Change Your Mind: A Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

by | Apr 1, 2019 | Last updated Mar 16, 2023

Let’s talk about something that so many of us have in common: We so often desire a change from our current status quo.

Whether it’s a change in our weight, in our general health, in our strength, or in our abilities, we all are striving for some form of improvement or another.

So, how do we create that change in our lives? And how do our brains view change? How do they understand it? In our research on that topic, we’ve run across a very interesting concept.

Before we dive into that, though, let’s look at an example.

You’ve been given a crossword puzzle and asked to do it. “Ok, cool,” you think. Guess what? It’s ridiculously easy! You know every single answer. Total confidence boost, right?

“Ok, awesome,” says your dear friend administering the puzzles to you, “Now do this one.” Oh, this one. It’s almost like it’s written in a different language. So vague. You can’t figure any of it out!

So, what do you do? Do you think to yourself:

  • Who’s this person giving me this puzzle anyway? Forget this, not worth my time, I’m going to go make a snack.
  • OR Oh, I love a challenge! Bring it!

Pretty different responses right?

Those of you who chose A have responded in alignment with the Fixed Mindset. These people tend to believe that abilities are set in stone. You’re born with it. If you aren’t doing well at something, then you’re just not good at it, and believe that it’s just not your thing. These types of people can also be on the more defensive side about the talents they think they do possess, since they see skill as something that you simply have. Any questioning of their inherent skill flares them up, since they’ve been given what they’re given, and there’s no changing it.

But those of you who chose B have what’s called a Growth Mindset. You don’t know something? Cool! Learning it can be fun and interesting, and will cause you to grow and develop even more!

Here’s another example, just to give us a better sense of where these mindsets can show up:

You’re the type of person who’s always been a little overweight. A fixed mindsetter might say something like “Well this is just the way I am, I’ve always been this way, it must be genetic” A growth mindsetter would have a response that’s something like this “How exciting that I really am willing to put time and energy now into losing weight! Let’s see, what have I tried before? What’s worked well? What hasn’t really worked? What new things can I try?”

Worth noting is that you aren’t necessarily 100% a fixed or growth mindset person. You can have different mindsets for different aspects of life.

For example, you could be an incredibly talented musician, growing and changing in your work each year, but your house is a mess because you’re resigned to the fact that you just aren’t good at cleaning. Or, you could be really diligent about exercising, constantly working on building your strength and even trying new classes to see how they feel, but at the same time, you are obstinate in thinking that you really could never give up pizza.

When it comes to really making change, we need to be in a growth mindset, a state where we can truly allow ourselves to accept change and fully engage with it. So, how do we switch our mindset? Knowing about it and simply being aware is the first step.

Every time you notice yourself thinking in a fixed mindset, catch yourself and ponder how you could think about the situation in a growth mindset.

With that in mind, what kind of mindset do you have about the goals you’re currently working on? What would your relationship with your goals be if you were operating from a growth mindset?

Just think about it. There is a lot of growing that we all can do every day, if we only put our minds to it.

Want to expand your mindset?
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Author: Jade Kedrick