Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: What REALLY Matters for Success

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According to researcher Carol Dweck, there are two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.

Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can become smarter, they realize that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, introduced these ideas and wrote a book to describe each mindset in more detail.

People with a growth mindset have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience.

According to Dweck, when a student has a fixed mindset, they believe that their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits. They think that you are born with a certain amount and that's all you have.

People with a fixed mindset is to always want to appear intelligent because they believe that they were born with a fixed level of intelligence that cannot be modified. These people have a fear of looking dumb to people because they do not believe that they can redeem themselves once other people look at them as being unintelligent. (To understand this better, here are some examples demonstrating the fixed mindset.)

In a growth mindset, however, students believe their abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence. Their basic abilities are simply a starting point for their potential. They don't believe everyone is the same, but they hold onto the idea that everyone can become smarter if they try. (Here are some examples of growth mindset to help you understand it better.)

Dweck feels that if you want to succeed in any aspect of life, then you need to build a growth mindset. In this article, not only will we talk about the difference between a fixed or growth mindset, we will cover 17 principles that will help you build habits that will help you develop that growth mindset.

Why is mindset important in developing positive habits?

Your fixed beliefs about you will hold you back from making positive change. If you have a trait that you believe cannot be changed, such as your intelligence, your weight, or your bad habits, you will avoid situations that could possibly be uncomfortable or that you think that are useless. You seek perfection instead of excellence.

On the other hand, if you embrace the idea that your habits aren't static, then that belief will be the critical first step to creating actual change in your life. Whether it's building a new skill, learning a new language, or breaking a bad habit, having the growth mindset will help you form that the belief that you are 100% capable of accomplishing any major goal.

So with that in mind, let's go over 17 strategies you can use to create the growth mindset.

17 Strategies to Develop Growth Mindset

1. Acknowledge and embrace your weaknesses.

Maybe you know that you are lazy and tend to put things off until the last minute. Try to plan around that by making modest goals and giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish them.

One of the simplest ways to overcome your weakness is to be honest with yourself about your limitations and tackle them head on. Using the above example about “laziness,” if you know that you tend to procrastinate, then one way to build the growth mindset is to create specific habits in your life that will help you tackle your lazy nature. (And if that sounds like something you'd like to do, then I recommend checking out this book, which help you break the procrastination habit.)

To give you a general idea on what type of mindset you have, take one of these growth mindset quizzes.

2. View challenges as opportunities.

We are constantly faced with important decisions, such as whether to accept a new job or signing up to take a new class.

Taking on these challenges is a big part of developing as a person. The more we challenge ourselves, the more opportunities we have to learn about ourselves. New challenges equal new opportunities.

Embarking on a new challenge may be frightening due to the risk of failure. This may result in avoiding various challenges and continuing down the usual path, holding onto excuses that we tell ourselves so we can remain in our comfort zones.

The truth is, staying in your comfort zone because you are scared to venture out can become uncomfortable. If you avoid challenges, you will not be provided with opportunities to learn and grow. Instead, you will be troubled by the sense that things are not just right.

3. Know your learning style and use the right learning strategies.

If you are able to identify the best ways that you learn, you can optimize your time while researching or attending classes.

Various learning styles can work together for people who have a growth mindset, and learning styles allow students to blend and combine their own bits of intelligence into many different patterns. 

Learning styles relate to different learning approaches that students find to be the most effective for them, so once these are identified, people can feel that their knowledge is expanding and they are getting better at what they are studying. To learn more about how to maximize your learning style, I recommend checking out the book, “Novice to Expert.”

4. Remember that the brain has the ability to change throughout life.

Your brain forms new connections throughout life that allow it to make adjustments when you are faced with new situations or a new environment.

How to develop a growth mindset
17 Steps to Develop a Growth Mindset

Neuroplasticity explains how your brain can be retrained and reorganized, showing that there is always room to grow. If you are aware that your brain is constantly changing, then you are more likely to adopt a growth mindset.

