5 things you can do to improve your mindset right now!
Mindset is defined as “the established set of attitudes and beliefs held by someone” these attitudes will affect the way you approach and take action on challenges you are presented with and as such will have a major part to play in your success when undertaking a new task or setting a new goal. For example, if you believed that a person’s fitness and skill were set at birth, think of the potential effect of this on your progress when you hit a plateau. It is likely this would be attributed to not having the correct genetics or that you had reached your limits. You would become a victim of what is known as stereotype threat, where your beliefs will actually affect your performance.
This was shown in a recent paper looking at female soccer players (Herman and Vollmeyer, 2016). Whereby the simple act of reading an article that stated females were poor at soccer negatively affected their performance of a dribbling task. Stereotype threat has also been to affect the intent to exercise in the overweight females in a similar study (Seacat and Mickelson, 2009).
Renowned Stanford psychologist and researcher has investigated these effects in depth and postulates that your mindset can be placed at any given time on a continuum between “fixed” and “growth”.
A fixed mindset is one where you believe that your abilities are inherent and, therefore, a lack of success in a task can be blamed on you lacking that particular trait or ability. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one where you would attribute success on effort and that given enough time anything is possible. This is summed up perfectly in the famous maxim,
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get, The more I practice, the luckier I get!”
So can you change your mindset? the answer is an unequivocal, Yes!! Dweck herself has shown this, By rewarding effort and focusing on the thought that “when you exert effort you can change the structure of your brain” Dweck showed that students could change their mindset and improve on grades. Below are 5 simple steps to changing your mindset
- Be Aware.
- First, of in order to change a thought, you first need to recognise that you are having it. This requires awareness and mindfulness practice is a good way to start being aware of your thoughts and how they affect you.
- Accept there are options.
- Recognise that when you encounter criticism or challenges that you have the ability to interpret these as an indication your talents are fixed and you are just not good enough or that this is feedback that as Tony Robbins would say “you need to change your approach” or “set a new standard”.
- Change your approach.
- Once you have started to notice your fixed mindset thoughts and self-talk answer the fixed mindset voice with your growth voice. For example, try some of the examples in the table below.
Fixed Mindset thoughts
Growth mindset replies
“Am I sure I can do it maybe I don’t have the talent .”
“I’m not sure I can do it yet, but I know that I can learn with time and effort”
“What if I fail, I’ll be a failure”
“Michael Jordan said “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” & he was pretty successful”
“If I don’t try 100% and I fail I can always protect myself and not look too bad”
“If I don’t try I will automatically fail and therefore look bad regardless”
“if I was talented and was meant to be fit this would have been easy”
“If it was easy it wouldn’t have challenged me and I wouldn’t get better”
“it’s not my fault, it was….. Or someone else’s fault
“If I don’t accept responsibility, I will never be able to change my approach, I will learn from this so I can do better next time”
- Take action.
- It is all well to internalise this challenge and to change the thought process however without action there will be no change in outcome. So it is vital that when you change your mindset and take the decision to change your thought pattern that you immediately take action on this. Over time this will lay the foundations of a new positive growth mindset as a habit.
- Celebrate your effort
- This final piece is the key to changing your behaviour pattern when you take positive action take the time to celebrate your success and have a moment of gratitude for the changes you have made. This will aid in cementing these moving forward as it is your own positive feedback and makes you feel good about your action and therefore you will be more likely to continue them.
Dweck, C (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books
Dweck, C.S. (2007). The perils and promises of praise. Early Intervention at Every Age, 65(2)
Hermann J.M., Vollmeyer, R. (2016), “Girls should cook, rather than kick!” – Female soccer players under stereotype threat, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 26, 94-101,
Seacat, J.D. and Mickelson, K.D. (2009) Stereotype threat and the exercise/dietary health intentions of overweight women. Journal of Health Psychology 14: 556–567.