Have you ever heard somebody say, “I’ll never be able to do this,” or “I’m going to be this way forever?” Well, this person would be classified as having a fixed mindset meaning they have a limiting belief that their capacity to learn and improve cannot be meaningfully developed. In contrast, if someone has a growth mindset, they believe that their abilities and talents can improve over time through effort and determination. Having a growth mindset can not only help you evolve as a person but face challenges head-on with confidence since you know you have the ability to adapt and pivot if needed. In my case, I would say that I am prone to having both a fixed mindset and a growth mindset (it IS possible to have both). For example, sometimes I feel set in my ways about certain things, yet I know there is still so much for me to experience and enjoy in this lifetime. I think a common obstacle that many of us face is overcoming a fixed mindset and adopting a growth mindset. So, today, we will look at how you can begin cultivating a growth mindset so that you may create your best self and love the life you live.
For starters, we need to eliminate this all-or-nothing thinking that I’ve mentioned. You must replace words like ‘never’ with ‘yet’ and phrases like ‘I can’t do it’ with ‘I will learn to do it.’ Although it might sound simplistic to say that switching how you word something can impact your mindset, it is true that words can leave a lasting impression on us. The words that you think and say become your actions, which become your overall mindset on how you approach things in your life. For example, as someone who struggles with my weight and body image, I can easily fall into this thinking that “I am going to have to deal with my body and my weight forever.” Let’s unpack this. Even though it is true that I am going to have to ‘deal’ with my body forever – isn’t that the gift that we as humans receive? Shouldn’t I be grateful that my body is as healthy as it is and moves me throughout my life as it does? Lastly, shouldn’t I be overjoyed that I have a long life ahead of me to live? Yes, yes, I should be. This is why, in my case, I need to eliminate this all-or-nothing thinking and replace it with more positive thinking or, in other words, a growth mindset. So rather than how I currently view my relationship with my body, I need to work towards changing my thoughts to be more along the lines of: “How grateful am I that I get to love this body for the rest of my life and in return it supports me, keeps me nourished, satisfied, and happy?!” Knowing that there is more out there waiting for you in the future helps drive and motivate many of us and is a key factor in cultivating a growth mindset. Ultimately, one thing we must do in order to fire our old self to make way for the new is to eliminate this all-or-nothing thinking and replace it with a positive, growth mindset.
People with a fixed mindset often become more stuck in their ways than those with a growth mindset. This is what I was talking about earlier with myself, and an example of this would be how I don’t like to give up my control to other people. For instance, I don’t even let my boyfriend organize the dishwasher his way if I can because I think my way is more efficient (I totally understand this makes me sound like a control freak, but I think I’m just particular). However, suppose I want to have kids someday. In that case, I will definitely need to learn how to be more accommodating and accepting of other people’s help even if I don’t think it’s being done exactly how I would do it (who knows, I might welcome ANY help I get at that point). Being able to give up control of certain things as well as accept that some things are more important to control than others will help you flip from a fixed mindset that ultimately keeps you stagnant in life to a growth mindset that will help you evolve and prosper. Although it is difficult to become more accepting, especially when you are not used to relieving control or even being patient, it’s a critical proponent of cultivating a growth mindset so that you may begin to mold yourself into your best version.
A fantastic example of how you can benefit from a growth mindset at all ages and stages in your life came at my University Graduation ceremony in 2018. That year, Nettie Wiebe, a woman in her late 60s at the time, received an honorary degree from the University for being an influential voice for equality, ethics, and social justice over the decades. A dedicated feminist and farmer, her speech was all about how we need to be more conscientious about approaching things like the food we eat or the ground we break. Furthermore, something she said that stuck with me was “the great diversity of your individual gifts, your ambitions, your hopes, and your perspectives is important in shaping our collective future.” She was basically saying AND demonstrating to us why a growth mindset is so important to have and proving that having a growth mindset can take you to places you never dreamed of making it to – even if you are almost 70! Nettie said she was humbled, honored, and grateful to be among us that afternoon, and I believe we need to take those specific traits into our everyday lives in order to cultivate a growth mindset. Sometimes I think people don’t remember that life doesn’t stop after a certain age; if we learn to have a growth mindset, we will more easily be able to truly live in each moment, knowing that we are evolving and growing as a person along the way. Growth is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing we have to face in our lives, but it is crucial so that we may create our new, best self and live our best lives.
You may never have considered before whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. The first step is recognizing where you’re at, just like I have honestly explained how I struggle to fully integrate a growth mindset. There are still certain things that hold me back in a fixed mindset; however, utilizing some of the tools we have discussed here can help me break free and create my new, best self with a growth mindset. The first thing we can change is how we speak to ourselves, others, and our environment. By changing our words, we can adjust our actions and, ultimately, our mindsets. Next, by realizing that we need to become more accepting and acknowledge that we are all destined for growth, we can truly begin to step into and harness a growth mindset for positive outcomes in our lives. For example, maybe next time I get annoyed that my boyfriend is loading the dishwasher wrong, I can take a step back and firstly appreciate the help and secondly let go of my control over the situation. For me, that would honestly be a large step forward in breaking my fixed mindset and replacing it with a growth mindset. Ultimately, working towards integrating a growth mindset into your life is essential so that we may “Fire” our “Old Self” to create “Our NEW SELF” while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!