If you could teach the world one thing based on your life experiences, what would it be?

Be the engineer and the artist of your mindset: build it, re-create it, and help it grow.

Not only is this possible, it’s also empowering to you as a human being.

Changing your mindset can in many ways set you free, put you in the driver’s seat, and give you a feeling of independence that is incredibly important.

And the best part about it is this: anyone can do it.

But first, the basics.

What is a mindset?

Your mindset is a set of attitudes that you have about the world and primarily about yourself.

Are we born with a certain mindset?

No, but we adopt a certain mindset about our abilities very early in life, due to the environment and messages we receive from our parents, teachers, and others around us. These messages are then “baked in” to our understanding of how we “should” function in the world, what’s “acceptable”and what isn’t, what our strengths and weaknesses are, etc. Then, as we grow up, all these messages begin to shape the view we adopt for ourselves. The result—we develop one of two general types of mindsets: fixed or growth mindset.

  • A fixed mindset
    • It means: You believe that your qualities are set in stone, that you can only have a certain level of intelligence, personality type or moral character.
    • How to recognize the message: You often heard statements such as, “You’re so smart!” or “You’re a genius!” or “You’re good for nothing!” during your childhood.
    • How this mindset translates into your life today: You believe you are only good at pursuing intellectual endeavors, but are really bad at athletics (or vice versa); or that you are “stupid” when it comes to math or learning a new language, so why even try to get a good grade in class.
  • A growth mindset
    • It means: You believe that you can develop your qualities through deliberate and continuous efforts, and that you can change and grow with your life experiences.
    • How to recognize the message: You heard statements such as, “You worked so hard and that’s why you passed the test!” or “You had a tough time at the beginning of the year in that class, but you wanted to learn more and now you’re really good at it!” during your childhood.
    • How this mindset translates into your life today: Even though you had a difficult time in your math class in grade school, you want to get a graduate degree in business which will require math skills, and you won’t let your previous experiences deter you from your plans.

Why is this so important?

Because your mindset can (and will) shape your future. It can influence your day-to-day behavior, the types of goals you set for yourself, what you succeed or fail in, the relationships you pick (partners, circle of friends), the skills you choose to work on for your personal as well as your professional development.

And, if you know how to build and re-create it, it can become a tool that can help you accomplish personal goals, overcome obstacles, communicate better with others, and ultimately lead a high quality of life.

How do you grow your mindset?

There are many ways to grow your mindset. Start with one of these 5 tips and see where it takes you.

  • Stay curious. Curiosity can go a long way. You can nurture your curiosity if you learn something new every day, whether it’s about the history of the world, how things work, which foods and activities keep you healthy, which habits can help you work smarter or faster, or which books you can read that will teach you something valuable. The important thing is make learning a part of your everyday life.
  • Don’t limit your learning experience. Just because it’s not taught in school or at university, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time learning about it. Go to the library and pick up books on a topic that is interesting to you. Take an online class in the evening, or watch free tutorials on YouTube on how to develop a skill you think would be empowering to you. Don’t give in to the fear because you don’t know anything about a topic. You can always ask someone who’s an expert and who has achieved mastery in a field or a skill you want to develop.
  • Don’t focus on problems, obstacles, or things you do not currently possess. If you do, then you’re constantly putting yourself in reactive mode. Life shouldn’t be about just reacting to what’s happening to (or around) us. It’s much more empowering to be proactive. For example, if we’re facing a problem, it’s better to think of alternative solutions to getting it fixed. Or, if w’re envious of a friend who got a fantastic job they’re happy with, it’s better to map out what we want out of our career and come up with a one or two-year plan to make the next steps towards a job that’s right for us.
  • Make sure that you surround yourself with people who demonstrate a growth mindset. They are the ones with a can-do attitude, who exhibit positive and optimistic behavior, and who are working hard every day on making themselves better people. Conversely, stay away from those who are constantly negative (even if they’re childhood friends), critical in always pointing out what they or others are lacking, and who spend too much time talking about others and not enough time on themselves.
  • Keep your mind open to possibilities. When you’re not sure how to proceed with handling or trying something different, start by asking, “WHAT IF?” What if you conquer something important that you thought you’d never consider a year ago, let alone five? What if, in the process, you open doors that will take your life in a new direction? What if you start working on something and it makes you feel limitless? When you work on developing a growth mindset, you’ll be able to change your view of yourself and your abilities, which can determine your entire future.

Does this topic make you curious to go deeper and find out more about it? If so, grab a copy of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Read it to learn from examples, some of which you will most likely identify with your own life experiences, and to find practical suggestions that can help you become more successful in your studies, your professional life, your relationships, and your personal growth. It’s a fantastic resource you can learn so much from!

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