This week, we learn tactics you can begin using today to develop a growth mindset.
Your thoughts rewrite your brain physically. What you allow yourself to repeatedly think matters—a lot. The thoughts in your mind that you repeat the most are as important as the people you spend time with: they shape both the form and function of your mind.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. But what about your thoughts? Your thoughts shape your world. While it’s certainly true that the people you surround yourself with have incredible influence over you, thoughts are equally—if not more—influential.
In last week’s focus, we learned the difference between a fixed mindset and one geared more towards growth. The growth mindset is the one needed to overcome setbacks, to achieve goals, move forward, and always find the opportunity in the midst of challenge.
But how do you actually train your brain to think this way?
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
- Always be willing to learn. Call it humility, inquisition, or curiosity—always be willing to learn something new. Remaining open to receiving new information helps you stay nimble and fresh. It also allows for perspective change. Everyone and everything has something to teach you.
- Embrace failure. We are actually—literally—hardwired to gravitate towards the negative. We are supposed to see things that are wrong. Think about it: you avoid being hunted by a lion by noticing the wrong in your given situation. But this survival tactic doesn’t work well within our own mind. When the impulse arises to criticize yourself for a setback, instead, find the opportunity that lives within the failure. Learn from it. Grow from it.
- Know the struggle is guaranteed, the outcome is not. Any goal you set out to achieve will have setbacks. It’s how you choose to react to those setbacks that determines the outcome. Use that struggle (and the negative voice that follows) as a habit loop trigger to remind yourself that it’s time to reorient your mind towards action.
- Accept situations as they are, not as you want them to be. The way in which we see the world is how we interact with it. Make sure, then, that you are perceiving things as they are, not as you want them to be. Take things for what they are—at absolute, basic face-value.
- Determine what you can control. Focusing on what is outside of your control is a path to stress, anxiety, and confusion. In any given situation, determine what it is you can control—sometimes, the only thing you can control is mindset. Choose to see where your opportunities lie and what you can do with what you have.
- Choose your words wisely. Consider the words you use when speaking to yourself: how they reflect how you treat yourself, how you make decisions, what you think about, and how they influence your attitude. The words you choose can either be helpful, or harmful.
- Ask the question differently. If you change the question, you can change the trajectory of your life. Think about an experience in your life that you consider a setback; then, ask yourself, 'what have I learned from that experience?' to reframe your point-of-view. Ask questions based in progress, ones that elicit resourceful, constructive answers.
- Find comfort in discomfort. When strife hits, we often immediately and instinctively reach for something to dispel the pain. Instead, sit in the discomfort; accept that it is part of the human process. Acknowledge what got you to this place; also acknowledge that it is up to you—and only you—to solve it.
Rewiring your brain takes work. But the more often you practice these growth mindset tactics, the more natural they will become.
One final consideration: do you live in a friendly or hostile universe? Einstein considered this to be the single most important decision in any person’s life. Choosing which to believe is a choice; that choice determines your perception, which determines your life.
Which will you choose?