You may have encountered people who seem to embrace challenges and obstacles with a sense of ease. For them, no mountain is too high to climb. And if that way of thinking is not natural to you, perhaps you’ve wondered: How can I think like that? When it comes to mindsets, there are two main types: fixed and growth. While these fluctuate for each individual depending on what area of life you’re looking at, there are certainly those who operate predominantly from a growth mindset across the board. These people believe in themselves, learn from their experiences, and understand they can always evolve. 

The best news of all? Mindsets are malleable, so even if you’re not predisposed toward a growth mindset, you can absolutely create shifts in your life to orient you in that direction. Read on to learn more! 

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Someone with a fixed mindset believes that things are static, or fixed. This person generally believes that their abilities are determined at birth and unlikely to change over time. 

On the other hand, people with growth mindsets believe that things are more malleable and dynamic. They are convinced that through persistence and dedication, they can effect change in themselves, in their lives, and in the world around them. They are committed to personal development across the board.

This mindset theory was concepted by researcher Carol Dweck. After noticing changes among school-age students, she and her team became driven to find out what makes some people more successful than others and why some of us are more compelled to keep pushing forward, even in the face of adversity. 

Note: People are often made up of a mix of mindsets. For example, you might tend to have a growth mindset as it relates to work but a fixed mindset as it relates to relationships. Additionally, people can shift their mindsets—the brain is flexible in a lot of ways, and through diligent effort, you can move from a more fixed mindset to a growth one.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

If you believe that things are fixed and that you can’t change anything, you may wonder why it’s even worth it to try anything at all. If you develop a growth mindset, however, you will be motivated to attempt different things and evaluate your efforts to see what shifts occur as a result. In other words, you’ll stay open and curious as you move through life. 

Growth Mindset Benefits and Qualities

Here are some of the qualities of a person with a growth mindset, as well as the benefits of trying to adopt this approach in your own life. 

You Believe That You Can Develop into the Person You Want to Be

Because people with growth mindsets don’t think of themselves as fixed objects, they can envision themselves growing toward an ideal, self-actualized version of themselves. This can cause people to feel hopeful and optimistic about their future. 

You’re Motivated to Learn New Things

When you have a growth mindset, you’re hungry to learn new things. If you try something and don’t succeed, you know that it’s not a personal failure, but just part of the process. Because of this, you’re more likely to put yourself in the path of new experiences and lessons to be learned. 

You Are Not Deterred by Challenges

We all face challenges in our lives, but with a growth mindset, you’re able to keep going in the face of obstacles. You know that everything along the journey teaches you a lesson. You do your best to learn along the way and iterate in the future, but the most important part is that you keep moving forward.

You Learn From Your Setbacks

A big part of instilling growth mindset in young students is to praise the strategies that lead them to success, as well as the learning process itself. The idea is to encourage young people to come up with new approaches if they don’t get the results they want. 

In plain language, this equates to learning from your mistakes. No matter what happens, when you have a growth mindset, you don’t think that it means something bad about you if you don’t reach your goals or perform the way you wanted to. You realize that you can learn something and shift your approach in order to try for a different result. 

You Work Toward Becoming Like the People You Admire

With a growth mindset, you think anything is possible. If you look up to someone, you may try to determine what exactly about that person you admire—and then figure out how you can work toward developing those qualities. 

You Become More Resilient Over Time

Even if it’s hard not to think of less-than-ideal results as a “failure,” you’ll become more accustomed over time to applying a growth mindset and seeing yourself as a work in progress—as everyone is! You’ll become less afraid to “mess up” or “get it wrong” and feel more resilient overall. 

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How to Develop Growth Mindset

If you’re interested in shifting to more of a growth mindset in certain areas of your life—or all of them!—here’s how to start developing this perspective. 

Set Goals That Are True to Yourself 

While you can certainly grow and strengthen any of your skills, you also want to be true to yourself—as well as realistic. For instance, if you’ve never written anything before, it might be a leap to set a goal that you want to be an award-winning novelist by the end of the year! Yes, it’s true that anything can happen, but it’s wise to take your situation, priorities, and skill level into account. 

Setting goals that are true to you also matters. If the goals line up with your values, you’ll be more motivated to work toward them and apply a growth mindset as you go. If you’re working toward goals because you feel like you “should” or because they’re important to someone else, you may lose motivation when you encounter challenges. 

Think About the Person You Want to Be

Spend some time contemplating who you want to be. How does that person act in various situations? How does that person feel? What matters to them? What do they spend their time doing and focusing on? 

Then, reflect on actions you can take that will build a bridge between the current and future versions of yourself. If the person you want to be spends time volunteering in their community, could you start by researching some causes that matter to you and then reach out to those organizations? 

Practice Self Compassion

Research has shown that being compassionate with yourself can lead you to adopt a growth mindset. Self compassion entails offering yourself the same understanding, kindness, and forgiveness that you would give a good friend. As you become softer and more accepting of yourself, you realize you can self-soothe any setback you might be faced with. 

Reflect on What You’re Learning Along the Way

We’ve talked about how a big part of growth mindset is understanding that nothing is really a “failure.” Think about what you’re learning instead of beating yourself up for not being perfect. When you don’t get a result you want, get curious! Ask why this result happened and what you could have done differently, if anything. Then, if something is within your control, try a different approach next time. 

Keep Things in Perspective

Not everything has to be about goal-setting or striving toward some future state. Remember to be grateful for the things and people in your life that are a source of love, joy, and positivity. Practice mindfulness as a way to “drop in” to your life and observe all that is good, right now. You could also make a list of ways you have grown as a way to celebrate how far you’ve come. 

Look for People Who Can Support Your Growth 

If you haven’t ever had a growth mindset, it might be hard to figure out where exactly to start or how this is supposed to feel. This is where a mentor can be invaluable. 

If you’ve read the qualities mentioned above and someone came to mind, connect with that person and ask if they’d be willing to support you along this journey. You could also hire a professional coach to hold you accountable on your growth mindset journey. 

Don’t Shy Away From Failure

Put yourself out there—a lot! Try things that are uncomfortable. Say yes to things you normally wouldn’t. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize that everything new feels scary at first and then usually becomes more comfortable over time. This is how you expand your comfort zone and continue to grow. 

Remember That a Lot of People Feel Like Imposters 

Even famous, accomplished celebrities feel like imposters at times and question whether they deserve their success. It’s a totally natural, human feeling to wonder if you’re smart or talented enough to do something. The trick here is to have those doubts and push yourself to do it anyway. 

Tell Yourself That You’re Not There…Yet

A common piece of advice given to people who want to adopt growth mindset is to add the word “yet” to your vocabulary. If you aren’t good at something, how does it make you feel to think you’re just not good at it yet? Thinking this way can help cultivate patience with yourself and remind you that everyone was a beginner once. 

Growth Mindsets Can Set You Up for Sustained Success

You’ve seen that growth mindsets can boost your resilience, infuse more adventure into your life, and help you tap into your confidence in your innate worth and ability. 

It may be a bit of a learning curve if you’re starting from a very fixed mindset, but through consistent application of these tips, you’ll start to see a shift toward growth. Over time, those small shifts add up to something life-changing! 

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Written by:

Nikki Carter