Fixed vs. Growth Mindset -Conversations for the Mind

Have you heard of the fixed vs. growth mindset? How have I not heard of this before. I feel like I’ve been living in a shell. It’s really simple and seems pretty obvious but to define yourself with one of these two words…kind of an eye opener.

Here is a quick summary of Carol Dwecks’, a psychologist at Stanford University, theory of success based on two types of mindsets.

Someone who has a fixed mindset believe that their traits cannot change, talent alone leads to success and effort is not required, and that they are who they are based on inherent nature.   Although most common, having a fixed mindset is the most harmful. Fixed beliefs will hold you back from making a positive change; avoid uncomfortable or difficult situations that you think are useless

Someone with a growth mindset holds the belief that learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. They believe any major goal can be accomplished because abilities are entirely due to actions. Any ability can be developed through dedication.

Moving Towards a Growth Mindset

Having a fixed mindset can set you back in life. You ignore the advice of others and believe that there is no room for growth. In Debbie Millman’s commencement speech to a San Jose University graduating class she states, ‘If you imagine less, less is what you indoubtedly deserve’.

Good news. There are several ways to change your mindset from a fixed to a growth. Dweck believes that just by learning about a growth mindset people can drastically alter how people view themselves and their life.

  1. Acknowledge and embrace your weaknesses and imperfections– If you are a procrastinator, make modest goals, know your limitations and tackle them head on. Create specific habits that will help tackle laziness
  2. View challenges as opportunities – New challenges equal new opportunities. We make excuses to stay in our comfort zone because we are scared about the risk of failure but, don’t think of it as failing, think of it as learning
  3. Prioritize learning over seeking approval – Seeking approval from others is more of a concern than learning new things equals giving up the potential to grow.  Focus on bettering yourself for you own benefit. Learning new things allows for the potential to grow. Seeking approval from others hinders that growth.
  4. Focus on the process instead of the end result – Make the most of the learning process. Enjoy the unexpected lessons you learn along the way.
  5. Cultivate a sense of purpose – Set long term goals and always look at the big picture as working with purpose gives you motivation.
  6. Learn to give and receive constructive criticism – listen carefully to others and don’t take it personally as it is a way to learn.  Need for improvement does not mean failure.
  7. Train the Brain – The more you learn, the more you are training your brain to act a certain way; never stop learning.  Create new goals as you accomplish others and don’t forget that it takes time to learn.  Be realistic with the time it will take you to learn the information that you’re interested it.  Information that comes quickly and easily isn’t the same as learning well.  Allow time for mistakes. 
  8. Cultivate Grit – Passion and perseverance for what you do will help you stay motivated and see things through.  Effort and hard work should be rewarded too!
  9. Allow yourself to goof up – Don’t feel bad about making mistakes.  Stop trying to save face and start solving the problem. Accepting your errors and moving forward will make it easier to take risks in the future.
  10. Take ownership – Acknowledge and be proud that you are working on yourself. Developing a growth mindset and knowing you possess the ability to grow mentally is a massive step in character development.

Mindsets and the Future

How does having a fixed or growth mindset relate to me becoming a nomadic girlfriend? EVERYTHING.

For those that do not know, I have recently reduced my work hours at the hospital in order to take on new pursuits and eventually get out of the rat race so I could travel with my partner.   I want to embrace the nomadic life even though it may only be for a partial time for now.   It’s been a few months now and I have yet to show much for it.  I don’t have a new job lined up and, when it comes to studying I am a hard core procrastinator.  I have a fixed mindset. I need to get unstuck, suck it up, face challenges head on and develop a growth mindset so I can move forward.

There are long term goals that I am trying to reach but for some odd reason, I am holding myself back.  I think I am scared to fully commit myself and appear to be sabotaging my own happiness.  Learning something so foreign – becoming digital- does not come easily to me and is a huge challenge but, I definitely see the opportunities it comes with. 

The Change

Have you ever had such an amazing conversation with someone about life that afterwards, you felt refreshed, renewed and had a new outlook? These conversations don’t necessarily have to be lengthy and serious. They’re just…enlightening. To learn what you think is, isn’t or what you think you want, you really don’t.

I’m lucky enough to have a partner that challenges me and makes me think differently What I find helps a lot: intellectual conversations that make you think differently about yourself.   I have my partner by my side that challenges me and tries to free me from my fixed mindset.   As he is growing, I want to be there growing alongside him.

