Skip to main
Information about the author of this post.
tdle223's picture Tommy Leach
College or Department
Email Address

The holidays can be a stressful time for many, even without a global pandemic to consider. Add to that the pressure some feel to create a New Year’s resolution, and we have a combination that can stifle many folks. The good news is we all have a tool that we can use to help overcome this stress, contribute to our well-being, and grow our resilience!

A growth mindset is a belief that your skills and abilities can be improved over time with work or effort. Folks in a growth mindset situation use themselves as a marker for comparison, noting the progression or improvement over time. Conversely, a fixed mindset is a belief that skills and abilities are finite and unchangeable. Those in a fixed mindset situation are more prone to comparing themselves to others and can view others’ success as a hit to their own success and self-esteem. While folks may naturally fall on either end of this spectrum, we are generally a combination of both mindsets. The great news is that we can work to shift our perspectives to more growth mindset situations.

Benefits of growth mindset practices:

  • Increased agility and resiliency - By remaining flexible and willing to try new approaches, we can improve our ability to adapt to changes that we can’t control, thereby increasing our resiliency.
  • Reduce stress - Instead of stressing over problems, use a growth mindset to see opportunities for improvement. We can feel more equipped to respond to difficulties positively and constructively without the judgment associated with a fixed mindset.
  • Self-care – In addition to getting proper sleep, exercise, nutrition, hydration, mindfulness and mental health practices, employing a growth mindset is a great self-care practice. There is great power in having a stronger sense and ever-higher levels of achievement. Just remember, you are your own measure of success!

Here’s how you can work on shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset:

  • Recognize when you have limiting thoughts or negative self-talk. While it’s important to be honest with ourselves about where we need improvement, this type of constant thought can keep us in a fixed mindset.
  • Rephrase these limiting thoughts with a concise, powerful word: yet. Notice how the limiting phrase “I haven’t been able to stick to my New Year’s resolution” is transformed when adding “yet” at the end; “I haven’t been able to stick to my New Year’s resolution, yet.” Now, these resolutions are once again a possibility.
  • View obstacles as temporary challenges and embrace them as opportunities to learn. Even though the first attempt might not be successful, we can learn from the event and apply what can be done better, differently, or more the next time.
  • Set aside time to plan. If you want to tackle a goal using a growth mindset, you’ll need to have a plan. What is the specific goal? When are you going to start? What specific steps are needed? Break the goal down to include milestones or intermittent goals. These milestones allow you to check your progress, adjust where necessary and, as equally important, celebrate your progress!
  • Keep at it! Developing and improving growth mindset practices is a skill itself. This won’t happen overnight. Be mindful of potential setbacks and acknowledge them for just that, a setback. Learn from them, reapply the growth mindset principles and try again.

To learn more about embracing and developing a growth mindset, you can check out “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Dr. Carol Dweck. You can also listen to a recent conversation I had with HR wellness specialist Jakob Hester on the “Becoming Wildly Resilient” podcast.