Mind

How to switch to a growth mindset and change your life

Challenge yourself to develop and grow from experiences.

Are you someone who sees things as either black or white? Perhaps you believe you are who you are and things can rarely be changed.

You prefer the tried and tested rather than an unknown - familiarity trumps uncertainty every time. If this is you, you have what psychologists call a fixed mindset.

Or do you believe that different experiences and challenges teach you newer skills and there is always room to improve? If you fail, so what? You will still grow in some way. If you fall into this category, you have a growth mindset.

"A fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that's that," says Professor Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

"But other people have a growth mindset. They believe even basic talents and abilities can be developed through experience and mentorship. And these are the people who go for it. They're not always worried about how smart they are, how they'll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow."

How to develop a growth mindset

Have a reality check:
"Think about your life now - treat this as like taking your car in for a service," says Churches.

"What is feeling good for you and what isn't? What would you like to do differently? Choose one thing you think will make the biggest difference to your life right now and work on that first. It's useful to meditate when you think this through. Remove yourself from your environment as much as possible and come into your inner mind, that intimate internal place. Sit quietly with your thoughts and contemplate what things look like in your life."

Have a vision:
"Ultimately, you want to change things to make things better, to learn something new, to develop a new aspect of yourself. Visualise what that change will look like. What would look different? How will you feel when that change happens? Think about situations and how you would manage them differently with a growth mindset. So if you go to work tomorrow and are at a meeting and someone says x, how will you respond differently if you are in a growth mindset?" says Churches.

Have awareness:
Become aware of thoughts and actions that are part of a fixed mindset. What limitations are you placing on yourself and for what reason? Think about situations where you may have wanted to do something new but an inner voice stopped you. How have you put limitations on your thinking and actions?

"You can change your mindset. Scans have shown that when we change our thinking new neural pathways are created in our brain," says Churches.

"Identify your personal myth - the story you live by that colours your perceptions about yourself and what is possible."

Have courage:
Moving to a growth mindset takes courage because it takes you out of the safe bubble you've lived in until now. Prepare for some discomfort as you think in new ways and do things you've been too afraid to try."It's uncomfortable and because it's uncomfortable at first, that's when you can slip back into your fixed mindset way. The inner voice says it's not worth it," warns Churches.

"But persist. Start to think differently, act differently, speak differently and respond to people differently.

"Accept the discomfort and commit to repetition, and the more you repeat what you are doing and thinking and how you now behave, you will notice a transformation and benefits. Take a minute in the morning and before you go to sleep to remind yourself what you are committing yourself to. Tell yourself, 'Today I'm going to be more open and to look for ways I can grow'. At night, look back over the day and ask yourself how you went, identify the moments you made a little bit of progress and get up and do the same thing the next day and the next."

For more from New Zealand Good Health Choices, visit our Facebook, follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter.

read more from