Growth Mindset

The term “growth mindset” has been applied most often to children, especially with respect to their approach to learning.  When I stop and think about all of the risks that I see kids take on a daily basis, it’s really inspiring.  I observe them trying new things all the time. Putting themselves out there and being vulnerable is a daily reality for children.  But as adults, somewhere along way, over time as we grow up, we tend to become less open to risk and change which limits the opportunity for growth. 

Luckily, we can commit to working on growth, even late in life. And this approach isn’t limited to a classroom.  A growth mindset can be used every day. What better time is there to think about personal development than in the middle of a pandemic?

What is growth mindset?

Carol Dweck is a leading researcher in the area of motivation and mindset and has been an authority in this area for years.  She defines growth mindset this way:  “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities”.

This same thought process can be applied to attitudes about lifestyle and especially exercise.  This type of mindset helps build resilience when we experience setbacks and obstacles.  Regardless of exercise history, sports participation, or otherwise, a growth mindset can help you achieve goals and pursue your potential.  Even though you might not be where you want to be YET, it doesn’t mean you aren’t capable with a little effort and the right attitude.

Growth mindset and exercise

Building regular exercise into a busy lifestyle can be challenging, but if you use the right approach, it can change your life.  It all starts with your mindset.

Value the process and your effort.

It’s important to set and work towards goals, but don’t overlook the value of the process to get there.  It feels good to work hard at something; to see and feel positive change.  I’m sure you’ve heard quotes about the joy of the journey, not the destination.  It’s true.  You can grow and change by inches along the way. Before you know it, you’ve come a mile. You might need to dig a little deeper at times, but don’t be afraid to work hard.  It might require some sweat. That’s okay.

Setbacks are natural when taking on challenges.

Talk to anyone who has succeeded at anything and they can share plenty of examples of setbacks they experienced along the way.  Injuries, obstacles, stress.  That’s life. Don’t let it discourage you.  Identify roadblocks, learn from them, and move on.  Missing three days of exercise doesn’t mean you have failed.  It means that it’s time to get back on the horse.  Maybe it’s been three months. So what, that doesn’t define your future.  A new day is a new opportunity.

Doing things that challenge you is a good use of time.

How are we going to get any better at anything if we don’t begin to push the edges of our comfort zone?  Taking even a short amount of time daily to exercise, to challenge ourselves physically and mentally, is an investment and a great use of time.  It also boosts confidence for the next challenge we face, whether that’s in our personal or professional lives.  I am sure you can think of plenty of things you have done lately that left you going through the motions with little thought or effort.  Don’t settle for complacency, that’s boring. Challenge yourself, it’s worth it.

Developing and learning can happen in all areas of life.

Maybe you have never lifted weights before, or done yoga.  No big deal.  It doesn’t mean you can’t start now, if that’s what you want to do.  Exploring something new or even revisiting something that you used to love to do is a vehicle for growth. Exercise can promote and support learning by priming our brain.  It helps wire new connections and increases blood flow.  Not only is this good for the health of a very important organ, it can translate over into our personal and professional lives through better mood, memory, creativity, and confidence.

Effort activates ability.

Working hard and putting in a lot of effort shows us what we are capable of, and it’s usually more than we realize.  What might seem impossible, with hard work and effort, activates a new level of ability.  We grow through the physical challenges that movement and exercise present.

Challenges present opportunity.

In the midst of the current circumstances I keep reflecting on what I will do differently when life begins to resume. I don’t think it’s a good idea to race back to the status quo. And the status quo is a powerful thing. If we aren’t forced to break it, things usually just stay as they are. A disruption in life like the one we are currently experiencing is the type of thing that forces our hand.

So why not use these circumstances as an opportunity to work on a new mental framework for your life ahead? One that leaves you with a growth mindset, looking at the many possibilities life has to offer. Find things you care about and dedicate yourself to them. Through hard work you can find accomplishment that you have not experienced before.

“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.”  ~Nelson Mandela

Leave a Reply