How do you teach “grit”?

 

Teach it to yourself first!

The dictionary says that grit demonstrates a person’s courage, resolve, strength of character, and strength of will. It shows toughness and determination.

I would add to this by saying that grit is having the ability to bounce back after a setback. For some people it’s faster, for others it takes time. But either way (whether it’s a matter of days, weeks, or years) the resolve has to be there because there is no other option. We must go on.

There was no way I was focused on developing grit when I was younger. My attention was on other things: graduating college, falling in love, getting a job, moving to another country, going from city to city as my career took off.

But life happens. There’s a big jump from the college life to working a 9–5 job. What starts out as a promising role in a company ends up in a layoff. One manager who knows how to successfully handle a large team leaves, and another one who dislikes having to take on bigger responsibilities comes on board. Personal relationships also change over time, which is normal, because we grow and our needs change. The outcomes aren’t always (in fact they are rarely) what we want or need at the time.

That’s where grit comes into play. Whether I was aware of it at the time or not, I was teaching myself grit every time I encountered a setback. To be honest, it’s usually a long and time-consuming process. But I had to keep going. Why? Because I want to be the kind of person who learns from failures (instead of blaming others for them), who follows logic and common sense (instead of getting overly emotional), and who isn’t afraid to try something new (even if it means I’ll feel like I’m just a beginner).

These are the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Grit lesson #1. I train myself to be in growth mode every day.

Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford, wrote a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. This book completely changed the way I see myself and what I am capable of overcoming! Dr. Dweck makes an important distinction between two mindsets: fixed and growth mindset. If you’ve adopted a fixed mindset, you think being successful is due to good genes, a particular talent or gift, or something you are born with (or not lucky to be born with). Succeeding means being “perfect” every time, achieving results easily and effortlessly, without experiencing any type of setback EVER. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment with this way of thinking! It’s a wiser choice to expect a challenge and to prepare for it, and that’s where having a growth mindset can prove helpful.

How can you do it?

To practice a growth mindset, shift your focus from the end result (making straight A’s in school or getting a promotion at work) to the actual process of becoming successful. A growth mindset person doesn’t think that success is being the best—they believe success is doing their best. You can start by moving away from your comfort zone (doing everything the same way over and over, using the same tools and processes), and towards a zone that’s uncomfortable and new. For example, come up with a better way to improve your work — break down a large task in smaller increments, or tackle a difficult problem early in the morning when your mind is likely to concentrate better. Or, wake up a bit earlier each morning to practice a new fitness habit such as going for a run or swim.

Grit lesson #2. I try to use every obstacle to my advantage.

How often have you told yourself, if only I didn’t run out of time I could’ve finished that research paper? Or, if only I wasn’t invited to the party I wouldn’t have eaten three slices of pizza and gone off my diet? In those moments when you’re trying to rationalize your decisions and actions, you’re blaming the obstacles for not achieving your short or long-term goals. Or, to put it differently, you’re giving them top priority and more importance than anything you can do or change with your behavior. But what if obstacles were to serve a different purpose in your life? Instead of using them as an excuse to avoid something or even to quit something, it’s more beneficial if you use them to your advantage.

How can you do it?

In his book Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual, retired US Navy SEAL and author Jocko Willink has a power tip for how to deal with obstacles. I find it a bit controversial, unexpected, and nothing like any advice or feedback I’ve ever received from my circle of family and friends as I was growing up. Jocko says that when you reach an obstacle, instead of saying, Oh no! you should embrace it and say, GOOD! Why talk about an obstacle in a positive light? It’s a subtle switch of your mindset that yields big results because it affects how you react to a problematic situation. If you’ve failed at an exam, GOOD! Now you’ll have more time to prepare and organize your study days more effectively. If you’re trying to multitask and fail at everything, GOOD! Now you’ll have time to take a break and prioritize what is most important so you can focus on that first. If you didn’t get the job offer you expected, GOOD! Now you’ll be able to redo your resume and apply for jobs that are an even better fit for your skill set.

Grit lesson #3. I ride with the turbulence.

