Do you believe that you can grow, learn from your mistakes and change your behavior for the better? Or do you think that your abilities and behavior are set in stone?
If it’s the former, then you have a growth mindset. If it’s the latter, then you have a fixed mindset.
According to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is “based on the belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your effort,” while a fixed mindset is the belief that “…your qualities are carved in stone” and “creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over again.”
So why does it even matter what kind of mindset you have? As Henry Ford once said, “whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” In other words, what you think generally becomes reality. So if you think that you can grow, then you will. If you think that you can’t, then you won’t.
So if you really want to grow, then start with developing a growth mindset (if you don’t have one already). Here’s how to do that.
1. Make Learning a Habit
I think it’s funny when people say that they “don’t have the time” to do something (like read). What they are really saying is that they prioritize other things instead.
Once you stop learning, you stop growing. For that reason, you must make learning a priority. Turn it into a habit. And remember that learning is a lifelong process.
Journaling helps with everything from self-reflection and mindfulness to memory and creativity.
Make journaling a part of your daily routine, even if it’s just ten minutes a day—and watch your mind expand.
3. Embrace Failure
According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset embrace failure and see it as an opportunity to grow. Meanwhile, people with a fixed mindset dwell in failure, beat themselves up and often lack the self-compassion to move forward. They tend to have low self-esteem and believe that their failure defines them.
Instead of seeing failure as a bad thing, see it as something positive. Every time you make a mistake or fail, see it as another opportunity to learn and improve upon yourself or your abilities.
4. Ask for Feedback
Nobody is perfect; everyone has things that they can improve upon. People with a growth mindset know this and so aren’t afraid to ask for feedback. They embrace not only failure, but constructive criticism as well, since they know that it will help them grow.
Ask your boss for feedback on a regular basis. What can you do better? Also consider doing the same in your personal relationships. How can you be a better friend, spouse, child or parent?
5. Seek Challenge
People who have a fixed mindset avoid challenges, because it makes them feel inadequate. As soon as things get hard, they turn their backs and walk away. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset are just the opposite; they are motivated by challenge. They thrive on it.
So stretch your limits. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you aren’t being challenged in your current role, then find another one where you are. It’s really that simple.
6. Add the Word “Yet” to Your Vocabulary
It’s funny how just adding one three-letter word to the end of a sentence can drastically impact its meaning—and how you perceive yourself.
Think about the difference between these two sentences:
I don’t know how to do that.
I don’t know how to do that yet.
The first sentence insinuates that your abilities are fixed and can’t be changed—ever. The second sentence implies that you will learn at some point in the future; it implies a malleability and an ability to change for the better.
Saying is believing. So even if you have to fake it till you make it, just try adding the word “yet” to the end of sentences about yourself and your abilities. And eventually, you’ll start to believe that you are capable of achieving all of those things that you don’t know how to do—yet.
7. Be Positive
At the end of the day, having a growth mindset is about just that—your mindset. Which means that it’s something that you are 100% in control of.
Remain aware of your inner voice and the things that you are telling yourself. If you catch yourself having negative thoughts, then change them into something positive. If you mess up, then think about how you can learn from your mistake. And then try again. Take on challenges. Above all else, believe in yourself and all that you are capable of achieving.
If you think like that, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.