Remember that if the brain is not fixed, then the mind should not be fixed either. As you learn things, your mind will adapt to this new information.

5. Prioritize learning over seeking approval.

When you are more concerned about getting approval from other people than about learning new things, you are giving up your own potential to grow. Don't worry about what other people think about you, and instead focus on bettering yourself and developing your critical thinking skills for your own benefit.

Our suggestion is to focus on becoming an autodidact (or “self-taught” person). Make it a point to spend at least 10 minutes a day on self-education, where you try to master one new thing.

6. Focus on the process instead of the end result.

People who have a growth mindset are often very in tune with their intelligence and willingness to learn.

They understand that any growth is going to be a process and make their own process goals to help them reach the end of the process. They've learned to embrace the suck, do the work, and move on to the next part of the process.

It is important to enjoy the learning process so you are able to get the most out of it and be open to the process continuing beyond the expected time frame.

 One of the most important things about the process of learning is the unexpected lessons that you may pick up along the way.

7. Cultivate a sense of purpose.

Students with a growth mindset are able to look at long-term goals and have a larger sense of purpose for their lives. Keep the end goal in mind and always look at the big picture.

Ask yourself on a regular basis what the purpose is of the work that you are doing. Are you doing it because you enjoy it, or is it part of a bigger goal? Always work with a purpose so you have the motivation to keep working.

8. Choose learning well over learning fast.

This goes back to focusing on the process of learning instead of the end result.

Learning isn't something that you can rush. You have to go through some mistakes in order to truly find success, and none of that will come easy or quickly.

Here are some growth mindset statements that can help remind you about learning well.

9. Reward effort and actions, not traits.

Let other people know when they are doing something creative or especially smart rather than just telling them that they are smart in general.

This helps people strive to continue to do smart things rather than make them feel like they have already accomplished the end goal of being smart.

And if you get stuck on how to reward your efforts, then check out our article on the 155 ways to reward yourself.

10. Learn to give and receive constructive criticism.

Think of criticism as a way to learn. If you have an area of weakness and someone is able to point that out to you, think of it as a gift that makes you aware of your faults so you can focus on them to improve.

Think of criticism as a way to learn. If someone points out a weakness. Don't get mad. Use it to change
Think of criticism as a way to learn. If someone points out a weakness. Don't get mad. Use it to change

It is important to not take constructive criticism personally. Often, people are trying to help, and are therefore doing you a favor rather than trying to cut you down.

If you want to enhance your growth mindset, learn to listen carefully to others, and receive constructive criticism. Think of criticism as a way to learn.

11. Need for improvement does not mean failure.

Just because you need to improve in one area does not mean you have failed. It means that you are on the right track, you're just not quite there yet. To get inspiration, here are nine successful people who initially failed in life.

12. Reflect on your learning every day.

Make sure to absorb everything you learn throughout the day, whether this means writing down the main points at the end of the day or doing a little bit more research on a topic that held your interest the most that day.

Don't let your lessons from the day just float away. Write it down in a bullet journal, a regular journal, or make some other form of a permanent record. At a minimum sit with the idea of what you learned for a while and allow all the lessons to sink in.

Looking for ideas? Here are growth mindset journal prompts to help you get started.

13. Learn from the mistakes of others.

You don't always want to compare yourself to other people, but it is important to see that other people have the same weaknesses as you.

When you see someone make a mistake and recognize how it should have been done correctly, keep that in mind for the future when you are in their situation.

You can even put yourself in their shoes for the moment and pretend that it was you making the mistake, and try to learn from it first hand.

14. Think of learning as “brain training.”

The more you learn, the more you are training your brain to act a certain way and make various connections. You want to train your brain as best you can, which equates to continuing to learn throughout life.

Your brain will have to be trained and retrained as the world evolves and things change, so it is vital to be open to the idea of manipulating your brain to keep up with current trends.

15. Cultivate grit.

You want to have a passion for what you are doing so you can have the perseverance to see it through.