It’s an absolutely normal thing to encounter unexpected situations in your life. In fact, more often than not, our week takes a different turn from what we imagine it should be. You think that you have ten days to complete a project and then suddenly the deadline gets pushed up so you have only three days to finish everything. You meet a friend for coffee and what you thought would be an enjoyable chat turns into three hours of them crying about a relationship. You’re careful with your finances this year and save enough to pay off your credit card debt and then a forgotten bill that’s past due shows up out of nowhere. Regardless of the situation, the last thing you should do is let your emotions take over — it’s much better to go with the flow, even if it feels like a rocky ride.

How can you do it?

Step one is to be aware of the thoughts that are running through your mind as you’re reacting to the unexpected event. The thoughts might sound something like this. Oh no, I will fail at this now! There’s no way I can manage this situation! It’s just going to get worse from here! Step two is to tell yourself that whatever emotion you are feeling is only going to be temporary. You can say, Of course I feel upset, no wonder! It’s normal to have an emotional reaction right now but it will pass! And step 3 is to ask yourself, What can I do right now to make myself feel better? It can be taking a few deep breaths, going out for a 30-minute walk, or taking out a pen and paper and writing down three things you can do to correct the situation.

Grit lesson #4. I practice self-discipline.

There’s something about the words “self-discipline” that upsets people. Does it sound harsh, uncomfortable, like a punishment? I don’t see it that way at all. For me, self-discipline is about focusing my energies on an outcome that I want. It can be to increase my writing skill, improve my physical strength, or keep myself on track with a new habit that will make me feel proud. What’s at the core of self-discipline? It’s knowing how to postpone things that are more pleasurable and take care of the essentials FIRST. This practice actually yields long-term benefits. In a study performed by Stanford University scientists called the Marshmallow experiment, results showed that delayed gratification can increase your chance at succeeding in many areas of your life—your education, career, short and long term goals, even your personal life choices.

How can you do it?

Really, practicing self-discipline is not as hard as it sounds. Start by observing the things you’d like to indulge in whenever the opportunity presents itself — for example, when you see a beautiful slice of double-chocolate cake at your coffee shop. Then, resist the temptation to immediately choose to treat yourself by thinking of one reason why not to indulge: maybe you’re starting off the month with new fitness goals or better eating habits. And it’s super important to follow up — take your attention away from the distractions and focus on your priorities for the day: go to the gym for an hour, complete your homework, listen to a podcast on a topic you find inspiring, or prepare dinner early so you have time to do something fun later in the evening.

Grit lesson #5. I do it all over again tomorrow.

Grit isn’t only about what you do in the moment. It’s just as important, if not even more so, that you keep up the progress you’re making over an extended period of time. What’s the point of doing something great right now and then let yourself go in the next three weeks? You’ll lose momentum, you’ll get complacent or just plain lazy, and even worse — you’ll forget how confident you felt when you overcame that initial obstacle. That’s why it is critical to keep at it and to hold yourself accountable every step of the way.

How can you do it?

Be smarter with your time — plan everything out. If you haven’t heard of it already, try out the bullet journal method and track your goals in one notebook. If you feel that you often procrastinate or get distracted by Facebook which prevents you from achieving something important, then your bullet journal will make it impossible to use these external factors as an excuse. Why? Because you’ll have to visually track your progress by checking off every single item for the day, week, and month. And if you don’t? Guess what: you’ll have to carry the missed task over to the next day or week. There’s no getting around it. Staying on track is about doing something valuable with your life and making your time feel valuable too. Trust me on this — if you start right now, your future self will thank you later. ♥️

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How do smart students study?

 

I’ll get right down to it: smart students know there’s a difference between studying harder and studying smarter.

The studying harder version takes a heck of a long time (think 8–12 hour study sessions), is exhausting both physically and mentally, and can drain your energy right up to the point of exam day. That’s the opposite of what you actually need.

The studying smarter version takes much less time (because the study sessions are shorter), requires strategic thinking, promotes better focus, and keeps your energy levels up until exam day. And that is exactly what will help you get the job done.

I’ve talked to a lot of smart students over the course of my undergraduate and graduate studies, and I consulted with professors to get their take on this topic. The one thing I noticed is that smart students use shortcuts — they practice techniques on a regular basis (in other words, every day) in order to achieve the results they want.

Here’s a compilation of 7 smarter study techniques that can yield positive results.

Technique #1. Commit to reaching ONE study goal a day.

Narrow down your workload instead of overwhelming yourself. The best way to get your mind on board to concentrate on studying is to start the day with a question: “What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?”

