Cultivating Growth 

Failures. Mistakes. Disappointments.  It’s something we are faced with each and every day of our human experience.  Some of us ignore them, some of us let them define us and some of us see them as opportunities for growth or improvement. Which one are you?  

I took a long look within, to really decide which kind of person I was when it came to my mindset.  Now, I’m the captain of the Overthinker Team. I could get lost in my thoughts about pretty much anything. But to be honest, I didn’t particularly like what I found.

I won’t pretend that I’m somehow special, or that I have a bigger “pity party” to throw. I’ve had my fair share of obstacles over the years. But I was forced to realize that I’ve let those things cripple and define me instead of challenge and inspire me.  What I found is the way we perceive and respond to failures and disappointments have an unbelievable impact on what happens in the days, weeks and even years that follow those setbacks in our lives. 

Growth Mindset 

So what does it mean to have a “Growth Mindset”?  This idea was first introduced by a Psychologist by the name of Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She believes that we can either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities, strengths and weaknesses are innate. They cannot be changed or improved. While those with a growth mindset believe that their abilities, as well as weaknesses, can be developed and strengthened over time, given enough hard work and effort on their part. She has a great explanation of her mindset methods here. 

This can be applied to so many different areas, because we have limitations in every aspect of our day to day life. It could be applied to our jobs, to our relationships, both romantic and otherwise.  It also applies to our children as they are so formative in their understanding of mistakes and shortcomings. When we rub up against a flaw, a flub or a frustration, how do we respond?  

Steps Toward Growth

Here are the foundational characteristics of a growth mindset. Implementing even one or two of these could have the potential to revolutionize our outlook and maybe even our quality of life! 

  1. Ability and Intellect are flexible and fluid

I don’t believe we ever stop learning. We can learn a new hobby, a new language, a new recipe. There is always the opportunity to learn and grow around any topic or trait.  We just have to put in the time and effort, along with the desire and belief that we can. In what ways are you limiting yourself by refusing to even try? Is it something that you’ve either been told you couldn’t or that you’ve convinced yourself that you shouldn’t do? 

  1. Practice makes Progress

We all know the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” I think for so many of us, we strive and expect perfection right out the gate. And when it doesn’t happen right away, we give up.  Change your goal to progress instead of perfection and see how much better you can feel about the work you’re putting in. Celebrate the small victories and eventually, you’ll find that you’re so much closer than you thought you could be to mastering that thing! 

  1. Mistakes are opportunities, not obstacles

What’s your gut reaction when you make a mistake? Is it to beat yourself up? Do you shame yourself into thinking that you’ll always just be a let down to yourself and others? Or do you acknowledge that you’re human? Take a minute to assess what you could or should have done differently and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.  I think we need to give ourselves permission to feel sad or disappointed when we make mistakes. But don’t allow the mistakes to define you or cause you to throw in the towel and just accept that “this is just the way that I am.” Let them make you better instead of bitter. 

  1. Perseverance in the face of challenges

This might seem similar to number 3, but challenges are a horse of a different color to mistakes.  When the going gets tough, what’s our typical response? How do we respond when life gets hard? Do we look for the Easy Button? Or do we look for ways to navigate through them and face them head on? Seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and self-improvement are signs that you have a growth mindset. 

  1. It’s the journey, not just the destination 

So often we focus solely on our “big G” goal and our “big W” worries, that we lose sight of everything we are gaining along the way.  We can often get bogged down with all the STUFF we are trying to accomplish and navigate, forgetting that each day and each moment contain valuable lessons for us to glean.  I am guilty of being very tunnel visioned when it comes to just getting through the day to day. Then I forget to just take a minute to appreciate the things that are going well, the people that enrich my life, and that are making me better in the process. 

  1. Comparison Kills 

I’ve heard it said that “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”, and no truer words have been spoken.  We are all doing the best we can with what we’ve been dealt.  Give yourself the same grace that you’d likely extend to others and let them do them, and you do you!  They are likely struggling as much, if not more than you are but maybe are just better at faking it. Embrace your journey as your own and celebrate theirs with them.  Be thankful that you only have to deal with your mess and no one else’s! 

New Mindset, New You

It’s never by accident that our lives intersect with things.  I too needed a mindset shift and am excited to see the impact that implementing some of these practices will have on my thoughts, my outlook and my relationships.  

You can find more articles by Michelle here.