Our minds can be our biggest assets or our biggest obstacles in life. You can cultivate beliefs that work for you and lead to your success, or they can work against you and your best interests without you even realizing it.
When you believe that your potential is unlimited and that good things are always coming your way, you are practicing a growth mindset. Today you’re going to learn 10 things you can do to develop one.
There are two types of mindsets, a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
People with fixed mindsets believe that they are defined by their current circumstances. They believe that their opportunities are limited and nothing better will come along. They accept what life gives to them and rarely try to achieve more. They admit defeat at the first sign of resistance. They are fixed in their career, skills, relationships, financial status, and health.
Sound familiar? The most important thing to know is that it is never too late to develop a growth mindset. Lets explore some of the facets of a growth mindset.
Characteristics of a Growth Mindset
People who have developed a growth mindset are more likely to be successful in life not because they don’t fail, but because when they do fail they get up and try again, and again, and again. When you have a growth mindset you know it’s ok to fail, and see failure as lessons instead of a judgement of your worth or capabilities.
People with a growth mindset:
- See possibilities instead of limitations.
- Know the power of their thoughts and beliefs and have a positive attitude.
- Are always striving to be better.
- Learn from failure instead of becoming defeated by it.
- Don’t fixate on mistakes from the past.
- Keep trying new things until they find what works.
- Continue to better themselves even after they’ve “made it.”
- Don’t let the opinion of other people dictate their beliefs or actions.
“Ok maybe others can do that, but I can’t.”
This is a limiting belief many of us have. We tell ourselves that someone else did it because they’re smarter, more talented, had better opportunities, already had money, or they’re just special and we’re not.
The truth is those are just excuses our ego comes up with because it’s afraid. Our fixed mindsets are our comfort zones and we rarely want to leave our comfort zones, because even if our circumstances are uncomfortable, it’s what we know and the unknown might be scary or hard.
Speaking from experience, a fixed mindset can be changed. I have such a different mindset than I did 2 years ago when I really started my personal growth journey. Looking back I can see that my world was so small, not because of my circumstances but because of my beliefs about myself.
If I can change my mindset, you can too and I’m going to show you how.
10 Steps to Develop a Growth Mindset
1. Gently redirect negative thoughts to empowering thoughts.
The first step is to confront your limiting beliefs. We start developing them as children and they take some effort to change but if you are willing to put in the effort you absolutely can.
To begin changing your limiting beliefs you have to first realize what they are. Take some time to sit and write down some of the negative things you often tell yourself. Try thinking about one of your biggest goals or wildest dreams, what comes up when you think about why you can’t achieve it?
Those are you limiting beliefs and they are not the truth. They are just things you’ve been taught or something you’re coming up with to protect yourself from the risk of failure and the pain of disappointment.
Write those beliefs down and then write down the new empowering beliefs you are going to replace it with.
For more on limiting beliefs feel free to read Why Limiting Beliefs are Holding You Back, and How to Change Them
Learning to change your limiting beliefs can be difficult, this free worksheet can help get you started.
2. Reframe mistakes as lessons.
Do you dwell on past mistakes a lot and berate yourself for them? I don’t know about you but there have been way too many nights when I laid awake remembering and analyzing all the silly mistakes I’ve made. I sometimes still feel embarrassed about mistakes I made when I was five years old, it’s totally ridiculous.
What we have to do is change the way we think about those mistakes. We can take away the shame or regret and turn it into a neutral or positive feeling by reframing those experiences as lessons that equip us for similar situations that may arise in the future.
Realizing that those mistakes gave you important life tools will help you sleep better at night and not waste time feeling crappy about the past.
3. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.
I don’t have to tell you that life comes with it’s challenges big and small.
When you have a growth mindset you view problems as opportunities to learn and gain experience. You get to learn something new. You get to learn about how to deal with this situation and gain tools to help you in the future. You get to grow as a person.
Now there are certainly time when awful things happen and it feels impossible to see it as anything other than a disaster or incredibly painful. It’s ok to feel that way. In those circumstances simply allow the possibility that in the future you might look back and be able to take something good from the situation.
You don’t have to make a commitment to changing the way you feel right now or later, only allow the possibility. Just maybe in the future you could let go, forgive, start again, rebuild, move on, or grow from the experience. Just maybe.
4. Keep learning and growing.
Lucky for you, you’re already doing number four by reading this.
Learning shouldn’t stop after high school or college. The world changes so quickly, if you want to keep up you have to adapt and keep learning. Ask questions! Challenge yourself by learning new facts or skills. Listen to educational podcasts, read books, take classes or courses.
Try new things just because it’s new and different from what you’ve done before. Learn for the sake of learning.
Personal development books are a great way to keep learning, I’ve created a list of The 12 Best Personal Growth Books and they have honestly changed my life. I really like listening to them in audiobook form while I do other things.
