Planning for a New Year with a Growth Mindset

We are two weeks into the New Year, and I can feel a positive buzz around me. I have been coaching clients this week and they are all talking about a fresh start and a true reset for 2021. But how long will it last?

Setting goals effectively certainly helps: REFLECT, ENVISION, SET GOALS, PLAN, ADAPT, check out last week’s blog: But what happens when we get stuck? When negative thoughts creep in? A ‘can’t do’ attitude? When we experience set-backs? When someone criticises our breakthrough idea? When we feel defeated? We often go back to old habits and our goals are a history. All the future planning for nothing. And nothing changes in the end.

What we are experiencing in those moments is a Fixed Mindset. We let ourselves believe that those roadblocks, the feedback and setbacks mean we haven’t been successful. That we can’t do it. However, it’s not about our innate skills or talents that make us successful, but rather how we think about them.

I remember failing a subject in college (touch typing of all things…) as it didn’t come naturally to me. And because I struggled, I didn’t even try or practice. I simply had a fixed mindset that I can’t be successful. I thought it must be an innate skill. After all, most other subjects were easy for me. I didn’t want to miss out on graduating, thus I mustered all my mental strength and said to myself ‘you can do this, you can learn this, you just have to pass, not be perfect’. I practiced like hell and finally passed. I wish I had known about fixed mindset and how to change it back then, the process would have been much easier.

What is Fixed and Growth Mindset?

When applying a Fixed Mindset the belief is that your qualities are set in stone and that talents and skills are innate. When applying a Growth Mindset, the belief is that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others. Carol Dweck, author of ‘Mindsets’ says:

‘Mindsets are just beliefs.’

She goes on to say that the view you adopt for yourself, profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

So, what does this mean for our plans and aspirations for a successful new year? It simply means to recognise that things change and that we will experience roadblocks. But instead of giving up and being in a Fixed Mindset state, recognise the signs and shift to Growth Mindset. Here are some helpful steps:

  1. Awareness. Start noticing your fixed mindset habits and become aware of your fixed mindset stories (I can’t, it’s too hard, that feedback hurts, everyone else is so successful…)
  2. Change your Rhetoric. Adopt a ‘not yet’ attitude and shift from ‘I am not good at it’ to ‘I am not good at it yet, but I can learn.’ Literally rephrase your fixed mindset stories and tell yourself that you can grow, you can develop, you can get help, you are making progress.
  3. Ask for help. No one can go it alone. When negative self-talk creeps in, talk to your mentor, coach, friend. Tap into your resources and invest in personal development and the right training so you can learn what you need. Ask your leader or manager for feedback and see it as an opportunity rather than criticism.
  4. See failure as your opportunity. When things don’t work out, there is a reason for it. I always ask my clients: ‘What did you learn from that? What did you learn about yourself?’ That’s how we all grow. But unfortunately there is this stigma that failing is not an option anymore. Failure is only a failure if you belief it is. Your Growth Mindset will tell you that it is an opportunity to learn and grow.
  5. Celebrate wins. I am saying wins, not success, because success is hard to define and often we are influenced by others. Be proud of the progress you made instead of focussing what you have not achieved.

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