Your mindset effects so much in life. It has the ability to help you maintain emotional health, and push past barriers during breakthrough moments in life. What if I told you that your mindset alone has more influence on your successes in life than intellectual level or talent? Depending on how you view the above question could give a big insight into the state of your current mindset.
It’s believed that our mindset arises from how our parents and teachers react to skills and accomplishments in early childhood. For example if a child scores high on a math test the phrase ‘See, I told you that you’re good at math.’ can invoke a fixed mindset within a child. This statement projects the thought that they were born with a set of math skills. A growth mindset phrase would sound like ‘See, you studied hard and gave it your all. I knew you could do it with all the hard work you put into that test.’ While both of these statements can be uplifting to the child, the growth mindset statement helps form the idea that with practice and hard work they can build onto their skills and cultivate new talents.
Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck developed the theory of growth vs. fixed mindset in the early 2000’s. According to Dr. Dweck’s theory someone with a fixed mindset believes their success relies on set abilities- their intelligence and skills are something fixed at the time of birth. Dr. Dweck’s theory of a growth mindset is the idea that a person believes through hard work and persistence they can expand their skills and level of intellect.
Many of us are completely unaware of our mindset. Until I began incorporating more mindfulness into my daily life I wasn’t aware of how my mindset was effecting so many things in life. Once you become aware of these two mindsets you can easily make mindful shifts to expand on a way of thinking that entices growth.
The Effects of a Fixed Mindset
So, why is any of this relevant to you? It’s now believed that a fixed mindset can actually hold you back from successes in life no matter your level of talent or intellect. How does this happen though? Someone with a fixed mindset is more likely to quit when an obstacle arises or when success doesn’t come instantly. The fixed mindset believes they aren’t good at whatever they are trying to achieve so why continue trying. This results in them prematurely throwing in the towel before they even begin the journey to success. There’s so much research on the mindsets of successful entrepreneurs and high achievers. What’s the one thing most of them have in common? They have a growth mindset.
Due to the nature of society and modern school systems many of us have cultivated a fixed mindset. The good news is your mindset fluctuates throughout different chapters in your life. Once you recognize the signs of a fixed mindset you can easily begin to shift your thoughts to a prominently growth mindset. Here are five signs your dominant mindset is living in a fixed state.
5 Signs You’re Living with a Fixed Mindset
The Belief that You’re Born with Set Skills and Talents
Do you often feel like you’re not good at something because you just simply weren’t born with certain skills? This is the most common indicator that you’re living with a fixed mindset. What about your intellect? Do you feel as if you’re not as successful as others because they were born smarter than you? This is a sure sign you’re living with a fixed mindset. The good news is with a shift in mindset you can actually further your skills and knowledge to enhance success.
While certain things might come easily for each of us, we can all enhance the chances of success even with things that require a little more work. Research, practice, and consistency are the keys to achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish. Just because something might come a bit easier for someone else doesn’t mean they are better at it. In fact the ease of skills might actually hinder someone from succeeding as much as someone who has to try harder to persevere. If it’s something you really have to work at you’ll create a deeper knowledge and drive towards that skill.
Feedback Feels More Like Criticism
Do you hate feedback? Does it make you feel threatened like someone is criticizing you or your work? Feedback may not always be the most comfortable thing to hear in life. Especially when it comes to the projects or goals we’ve put hard work and long hours into. The truth is, feedback is needed for progress. When someone with more experience than us offers honest feedback that’ll ultimately help in furthering our knowledge or success we should honor that feedback.
What’s the difference in feedback and criticism? Feedback focuses on what can be improved. It tends to look towards the future. Criticism focuses purely on what’s insufficient or what’s wrong. Feedback focuses on what can be changed about the task at hand, while criticism focuses more on personal flaws in relation to the task. Use your intuition when getting feedback from someone. Does it feel negative or are you taking the feedback too personal and labeling it as criticism?
The Thought of Failure Keeps You From Trying New Things
To put it frank, failure sucks. It’s scary and humiliating, but it’s inevitable in life. One of the most gut wrenching feelings in life can come from the realization that something we’ve worked really hard at isn’t going to transpire in the way we envisioned. Though this realization is quite unfortunate it should never keep you from trying new things.
If the thought of failure is keeping you from starting something you’re really passionate about you might be living in a fixed mindset space. Instead of focusing on how unfortunate the very real reality of failure may be, try shifting the idea of failure into something positive. There is a lot of liberation in failure. In fact, some of my biggest breakthroughs in life have happened on the coat tails of failure.
