How to Change Your Mindset... 3 Simple Steps!
Ok, now I know that maybe I’ve got a bit of a fixed mindset sometimes and actually its holding me back! So I’d really like to change that and start actually achieving the success I want. How on earth do I do it???
If this sounds like you at this point then congratulations! You are actually already starting to make the changes you need to have more of a growth mindset. How do I know that? Because you haven’t dismissed the idea and you want to learn more, develop and change. That shows a growth mindset right there. You are prepared to listen to yourself and question it. You’ve already taken a look at yourself, taken responsibility and realised that actually, some of this might be your way of thinking and not finite.
The change needs to start with self awareness and an understanding of what it is that triggers off your fixed mindset. Once you start to get to know these then you can pause and explore them and in time change them. Then less will trigger it, it will happen less often and a growth mindset will just become your default instead.
So now you can follow these 3 simple steps in order to start making some lasting changes which will serve you well…
1 – Start to journal a bit. Each day or each time you face a challenge, set back, opportunity for growth or anytime you like then simply write down your thoughts. This is only for you. It’s not for the wider world or anyone else. It is the unedited version of exactly what is going on in your mind right now – what you are saying to yourself. When you’ve written some things down take a look at them. Are they phrased like a fixed or growth mindset? This inner voice is our own inner demon. Our self-saboteur. It’s very common to have one and its only purpose in life is to keep us safe. Although sadly mostly what is does is stops us taking and action and then feeling pretty shit about it! So it needs to be heard, addressed and put to rest each time it appears.
Fixed thoughts will be things like –
This could be embarrassing if it goes wrong. It’s not my fault. Other people have got the issues. I’m just not as lucky as them. They have it easy. It’s much easier if you have x, y, z. I always knew I wasn’t good/ talented/ intelligent/x enough to do it. Other people are better at it than me so why compete against them. They are already doing it so there is no point in me doing it. I’m not as good as them. I always get bad scores/ marks/ placings. I can’t possibly get access to the things/ resources I need to succeed. What do they know? The judge was a bit harsh/ they don’t like me. All of the environmental factors caused poor performance, it wasn’t me. I always… I’m never… I’m a nervous rider. I’m never confident. I can’t…. They just don’t like my face/ horse/ name/ instructor/x. I have to prove myself to… I can’t do it so why should they. It’s not even worth starting. I’ll do it once I’ve done x/y/z. I don’t want to write it down as a goal because I never achieve goals. I’ll just give it up. I tried and it didn’t work so it’s not possible.
The list could go on and on but you can probably gather the themes of the types of things you will be saying in your own head if you are experiencing a fixed mindset in that moment.
2- Understand it’s your choice what you say to yourself and what you believe to be the truth!
Do you want to view this situation as a setback, challenge, negative, criticism and judgement? Or would you prefer to flip it so it becomes an opportunity to learn, grow, explore new things, find out more information or resources, examine your current situation etc?
3 – Ask yourself some questions that will help you to reframe the thoughts into more useful growth ones. This helps you to talk to your inner voice with a growth mindset and challenge it. In turn this breaks down these beliefs and starts to form new lasting ones.
Questions to ask…
What did I learn today?
What mistake did I make that taught me something?
Is my current learning strategy working? If not, how can I change it?
Do I know the outcome or goal I’m after?
What information can I gather? And from where?
Where can I get constructive feedback?
If I had a plan to be successful at [blank], what might it look like?
When will I follow through on my plan?
Where will I follow through on my plan?
How will I follow through on my plan?
What did I try hard at today?
What habits must I develop to continue the gains I’ve achieved?
You might also find it useful to spot the fixed mindset phrases and talk back to them. Finding evidence to the contrary of what you are thinking in that moment is very helpful too.
Instead of “I’m not good enough” you can say to yourself “Everyone has setbacks and they serve to show us what gaps we have in our learning.” Then ask yourself one of the above questions.
Instead of “I hate failing – it means I’m a failure” you can say “Everyone fails in their path to mastery.” Look at Edison – he failed 1000 times to make a lightbulb. But when asked he said “"I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
Instead of “This would be easy if I was good at it” say “Nothing is easy on the inside. We just see the outside view of people who are doing well. They’ve all had struggles along the way and simply grown from them”
Finally “It’s not my fault” say “If I take responsibility then I can fix it. It may not be easy but I will learn something. Let’s see what lesson this one is, even if it’s a painful one”
Below are many more example of great growth mindsets that you can use as examples to tell yourself if you think you are in a bit of a fixed one…
AP (Tony) Mccoy has ridden 4,358 winner in his horse racing career. He raced 17,630 races so he actually “failed” 13,272 times! His win to “fail” % is only 25%. So 75% of the time he didn’t win. But what did he do? LEARN! He also suffered 1000 falls and has broken 13 bones in his body and had 14 teeth chipped or knocked out. There are some very good reasons for giving up. But instead he always analysed, learnt and implemented new things to make him successful.
Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching." In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect." Clearly, he evolved.
When Julie Andrews took her first screen test for MGM studios, the final determination was that "She's not photogenic enough for film."
At the age of 21, French acting legend Jeanne Moreau was told by a casting director that her head was too crooked, she wasn't beautiful enough, and she wasn't photogenic enough to make it in films. She took a deep breath and said to herself, "Alright, then, I guess I will have to make it my own way." After making nearly 100 films her own way, in 1997 she received the European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.