  • Why it’s important: It will encourage you to think strategically about the day, keep you focused on your top study goal, and force you to prioritize the one goal that you want to reach by the end of the day. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have many study goals, but it does means that you can finish one today (read a certain number of chapters or practice exam questions, for example), so that you can concentrate better on your other goals in the days that follow.
  • How you can practice it: Write the question in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. Pick a location where you can easily see the question as soon as you wake up (next to your bed or the bathroom mirror, for example). Then, read it out loud as you start your day. Take a few moments to think what you want to prioritize, and then come up with an answer and say it out loud too. Later, as you go through the day, make sure you’re working on completing what you’ve identified as your study goal for that day.

Technique #2. Tackle the most difficult material EARLY.

It’s all about taking advantage of your circadian rhythm, which dictates which activities we’re more likely to do best at certain times of the day. That way you maximize your peak performance time.

  • What is peak performance time? For most people, your brain’s peak performance happens 2-4 hours after you wake up. This is the time when your brain can focus on analytical thinking that requires the most concentration. For studying, this can be reading, writing, coding, analyzing, critical thinking, or problem solving.
  • When should you study? If you wake up at 8, your peak times are between 10 and 12. And just because it’s noon, it doesn’t mean you have to stop; feel free to extend this time for another hour or so to maximize your peak performance and wrap up an important section, chapter, or lecture.
  • What are the benefits? Doing your hard work early in the day allows your brain to focus fully on the problem at hand, with fewer distractions, less inputs from your environment, and with a lot of energy that you’ve gained from a restful night. It’s the exact opposite of what can happen if you leave your toughest studying for nighttime, when you are exhausted, both mentally and physically, from the day.

Technique #3. Work in SHORTER time increments.

You don’t need to be sitting at your desk for hours in order to pass an exam with top marks. Use a timer to better manage your study session. That way you allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way. Here are some examples.

  • Read and review study material. Set the timer to 30 or 60 minute increments to maximize concentration; or, for really short bursts of study, try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks.
  • Practice exam questions. Use the review questions from your textbook or handouts prepared by your professor; you can also create your own questions based on the most important concepts from each chapter. Write the questions down on a sheet of paper. Then, use the Pomodoro technique to rehearse for the exam. Give yourself only a short time to answer each question. Use each 25-minute block of time to cover several questions, and go down the list until you’ve covered them all.
  • Take breaks. When you’re done with one timed segment, step away from your desk and do something completely unrelated to work: get some fresh air, stretch, have a snack, grab a cup of coffee or tea.

Technique #4. Become a master at taking NOTES.

Don’t just sit and read the textbook passively — write stuff down. This improves your brain’s cognitive skills, makes retention of information easier, and boosts memory.

  • Write what’s relevant. This includes key concepts, ideas, and topics. Don’t waste time writing down every single word, Instead, boost your critical thinking skills by identifying what is relevant to the topic. An excellent example of how to write relevant information is to use the Cornell Method.
  • Use bulleted lists. This saves time, enables you to skim the material when you need it, helps you locate information faster, and makes the review process easier.
  • Use color. Get notes more organized with multi-colored pens, markers, or highlighters to emphasize the most important sections. Use specific colors to highlight top priority concepts, then pick other colors to identify second level priority items such as examples and additional information.

Technique #5. Be merciless at eliminating DISTRACTIONS.

Don’t let distractions rule your life. Here’s how an average scenario looks like: you think you’ll spend ten minutes browsing Facebook or Twitter, and next thing you know two hours pass by without you noticing. And on top of everything, you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and maybe even stressed out with all that information overload. It’s time to minimize all that noise.

  • Check your email and social media apps only 2–3 times a day (around lunchtime, later in the afternoon, and evening).
  • Set your phone to Airplane mode when you need to focus, or simply turn off the volume and put it away for a few hours.
  • Avoid browsing the Internet or reading the daily news; leave these activities for later after you’ve completed all the items you need to cover.
  • Set expectations with others by letting them know you won’t be available in the next few hours; this can apply to family members, classmates, and close friends.

Technique #6. TEACH what you learned to boost memorization.

One of the most powerful memory techniques is recalling newly learned information by teaching it to someone else or simply retelling it to yourself out loud. This helps you review, recall, and retain what you’ve learned better than just silently looking over the material. Here’s how.

