Last week we talked about how your mindset can impact your life. We also discussed how you can tell which kind of mindset you’re working with – fixed or growth. (If you missed it, you can catch up here!)
To recap, a growth mindset is basically like a Fastpass for Space Mountain. Sure, you can ride without one if you really want to wait in line, but why not make it easier on yourself?
Okay, cool, you say, So, where’s the line to get a growth mindset? And can I actually just skip to the front? My friends are up there already.
Well, bud, the line is here (and, no, you monster, I know your friends are gonna pull the same shit once you get up to the front. Just drain your phone battery playing Heads Up in line like the rest of us.)
Anyway. Here are my top tips to help you start living that sweet growth mindset life:
6 Steps to Building a Better Mindset:
1. Embrace the Spectrum
You may relate more to one type of mindset, but the truth is everyone is a mix of both types. So, let go of the idea of having a 100% growth mindset, 100% of the time. Because, yeah, that’s not a real thing. What you can do is move toward using a growth mindset more frequently.
So, here’s your first challenge: Think about mindset change as a process, not a product. Take the pressure off of yourself to “perform” a growth mindset and make room for yourself to experience more of the real thing.
Old mindset: I need to use a growth mindset 24/7, or it doesn’t count.
New mindset: I’m working on using a growth mindset more often.
2. Track Your Thoughts
Many unhelpful thoughts pop up in your brain out of habit. Remember neuroplasticity? By thinking the same types of thoughts over and over again, you strengthen those connections in the brain.
It’s like any other bad habit, except this one affects everything you think, feel, and do. (No pressure?)
Luckily, like any other bad habit, the first step is to realize, oh, gee, I’m doing this one thing a lot, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favors. Start paying attention to your brain’s mean little catchphrases and when they tend to pop up in your head.
By tracking your least favorite thought patterns, you can train your brain to pay more attention to them. Once you gain more awareness of your negative thought patterns, you can start working to challenge and change them.
Old mindset: I suck at meeting new people.
New mindset: Wait, I feel like I tell myself that a lot when I’m having a bad mental health day.
3. Effort Isn’t Everything
If you stop at, “Hey, at least I tried,” you’re missing the point. Putting in effort without intent is like earning attendance points – it’s somewhere to start, but not enough to pass the class. So, yes, try. But don’t get stuck trying to pedal a stationary bike cross-country. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, try harder, smarter, or different.
P.S. If you’re feeling stuck, try the ol’ phone-a-friend method! It can help to get an outsider’s POV when you feel like you’ve tried everything.
Old mindset: I worked on this math problem for half an hour already, I can’t figure it out, and I don’t want to look at a number ever again. I’m gonna go watch Westworld.
New mindset: I haven’t been able to solve this problem yet, so I think I need to try something else. Maybe I can text someone from class for help?
4. Name the Voice
Growing up, my dad used to tell me that girls couldn’t play sports (yes, this actually happened, and yes, this was in the 2000’s). I eventually said fuck it and started doing sports anyway. But that fun little voice still pops up in my head sometimes.
If you just thought, Oh my God, me too, except it was ______!, write it down. You can make an inventory with two columns: Unhelpful thoughts + the name of the person who put those thoughts in my pretty little head.
Then, the next time that particular thought decides to drop by to ruin your day, you can say, “Okay, sure, Dad,” and get back to killing your workout.
Old mindset: I’m not good at writing.
New mindset: My English teacher used to say that I wasn’t a writer, but I know I can get better with practice.
5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of This Word
“Yet” is a little word that can make a big difference. When you catch yourself thinking, Ugh, I’m not good at this, throw in your new favorite word at the end. I’m not good at this isn’t gonna help you get better. But I’m not good at this, yet leaves room for you to grow.
Old mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers.
New mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, yet.
6. Aim to Fail (Yes, Really)
Think of this as exposure therapy for your fear of failure. When you’re working on a project or practicing a skill, schedule time to fuck up. And don’t just fuck up a little. Work on becoming the best at fucking up.
Say you’re trying to write a novel. During your designated writing time, give yourself a few minutes or an hour to play with failure. Try to write the worst page of fiction ever written. Use as many cliches as you can think of. Leave spelling and grammar errors scattered across the page. Have (messy) fun!
Playing with failure will help you get to know it better while you’re in a safe environment. Then, when the real thing jumps out at you from behind a bush, you’ll be able to laugh, say, oh, you, and get back to work.
Old mindset: Every time I try to draw something, I mess it up.
New mindset: Okay, what is the weirdest-looking thing I can draw today?
Okay, Go Have Messy Fun Now.
Here’s your takeaway for today:
- You have everything you need right now to change the way you think and feel
- Be patient with yourself – you’re learning (always)
- Make the best fucking mess you can
Kay, now go play!