Many of us make goals when a new year begins. As a human being, you’re probably inclined to use this as an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, with all its ups, downs, successes and failures. Then you likely make goals for how to make this year better than last. But while setting goals is healthy and important, you need to be careful not to let the positive mindset of a new year lead to a downward spiral of beating yourself up if you don’t meet your own expectations.
Growth vs Fixed Mindset
We all want to do and be better at certain things. Self-evaluation is a great way to identify those things and decide how we’ll improve. But because we’re human, we fall short sometimes. This is part of being alive, and failure is an important part of anyone’s journey! To keep from getting too down on yourself when this happens, try to adopt a growth vs fixed mindset. A growth mindset is a little different from a positive mindset or positive emotions. Here are some examples:
Fixed Mindset: I’m either good at this or I’m not.
You see how self-limiting this statement is? It’s like saying “since I set this goal and messed up, I must not be capable of achieving it.”
Growth Mindset: I’m not good at this yet, but with effort I can improve.
See how that’s better? A growth mindset is the belief that, even though you might initially struggle, you can overcome, improve, and acquire a skill you didn’t have before.
Fixed Mindset: My boss said I did this wrong. I’m a failure.
When you look at feedback as a personal attack, it can hurt your creativity and ability to learn. Some people have a hard time giving feedback without sounding demeaning, but this says more about them than about you.
Growth Mindset: Okay, it didn’t work this time. But what can I learn for my next try?
A growth vs fixed mindset is like the difference between learning from mistakes and simply giving up because of them.
Fixed Mindset: My tendencies and talents are what they are. I’m just not suited for some things.
While it may be true that some things are a better fit for you than others (think of why you entered your career instead of something dramatically different), thinking you’re born with certain tendencies and, “it’s just the way I am” can really limit your ability to set your sights on bigger things — and achieve them.
Growth Mindset: Trying and learning new things is fun!
You might not be good at everything you try — at least the first time. But the mind and spirit have untold potential to learn, expand your horizons, and help you achieve things you never thought you would.
What This Has to Do With Resolutions
Anytime you set a goal, there’s the potential for setbacks or even failures. Maybe you won’t lose 30 pounds by June — maybe you’ll lose 18. A fixed mindset might say you failed at that goal and should give up, but a growth mindset says it’s not a race and looks at how to tackle the rest. Of course setting reasonable goals is key, but keep in mind that life is more of an infinite game — not a finite contest with winners and losers. Life is a journey of self improvement, course corrections, and milestones. Moving forward is the whole point — and having a growth vs fixed mindset can help you focus on the big picture.