  • Get an audience. It can be a close friend, study partner or family member. Too shy to speak to anyone? Pretend you have a couple of invisible students who really need to learn what you just covered, or use the family dog to be your attentive listener – chances are they’ll enjoy the attention!
  • Create a private classroom. Take a large sheet of white paper (or tape together several sheets for a bigger writing surface), then tape it to your bedroom wall at eye level. Be sure you have some leg room to stand in front of it. Have a pen handy, and a thick black marker (or different colored highlighters) to underline important concepts.
  • Get to work. Write an outline of the most important points in the chapter you just covered, then go over the concepts aloud one by one. Make your “lecture” come alive by drawing diagrams on the side and by providing a few examples. At the end, summarize the key parts of your lecture and highlight these sections with your thick marker, which can help you recall details better and solidify what you’ve learned.

Technique #7. Get enough SLEEP.

Sleep is beneficial for the brain. Neuroscientists believe that sleep can help us learn and memorize better, and also give our brain time to get rid of unnecessary waste. Conversely, chronic sleep deprivation can reduce our cognitive abilities, can impact our concentration, and can even reduce IQ.

  • How can you optimize your sleep? Adjust your sleeping position so that you sleep on your side. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the brain’s glymphatic pathway (the exchange of two fluids, the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain and the interstitial fluid in your body) helps to eliminate “brain junk,” and this process of elimination is most effective when we sleep on our side. The result? You wake up more refreshed the next day with a clear mind.
  • What helps to unwind faster in the evening? There are things you can do each evening to make the transition from study time to sleep time easier. Step away from your computer and TV because the light may be keeping you alert without you even being aware of it. Have a cup of herbal tea, some warm milk with honey, or a magnesium supplement. Do something relaxing 15–20 minutes before bedtime: listen to some music, read a chapter of that book you’ve wanted to start, or just close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 counts before you brush your teeth and get ready for bed.

What’s the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset?

Did you know that a mindset is not something you are born with?

I used to think it was the opposite. Back when I was younger, I thought that your mindset was part of your DNA, something that was passed on with your genes from parents to their children. Not much you could do about it. It’s as if your mindset was part of your personality, your behavior, and the traits you showed since you were a young child.

This way of thinking continued throughout my school, even college days, and into adulthood. And then someone recommended that I read one book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.

Talk about challenging my perspective!

What blew me away was this:

In her book, Dweck says that our understanding of success and failure, as well as our coping mechanisms to deal with challenges life throws at us, are all shaped by the way we were raised. Specifically, the mindset we develop is a reflection of the messages we received from parents, teachers, and the environment we grew up in.

Over time, all these messages add up to developing one of two general types of mindsets: fixed or growth mindset.

Here are two examples.

When you were a child and did something well, maybe your parents praised you with statements such as, “You’re so smart!” or “You’re a genius!” or “You’re a natural!” This type of feedback is an example of a fixed mindset: believing that we are born with a predisposition to do only some things extremely well, and that our qualities are set in stone. This also indicates we can only have a certain level of intelligence, a certain type of personality, or a certain moral character. The downside? We believe that we cannot change anything about this, and if we are ever challenged with a situation in which our abilities are questioned, we may get paralyzed with fear and can’t figure out what to do.

In contrast, if your parents or teachers have praised you with words such as, “You passed the test because you worked so hard!” or “You were struggling in history class at first, but you were persistent, and look at how your grades improved!” they were encouraging a growth mindset: believing that our genetic structure and predisposition to do certain things really well are not the final version of what we can do. Instead, these qualities are just the starting point of our development, and we can cultivate them through our efforts by continually applying ourselves and building on our experience. The upside? We don’t believe that anything is set in stone, we can improve our skills and get better, we remain flexible in challenging situations and instead of having fear, we take on the challenge to learn something and excel at it over time.

Fascinating.

I started doing more research on this. I interviewed friends, coworkers, neighbors, family members — and asked them to describe what success and failure mean to them. And I found that most people exemplify a fixed mindset way of thinking. They feel “stuck” in their ways, their behavior, and the way they cope with problems in their life. However, I also know (albeit fewer in number) people who exemplify a growth mindset, who make it a priority to learn something new every day and who challenge their perspective and problem-solving skills so they can adapt them to their advantage.