Conversations that Challenge the Mind

I’m not talking about conversations with a therapist (though there is definitely a place for them and I would recommend them). I’m talking about conversations with a close friend, confidant, or partner.

Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

Coming away from a deep conversation can be mind boggling. All you can think about for the rest of the day is your your entire existence and your thought processes. Some people are blessed with the ability to ask questions that you would never think to ask yourself.

As much as these types of questions can make you feel criticized, offended or judged, they’re meant to challenge you to a new way of thinking and can come from a place of pure curiosity and thoughtfulness. If you feel otherwise, you probably have a fixed mindset or perhaps you have a problem with your ego and are too scared to face the truth.

Patience is a virtue. Instead of talking your face off (like how I do usually because I hate awkward silences), take the time to listen to others and you may receive the best advice/lesson ever!

Self Learning

The other day, I learned a lot about myself and how interesting other people interpret my actions.

If you didn’t already know, I am ‘a minimalist tiger mom’ (you can read all about it here)and I love to declutter. I thought it was because it was an OCD thing or this was a way of me mentally preparing myself to eventually become a slomadpreneur with my partner and leave everything behind.

Apparently other people see my minimalistic ways as a form of distraction from my stresses and the things I should be doing. This did not occur to me whatsoever, that there was more to it than I had thought. But, it makes complete sense. I definitely have a fixed mindset. The struggle is for real!

Obvious examples: I put off finishing the blogging course that should have taken me 10 days not two months and counting by looking for other things to do such as declutter; whenever I have a bad day at work, I’ll come home in a fit of wanting to throw something out. Or when I’m stuck with my blog, I will start scanning the room trying to look for something to trade. It’s not all that horrible since this form of procrastination is still productive, right? NO! Procrastinating is not allowing me to grow and reach my goals.

Hard Questions Answered

During the same enlightening conversation, I was asked a 3 part question.

  • Part 1 – Why would I want to leave a job that paid well, had benefits and pension and overall security?

A completely valid question since I am still unsure of what to do next, job wise. In fact, I am still having difficulty completely letting go. But growth does not mean having all the money in the world. Growth is about getting out of your comfort zone to get what you want and be happy.

That is why I stand firm with my answer: I don’t want to feel constricted to shift work, have to book vacation a year in advance hoping it would get approved, deal with not so awesome coworkers and patients, clean the dirty communal fridge, walk to work in a scary neighbourhood, stay at work even after I was efficient and got my work done before everyone else, be afraid to call in sick, miss my friends birthday parties because I had to work the weekend or evening shift, endure the long cold harsh winters because I ran out of vacation, etc. Most of all, I don’t want to come home miserable after work anymore and have it affect my relationships.

  • Part 2 – Deep down, am I wanting to quit because I want to make my partner happy and are scared that if I didn’t move away with him then the relationship would be over?

As offended as I feel I should be by this question, I’m not. Of course I want my relationship to work and there will be sacrifices from both our parts but, I’m not choosing to quit for the sole purpose of making him happy. I am doing this for us and for myself.

I am learning that there is more to life and that I don’t have to stay miserable at my job. Part of me being happy is being with my partner. It’s kind of a win win situation for me. Although it frightens me a bit, I am pursing other career options that will allow me to do the things I want and be with the people I want. I am slowly trying to transform my fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

I don’t know if this massive change that I am about to set forth will actually make me happy but, I am willing to risk it and find out. What’s the worst that can happen? I go back to my old job and life…boohoo..nothing will have really changed other than I got an adventure out of it all. Just need to roll with the punches and know that in the end, everything will work out. We are creatures of habit but, we are also creatures that can adapt! I can change my fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

  • Part 3 – Would I quit my job if I was dating someone else?

Probably not. But, that would mean I would continue being miserable at my job and never realize the potential I have to do more and live the life I want. Plus, I probably wouldn’t have ever heard of the mindset theory.

Look Ma, I’m Growing

Dwerk was right. Just reading the difference between having a fixed vs. and growth mindset will make you see things differently. You’ll probably want to starting mixing things up!

Based on one conversation I had, I know so much more about myself. I think my mind is slightly charred (not fully blown)! I still have a long way to go to really feel like I have a growth mindset but I’m learning! Woohoo!

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Hey there, I'm Cristine (aka Nomadgirlfriend). I want to quit my job so I can travel more. I just need to figure out the digital world so I can start making money to feed my wanderlust with my digital nomad partner. I welcome you to join my on this journey of self discovery and new adventures!

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