During these unprecedented times, your mindset is probably the last thing you are concerned about. After all, how is your mindset going to help you put food on the table when you just got laid off? How is it going to help you juggle homeschooling your kids while you are working from home? And how is it going to help you find precious resources in short supply? (Hello hand sanitizer and toilet paper!) Well, your mindset will determine how you react to all of these situations. And the beauty is it’s all under your control.
All of us fall on a spectrum from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, what we believe about ourselves and our abilities shapes and determines how we handle the challenges we all face in life. In other words, your mindset will either help you or hinder you as you try to navigate all these new challenges. Let me explain.
People with a fixed mindset feel that life happens to them. They are a passenger in the car of life and no amount of effort will change their predetermined path or things they consider to be in their nature. So when faced with a challenge – and we are facing one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime right this minute – a person with a fixed mindset may become so overwhelmed that they are unable to cope. A fixed mindset is damaging during a pandemic but it is also damaging during “normal” times, and prevents someone from achieving what they truly want in life.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe their effort and action will help them achieve what they want. They feel they control their own destiny and when faced with challenges they work to find a way to overcome them. People who are making masks, organizing meals for health care workers, and running errands for the elderly are visible examples of people with growth mindsets. They are embracing this challenge and taking action to overcome it. Overcoming a challenge could take a less visible form for you, like something within the home or something within your attitude about yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, you are not born with a particular mindset. You have created your mindset over your lifetime with the thoughts you have repeated to yourself about the experiences you have had. These repeated thoughts are called beliefs. In other words, your mindset has been learned. The good news is that what has been learned can be unlearned. The only difference is your current mindset was learned unconsciously – you didn’t even know it was happening. In order to change it, you will have to take deliberate steps to interrupt your current thought pattern.
Every action we take or habit we have is driven by our beliefs (what we think about). These behaviors then lead to the results we achieve in life. Do you want to achieve something different? Do you want something different for your future? If the answer is yes, you must change your thoughts first and your habits will naturally change.
How do you change your mindset? It takes deliberate steps. You built your current mindset over a lifetime of experiences. It won’t take a lifetime to change your mindset, but it will take focused attention on the areas of your life and deliberate thought about what you want for yourself and your happiness.
In my next post, we will talk further on steps you can take to emerge from this pandemic an even stronger person than you were before.