The result of all this research?

I’ve become a huge advocate of the growth mindset. In the past 4 years I’ve been on Quora, I’ve written predominantly about this topic. Those answers have been picked up by websites like Time, Forbes, Inc.com, Apple News, Business Insider, Slate, Huffington post, and others. I’m proud to say they were translated into a dozen languages including French, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Brazilian-Portuguese, Finnish, and Greek.

What does this all say about the topic of mindsets? It’s popular because we’ve all, at some point in our lives, struggled with how we think about ourselves and our skills and abilities. The best part is this — there are many ways to develop a growth mindset and change how you look at success.

I’ve been asked countless times to teach a course on mindsets, so this year I decided to put together the material I’ve been writing about into an online course called “Imagine What’s Possible: A Beginner’s Guide to the Growth Mindset.” If you’re curious about it, in the course you can:

  • Discover how your attitude and mindset are critical to success
  • Differentiate between a fixed and growth mindset way of thinking
  • Identify “fixed mindset” behavior that you can correct
  • Apply “growth mindset” behavior through practical tips
  • Practice what you’ve learned with exercises and templates

To find out when the course goes live (which will happen in July 2019), send me a message with your email address on Quora, and I’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know.

What is a growth mindset?

 

A growth mindset is a concept created and promoted in Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessThis book, by the way, can be a life-changing influence if you read it and then follow up by practicing the ideas you’ve read every single day. Based on my experience, to say that this book has changed my life is an understatement. It has make me question so much about not only my life, but human behavior in general! It has also helped me understand that we as human beings have a lot of power in our hands to make our lives so much more. Lives that are better. Smarter. More fulfilling. More valuable. And with more purpose.

The concept of mindset generally speaking is defined as the set of attitudes and beliefs we have about the world around us, people we interact with, and ultimately about ourselves. Carol Dweck suggests that the view we have of ourselves can dramatically affect the way we lead our life. She makes an important distinction between two types of mindsets that people generally have:

  • A fixed mindset — believing that our skills, strengths, and qualities are set in stone and there’s nothing we can do to change them, for better or for worse.
  • A growth mindset — believing that we can cultivate those same skills and qualities through long-term dedication and effort.

While a fixed mindset is adopted over time by listening to messages from a young age about what we can, should, or shouldn’t do (usually by parents, relatives, teachers), a growth mindset is nurtured primarily by ourselves as we deliberately select learning opportunities that can benefit us.

Why is growth mindset so important?

In a nutshell, the mindset you acquire over the span of your life can either help you grow or cause you to stagnate. There is a big difference between the two mindsets and how much they can be empowering or detrimental to your personal growth. Let’s take a look at each one.

Fixed mindset.

  • Having a fixed mindset 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 it was nurtured by family and teachers: You often heard statements such as, “You’re so smart!” or “You’re a genius!” or “You’re a natural!” 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 great at math and accounting, but have a really hard time learning a new language.

Growth mindset.

  • Having a growth mindset 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 it was nurtured by family and teachers: 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 hard 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 getting your degree.

What can you do to nurture a growth mindset?

The good news is this: you can work on adjusting your mindset every day — it’s not set in stone. Some examples include:

  • Learn something new every day. It can be anything, from learning about the history of the world, or how things work, or which foods and activities keep you healthy, or which tips can save you time, or which habits can help you become a better person, or which books you can read that will teach you something valuable.
  • Don’t limit your learning experience. Just because it’s not taught in school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time learning 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. Ask someone who’s an expert and who has achieved mastery in a field or a skill you want to have.
  • Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people. They are the ones with a can-do attitude, who exhibit positive and optimistic behavior, and who are working hard every day on getting better at something. Conversely, stay away from those who are constantly negative, critical in always pointing out what they or others are lacking, and who spend too much time talking about others but not enough time on themselves.
  • Keep your mind open to different possibilities. When you’re not sure how to proceed with a problem you’re facing, start by asking, “What if…?” What if you conquer something important that you thought you’d never be able to do a year ago? What if you open some new doors that will take your life in a different direction that will fill you with optimism and renewed energy? What if that new energy makes you feel limitless? Staying open-minded can change your view of yourself and your abilities, and can even determine your future.

Did you find these tips helpful?

