I would argue that the notion of mindset is so fundamental to success in life, it should be taught in kindergarten. So, what leads me to say this and how do we change our mindset?
In this article we explore why mindset is so important for personal and professional growth and discover how a shift in mindset can help you unlock your potential by developing a confident, growth and success mindset.
Mindset is the set of thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that we hold. This is important because it underpins what we do.
If you want a different outcome in life, you need to pay attention to this because it can truly impact how you react and interact with people, situations and events in your life. To change the outcome, you need to change the mindset. Not surprisingly, mindset is complex. To enrich our understanding of this, it can be helpful to explore three different types of mindset; confidence, growth and success.
The confident mindset is all about building confidence. There are different characteristics of confidence and these relate to self, task and social.
Breakdown of the Confident Mindset
Self-confidence refers to how you see yourself, and is commonly associated with self-worth and self-esteem.
Task confidence is similar but slightly different in that it relates more to confidence in doing a task. For example, Sam might be confident in himself (self-confidence high), but not very confident driving a car (task confidence low) or vice versa.
Social confidence relates to confidence when interacting socially. The important thing to remember about confidence, and mindset generally, is that this is something we can change. All this requires is effort and the ‘know how’.
Impact of a Confident Mindset
Building a confident mindset is important for personal and professional growth because it underpins decision making, appetite for risk taking and willingness to take control and to act. Typically, when we have a confident mindset we are more willing to make decisions and choices that stretch us, we’re more willing to take ownership and control to change things and we’re more likely to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. This can lead to more success and to achieving goals that matter to us, whatever they are.
A growth mindset is concerned with growth potential, but essentially this relates to openness. When we talk about a growth mindset, this is often discussed in terms of having a growth or fixed mindset. In the context here, having a growth mindset is about being open-minded, being open to feedback and being adaptable.
Breaking down the Growth Mindset
When we develop more of a growth mindset we are more likely to listen and be receptive to different points of view including feedback. We are more open to making mistakes and willing to try something new so that we can learn from this. We are also more likely to develop a positive attitude, where we have energy and enthusiasm for our goals. When we have these elements in sync we are more likely to move closer towards our goals and success.
A success mindset is about focusing on goals to get results.
Breaking down the Success Mindset
The characteristics of a success mindset relate to purpose, motivation and commitment. This is about defining a goal, a focus, a direction. However, that alone is not sufficient, it also involves motivation and understanding what drives you, what keeps you connected to your goal, and finding enthusiasm and passion.
Finally, the success mindset is also about commitment, so that when things get difficult you persevere and keep going until you achieve your goal, so that you stay consistent and accountable. Sometimes this can be called ‘grit’. When we have a success mindset we create a plan, and we find our purpose. We remove obstacles, apply effort, stay consistent and we hold ourselves accountable.
Beliefs and Limiting Mindset Shifts
In order to shift our mindset, we need to acknowledge that our beliefs shape our mindset. However, sometimes the beliefs we hold don’t always serve us. In fact, often our beliefs can do the opposite, and hold us back or get in our way. In these circumstances we have self-limiting beliefs and in order to shift our mindset it is important to challenge these limiting beliefs.
Overcoming a Fixed Mindset
In order to shift our mindset, this may involve overcoming a fixed mindset and adopting some of the mindsets discussed earlier around confidence, growth and success. With a fixed type of mindset, we are less likely to apply effort or learn from our mistakes and much less likely to be open to new experiences, including shifting our beliefs. However, we can all learn to change this if the motivation and will is there.
Before we can shift anything, we have to build awareness. If we lack self-awareness, it is very difficult to challenge or change anything. Building self-awareness is the starting point to shifting mindset. When we have self-awareness this allows us to make an intentional choice to change things.
Challenge Negative Beliefs
We may also have to challenge negative beliefs by removing them and replacing them with more constructive, positive beliefs that will support us.
Embrace Challenges and Accept Failure
Overcoming a fixed mindset may also involve accepting failure or learning to reframe the way we ‘see’ failure. When we have a positive mindset we are more likely to embrace failure and see this as an opportunity for learning and therefore, growth.
Focus on Effort over Outcome
Additionally as we shift our mindset, we need to learn to focus more on applying effort rather than focusing purely on the outcome. With effort, we persevere, we’re consistent and we move closer towards success and growth.
In contrast, when we focus purely on the outcome, this can feel overwhelming and sometimes unattainable. However, when we focus on effort, we learn as we go along our journey and move closer towards the outcome we desire.
