Mindset is an often overlooked but incredibly important part of achieving our goals.
Our mindset is made up of the beliefs and attitudes that we have about ourselves and the world around us.
Babies are not born with a certain mindset, but instead learn new beliefs and attitudes about the world as they grow.
What Does The Research Say About Mindset?
Carol Dweck, a psychology researcher at Columbia and later Stanford, noticed that people respond very differently to failure. She wanted to learn why this was, so she set up a research experiment with kids.
Dr. Dweck brought the kids into a playroom, and watched them as they tried to solve puzzles. She gave them easy puzzles at first, and then gave them increasingly harder puzzles.
As the puzzles got more difficult, she noticed the kids responding in two very different ways.
One set of kids grew increasingly frustrated. They got mad, gave up easily, and avoided trying these tougher puzzles if given the option.
But the other group of kids actually seemed excited by these harder puzzles, even if they weren’t able to solve them right away. One kid shouted, “I love a good challenge!” and some kids even asked Dr. Dweck if they could take the harder puzzles home to practice and get better.
Dr. Dweck noted that while this second group of kids had failed to solve the harder puzzles (like the first group), they didn’t even think of it as failing! Instead, they just thought they were learning. These kids were on to something!
These observations lead Dr. Dweck to eventually write the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. In this book, Dr. Dweck describes a “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset”.
Introducing the Growth Mindset & Fixed Mindset
Throughout Dr. Dweck’s studies on mindset, she found that a person’s mindset had an affect not only on how they approached problems, but many other aspects of their life as well.
A person’s mindset affects:
- Their beliefs about whether or not they are able to improve with practice or if they are forever stuck with the hand they were dealt.
- How they view challenging situations – as a learning opportunity or only a chance for failure.
- Their attitude towards effort – some view it as the only way to improve, while others feel that it is a waste of time.
- Whether or not they will stick to something when things get tough.
- Whether they need to be perfect at something right away, or whether they are willing to work towards being good at something.
- Their attitude towards the success of others – some are motivated and inspired by it while others feel threatened.
- Their definition of success. Some feel successful when they are good at something immediately without trying, whereas others feel successful when something that was once hard has gotten easier.
The following infographic summarizes the differences between the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.
If you’d like, you can also watch this video for a summary of the growth mindset versus fixed mindset!
A Few Important Things To Be Aware Of With Mindset
First, neither mindset is inherently “bad”. There are some situations where having a fixed mindset can actually be more beneficial than a growth mindset. So no judgement!
Second, mindset is a spectrum. No one is 100% growth or fixed minded. Everyone has at least a little of both mindsets in there somewhere. Your mindset can even shift depending on your current situation!
And third, it is possible for people to have different mindsets in different aspects of their life.
For example, a person may believe that if they study hard, they can get smarter, or if they draw every day they can develop their artistic ability.
But this same person may feel that no matter how hard they try, they will not be able to improve their fitness level.
In this example, the person has a growth mindset when it comes to learning and art, but a fixed mindset when it comes to fitness.
Now, think about the people in your life. Can you think of someone who seems to lean heavily towards either a fixed or growth mindset?
Does Mindset Affect Your Ability To Achieve Goals?
The short answer is yes – in a big way.
Watch the following video to see how these different mindsets affect a person’s ability to achieve goals – in this case, their fitness goals.
What Type Of Mindset Do You Have?
As you watched the above videos, you might have found yourself starting to think, “hey, that sounds a lot like me”, about one or both of the mindsets.
If you’re still not sure if you lean towards more of a growth or a fixed mindset, there are two ways to go about figuring it out. You could take a Mindset Quiz. Or, you could do it the old fashioned way.
If you’d rather do it the old fashioned way, try to be aware of your thoughts as you go throughout your day.
Don’t forget to think in terms of the different aspects of your life! For example, intelligence, athletic ability, artistic ability, relationships, etc.
When you find yourself having a particularly growth or fixed mindset thought, jot it down along with a very brief description of what was happening at the time.
After a day or two of making these kinds of observations, you should have a pretty solid idea about your mindset.
And don’t forget, it’s important to be completely honest with yourself during these observations.
Can You Change Your Mindset?
I am so glad you asked! You can absolutely change your mindset.
Remember, a mindset is simply a collection of beliefs – and you can always change your mind!
If you’d like to learn how to shift your mindset, check out the post: 9 Ways To Start Developing A Growth Mindset Right Now!
Mindset plays an incredibly important role in achieving your goals. It can influence how much effort you are willing to put towards them as well as how likely you are to stick with it when things get tough.
Therefore, mindset has a direct effect on how likely you are to succeed in achieving your goals!
If you are interested in learning more about mindset, and how you can improve it, check out the following posts:
- The 2-Minute Mindset Makeover – how to overcome failure.
- And others related to motivation and identity!
Remember, when it comes to healthy habits and goals – mindset matters!