You can think of this article as a “part 2” of sorts to this wonderful article written by this blog’s co-author last week.
My main objective with this post is to put out the concept of “the growth mindset” and it’s counterpart “the fixed mindset”.
What is the growth mindset?
The google definition of the growth mindset is “the mindset of a person who believes that their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others.”
In other words, it’s having a mindset where you think that life is a graph. It can go up or down.
As a university student, the classic example of the growth mindset would be around examinations. Specifically, failing an exam.
It’s really simple to tell yourself “oh, I failed because I’m not smart enough”. I’ve heard that excuse a lot.
In reality, studying is sort of like a game. The more effort and strategies you put into it, the better your outcome will be.
You can sit and cram the night before the exam or you can study progressively with techniques such as active recall and spaced repetition. Both these scenarios will give you the goal of studying, but one of them is much more effective and takes less time and energy — the remaining time and energy of which can be used to build up other aspects of your life.
With the growth mindset, you wouldn’t tell yourself you’re not smart enough. You’d look back, reflect, and then find areas where you could’ve spent your time more efficiently. You’d look for places where you can grow.
The growth mindset isn’t just for failures though. It’s easy to get high-headed and become a little overconfident once you see amazing scores. You’d think to yourself “I don’t need to study this, I got an A+ last time.”
The growth mindset, like it’s name suggests, enables you to grow instead of thinking that you’re meant to be one type of person.
Outside the realm of studying, you could have a growth mindset to build up other skills.
Instead of telling yourself “oh I don’t know how to do x skill”, tell yourself “I don’t know how to do x skill yet.“
“Yet” is a powerful word, use it when you’re not able to do something in the present so it looks that much more attainable in the future.
The reality growth mindset
I’d like to take a second to point out the difference between having a growth mindset and being unrealistic. It’s easy to get caught in the wind and think of some things that just aren’t possible. You need to stay realistic, yet ambitious, with your goals.
For example, if I tell myself I’m going to be a millionaire tomorrow, I’m not going to wake up with a filled up bank account — that’s not how life works.
Remember, the success formula goes like this:
Success = Fair Play x Unfair AdvantagesThe Unfair Advantage
So what’s the fixed mindset?
Like it’s name suggests, the fixed mindset is when you fix yourself onto one idea, limiting your mind from thinking you can grow. Some might call this being pessimistic.
You need to remember that you can have different types of mindsets towards different types of aspects of your life. You could have a growth mindset towards being healthy but you might have a fixed mindset when it comes to social interactions.
Do this experiment: write down 5 aspects of your life — this can be family, friends, education — whatever suits your life the most. Next, reflect upon the past and write down what type of mindset you have for each one of them. Be honest.
Try to tackle each of those aspects one at a time. Small steps aggregate to huge gains. Over time, you’ll see yourself being more optimistic and strategic with the decisions and thoughts you have in life.
Mindset is an essential element of being happier with your outcomes. It’s a genuine life-hack that you can train your brain into. It’s a skill that everyone should harness because it helps bring you up, rather than pulling you down.
Go on out there and grow your skillset. The only person stopping you is yourself.