Your mindset is the attitude and the beliefs that influence how you approach and handle any given situation. Your mindset will drive your decisions, actions, and responses. It acts as a filter through which you see the world; helping you to sort through and understand the world around you. Your mindset will impact the opportunities you see, the experience that you have, and the results you get.

Two major mindsets

two major mindsets
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Whilst we hold a large and complex array of beliefs, there are two contrasting beliefs that will vastly impact our lives.

These beliefs form two major mindsets: the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset. Defined by psychologist Carol Dweck, the fixed vs growth mindset can be broken down as follows:

A fixed mindset is simply the belief that our abilities, intelligence, and general potential are fixed. That we each have a certain predetermined amount and that’s our lot in life.

In contrast, a growth mindset understands that the abilities, intelligence, and opportunities available to us can be grown and developed through effort, learning, and persistence.

Fixed mindset

Because a fixed mindset maintains the belief that potential is a limited factor, then a person stuck in a fixed mindset will spend a lot of time avoiding situations where that potential is exceeded.

For example, if I believe that I am no good at art (and have no potential to become good at art) then I will actively avoid situations where artistic skills will be required.

Within a fixed mindset, there are clear definitions of success and failure, and success is limited.

Key characteristics of a fixed mindset:
  • Avoiding challenges
  • Lack of ability to deal with setbacks
  • Trying to hide or avoid mistakes
  • Defining abilities to limited areas
  • Negative self-talk
Growth mindset

A growth mindset holds a more flexible definition of success. Success is more linked to growth, learning, and progress toward goals.

A person with a growth mindset can identify a lack of skill, a gap in knowledge, or a missing opportunity, and simultaneously understand that there is potential to change that.

For example, if I identify that my artistic skill is low (but hold the belief that I can improve), then I can seek the opportunities that will allow me to learn, grow, and develop in that area.

Key characteristics of a growth mindset:
  • Open to challenges and new ideas
  • Ability to learn from the people around them
  • Recognise failure as an opportunity to learn
  • Acknowledge their own weaknesses without criticism
Recognising your own mindset

The benefits of a growth mindset may seem obvious, but recognising your own mindset can be more complex than you think. Most of us naturally hold one mindset or the other, but the truth is we often shift between mindsets.

If you have ever found yourself saying things like “I am no good at maths” or “I am terrible at remembering names” then you have slipped into a fixed mindset.

The problem here is that this immediately shuts down any possibility of this changing for us. Until we shift into a growth mindset, we will be closed to any opportunity to learn, grow, or develop in that area.

The good news is that you can learn to shift your mindset. Here are some tips to get you started.

How to shift into a growth mindset

How to shift your mindset
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Be curious

Practice approaching life with curiosity. The best way to learn and grow is to be open to learning and growth. Approaching life with curiosity allows you to open up to learning. The more you practice learning, growth, and reflection, then easier it becomes.

Research, engage in conversation, and say yes to opportunities.

Generate positives

Negative thoughts happen. Part of a growth mindset is understanding this. Rather than feeling negative about your negative-ness, practice generating positives to balance it out.

Research shows that we need at least five positive messages for every negative one we experience. This practice is most powerful when the positives are related to the negative statement that came up.

For example, if you catch yourself saying “I look terrible today!” try taking the time to identify 5 things you love about your appearance today.

However, if this feels too hard, find positives where you can.

Celebrate success

Understand that success comes in many forms – the most important of which is progress.

A key characteristic of a fixed mindset is the belief that success only comes at the full completion of a task. A growth mindset understands that success also comes along the way – with every learning, every milestone, every aha moment. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate

A key characteristic of a fixed mindset is the belief that success only comes at the full completion of a task. A growth mindset understands that success also comes along the way – with every learning, every milestone, every aha moment. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate

Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate those successes along the way, and your mindset will help to propel you forward.

Use the word ‘YET!’

If you take nothing else away, take this one simple word: YET. This single word can create a bridge between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

“I can’t do this!” becomes “I can’t do this, YET…”

“I don’t know this!” becomes “I don’t know this, YET…”

“I haven’t reached my goal!” becomes “I haven’t reached my goal, YET…”

“My life is not where I want it to be!” becomes “My life is not where I want it to be, YET…”

With the word ‘YET’ comes opportunity, potential, and openness to growth.

What if I am still struggling?

If you are still struggling, understand this: mindsets are complex things that are often built up over years of experience, learning, and habits. Sometimes shifting our mindset can be quick, simple, and easy. Sometimes it is not.

Big change, big shifts, and deep work are not things that we are meant to do alone. Seek support, create the space and accountability within your life to allow it to happen, and understand that it is okay to find it hard.

In fact, if you have hit some resistance it is a good sign. You’re on the right path!


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About Tara Jackson | Life Alignment Coach

I am on a mission to empower women to set a new standard within their lives and establish a life where they can thrive. With more than a decade in working in (and on) personal development I am committed to supporting people to find, not just their own potential, but the potential of their lives. Through coaching, I work with women to create real change that leads to a life aligned with what is most important to you.


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