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Ever since Carol Dweck’s 2014 TED Talk on The power of believing that you can improve, much has been made about the growth mindset. And though Dweck focused a lot on classroom education, people of all ages can benefit from her research and ideas.
So, what is a growth mindset exactly? In short, it is the belief that you can acquire any ability as long as you put the right amount of time, study and effort into it. By developing a growth mindset with everything you do, you can transform your life in profound ways.
A fixed mindset vs a growth mindset
One way to think about a growth mindset is to compare it to its opposite - a ‘fixed mindset’.
People with a fixed mindset believe that a person’s qualities and traits are firmly set and, therefore, cannot change. When you give up on learning a musical instrument because ‘you just aren’t a musical person’ you are giving in to a fixed mindset.
Those with a fixed mindset tend to give up easily, avoid challenges and take feedback personally. This type of mindset can limit personal growth and development and will surely stand in the way of your goals.
A growth mindset, on the other hand - by pushing through failures and understanding that learning something new takes effort - allows you to thrive. You look at the success of others and are inspired. You learn from criticism and excitedly take on new challenges. You know that effort and hard work are the keys to success.
How to develop a growth mindset
Here’s the best part - anybody can develop a growth mindset. Like with everything, it just takes practice. You can start by following these four approaches.
1. Develop a can-do attitude. How you frame things to yourself is important. Instead of saying ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘It’s too difficult’, think ‘I can do it’ or ‘It’s difficult now, but it won’t be if I keep working at it.’ A positive attitude can work wonders as you gradually progress towards your goals.
2. Try to learn from failures. It’s easy and natural to let failures get you down. However, it’s possible to change your mindset so that you look at failures as not a limitation, but a chance to learn and grow. Next time you fail at something, try not to focus too much on the natural negative emotions. Instead, evaluate the failures, think about what didn’t work and plan how you can get past them. Your failures can be just as valuable as your successes.
3. Commit yourself to the process, not the outcome. Success is a gradual process. It’s all the effort along the way that matters most. Setting the goal of ‘running a marathon’ helps, but you are more likely to reach your goal when you think ‘I will run 60 kilometers a week for the next year.’
4. Set realistic tasks. Don’t make things too hard or too easy. In order to move ahead, do tasks that are just slightly higher than your current abilities. This way, you are always continuing to improve on your current levels.
Why not start working on your growth mindset today? With enough practice, a growth mindset will start to come naturally. And with that kind of thinking, nothing can stand in your way!
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