- Only 30% of goal-setters become achievers.
- The average person scores their success by society’s standards as 31 out of 100.
- People with growth mindsets embrace challenges and continually develop themselves for success.
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are linked with having a fixed mindset.
According to a study by ReliablePlant, of the 80% of people who set goals, only about 30% achieve them. Another study conducted by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, found another interesting insight. Dweck discovered that neurological activity—actual changes in one’s brain—occurs in those who focus on learning rather than outcome alone.
These insights tell us one key thing: learning and growth require an entire mindset shift—what Dr. Dweck calls a “growth mindset.”
Of course, getting stuck in a routine or a certain pattern of thought is common for many. This is why the other 50% of those who set goals didn’t have success. The reasons for this stuckness can be caused by many things like childhood upbringing, trauma, and one’s circle of influence.
The good news, as evidenced by research from the National Library of Medicine, is that intelligence is malleable, primarily when we’re motivated by something intrinsically. Intrinsic motivation causes the natural neuroplasticity in the brain to heighten. This allows for learning new things, forming new connections, and beginning new paths. All we have to do to become intrinsically motivated is improve our thinking.
In this article, learn how to expand your mindset to reach your goals and achieve the highest version of yourself.
What Is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is the belief that one’s skills and abilities can grow over time. People with growth mindsets accept mistakes and learn from them rather than regard themselves as failures. For those with growth mindsets, the focus is less on the outcome and more on the learning and development process.
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
“Some people believe their talents and abilities are fixed traits (a fixed mindset). You have a certain amount and that’s it. But other people believe talents and abilities can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and good manager-ing from others.”carol dweck
While people with growth mindsets embrace mistakes and learn from them, those with fixed mindsets avoid challenges and often have traits of perfectionism. They fear failure and deeply blame themselves when errors occur. For these reasons, they also tend to avoid taking risks or embracing new things entirely.
Top traits of having a growth mindset:
- Embraces challenges
- Learns from mistakes
- Sees effort as part of the process
- Leads with a desire for personal development
Top traits of having a fixed mindset:
- Avoids taking risks
- Lives with a constant need to prove oneself
- Believes one is either good at something or isn’t
- Blames themselves when things aren’t done perfectly
Top Benefits of Shifting to a Growth Mindset
“This is a wonderful feature of the growth mindset. You don’t have to think you’re already great at something to want to do it and to enjoy doing it.”carol dweck
Embracing a growth mindset presents many benefits, both personally and professionally. Here are some of the greatest rewards of making this shift:
- Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence: Learn how to be confident by leaning into vulnerability. When you regard everything as an opportunity to learn rather than as one to fail, you stop being so hard on yourself. This gives your self-esteem room to flourish.
- Reduces Depression and Anxiety: Researchers have linked depression with perfectionist tendencies. Embracing imperfections, however, boosts mental health.
- Increases Resilience: Seeing setbacks as useful moments to repivot or adapt improves your outlook and makes you better able to handle problems when they do occur.
- Improves Relationships: In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Dweck explains that people with fixed mindsets believe relationships should be effortless and reflect instant compatibility. Growth mindsets, however, understand that healthy relationships require work and effort.
- Makes Life More Fun: Caring less about outcomes, results, and performance creates space for exploration. You may fail at something new, but who cares? The fun is in the journey.
8 Strategies for Developing a Growth Mindset
1. Embrace New Things
“In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter.”carol dweck
Learning new skills or trying new foods can sound like something that’s simply good to do. However, in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Dweck explains that embracing new things is necessary for neurological growth. Because of this, it’s important to lean into new moments and experiences so you can begin cultivating a growth mindset.
Examples of things that stimulate neurological growth:
- Learning a new language
- Taking dance classes
- Learning to cook new recipes
- Studying a subject of interest
- Going somewhere you’ve never been before
2. Practice Saying “Yet”
“I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade of ‘not yet’ . . . if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘not yet,’ you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.”carol dweck
The next time you think to yourself that you’ve failed at something or lack certain skills, practice adding “not yet” and “yet” to the ends of those thoughts. This will not only help keep your self-esteem and confidence strong but also keep your mind open, rather than shutting down.
Examples of thoughts to add “yet” to:
- “I am not the best at solving this problem . . . yet.”
- “I don’t know what changes to make with my team at work . . . yet.”
- “I’m not calm when giving presentations . . . yet.”
- “My finances aren’t stable . . . yet.”
- “I’m not where I want to be in life . . . yet.”
3. Recognize Areas for Personal and Professional Improvement
“Start quantifying your days by how many healthy, positive things you accomplished, and you will see how quickly you begin to make progress.”brianna wiest, The Mountain Is you
According to a recent McKinsey study, an estimated 400 to 800 million employees will be displaced by automation globally by 2030. For this reason alone, many must recognize their areas for professional improvement. Accepting your areas of weakness provides valuable adaptability in a changing workplace landscape. Additionally, it sets you up for success in personal areas as well.