Having a deep interest in your work is one of the most important things to keep you motivated each day and to keep you wanting to be successful in your field. In order to accomplish your long-term goals, you have to have the grit to keep you motivated and on track.

If you want to develop a more “gritty” attitude, then I recommend checking out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

16. Never stop learning. Set a new goal for every one you accomplished.

You will never be completely finished learning. Just because you have finished one class or one project does not mean that you should abandon the subject.

Growth-minded people are able to continue to create new goals so they stay motivated and interested in the subjects that they choose to study. Learning is never finished, as there is always another goal to reach or more research to be done.

Never stop learning! Set a new goal for every goal you accomplish!
Never stop learning! Set a new goal for every goal you accomplish! – That is the secret of a growth mindset!

Growth-minded people are able to continue to create new goals so they stay motivated and interested in the subjects that they choose to study.

17. Remember that it takes time to learn.

Nothing worth doing comes quickly and easily. You have to be realistic about the time it will take for you to learn the information that you are interested in to the point of your satisfaction.

It may take several different methods of learning or several times of applying a new technique until it really sticks and you are able to master it. Additionally, because things are constantly changing, this means that the learning process may never truly be over.

To learn more, read our article discussing the specific things you can do to develop a growth mindset.

Are you ready to grow?

In order to develop a growth mindset, you have to be willing and committed to changing your beliefs about what you are able to do. You cannot stay wrapped up in the idea that you were born with all of your talents and abilities, and have no room to grow.

You also have to take the appropriate actions to learn and stay motivated by looking at the big picture of why you have chosen to study what you have, and how it will benefit you in the long run.

By figuring out the best ways that you learn, you can combine these learning tactics to provide yourself with the most lasting and effective lessons that will help you achieve more success throughout your life.

If you want young kids to learn bout this topic, check these growth mindset books for children and these growth mindset videos they can watch on YouTube.

Discover how to develop your growth mindset and not let your fixed beliefs about you will hold you back from making positive change. #learning #change #healthyhabits #motivation #success #personaldevelopment #personalgrowth #happiness #selfimprovement
17 Steps to Create a Growth Mindset [infographic]

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset?

How do you feel about the fixed mindset vs growth mindset debate? If you believe intelligence is limited to what you were born with, I hope this article gave you enough pause to at least test-drive a growth mindset and see how it fits you.

Embracing the difference between a growth or fixed mindset are you're trying to improve as a person. If you find yourself stuck in life, then maybe a fixed mindset is holding you back. And if that's the case, then we hope the 17 strategies we outlined in this article helped you a little. You can also see more concrete examples of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset in this post.

(To help you better convey the idea of having a growth mindset as a positive trait, here's 26 of the best growth mindset bulletin boards.)

In the comments below let me know YOUR thoughts on both styles of mindset? Do have any personal experience to share with others? If so why not share it with others and help people come to their own decisions vis-a-vis fixed mindset and growth mindset.

If you enjoyed this post, why not share it on your favorite social media platform. It will be appreciated.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

how to develop the growth mindset | developing a growth mindset carol dweck | carol dweck growth mindset

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: What REALLY Matters for Success

5 thoughts on “Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: What REALLY Matters for Success”

  1. Where could I order your 17 way to get a growth mindset like a book mark. I have a team of folks I would like to give to..

  2. Thanks for your kind comment. Glad you got info AND some inspiration out of it. That is exactly what I was aiming for. (Loving positive comments 🙂 )

  3. Wow… awesome article. As a Group Builder in my business, this is what i looking for & im so excited to share with my team members.

  4. This article is very encouraging to me as I am a returning student after 30 years! The brain is a wonderful part of our bodies. I always want a growth mindset.

  5. Learning how to learn is one of the most challenging things. I made a list of things I wanted to improve and learning how to learn should have been at the top–but it is the least sexy thing–but most important. I like this book review and thing it is a good summary of the book. The book just tells more stories, so if you can get the points here you really don’t need the book.

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