Sometimes we fail when things just aren’t meant for us. Other times we fail to learn a priceless lesson while placing us on the path we’re supposed to be traveling. Instead of focusing on failing think of how terrible it would be to not even attempt trying. Chances are at some point in your life you would think back and wonder what if I tried that thing I really wanted to do.
The Success of Others Feels Threatening
How does it make you feel when you witness someone succeeding in life or in something you long to achieve? Are you happy for them or envious? Feeling threatened by the success of others is often a sign of a fixed mindset. Seeing someone achieve what you’ve been working to peruse for so long can bring up some really complicated emotions. Instead of feeling envious or threatened try shifting your mindset into an optimistic place. For example, instead of saying to yourself ‘I can’t believe they made it when I’ve been trying for years’ try shifting your thoughts to ‘Okay, if they can do this I can too’.
Putting yourself on the same playing field can help. Remember they were once in the exact place you are in at this very moment, and probably not too long ago. Seeing others succeed can actually make our dreams seem more achievable. If someone else made it happen what makes you think it’s out of reach for you?
When Success Isn’t Instant You View it as Failure
It’s tempting to try and rush the achievement of goals. How do you respond when something doesn’t happen in the time frame you want? Does it push you to work harder or push you to throw in the towel? Giving up before reaching your goals is an indication that you’re currently in a fixed mindset.
According to Entrepreneur.com the key to success is actually consistency and drive. In fact, the top reason people don’t succeed is because they give up too quickly. When it comes to your dreams isn’t the juice worth the squeeze? When you feel like throwing in the towel try allowing yourself to enjoy a break for a day or two. Maybe what you’re experiencing is temporary burnout. You’d be amazed at what a little self-care and a few days off will do to revitalize your mindset.
Another culprit could be setting too many daunting goals at once. Instead of looking too far ahead when making goals try breaking your goals down into smaller bites. What is your goal this week? What small steps can you make today to reach that weekly goal? Continue asking yourself ‘What step can I take today?’.
Ways to Shift Into a Growth Mindset
View the Journey as a Learning Opportunity
Instead of viewing your goals or dreams as a daunting task to success try viewing it as a learning opportunity no matter what happens. Sometimes when we focus too hard on succeeding we take the fun out of the journey itself. Not everything you dream of achieving in life is meant for success. Sometimes it’s meant to open up opportunities to another path that’s completely unrelated to your current endeavors. The journey is a beautiful thing- shifting your mindset to the idea of growth allows you to honor that journey.
Take Can’t Out of Your Vocabulary
When claiming you can’t do something you’re stunting your own growth and opportunities in life. If you regularly state you can’t do something you’ll begin to believe it after a while. In relation to your passions, goals, and dreams take the word completely out of your vocabulary. Know that when this word arises it’s most likely not your voice. It’s the voice of past trauma, bullies, or people who spoke down to you due to their own projections. The voice that tells you you’re not good enough took years to form from others opinions or feelings of inadequacy. When you were a child do you remember how optimistic you were? Do you remember how it felt to believe you could do or be anything in this life? Honor that inner child. They are still within waiting for you to come back home to yourself.
Don’t Fear Failure
We somewhat touched on this one earlier on in the post, but it’s so important and deserving of a revisit. You can shift into a growth mindset by viewing failure in a more positive light. It’s counterproductive to have failure in your mind when your working to achieve something. Focusing on ‘What if I fail?’ brings you closer to the realm of failure. Instead ask yourself ‘What if I don’t try?’. At some point in your life you probably will fail at something, but there’s a very real chance you will succeed. Failure will 100% happen if you don’t even try. We should fear the things we don’t even attempt more than what might not transpire in the way we wanted.
Positively Shift Your Thoughts
When negativity surrounding your goals comes to the forefront of your mind try to become intensely aware of those negative thoughts. In a fixed mindset you might dwell on those negative thoughts and allow yourself to become victim to them.
This isn’t a good vibes only speech- that mindset is actually called toxic positivity. Toxic positivity pushes your negative thoughts aside to force positive thinking. Instead, be mindful of those negative or fixed mindset thoughts. Ask yourself why you may be feeling this way. Really work though those thoughts and find the silver lining surrounding the event causing that particular thought. After a while of this practice your mind will eventually evolve into a growth mindset where positive thoughts live in harmony with the not so comfortable thoughts. When you practice this exercise it’s important to remind yourself that the negative voice you often hear doesn’t come from your own beliefs, but from past experiences with others.