"Fixed" Versus "Growth" Mindsets

    As 2017 begins, many of us have turned our attention to our New Year’s Resolutions - things we’d like to change or do differently than we have in previous years.  Whether it’s making more progress in our careers, relationships, being more active, or devoting more time to the things we love, our goals are well-intentioned.  

     However, many of us have also experienced a moment where we start to lose the motivation, drive and willpower needed to achieve those goals, and our gym routine or our dedicated practice time gets pushed aside.  Believe it or not, our ability to persevere when things become difficult is a direct result of a mental state that favors a capacity to grow versus one that celebrates perfection and ease.

     Psychologists refer to a “fixed’ mindset as one which means being perfect and having things come easily.  Someone with a fixed mindset might say, “I feel successful when I don’t make any mistakes” or “I feel successful when something is easy for me, but other people cant do it.”

     Conversely, a “growth” mindset highlights a capacity to learn, grow, and make progress over a period of time.  They might say, “I feel successful when something is very difficult, and I try really hard and I’m able to do something I wasn’t able to do before” or “I feel successful when I work on a project for a long time and I feel like I’m starting to figure it out.” 

     A Columbia University study found that people with a fixed mindset who believed that things should come easily (and if they don’t, then it must be a sign that they can’t or won’t be successful) were more likely to give up when they struggled and avoided challenges in which they believed they would not be immediately successful.  On the other hand, people with a growth mindset who believed that potential is not outwardly apparent and that change and growth is always possible, did not see struggling as a sign that they have reached their limits and showed more grit when faced with adversity because they believed they would “eventually figure things out”.

     So, the next time you’re thinking of letting go of your New Year’s Resolutions, remember that it’s not about being perfect and having things be easy.  Instead, focus on the little bits of progress you’ve made, however small it may be, and know that the next revelation is right around the corner!  For more information, click here!