When we are studying or attempting to learn something new – be it a new skill as part of a hobby or knowledge and information when preparing for an exam – we are guaranteed to encounter difficulties and setbacks along the way. It is simply part of the learning process. However, the way in which we respond to these difficulties or challenges as we encounter them is what sets the learners who go on to see the success they crave apart from those who remain set back by the struggle. Which is where our mindset comes in.
The belief that our talents and intelligence are gifts that do not change is something that we often have learned and continue to hold on to. This belief can be understood as a fixed mindset. However, the concept of a growth mindset – first coined by psychologist Carol Dweck – shifts this belief to one that suggests that practice and perseverance can help grow your abilities, overcome setbacks and enable you to go on and succeed. The science behind neuroplasticity suggests that our brains have the ability to change throughout our lives and it is with this in mind that we can see that the concepts of a growth mindset can become a reality as well. In recent years, developing a growth mindset has been at the forefront of education, with teachers and tutors working with their students to help move beyond these limiting beliefs in order to see better results and achievements in their classrooms.
The reason for this focus on mindset in education is in the fact that those students who have a growth mindset are the students who see mistakes as a learning opportunity, embrace challenges and are resilient in the face of adversity. All these things are factors that are key to gaining good results. Students with a growth mindset are also much more likely to love learning! The reality then, is that on encountering a challenge or setback when learning something new, those with a fixed mindset are likely to give up or see the problem as something they cannot overcome, whilst those with a growth mindset are likely to reflect upon the situation and actively seek out ways to move beyond it because they believe it is possible to do so.
If you feel that your mindset is more fixed than it should be, how can you work to get past it? Well, in truth, identifying that you may have a fixed mindset is the most important step! From now on, whenever you encounter a setback or challenge, reflect upon the circumstances you are faced with and question the way in which you are able to overcome it. Then, try to remember the following points to ensure that your mindset doesn’t limit your outcomes;