Shift to Growth Mindset to Unlock Your Best Life
What if I told you that your abilities can be developed with time and effort? What if I told you that being open to tackling challenges and receiving feedback could open doors for you that you may have previously thought impossible? If this sounds familiar to you, chances are that you approach life with a growth mindset. Growth mindset is rooted in the belief that your abilities are not fixed but can be developed through time and effort. It places a focus on learning over performance. People with a growth mindset view challenges and feedback as opportunities to learn and, as a result, improve their abilities.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety and associated depression, shifting from fixed mindset to growth mindset was crucial to my recovery. At first, getting diagnosed with a mental health condition felt like earth shattering news. I was angry, upset, and deeply distressed. I viewed anxiety as the enemy and saw myself as a victim of my circumstances. However, there was also a part of me that knew I did not want to keep living this way. Thanks to very patient parents and a therapist I began taking small steps towards healing and slowly shifting away from the victim mentality that was keeping me trapped.
The key lesson my therapist ingrained in me is that anxiety within certain levels is healthy. She shifted my focus away from wanting to get rid of anxiety completely, a goal that seemed impossible, to managing it down to a healthy level. Having a much more realistic goal helped me believe that I could improve my ability to cope with anxiety and opened me up to learning. Rather than having a singular focus on finding one quick solution, I was open to trying various solutions to find out what worked best for me. I learned tangible ways to prioritize my mental health, even on busy days. I learned how to be more aware of my emotions and how to sit with difficult emotions.
Another instrumental change that my therapist gently suggested was quitting my job. During the initial stages of recovery, it became increasingly clear to everyone except me that the job I was in was one of the biggest contributing factors to anxiety. I did not find joy or purpose in the work that I was doing, which led to a lack of engagement and inability to perform to my full potential. Once I made the difficult decision to quit, I opened myself up to exploring potential career paths I could find passion and purpose in. After a great deal of soul searching and many conversations, I landed on Human Resources (HR) as the field I wanted to pivot to and was accepted into a nearby graduate school program to pursue a Master of Science in HR Management.
As someone who had an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering and just quit a job in the finance industry, going to graduate school for HR was a risk. I was completely new to this field and had to remain open to learning, rather than getting discouraged if I was not an expert in it. That included accepting the possibility of HR not being my passion. Luckily, betting on my intuition to pursue HR paid off. I enjoyed my graduate school classes like I never had in college and was much less worried about grades. My primary focus was leaning into my innate curiosity and absorbing as much knowledge as I could to prepare myself to serve employees.
Similar to my approach with classes, my focus on learning also helped land me a dream HR job at Dell Technologies. When shifting from graduate school back to working full-time, there was a deep seated fear that imposter syndrome, lofty expectations for myself and an unhealthy focus on performance would rear their ugly heads again. Recalling how well shifting to a growth mindset had helped me through recovery and graduate school, I set the intention to focus on learning from the first day of work. I focused on active listening, asking questions, and requesting and implementing feedback. I had faith that the performance would follow as a direct result of these efforts and it did. Not only did an intentional shift to a growth mindset open up a lot of opportunities for me at work, but it also made work more enjoyable.
One of the toughest tests to date of my ability to practice growth mindset came when the entire world was thrown into a pandemic. Many anxious patterns such as emotional eating, workaholism, and perfectionism came back into my life as a consequence of this highly stressful environment. At first, there was a part of me that wanted to regress back to a victim mentality because I felt so out of control. However, I recalled the positive result of approaching other challenges in my life with a growth mindset and was determined to face the pandemic with this same mindset. I acknowledged my fears, sat with difficult emotions that came up, found new ways to practice self love at home, and learned how to continue fostering connection from a distance. The key here was a belief that I could learn how to function healthily in a new reality and consistently trying new things, especially on days I just wanted to give up. The result was way past overcoming old anxious patterns. My openness to learning more about my authentic self helped me tap into opportunities and evolve in ways I did not even realize were possible just a year ago. I started advocating for mental health in a corporate environment, I joined a personal development community of empowered women, I sat on the board of a mental health advocacy nonprofit, and I embraced my introverted nature more than ever before. Day by day I am losing the fear of learning ways in which to change my life so I can live in more alignment with my soul’s purpose and gaining the courage to make the shifts needed to evolve as a person and elevate my life.
Facing each challenge in my life with a growth mindset has taken a lot of intention and effort as it is not something that initially came naturally to me. Coming to terms with the uncertainty we face in life and trusting myself to learn how to operate in the face of constant change can be very challenging at times, especially when my circumstances do not seem to be playing out in my favor. Through my journey, I have discovered the incredible rewards of a commitment to a growth mindset. Some of these benefits include increased empowerment and self love, being able to support the success of others, increased courage to take risks, and being more open to new experiences. If there is one piece of life changing advice I can give you, it is to shift to a growth mindset.
A small gift from Anvita to you:
Tips & tricks for practicing a growth mindset:
Set an intention to live authentically. Living authentically will help you relax into learning about yourself and open you up to discomfort because sometimes living your full truth can be uncomfortable.
Listen actively. Listen to learn about the other person rather than listening to respond.
Reflect on your fears and unpack the beliefs that drive these fears. Question these beliefs. Are they logical? How are they serving you and how are they limiting you? How do they impact your decisions and behaviors?
Ask questions instead of making assumptions. If asking questions does not come naturally to you, set the intention to come up with at least a few questions in every conversation. You may not end up asking all of your questions, but this intention will encourage curiosity.
Pursue opportunities you are genuinely passionate about. You will naturally be much more relaxed and open to learning when you are passionate about what you’re doing.
Learn how to say “no” to opportunities that do not ignite your passion. These activities take away energy that can be dedicated to your passions and may also cause you stress.
Practice gratitude daily. List the smallest things that you are grateful for every day. This will help you appreciate the journey and not just focus on the end result.
Celebrate growth along the way. This will increase your appreciation for learning and encourage you to continue along the journey.