Recognise and Celebrate Progress
It’s also important to make sure that we recognise and celebrate our progress along the way. This is reinforcing and energising. Recognising progress means valuing effort and evaluating and measuring achievements, large and small.
Shifting to a Growth, Confident and Success Mindset
The steps involved in shifting mindset are as follows:
- Increase self-awareness by being open to feedback.
- Embrace challenges and see these as opportunities.
- Challenge limiting beliefs that don’t serve you and get in the way of change.
- Take a different lens to setbacks, see them as opportunities to learn something valuable.
- Cultivate a habit of constant learning.
- Acknowledge achievements and progress along the way.
- Visualise the success and results you want, this can be a powerful way to align thoughts and action.
Embracing Change and Uncertainty
As we embark on personal and professional growth, inevitably this will involve change. Change can come in many forms, but essentially there are two types of change, external and internal.
External change refers to things that change within our environment, and internal change and things that change within ourselves, the way we think and act and the beliefs we hold. We can’t avoid change, it is a constant part of life.
Learning to embrace change and be flexible to adapt is necessary. For many this can involve a degree of discomfort. A certain degree of discomfort can be energising and can move us out of our comfort zone, however, it can also bring uncertainty which can evoke feelings of fear.
There are things we can do that can help us adapt to change which can include goal setting. Setting goals allows us to put some structure and framework around things, it provides focus and direction, which is a great place to start towards making a mindset shift.
Goal Setting and Mindset
Goal setting is an important starting point for work around mindset and this can be an iterative process. Setting goals can help create a mindset shift towards new goals, but we also need to be mindful that current mindset will shape the goals you set.
For example, when we are more confident we are likely to be more willing to set stretch goals that are ambitious enough to be worthy, but not too ambitious to be unattainable. It is important to get the balance right. When ambition far exceeds capability or current reality and this leads to ‘failure’, this can be demotivating and result in disengagement or giving up.
Smart goals are goals that have very specific actions around them. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
An example of a SMART goal might be: To write a short story, where I will commit to write 10 pages of my short story everyday, from 7-8am, Monday to Friday, throughout January to March.
This is specific, I know how to measure my progress, it is very achievable, it is relevant to my overall goal, and there are very specific timelines.
It’s important to track progress when setting goals and shifting mindset. This is a way of evaluating things and knowing what is changing or not changing. It can be highly motivating to see the progress over time and keep the level of effort and motivation needed, to sustain commitment to a goal over time.
Mindset Shift and Resilience
Like most things we need a degree of resilience to achieve goals and to shift our mindset. Resilience involves getting back up when we have a setback, being constructive and positive, not giving up and persevering, especially when things are tough. Having strategies to support us and creating clear plans are helpful ways to ensure mindset shift. Without a plan or a strategy, you are left with guesswork.
To summarise our discussion, it is clear that for personal and professional growth, having the right mindset is crucial because it underpins what we do. With a positive, confident mindset we can achieve success, however, we need a clear strategy to do this. One which builds self-awareness, which helps us remove the obstacles and challenge self-limiting beliefs that get in our way and one that supports us to build SMART goals, so we track progress and hold ourselves accountable.
Anyone can achieve a shift in mindset with the right tools to support them and with the right mindset you can achieve anything in life. If you’re interested in developing and training your mindset, be sure to check out our mindset course; a comprehensive course designed to help you develop a mindset for success.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can anyone change their mindset?
Yes, you just need to know how to do this.
How long does it take to shift your mindset?
How long is a piece of string? This is difficult to estimate. With determination, motivation and the right strategy you will shift your mindset quicker. As an approximate, this may take applied consistent effort for 6-12 weeks +.
Can a person have a growth mindset in certain areas and a fixed mindset in others?
Yes, rather than see this as a dichotomy, it is useful to see mindset as a continuum. At one end a fixed mindset at the other a growth mindset and we can move along this continuum.
Over time with consistent applied effort and learning, we can move consistently towards the growth end.
What are the signs that indicate a person is resistant to changing their mindset?
When we are more resistant to changing our mindset we are more likely to make excuses, to see things as black and white, all or nothing, good or bad, be negative, closed minded, set in our ways.
About the Author
Jodi is the founder and driving force behind Engage. She is an occupational psychologist and executive coach with a PhD in Coaching Psychology, who for over 20 years has dedicated her career to helping people thrive and be the best version of themselves.
As a leading expert in coaching, she has worked globally with blue chip clients. She combines this wealth of experience and passion for human development with the scientific rigour of evidence-based research which underpins the Engage toolset.