Shifting Mindsets: How to Break Free From a ´Fixed Mindset´
As you might know by now, I’m fascinated by the idea of being able to shift the way we think about things, about ourselves and other people. So in this post we’re going to dig a bit deeper and get you thinking about your mindset.
Our mindset is the framework that governs our experiences. It’s through those experiences that our very individual attitudes and beliefs are formed. But it also means that we can be guilty of seeing what’s happening around us through a kind of self-created filter that’s convenient to us and our comfort zones. We can only go by our personal experiences, right? Well, not necessarily…
Because our personal experiences are open to interpretation, how one person views a particular setback can be completely different to how someone else responds to it. The key here is to make what happens ‘to us’ less important than the story we tell ourselves about what happened ‘to us’. This contrast is often characterised by ‘fixed mindset’ thinking and ‘growth mindset’ thinking. The former can become quite limiting for many, many people. It’s why we can end up feeling stuck. We simply can’t break out of our thinking habits. We can feel that certain issues in our life are black and white and we don’t see how to change them.
Putting off change…sound familiar?
- “It’s just not the right time”
- “I need more experience”
- “I can’t try until I have more money”
- “It’s because of the political climate the economy”
- “My company’s going through a restructure”
- “My partner/closest friend thinks…”
The thing is, these are interesting context and can be valid, but they’re not the PROBLEM. They are external issues, and we need to see them for what they are. They are rarely the reasons why we don’t make progress with a particular problem. The real issue is how we choose to think about things.
You can change!
Carol Dweck’s theory on this is internationally recognised and celebrated. The Stanford University psychologist says we could all benefit from switching from a fixed mindset (where you see life’s options in black and white and view setbacks as failure) to a growth one (where you approach life believing most things are possible and choose to learn from setbacks and apply that learning). In other words, we should believe that our abilities can be developed. What we’re capable of isn’t a finite thing! And that involves learning (and it’s not hard, but it does take consistent practice) how to think differently.
The goal here is to shift the way you think about life, external events and people’s intentions.
So how can you apply a growth mindset to your life right now?
Putting a growth mindset into action means accepting that achieving your goals requires resilience, and effort. It’s also about how you respond in the face of adversity and working out where your default stance is. It might mean retraining your brain. You can do this by learning to look at perceived ‘failure’ differently.
The power of yet
Carol Dweck talks about the power of ‘yet’. In other words, you might not be making progress towards something, but it doesn’t mean you can’t, it just means you haven’t got there… yet. Simply adding that one word to your internal response to personal challenges can change your mindset and test where you might be looking at something in a fixed way. And changing your language around a certain activity can actually change the way your brain responds to the task.
Rather than running from an ‘error’ in your life, you need to engage with it. You need to process it, learn from it and correct it. If you’re facing a situation where you’ve had a knockback, what matters is how you learn from the process, not whether you succeeded in it or not. Using the word ‘yet’ will help this new way of thinking.
A new conversation with yourself
If you develop a growth mindset, you’ll talk differently to yourself. You’ll believe that you can learn how to do something you thought you couldn’t. You’ll accept more readily that you can set about finding someone who can teach you to develop that skill.
Of course, people with a growth mindset still worry about outcomes, but they care more about the process of learning. To them, setbacks simply mean you have to try harder. Judgment becomes less important, and is taken over by constructive action and a determination to learn from ‘failure’. The voice in your head will ask ‘how can I improve, how can I help myself/my partner/my colleague do something better?’.
There’s much more to cover on this topic, especially when it comes to achieving (or not achieving) your goals. That´s why we’re going to dedicate a whole LIVE WEBINAR to it. If you want to finally understand what’s been holding you back from making certain things in your life happen and you want to have the tools and techniques that will help make a difference to your progress, then come join us next week on Wednesday 25th of October at 7pm UK time.
Hope to see you there!