12 publishers rejected J.K. Rowling's book about a boy wizard before a small London house picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Steve Jobs was fired from Apple after he had set it up. He went off to do other things and eventually success in that led him back to becoming CEO of Apple again. He said “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Michael Jordan (Basketball Player) quote - “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
How do I discover my Mindset?
If you’ve read part 1 and 2 of this blog all about Growth vs Fixed Mindsets then you will now understand the difference between the two. Great!
the thing about mindset is that it’s all very well talking about it and saying “you should have this one or think that way” but actually knowing what you think and do and indeed how to change it is actually the useful part.
In fact there are so many people out there talking about "#positivity" or "#mindset" but they actually have no idea what so ever how to change it or what to do to help someone. They commonly are out there talking about it (often it's very carefully constructed) because they want recognition and in a funny way this can be a huge indicator of a fixed mindset! Ironic hey? So this (part 3) of the blog looks into how you identify which you have and when. Then part 4 will help you to change it if you think it will be beneficial (which mostly it is!).
As said many times before, mindset can be situational. You can think one way in one situation and differently in another. Practicing a growth mindset when you are able to rationalise and think about something logically will certainly help to change things in the long run and is the way to start. However, research has shown that you will have a predominant mindset that will ultimately be what shows up in times of stress or anxiety. This is the one we really want to get at because if we do then this has profound and lasting results!
Think of a time recently when you’ve felt under pressure, stressed, anxious or annoyed. This is the time we want to explore for now. Here are some questions to answer that will help you to work out which of the two mindsets you might have in that moment. So think of exactly that moment and then answer these questions about what you were thinking at that time…
Do you feel like you are floundering or not making any progress?
Do you feel you’ve gone backwards?
Do you want to give in because you don’t know the answers?
Do others have it easy compared to you?
Is the anxiety of (perceived) safety greater than the joy of potential learning and growth in this moment?
Are you just not talented enough to be able to do this or achieve the bigger goal?
Are you worried what others will think?
Are there a lot of things in this situation that are actually just other people’s faults and it’s not really you responsible?
Is this just the way you are and you cant change that?
You can learn new things but ultimately it’s not going to change anything about this?
If you have answered yes to a few or more of these questions above then the chances are that you’ve got a bit of a fixed mindset hidden in there and that could be really holding you back from progressing and truly reaching your potential.
Now look out for part 4 of the blog because it will give you lots of things to think about and do that will help you to change – if you want to?
The Fixed Mindset - You'd never have one, right?
A “Fixed Mindset” sounds pretty final and I expect you would certainly never want to admit that you might have one, right?
Here’s the thing…. A Mindset is not an identity, it’s not who you are and even better it’s totally changeable! But in order to change it, you have to notice that it’s there. Even just sometimes or in some situations. This blog looks at the key traits in identifying if you might have a bit of a fixed one sometimes…
People with a fixed mindset believe they either are or are not something. That might be talented, clever, trainable, good at something, confident etc etc. It’s pretty black and white. Sadly due to this they never really excel at anything – because they will give up at the first hurdle. They are looking for validation from others to say that they are ok, or good or even worthy. This means that as soon as something is harder than expected or they have a setback then they will likely get humiliated, give up and avoid it again.
For example – you go to a well-known trainer to learn but deep down you really want to show them how capable you are so they say “well done, you are good at this” and that makes you feel better. However, because they are a trainer they are more likely to pick holes in your ability and skills and look to find ways to improve upon them. This may even involve setting tasks that are harder than you expect and you “failing” at them. With a fixed mindset this is very hard to swallow and often very demoralising for the learner. Despite what the learner might then say, it’s not the fault of the trainer, they are only doing their job! It’s the mindset of the learner in that moment. They aren’t getting the validation they desire and so they don’t like it (and blame it on the trainer).
It is really common for people with performance anxiety or issues to have them because they are determined to get “good” results. This is driven by a desire to get validation and actually leads to tension and anxiety, which in turn diminishes performance. So a fixed mindset with competition with actually be detrimental to performance.
With a fixed mindset people avoid new challenges, putting themselves out there or anything that may potentially fail (even a little bit) because the desire is to “get it right” and get that good feeling. Rather than the opposite desire of a growth mindset, which is to “have a go” and get the feedback. Now of course there are some things in life where it’s important to get it right (often safety related) and so then a fixed mindset in that particular area is important. In fact that’s why it exists! To stop us catastrophically failing when we were genuinely in danger as cave people. Of course now this is no longer the case so we can safely retrain this part of our brain.
Often people with a fixed mindset will be jealous of others because they don’t see things as possible, instead they see them as easy or hard. Those who have kept at it to achieve success are often seen as having “found it easy” (for whatever reason) by the fixed mindset person. Sadly this means they are never going to put in the effort to achieve their own personal potential and will often feel they are floundering in their own development.
You can of course have a mixture of the two types of mindset and it can vary depending on the situation, but people do tend to lean towards one. In all reality, it’s not likely to be your own fault if you notice you perhaps tend towards a fixed mindset. Unfortunately our entire education system guides us towards it. It is completely based around outcomes and being “good or bad” at something and is even tested with grades and “pass or fail”. That’s pretty final! There isn’t much emphasis on improvement or learning and it’s very simple to label a child intelligent or stupid. Sadly this is then echoed in parenting and so a child can easily grow up thinking they are either good or bad at something.
So take a moment to have a think and perhaps notice if you have any of these traits or thought processes that might be holding you back? You might notice it in your competition performance, your attitudes towards training or even your thoughts on your own progress in mastering a complex skill. Part 3 of this blog explores how to identify your mindset and crucially part 4 looks at how you can change it.