Like anything in life, when we consider doing something different, we need a departure point. I am sure some of you might relate when I say that there have been times when I have been excited to start a new project. Still, my enthusiasm fades almost as quickly as when it begins.
Quite possibly, this is where mindset comes into play. Carol Dweck, a psychologist, in her book entitled ‘The new psychology of success’ (2006) describes how our mindset shapes our beliefs when we are trying to accomplish something. She identified the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is the belief that what we are born with remains fixed, and it is not possible to change. This black and white thinking incapacitates and limits growth, and failure is strongly associated with shame. Someone with a fixed mindset consistently seeks approval from others and tends to avoid difficult tasks.
Someone with a growth mindset keeps acquiring new skills, sees problems as challenges to be conquered and loves the satisfaction of accomplishing and pushing their potential. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and welcome feedback. From an early age, a person’s mindset may be influenced by their parents, their teachers or lived experience. Negative experiences can result in a person believing such statements such as ‘I am not good enough’ or ‘I never get things right’. The limiting self-beliefs become the default way of thinking over time and rob the person of exploration and potential growth.
The good news is that you can change your mindset, but it is a process and not an event. The first step is to identify the limiting self-beliefs as the beliefs arise. So the next time you want to start something or you are faced with a challenge, be aware of what you are thinking and try to identify any self-limiting beliefs. Then it would be best if you challenged that thought with something that opposes it. An example might be ‘I am too old’ which you then consciously replace with ‘ I have plenty of time’. Other practical guidelines include, but are not limited to:
- Accept imperfection: none of us is perfect and we all make mistakes, especially when we are trying something new. Accept that errors are part of the process and learn from them.
- Instead of seeking approval from others, find it within yourself: Taking ownership of your experiences allows you to be increasingly aware of yourself and your thoughts. And the areas you need to develop.
- Disassociate failing from being a failure: Just because you might not have done as well as you would have liked, it does not mean you are a failure. Instead, turn it into an opportunity to grow and learn.
- Own your attitude: Once you feel that you have cultivated a growth mindset, own it. Let it be your guide.
I hope that this has given you something to consider. I know I have gained more insight from doing the research and writing about this exciting topic, especially when it comes to my writing abilities. By challenging those self-limiting beliefs, I have found the courage and determination to develop my writing skills. Onward and upward.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and may this be the start of something truly fantastic for you.