Two weeks ago, I discussed the importance of developing a life-purpose map to help you get where you want to go. Last week, I introduced the idea of gaining a fresh perspective on your goals and stretching outside of the familiar to challenge yourself in new ways. The third and final post in this mini-series outlines my journey through setting SMART goals. Join me as I launch my journey toward growing a growth mindset.
Assess Your Mindset
Stanford University professor Carol Dweck has studied mindset for over 30 years. If you want to know whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset, take her short quiz.
I know I’m onto something when I read part of my results: “You may be coasting when you could be excelling. You probably have more potential than you are using.”
Add to that my husband’s recent question, “Do you want to look back at this time with regrets, or amazement at all you’ve accomplished?” Easy. I hate regret.
Steps Toward a Growth Mindset
Once I recognized that I want to develop stronger tendencies toward a growth mindset, I tried imagining what would be different when I had one. In other words, starting with the end goal in mind. But what exactly does someone with a growth mindset do?
Growth Mindset Attributes
Below is a comprehensive list of mindset attributes compiled from a wide variety of resources including Precision Nutrition, Future Learn, Carol Dweck’s research, and Steve Hogarty at WeWork.
- Practice “beginner’s mind”
- Seek new perspectives
- Seek out challenges
- Be self-compassionate
- Think on a continuum
- Focus on effort over results
- Embrace and analyze “failure” or mistakes
- Take small steps daily
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Roll with the punches
- Set realistic and reasonable expectations
- Identify and record bright spots
Create a Shortlist
I can hear you griping. It’s just like reading a better eating habits list that starts with “chew each bite forty times,” “avoid multi-tasking,” and “set your fork down between each bite.” If you’re like me, you took one look at the long list and felt like quitting before you even started.
That’s the fixed mindset at work.
Read the list again. What three actions jump out at you? What are a few items you feel could be helpful but not impossible, that might result in forward progress? That’s where to start. Here’s my shortlist.
Channel Your Inner Wood Duck
My mantra for “roll with the punches” has been to “channel my inner wood duck.” I love the beautiful, multi-colored birds pictured above. I imagine water droplets — problems — landing on my feathers and simply shaking them off and continuing on my way down the stream. No harm, no foul.
What’s a Reasonable Expectation?
When I reached “set realistic and reasonable expectations,” I hesitated. What change might I see by summer, if I put serious effort into it? Can someone with decades of fixed mindset develop a growth mindset in all areas of life? Is it a lifetime pursuit? If I wanted to see measurable progress, how might I go about making a deliberate change?
Growth Mindset Action 1: Identify Bright Spots
I finally settled on the last one on the list, “Identify bright spots,” as my first action. I already have a habit of recording three wins each evening (an activity suggested in Dan Sullivan’s The Gap and The Gain). So it should be straightforward to change that to “record bright spots related to a growth mindset.”
In this way, I am training myself to call obstacles challenges and opportunities, not roadblocks. Language matters.
Whichever task you choose, focus on one action for two weeks. Write down your start and end date on a calendar or app. Then at the end of two weeks, assess whether you notice a difference.
Set up a support system. Give yourself a sticker when you complete your daily task. Set up reminders to keep it front and center. Tell someone about your intention. When you reach the end of the time period, decide whether you want to keep the habit (if it helped) or change focus to a new one. Every two weeks, evaluate your progress.
Ready to grow? Get set, GO!