benefits that can help us significantly as we get older.

So if you can’t get personalized brain training, consider the strategies I mentioned above. You’d be surprised how easy and how quickly you’ll notice changes in your life from this.

More to Sharpen Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Micael Sáez via unsplash.com

Reference

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