Benefits of committing to personal and professional improvement:
- Levels up your career
- Promotes improved health and energy
- Enables exploration of a personal interest
- Improves personal and professional relationships
4. Learn to Serve Others
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”dolly parton
When the focus shifts to raising up others, whether as a parent or at work through servant leadership, concentration on one’s own performance and shortcomings reduces. It becomes less about how great you perform and more about how great others perform. Approaching work and life with this perspective fosters a growth mindset because it shifts the priority to others, creating a ripple effect of growth for you.
Steps for living like a servant leader:
- Become a source of support and encouragement.
- Don’t listen to respond. Instead, practice active listening.
- Sharpen your awareness of how your emotions impact others.
- Practice empathy by holding space for others without judgment.
5. Ditch Perfectionism and Praise the Process
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.”brené brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
“Our research conclusively shows that telling children they’re talented or smart can actually harm them. It puts them into a fixed mindset. It makes them think that what you value in them is this fixed intelligence. It makes them afraid of mistakes and it makes them less eager to learn,” Dr. Dweck says in a video for Kids in the House.
To teach and develop a growth mindset, practice embracing mistakes and praising the learning process for yourself and others.
Tips for ditching a perfectionist mindset:
- Accept that perfection is not real.
- See challenges as adventures.
- Accept mistakes as a part of life.
- Praise the process, not the outcome.
For more tips, read Perfectionism: Why You Have It (And How to Fix It).
6. Relinquish Preconceived Notions of Success
“Define success your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”anne sweeney
The Success Index, published by Populace and Gallup, reveals that the average American’s perceived societal success score (how successful they believe they are by society’s standards) is only 31 out of 100. However, the perceived personal success score is 68, according to Gallup. This shows most people worry society won’t view them as successful, even if they feel successful.
Defining success by personal standards and not societal ones can help cultivate a growth mindset. Everybody’s journey is different, and recognizing what success looks like for you specifically will help you shift away from a fixed mindset.
How to define personal success, according to career experts at Indeed:
- Reflect on your previous accomplishments.
- Focus on what matters to you, not what matters to society.
- Break larger goals into smaller ones.
- Define thresholds of success on short- and long-term levels.
- Write a list of steps to work toward your new definition of success.
7. Invite Collaboration and Constructive Criticism
“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”vince lombardi
Those with fixed mindsets fear appearing inferior, so they avoid collaborating with others. People with perfectionist tendencies can feel like if someone does something better than them, they failed.
In the workplace, Dr. Dweck explains it like this: “When bosses become controlling and abusive, they put everyone into a fixed mindset. This means that instead of learning, growing, and moving the company forward, everyone starts worrying about being judged.”
The only way to combat the fear of failure and judgment is to embrace it. Invite collaboration into every area of your life, both personally and professionally. Approach situations as teachable moments and opportunities to give and receive constructive criticism.
Tips from Farnam Street for cultivating a collaborative corporate culture:
- Communicate skills as learnable.
- Give feedback in a way that promotes future success.
- Present managers as mentors.
- Convey the organization’s commitment to learning.
8. Identify the Beliefs That Hold You Back
“Many limiting beliefs are created in our childhood. Devastatingly, they become part of our identity . . . Mistakenly, we think these stories are keeping us safe, protecting us from rejection and humiliation . . . the reality is, they’re just stories we make up in our head by attaching made-up meanings to events. And they cost us dearly all our lives.”nina cooke
Believing the skills you’re born with are the only ones you’ll ever have is one of the most common limiting beliefs holding people back. The problem with viewing oneself this way is that it implies learning, growth, and improvement are impossible. If these things are impossible, this means that your limited skills and talents must be perfect.
Identifying this thought pattern and taking steps to rewire it is one of the most significant moves a person can take to foster a growth mindset.
4 strategies by Tony Robbins for working through limiting beliefs:
- Identify all of your limiting beliefs about the world, other people, and yourself.
- Take responsibility for your life; believe that “life happens for you, not to you.”
- Let go of the need for certainty and lean into uncertainty.
- Notice your “inner voice” and replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations.
Thoughts Are Things
“Truly, thoughts are things, and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects.”napoleon hill
When Sara Blakely took the leap from selling fax machines to starting her own company from the ground up, she leaned into the mindset her father taught her. During dinner every night growing up, Blakely’s father asked her to share her failures from the day. This may have seemed difficult at the time, but it normalized the process of accepting mistakes and learning from them.
Years later, to accomplish her dream, Blakely relied on this mindset and overcame any self-limiting beliefs she may have had about her abilities. As a result, she became the sole owner of SPANX, a billion-dollar company.
Mindset influences every aspect of your life. It determines how far you go, your opportunities, the people you meet, and ultimately, the life you lead. To begin sparking changes, start shifting your mindset towards growth, learning, and development.
Keep the momentum going by:
- Reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Creating a vision board
- Reflecting on previous accomplishments
- Identifying deeply held beliefs you have about yourself
- Practicing positivity through self-affirmation and analysis
Continue your journey toward personal growth by reading “20 Life-Changing Personal Development Goals” next.
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