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5 New Habits to Help You Cultivate a Growth Mindset

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As we raise children, we often teach them that grit, perseverance, and resilience lead to mastery and success. They do. But what are we teaching them about their intelligence and capacity to learn?  When children believe that they have been born with predetermined skills and abilities or with a fixed intelligence that they cannot change, they are more likely to avoid challenging subjects and create artificial limits on themselves that will impact them into adulthood.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success psychologist & researcher Dr. Carol S. Dweck suggested two general mindsets: fixed and growth. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that character, intelligence, and creative ability are unmoving givens that can’t be changed in any meaningful way. Looking perfect and avoiding failure at all costs becomes a way of maintaining that inner sense of competence. When challenged or frustrated by a task, you may hear people say things like, “I’m so stupid because I don’t know how,” or “I’m lousy at this, and I can’t get any better.” They don’t know how to do something and don’t want to make an effort because they believe they should only do what they already know how to do or what feels easy. This risk-averse mindset can lead to an unwillingness to push yourself to do challenging things. 

By contrast, Dweck suggests that a person with a growth mindset thrives on challenge, seeing it as a launchpad for growth and for extending existing abilities instead of evidence of unintelligence. With a growth mindset, you focus on continuous improvement and self-awareness through ongoing feedback. You recognize that you can improve through your specific efforts and deliberate practice. You can see yourself changing and growing through application and experience. Having a growth mindset means that for you, challenges are an opportunity for growth. You understand that your brain can learn new, complex tasks (at any age) and develop with training and effort. You may start thinking things like, “I can do hard things,” “It’s ok to make a mistake; that’s how I learn,” “With practice, I can and will get better.”

“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” – Carol S. Dweck

So why is it vital to know about and develop a growth mindset?

The truth is that having a growth mindset and doing the hard things will absolutely help you accomplish more than you could even imagine. However, if you were born and raised in the 20th century, you were most likely not raised with a growth mindset. Before 2006, when Dweck’s Mindset book was published, children were more likely to be raised to believe that talent, intelligence, and ability are given at birth and governed by genetics. There are probably several skills and abilities that many may have given up on developing or not focused their efforts on because they believe that they lack the capacity to do them well. When they allow their default programming and conditioning to dictate how much effort is put into learning new skills without challenging norms, they will be subconsciously holding themselves back and miss out on exploring the outer limits of their talents.

I know that for me, there have been many times in my life that I just decided, “I am not good at that,” and just avoided the challenge. I, like many others of my generation, grew up having a fixed mindset. For example, I was convinced that I was no good at math. As a result, I did not like it and made little effort because it seemed too hard. My fear and loathing of all things math-related meant that I did not get my bachelor’s degree in psychology or business, subjects I really liked, because both had an advanced math requirement, and I was certain I wouldn’t be able to do it. 

The ironic thing, however, is that ultimately, I had no choice but to overcome my conviction that I was lousy at math if I wanted to pursue any degree in psychology. I was required to take a statistics class at the undergraduate level to get into a program and then a graduate-level research and statistics course. What I learned by completing both courses with an “A” was that by being willing to ask a million questions and putting maximum effort into understanding what seemed challenging, I could do things I had previously believed were not possible for me.  At the time, I did not know that I was applying the principles of having a growth mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset, here are five habits to help you cultivate a growth mindset. For the next 90 days, focus intentionally on integrating them into your daily life; being intentional means writing them down, thinking about them, and asking yourself, honestly, if you are using them.

  1. Be Curious and creative. Challenge yourself to learn something new every day and go beyond your comfort zone. You will discover new strategies to implement that will help you achieve goals you previously thought were impossible or too difficult. Keep tweaking them for effectiveness. 
  2. Be Committed to the growth, goals, & promises you make to yourself. If you want to see progress, it is essential to toss out the excuses and stay the course. Decide what you are going to do and that there is no room for excuses. Commit to your decision and then do what you have committed to for the time you have committed to doing it. Hold yourself accountable for your commitments. 
  3. Be Consistent with your efforts. Consistency is the key to developing new habits and learning new things. It is also usually one of our biggest hurdles and where good intentions fall apart. Be focused with your efforts. Decide what, when, and how you will channel 
  4. Be Courageous in the face of challenges. Setbacks and challenges are learning opportunities. They are your most significant opportunity for growth. Embrace them. Seek solutions and make adjustments. No matter how exhaustive your plan or fine-tuned the details, obstacles will surface unexpectedly and, unless you have a crystal ball, you won’t always be able to predict exactly what obstacles will occur. So, don’t waste energy on that. Instead, face obstacles when they show up with the lens of curiosity and be focused on solutions. Be agile in both your mindset and approach. 
  5. Embrace Constructive feedback & leverage it for growth & expansion. Sometimes your best prospects for personal and professional development come from utilizing corrective feedback to grow. Ask mentors and supervisors for specific feedback to give you clarity on the skills needed to move forward and the blind spots, obstacles, and pitfalls you may not be able to see by yourself.

By deliberately and intentionally focusing on these five habits daily, your life and work will shift positively in ways you can’t imagine. You will have more confidence because confidence is built through working on your skills and seeing growth and improvement over time. Making an effort is the only way forward, so be willing to do the work. Each new day is an opportunity to try again, so try again.

Dr. Samantha Madhosingh has dedicated the last 20 years to researching, understanding, & solving the infinite possibilities of human potential, behavior, & performance. She trains leaders on how to dismantle & unlearn the stories & biases that impact progress. Leaders who work closely with her achieve mastery in mindset, communication, & relationships. Dr. Samantha has authored & co-authored four books & appeared on CW, FOX, NBC, CBS, Emotional MoJo, Daytime and Heart&Soul. Learn more at https://askdrsamantha.com.

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Life

Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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