Yesterday I wrote about the importance of expecting failure as a normal part of making any big change in your life.
But when that failure comes, which it will, the mindset you have will quickly decide how easy you find it to handle disappointment. And then how determined you are to push on regardless.
A fixed mindset makes you believe your abilities are what they are. You might be able to improve a bit but you’re pretty much set for life.
If this is you, then you tend to avoid challenges. If you fail, others will spot it and see that as your true ability.
Negative feedback is a threat to you because critics see themselves as better than you. You avoid exerting yourself too much - people who are naturally good at stuff don’t need to try hard!
A growth mindset however makes you believe your abilities and skills are like muscles. They can be improved and become stronger with focused effort. You don’t think you’ll be great at something straight away but you’re willing to learn and practise.
You’re comfortable accepting more challenges despite the risk you’ll fail. You’re happier to receive criticism - it makes you better. You’re not as good as others right now but give yourself time and you just might be.
So FIXED versus GROWTH: which are you?
The good news is there’s no right or wrong answer. But reaching your potential is going to need a growth approach. Taking risks, accepting feedback, stretching yourself and shooting for the long term will all combine to make your progress inevitable.
Awareness of which mindset you naturally fall back on is the first step. And as soon as you work that out, you’ll start spotting the little messages you tell yourself.
Things like - ‘I can’t eat consistently well’ - ‘I’m not a fit and healthy person’ - ‘I can’t do that’ - these all sound very FIXED. You’re describing your abilities like they’re permanent.
Start convincing yourself that your brain is a muscle, primed for improvement and you’re half way to growth thinking.
To help you get there, keep recalling that the things you’ve become good and confident at took regular practise.
Say to yourself that everything is hard before it’s easy. Never give up because you didn’t master something straightaway.
And you don’t even need to remind yourself of these things every day. Just every now and then. But most powerfully after moments when you believe you’ve failed.
You can teach yourself the growth mindset and it can change your life. If failure is a necessary part of change then the way you understand failure is critical.
Failure is simply information. Failure is insight. Failure helps you realise your blind spots which you didn’t know existed. If you can persist through the fogginess and doubt, you’ll eventually emerge with a sense of momentum and start charging toward your ultimate goal.
So the next time you’re starting out on a new health and fitness transformation, don’t completely trust your initial flush of good feeling and hope. As what comes next is difficult, frustrating and tough going. But work through that pain and what waits on the other side will be completely worth it.
Committed to your health,