Mindset matters. Fact. Whether you realise this or not, the type of mindset you have will affect what type of life you have and what you are able to achieve. Many of us do not realise the importance of our mindset and even many more do not even know what type of mindset they have or how this affects their everyday decisions.
So let’s start there. What is your mindset and why does it matter?
Your mindset is what you believe about yourself and your capabilities. Your mindset is formed from your thoughts and beliefs about life and of course this is shaped by your experiences. Your thoughts will affect how you behave and what you do. Basically your mindset is how you interpret the world and make sense of what goes on in your life from day to day.
So it makes sense that a good mindset means a purposeful and good life and a bad mindset may mean a difficult and more painful life but what does a good mindset and a bad one look like?
How do you work out what type of mindset you have? Well, it starts with asking yourself questions about the things you believe about yourself. Are you open to learning new things, do you give up easily? Do you try to work out how to do something or do you prefer to accept that you are probably too old or not smart enough to do certain things. Questions such as these will start to give you an indication of the sort of mindset you have and once you realise what your mindset is, it is quite easy to see the link between how your mind works and the kind of life you are living.
There are many definitions floating around about mindsets, the one I’d like to explore in this article is the very common themes of the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is one where an individual is not open to learning new things and where they believe that their intelligence and talent and other qualities are fixed traits that cannot be improved. This normally results in them being unwilling to try and raise their game or to try new things. Someone with a fixed mindset will make statements like “I will never be able to do this”, “Its too late for me to learn this”, “I am going to fail at this so there is no point trying” and so on.
You can see how these sorts of statements can be very limiting and if we truly believe this to be true, we become very convinced about our inability to change, to learn and therefore we may end up not living the life we want, feeling frustrated, demotivated, stuck and unable to discover what we want or what we like. In addition, any attempt at giving constructive criticism to an individual with a fixed mindset is usually met with hostility, they do not take well to any sort of criticism and tend to see it as a personal attack. A person with a fixed mindset may also encounter jealousy or envy when they see others doing well, they constantly compare themselves to other and always find that they feel unworthy.
The growth mindset is the opposite side of the scale and is where an individual is open to learning, to trying new things, to taking risks and is prepared to fail. People with growth mindsets understand that learning and being good at things can develop through hard work and practice. Usually people with a growth mindset will have more resilience and understand that failure is not fatal and that through failing at things, they can learn how to be better.
They also understand that they need to do things over and over again to get good at it. When you believe that your intelligence and your talent can be developed over time, you are always open to new ideas and this is where you will find the lifelong learner who is willing to give things a go. An individual with a growth mindset can accept constructive criticism and sees it as an opportunity to learn and to grow. In addition they are not jealous of other people’s success, instead they use this as their motivation and to fuel their own ambitions.
A positive outlook on learning is crucial to developing oneself and helps to build self esteem and self confidence. Trying out new things and being able to learn and do things you felt were out of your comfort zone will give you the confidence to believe in yourself and your abilities.
So how can we move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?
It is important to acknowledge at this point that most people are somewhere in between the two types so what we really want to do is have more of a growth mindset and less of a fixed mindset. There are a number of ways to improve your mindset but the very first step is in acknowledging that you need to do some work. Coming to the realisation and acceptance that you can do with improving your mindset is important before you actually start trying to fix anything.
Here are some of my suggestions for improving your mindset. Even if you find that you are somewhere in the middle between a fixed mindset and growth mindset, it is always useful to continue to do the work that will take you to having more of a growth mindset mentality in all you do.
How to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset;
- accept that this will take time
- start shutting down that inner voice that tells you, you cannot do something or you are not good enough
- remind yourself of your strengths, everyone has things they are good at
- spend more time around positive people and less time around negative people
- try out new hobbies that take you outside your comfort zone without any pressure or expectation, e.g. learning to knit or learning to skate etc.
- accept failure as part of the process and an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work
- stop comparing yourself to others
Remember that even talented people need to work hard so that they can harness their talent and be better at what they do. Be prepared to work hard, have knockbacks, fail and get going again. If you keep doing that, I guarantee you will see some progress and changes in your life.
Tayo Kuti is a mindset and life coach. Get in touch with her by email to firstname.lastname@example.org