If you only read one personal development book make it Atomic Habits, that one is a life changer!
5. Acknowledge your accomplishments.
Sometimes you might feel like your life is a string of failures but I promise it’s not! There are many things that you’ve succeeded at. If you need to write them down and look at that list any time you’re feeling like you can’t do anything right. It can be literally anything that was a challenge but you did it anyways.
Maybe you were really afraid to drive but still got your license, or you introduced yourself to a stranger when you were scared, or you learned to swim as an adult, or you got out of bed and did your laundry today.
All of your wins are valid.
In college I had to take a communications/speech class to graduate. I am terrified of public speaking and though I had nervously given a few presentations in other classes for some reason this class just freaked me out. The night before my first speech I cried hysterically and almost dropped the class, but somehow I pushed through the fear and survived a shaky 2 minute speech. That might have been an easy task for other people but it was really hard for me and I got through the semester without crying or fainting (I have fainted in public from anxiety once, I don’t recommend it). I am proud as hell that I got through that class!
An accomplishment is an accomplishment no matter how someone else might view it. Give yourself credit for yours.
6. Replace judgement with compassion.
I think compassion is one of the most important traits to have generally, and it’s a must when you want to adopt a growth mindset. When you’re going through a hard time you want people to be understanding, right? Offer the same in return. Be more compassionate not only with yourself but with other people.
Realize everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have. We are all at different phases of growth. Some people don’t have the same tools you do because they haven’t had the same life experiences you’ve had.
Realize that YOU are doing the best you can too. If you’re here reading this post it’s because you want to learn and grow. You know that you can be better, but accept and love yourself as you are right now.
If you haven’t always done your best forgive yourself and move forward knowing that you deserve good things no matter what’s happened in the past.
7. Value the attempt more than the result.
If you studied really hard for a test but didn’t get a great grade should you feel terrible? If you put months into a business and it didn’t take off should you feel like a failure? No! If you know you did your best with the tools you have available you should be proud of how much effort you put into it.
Sometimes despite our best efforts things don’t turn out perfectly, that’s part of life but it’s certainly not a failure.
We should put value on the effort we made rather than the end result. Yes there is an end goal to have a finished product of a certain quality and that’s ok. Just commit to putting in an honest effort without beating yourself up if you don’t achieve perfection.
8. Take baby steps.
People who have cultivated a growth mindset know that success doesn’t come over night and they don’t let that stop them for one second.
One day of working out doesn’t give you six-pack abs, right?
Anything that’s ever been achieved has been through a series of small steps that when added together created something bigger.
Success is the accumulation of daily actions over time. Consistent small actions done every day are what add up to your desired results.
One of the best way to make sure those small actions keep building momentum is to create habits out of those little steps that will get you to the end game. Once you make an action a habit it takes less mental effort so you can put that energy into other things.
Read more on How to Create Habits and Achieve Your Goals.
9. Leave your comfort zone.
Speaking from experience, leaving your comfort zone can be terrifying and feel like an impossible task. Even if staying in your bubble is safe, it may keeping you from something amazing. Leaving your cozy safe space is essential for growing as a human.
It might help to look at the reasons you struggle to leave your comfort zone. If you’re afraid to try something really look inward and find the source of your fear. Are you afraid of failure, being judged, feeling unsafe, going it alone, being “wrong,” or something else?
Once you identify the reason(s), see if you can deconstruct them with the steps we’ve previously talked about. Do you need to change a limiting belief? Can you be more compassionate with yourself? Can you break it down into smaller, less scary steps? Are there lessons or wins from past experiences that can help you?
Try to focus on the benefits of leaving your comfort zone instead of your fears. I know that’s easier said than done, but like with many things practice makes perfect.
10. Have a “I don’t have (goal) YET” attitude.
A lot of people fall into the “I’ll never have” money, a big house, the perfect career, a spouse, etc mindset. Generally if you tell yourself something is impossible you’ll find a way to make that true through self-sabotage. Likewise, if you tell yourself your goal or dream IS possible you’ll be more likely to look for solutions and take actions to make it a reality.
Get into the habit of saying “I don’t have my dream house YET.”
Follow that up with “but I’m making progress.”
I haven’t reached my goal yet, but I’m making progress.
I don’t have a successful business yet, but I’m getting there.
I don’t know what I want yet, but I’m figuring it out.
This growth mindset way of thinking will help you bust through self-imposed limitations and manifest your goals.
Final thoughts on developing a growth mindset
That concludes the 10 steps to a growth mindset. Taking these steps will help you to ditch your fixed mindset and go forward knowing that you can do or change anything as long as you’re willing to take action.
You won’t be limited by your upbringing or current circumstance. You’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll be more successful. You’ll grow as a human and be able to thrive without the old limiting junk holding you back.
Read more about how to do inner-work.
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