This answer is just a sample of the material I’m putting together in an online course called “Imagine What’s Possible: A Beginner’s Guide to the Growth Mindset.” In the course you’ll be able to:

  • Discover how your attitude and mindset are critical to success
  • Differentiate between a fixed and growth mindset way of thinking
  • Identify “fixed mindset” behavior that you can correct
  • Apply “growth mindset” behavior through practical tips
  • Practice what you’ve learned with exercises and templates specially designed for this course.

If you’d like to find out when the course goes live (which will happen in the beginning of July), send me a message with your email address on Quora, and I’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know!

As someone with a fixed mindset, what steps should be taken in order to successfully adopt and maintain a growth mindset?

 

This question shows that you are ready for a change, which is a wonderful thing!

According to Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (one that I highly recommend you read), having a fixed mindset means you believe that your skills, strengths, and qualities are set in stone and there’s nothing you can do to change them. In contrast, having a growth mindset means you believe that you can cultivate your qualities through long-term dedication and effort.

If you have a fixed mindset, you probably think that either you’re really good at something (math, chemistry, athletics, music) or else there’s no use trying. You don’t like receiving feedback from friends, professors, or bosses because you take it personally. You don’t like being challenged, either. In fact, you may often feel like you’re stuck in this mindset but don’t really know how to do things differently.

So what can you do to adopt a growth mindset way of thinking?

If you’re serious about it, the change will take some time — it won’t happen overnight. But, the good news is this: you can do small things every day to change the way you see yourself and your abilities.

Here are 5 ideas to practice.

Idea #1. Learn something new every day.

It can be anything that’s outside your current school curriculum, your job description, or a particular interest or hobby. Maybe you’ll spend a few evenings watching documentaries on Greek philosophy, artificial intelligence, or solar energy. Or, you’ll want to research something more practical and useful in your daily life, such as which foods can keep you healthy or how you can practice HIIT (high intensity interval training). Whatever it is, it’s important to stay curious and be willing to learn what you currently do not know, even though it may scare you.

Idea #2. Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people.

Do you know the saying that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? You may not even be aware of how much those closest to you (family, friends, your partner) can impact your mood, your attitude, your belief system, and even what you perceive to be your strengths or weaknesses. Growth mindset people are easy to spot: they are the ones with a can-do attitude, they exhibit positive and optimistic behavior, and they work hard every day on getting better at something. Befriend them and cultivate friendships with them. Don’t keep friends by default just because you’ve known them for years.

Idea #3. Change your definition of success.

You may think being successful means that things come easy to you, whether it’s being a straight A student or a swimming champion. The downside to that way of thinking is that you get too comfortable in doing something well with little effort. Instead of thinking that success is being the best, start thinking of success as doing your best. This means you switch your focus from staying in the comfort zone to coming up with ways to improve how you do your work. This can mean planning a difficult task ahead of time or waking up 30 minutes earlier to practice a positive habit such as working out or meditating.

Idea #4. Avoid getting lazy about things.

One major drawback to having a fixed mindset is doing something well and then just slipping into complacency. You sit back, take it easy, and expect things to go smoothly from now on. How about making sure it stays that way? For example, if you’ve passed your exams, you don’t have to spend your vacation watching TV or gaming; instead, work on improving a skill for 30 minutes a day. If you finished a big project at work, don’t get into idle office gossip; rather, brush up on your LinkedIn profile by adding relevant skills or learn a new app or tool that can help you do your job more efficiently.

Idea #5. Don’t get envious, get proactive.

When you hear a friend talk about being passionate about a personal project or getting promoted at work, resist the urge to feel envious. Instead, take a cue from them and spend some time brainstorming some ideas of your own. Which project can you start that can improve the quality of your life? How can you take your career path into your own hands and make decisions that are good for you professionally in the long run? It takes a little time, but it’s well worth it. Spend a few evenings writing ideas down, then come up with a plan to turn them into actions. When you’re open-minded about making a change in your life, it means you are proactive and you’re practicing a growth mindset. One small idea today can turn into a lifetime of opportunities!

Did you find these tips helpful?

This answer is just a sample of the material I’m putting together in an online course called “Imagine What’s Possible: A Beginner’s Guide to the Growth Mindset.” In the course you’ll be able to:

  • Discover how your attitude and mindset are critical to success
  • Differentiate between a fixed and growth mindset way of thinking
  • Identify “fixed mindset” behavior that you can correct
  • Apply “growth mindset” behavior through practical tips
  • Practice what you’ve learned with exercises and templates specially designed for this course.

