Developing a growth mindset isn’t a matter of flipping a switch. In fact, that’s a very fixed mindset view of the issue: “I’ll just decide to have a growth mindset, and then I’ll have one!” Instead, working on a growth mindset is more like caring for a new kitten. A growth mindset needs care and nurturing. If you find yourself slipping back into fixed mindset habits, try these tips:
- Keep trying! A growth mindset teaches us that learning and growth are always possible. If you struggle to internalize this idea, just keep holding it as an ideal. The more you strive toward a growth mindset, the more you build it in yourself.
- Embrace challenges. Don’t shy away from difficult problems. Tackling something challenging and mastering it is the best way to build a growth mindset.
- Try different ways to learn. Not everyone learns in the same way. If you are struggling to master a subject, try different strategies. Most colleges and universities have study skills classes that can teach you different ways to tackle learning. Keep trying until you find what works for you.
- Delete “failure” from your vocabulary. In a fixed mindset, not completing a task perfectly can feel like failure. It’s not. It just shows that you have more learning to do. When you don’t do as well as you like, you haven’t failed; you just haven’t mastered the task yet. Keep trying, keep learning, and you’ll get there.
- Hold realistic expectations. It takes time and energy to learn a subject or improve your skills. If you are getting frustrated because you can’t (yet!) do something, make sure you have realistic expectations about how quickly you can improve.
- Love the process, not the outcome. People with a growth mindset develop a love of learning that leads them to ever greater challenges. Along the way, they tend to accumulate successes, but the success wasn’t the point — the challenge was. Embrace this way of thinking. Learn to love the process of learning and keep challenging yourself as you move through life.
The science is clear: it is possible to learn, grow, and change throughout your lifetime. No matter what you think your traits, abilities, and skills are, it’s possible to improve in any area that you chose to focus on. In contrast, believing that your skills are fixed has a way of limiting what you can achieve.
To truly unlock your potential, work on developing a growth mindset. Once you develop a love of learning and belief in your own capacity for growth, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.