What You Need to Know About Having a Growth Mindset: Moving Ahead in 2021
Updated: Jan 10
I write this today in amazement. It feels like only yesterday I was preparing for 2020. Now, I’m staring into 2021 and wondering what’s in store for me! One can’t help but mention Mr. CV (yup, he’s still hanging around and causing general chaos). I’ve already written about the impact of COVID-19 on our inner selves last year.
If I was to share with you the greatest impact COVID-19 had on me last year, it would be having to change my mindset. I thought I had mastered the art of moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. But, believe me when I say my mindset continued to shift exponentially during 2020.
And, this was all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shifting Between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset
Seven years ago, my life started to change dramatically. While I would never have admitted to it way back then (let alone know such a thing existed), I was living with a complete, fixated, fixed mindset.
Circumstances changed for me and I underwent some seriously dramatic events. These events pointed me in a new direction. To do this successfully I needed to have a growth mindset.
It wasn’t easy and for those of you who have been following me, you know my story well. For those of you who don’t, you may find my blog an informative journey. You’ll discover how I found my way to shamanism, transformational life coaching, and becoming a life coach myself. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without a growth mindset.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
But, what exactly am I talking about when I throw in words such as “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”? And, what does it have to do with forging ahead into a new year? A lot if you want to move ahead, grow, and accept the changes that are being forced onto us as a result of this pandemic.
Check out the definitions below and decide which one is your mindset:
A fixed mindset: You believe everyone is born with their own levels of intelligence, unique talents, and abilities. A person with a fixed mindset doesn’t believe they can expand on what they already have even if they persisted through learning, efforts, and determination. A fixed mindset is restricted by your thoughts and beliefs.
A growth mindset: You thrive through your own belief system and thoughts. A person with a growth mindset recognizes others with special talents, intelligence levels, and abilities. BUT, not only does a person with a growth mindset appreciate their own talents, knowledge, and abilities, they also know they can improve through perseverance, passion, learning, and a desire to grow.
A person with a fixed mindset sees challenges in everything and they give up very easily. They only see the limitations.
A person with a growth mindset sees challenges in everything and they push on even if they fail more than once. They only see growth and potential.
If you found yourself nodding your head as you read the definition for a fixed mindset, don’t despair. You’re about to embark on a thrilling journey! If you’re already living with a growth mindset, congratulations!
But, I challenge anyone with a growth mindset to confess that their abilities have been sorely challenged at some point in the past year. I know for sure mine have been and I’ve, on many occasions, caught myself slipping back into a fixed mindset.
Fear and the Mindset
Fear comes in many forms and when we least expect it. It can be very real and if not watched closely, it can swallow you up. I know when I heard the word “cancer” as my doctor was telling me my diagnosis a few years back, fear bubbled up. When I was told I had Ushers Syndrome in 2019, fear enveloped me. And, when Mr. CV landed on our shores last year, fear overwhelmed me.
When fear creeps in, very quickly the fixed mindset can take over. And, if you’re not careful, you will find yourself slipping down a very slippery slope indeed!
I know the feeling and it took a concerted effort to shake myself free of the fear. Through life coaching, I learned to look at fear as an opportunity to explore what beliefs and thoughts I needed to shift. By recognizing the fear for what it is and accepting it, I can then work with it.
During 2020, I did a lot of swinging between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I guess it helped to have the tools on hand to help me recognize when I was swinging back into a fixed mindset. Admittedly, it was easier to deal with the fear once I knew what was happening.
The biggest thing with fear is to accept it, understand why it’s there in the first place, and then see it as an opportunity to grow from it.
Using a Growth Mindset to Handle Endings and Beginnings
With change, there’s a cycle of ends and beginnings. People will argue that an ending is what is needed for the beginning to happen. Others will argue that a beginning is needed for an end to happen. But, if you look at change being a cycle, then either way works.
T.S. Eliot defines it so beautifully and for me, this is my quote for heading into the new year:
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language,
And next year’s words await another voice.
What we call the beginning is often the end,
And to make an end is to make a beginning” – T. S. Eliot
So, what has a growth mindset have to do with change and a new year? Everything if you want to move forward and grow. It’s all about the words we choose to speak, the beliefs we choose to believe in and the actions we decide to take.
If you can believe in growing yourself, in changing your language so it serves you, and taking the action needed to move onwards and upwards, then you’ve got one powerful growth mindset.
What the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching me, on a daily basis, is that a growth mindset is better than a fixed mindset. It’s teaching me to accept the uncertainty that’s virtually become the norm these days. It’s helping me to manage the immense sorrow that overwhelms me some days, as I watch tragedies unfold on a daily basis.
But, it also helps me to acknowledge the incredible people and their incredible stories as they find ways to cope with such a major event.
If you want to develop your growth mindset, I highly recommend reading ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Another book I read, over and over again, is Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. This book is phenomenal for handling times of great despair and how a growth mindset will help you cope.
A Final Word on Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
Challenging times call for strength, compassion, and love. They also call for an open mindset. Each and every one of us has the courage and the ability to grow. We just need to believe in ourselves and tap into the amazing power of our mindsets.
The COVID-19 pandemic is scary, exhausting, and frustrating. And, yes, you’ve been forced to change the way you live. But, with an open mindset, you can change the way you view the situation and make it work for you. Give it a go, you won’t regret it.