If you’d like to find out when the course goes live (which will happen in the beginning of July), send me a message with your email address here or on Quora, and I’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know!

I’m excited to announce my upcoming online course on the growth mindset!

I am also super excited to announce that I’m developing an online course called “Imagine What’s Possible: A Beginner’s Guide to the Growth Mindset.” It’s an introductory course on how we can use a growth mindset as a supertool to overcome personal challenges and achieve goals we set for ourselves.

In the course you can explore the following:

  • Discover how your attitude and mindset are critical to success
  • Differentiate between a fixed and growth mindset way of thinking
  • Identify “fixed mindset” behavior that you can correct
  • Apply “growth mindset” behavior through practical tips
  • Practice what you’ve learned with exercises and templates specially designed for this course.

If you’d like to receive an email on when the course goes live (which will happen in the beginning of July), leave me a comment here on the blog or send me a message on Quora, and I’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know!

What are some 7-day or 30-day challenges that have significant benefit?

 

What if you start by identifying what bothers you most and use the next 30 days to fix the problem and move on?

I’ll give you 5 challenging situations to choose from that, sooner or later, most of us face in our lives. To make this exercise more effective, I’ll propose a solution for each one, along with an estimate of how long it should take you to practice it daily.

Ready? Here we go.

CHALLENGE #1. Feeling overwhelmed with things you need to do.

Solution? Boost your focus each morning with one question: What is the ONE thing I am committed to learning today?

Time needed? 5 minutes.

This habit keeps things simple, helps your brain focus better, makes you prioritize your goals, and streamlines your work so you don’t feel overwhelmed by a thousand things you “have” to do. Write the question in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. Read it out loud and come up with an answer on the spot as you’re brushing your teeth or getting dressed. Then, keep it top of mind as you go about your day, as a reminder of what you’ve committed to do.

CHALLENGE #2. Procrastinating on work.

Solution? Do your “deep work” early.

Time needed? 1-2 hours.

Deep work can be any kind of analytical thinking that requires the most concentration such as reading, writing, analyzing or problem solving. It requires a different kind of focus from other more tactical things we do on a regular basis, from washing dishes to setting our alarm clock in the evening before going to sleep. Dedicate the first two hours after you wake up to maximize your brain’s peak performance time. If for example you wake up at 7, your peak times are between 9 and 11 a.m.

CHALLENGE #3. Not knowing how to manage busy thoughts.

Solution? Calm your thoughts with meditation.

Time needed? 10 minutes.

If you find yourself often feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you can quiet your mind from all those busy thoughts with a simple 10-minute meditation practice. Download the Headspace app, which even makes it simple for beginners to do. Practice 10 minutes consistently for 10 days. Experiment to find out which time works better for you, mornings after you wake up or right before going to sleep. After that you can opt to increase the time to 15 and later 20 minutes, or you can keep it to 10 if that amount of time works for you.

CHALLENGE #4. Wasting time on distractions.

Solution? Give yourself better brain food.

Time needed? 30 minutes – 1 hour.

We’ve all indulged in entertainment like TV channel surfing, listening to radio shows with commercial interruptions, browsing magazines or newspapers without a specific idea of why we’re reading them. What if you incorporated a few smart hobbies into your day? Pick better brain food like documentaries on politics, history or nature. Listen to podcasts while you’re preparing dinner or tidying up your apartment. Read books to learn about human nature, boost your critical thinking skills, and give yourself the space and time to dream.

CHALLENGE #5. Feeling frustrated or envious of others.

Solution? Express gratitude for what you have in your life this very minute.

Time needed? 5 minutes.

Do you find yourself often feeling like life is unfair, you are a victim of unfortunate circumstances, and other people seem to have it easier in life? If you do, no wonder you feel miserable! Want to change that mindset? Practice gratitude. It rewires your brain to focus on positive things, which can directly impact the way you perceive your life. For five minutes each morning, write down or say out loud 3 things you are grateful for today: a roof over your head, food in the fridge, a warm bed to sleep in, a positive relationship with someone close to you, or a recent and pleasant event you shared with friends.