We know there are benefits to having a growth mindset, but what if our comfort zone is to live in a fixed mindset?
Sometimes it’s easier not to try something at all because our fear of failure, of embarrassment, rejection, of simply the unknown, is so great that we can’t cope with the level of discomfort it brings. We heap unrealistic demands on ourselves, expecting us to get something perfect the first time we do it. Talk about pressure!
Relieve the pressure on yourself by thinking of it as an experiment. You don’t know what the outcome will be but there’s only one way to find out. So you try it, you note the results, and if you didn’t quite get the results you were expecting or hoping for, you adjust the parameters of the experiment and try again.
Apparently, James Dyson took over 5000 attempts to create the globally successful Dyson vacuum cleaner. We forget that part, don’t we? It gets conveniently edited out of the narrative by the mainstream media. We see only the wildly successful, phenomenally rich inventor and assume such people are somehow different to us, that they achieved ‘overnight success’ because they’re more intelligent, ‘better’ than us and we’re just not cut out for it because we failed on our first attempt. It’s almost laughable if it weren’t so poignant.
The truth is, most successful people have had to implement a growth mindset and milk it dry. Day after day, overcoming each new challenge, obstacle and setback using resilience, determination, persistence and relentless focus on their goal. In short, hard work! But before this starts to sound unappealing, imagine if the area in which you applied all this hard work was something you were passionate about, something you loved doing that just lit you up from the inside out. Wouldn’t that make it all the more appealing to stick with it when times were tough?
What about the more mundane aspects of study or work that begrudgingly, just have to be done? Well, thinking about the bigger picture, the why, helps to put things into context. Maybe the seemingly mundane task is taking you a step closer to your bigger goal. Maybe you’re learning a new work skill that will stand you in good stead for the future, or a life skill that is developing your sense of self. We tend to overlook these things at the time, but like a huge jigsaw puzzle, the seemingly mundane tasks sometimes click into place at a later stage in life, when it suddenly becomes clear why we needed to learn that skill or develop that quality.
If you’re stuck in a fixed mindset and want to set yourself free, consider these pointers:
- Let curiosity get the better of you. I wonder what would happen if I try X? Let go of the outcome and give yourself permission to treat this new avenue as an experiment. Like a true scientist, note down the results, modify the parameters and repeat till you get to where you want to be.
- Think about what you LOVE to do and pursue goals in this area. Being passionate about something will give you the drive to persist even if it feels out of your comfort zone.
- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain. Let FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) work in your favour for once. Picture yourself in twenty years time, having still not done the thing you wanted to do. Use this as a driver to push you out of your comfort zone and into your courage zone.
- “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Seneca. We can make things difficult for ourselves by overthinking them; we literally analyse till we paralyse. What if we accepted that the thing we want to do isn’t difficult; we’re just choosing to make it difficult for ourselves.
- It’s time to out your inner perfectionist. A fixed mindset believes that you don’t have the skills, qualities or personality to do something perfectly, so why bother even trying? It’s the voice in your head saying “leave it to other people who can do it better than you.” A growth mindset gives permission to not be perfect; it sees the learning opportunities and is confident that by learning from each experience, progression will occur until the goal is reached. Be honest – are you applying perfectionist beliefs in your approach to life? How is this serving you?
Remember, reading is interesting and thought provoking, but it’s taking action that gets results.
Jane Newport is a certified life coach based in Cannock, Staffordshire. She specialises in taking people from overwhelm to calm using a holistic approach. She loves being outdoors and extols the virtues of nature for a healthy mind, body and soul. Find out more at www.janenewport.com
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