By: Sammy Harrison, Marketing Manager, Bay Tek Entertainment
It’s a new year (and a new decade!) and so comes the influx of New Year’s Resolutions! I’m a goal-oriented person so setting strategies and plans to be successful gets me fired up. But to some us, it’s eye-roll-worthy because we all know that soon these same people will have changed their tunes and given up their once-coveted resolutions. In fact, a fitness company, Strava, analyzed more than 31.5 million fitness records from its users and found that the second Friday in January is the fateful day when most of our annual commitments start to crumble. That’s January 10 this year.
This happens for a lot of reasons; change is hard and uncomfortable; our brains have created neural pathways that are well set so changing them is difficult and takes time. Another reason is mindset.
According to the book Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D., there are two types of mindsets individuals can have; fixed or growth.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities and talents are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. They also believe that it’s innate skill that leads to success, not necessarily effort.
On the other hand, growth mindset people have an underlying belief that their intelligence and talents can grow with time and effort; as long as they don’t give up.
Maria Popova, of Brainpickings, summarizes the differences quite well:
“A ‘fixed mindset’ assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
A ‘growth mindset,’ on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.”
In one study, Dweck offered four-year-olds a choice: They could either redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or try a harder one. Those with “fixed” mindsets stayed on the safe side, choosing the easier puzzles that would affirm their existing ability, telling the researchers that smart kids don’t make mistakes; those with the “growth” mindset thought it was an odd choice to begin with – why would anyone want to do the same puzzle over and over if they aren’t learning anything new? In other words, the fixed-mindset kids wanted to make sure they succeeded in order to seem smart, whereas the growth-mindset ones wanted to stretch themselves, for their definition of success was about becoming smarter.
If you find yourself aligning with the fixed mindset, fear not! According to Dweck we can rewire our cognitive habits to adopt a growth mindset. Ironically – it just takes effort! And really, if you’ve set a New Year’s Resolution, it’s likely that you’re a growth mindset person already because you believe you can change and grow in a certain area. Kudos to you! Now it’s time to kick up your passion for learning, versus your hunger for approval.