Well, that’s the easy part, you need a ‘growth mindset’, the simple belief that learning is ongoing, your intelligence and capabilities are not fixed, change and challenges bring new opportunities and self-development, loss is a part of life and goals are achieved through dedication and sustained effort.
The ground-breaking idea that all people have a fixed or a growth mindset was put forward by Psychologist Carol Dweck after years of research in the field of achievement and success.
The great news is we can all develop a growth mindset. So changing your fixed mindset from “I hate change” to a growth mindset of “I can handle it”, “I can learn through it”, and “embrace it and/ or grow from it”. This is achievable and can help you live a more resilient life, move through change successfully and enhance your emotional health and wellbeing.
My journey of change, moving from fixed to growth mindset
As a child I would have referred to myself as being “painfully shy, someone who would watch from the side lines and often was too scared to say what was on the tip of my tongue”. I would have also described my marks, due to missing some of the foundation skills in English at school as much to be desired and this further depleted my self-esteem. I had a fixed mindset, thought “I was not smart”and “I could not change my intellectual capacity”. Though, I was curious about human interaction and my shyness allowed me to spend more time listening and learning about different behavioral and communication styles. When I met with the school career counsellor and mentioned that I wanted to become a psychologist – you could imagine how I felt when she virtually laughed at me and said “now we need to be realistic” and proceeded to shoot down my goal, purely based on my academic reports. I finally had the courage to speak up about what I wanted and then in one sentence she had brought me back down to earth.
Something inside me finally said “no” to the negative self-talk, to the people who did not believe in me and I decided to finally prove myself and everyone else wrong and learn” I could grow”. I didn’t have any false hope. I knew I wouldn’t achieve my goal straight away but “with hard effort, I would get there”. I was going to change my fixed mindset around “not being smart enough” and being “too shy” to a growth mindset.
And I proceeded to do so….
Shedding my unwanted cloak and developing a growth mindset
With sheer determination, I decided to make the biggest of change of my life when I left high school and that was to shed my ‘shy’ cloak and learn to change and believe that I could learn to have a voice that mattered. I decided that for my own wellbeing, this change was worth fighting for. I was on my path to develop a growth mindset and I started to make changes in my life. I would challenge myself to speak up in group situations. Even if my discomfort levels could be described in the red zone and the worst I could think of, I still proceeded with my challenge as I knew with time I would grow and gradually become more comfortable. I managed to get in to Uni, but was faced with lots of obstacles and comments on my reports like “you have great ideas, but don’t know how to express yourself, your grammar and ability to write is poor”. But with support, I am still continue to grow in the writing space and have achieved my goal to becoming a psychologist. A career that I continue to grow and develop through.
So when I reflect on successful change in my own life, I can confidently say it occurred when I rubbed my hands together and said, “OK, what do I need to do to make this work?” Then I developed the goals, habits, skills, qualities and beliefs that I could change and be resilient.
Thank you for reading my blog and my personal account of what change means to me.
I would appreciate your feedback and look forward to sharing further tips to enhance your resilience and wellbeing in future blogs.
Contributor: Nicole Plotkin is an experienced corporate wellness trainer and principal psychologist at the Emotional Health Centre. She is passionate about working with individuals and workplaces to promote, enhance and restore wellness at work and at home through team based resilience, mental health and stress management training programs and individual counselling sessions.