Of all the mental tools we have that may help us perform better, our mindset about our abilities may be one we pay less attention to. Mindset is defined as a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines our responses and interpretations of situations. It's our inclinations or beliefs about a host of things such as our belief in our abilities. It's difficult to outsmart your mindset. So it's important to raise your awareness of your mindset. This can help you understand the impact it might have on your actions, so that you can start changing your mindset if you so choose.
We differ in our beliefs about our abilities. Some people believe that their abilities are malleable, others believe they're fixed. This is the growth versus fixed mindset, first discovered by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. Cultivating a growth mindset may help you focus more on your desired goals. It may influence your motivation and could make you more readily able to see opportunities to learn and grow your abilities.
Do you have a growth mindset about yourself, about your abilities? If not, these four ideas may help you in changing your mindset.
Raise your self-awareness about your mindset.
You can develop the mental discipline to recognize when you're in the grip of a fixed mindset. For example, consider listening to what you're telling yourself when you decide to pass up on an opportunity to learn something new. Or when you avoid a chance to speak in public because you label yourself as "not good at public speaking." Or when you decide not to seize on a challenge because you fear you might fail.
A fixed mindset can be like a straitjacket. You might never know how much a fixed mindset might impede your success if you don't become aware of its grip on your mind and take steps to help in changing your mindset.
Learn from the best in your field.
Consider picking any area that you want to improve on and learn from the best people in this area. Finding out who they are may help you become a knowledge groupie. What do they do that's working? What can you extract from their way of thinking, from their actions, that can help you?
This is not about emulating others but about possibly learning from their mistakes and being inspired by their success. You may want to observe, learn and adapt what you glean from following them to your own situation. This could be a smart way to learn faster.
Put your self-talk on steroids.
New research published in 2016 in the journal Frontiers of Psychology used over 44,000 volunteers to test three motivational techniques for improving performance:
- Self-talk (saying to yourself "I can do better")
- Imagery (imagining yourself doing something better)
- If-then planning (for example, "If I start to doubt myself, then I will remind myself that I have the skills!")
In the study, all three techniques improved performance, but the most effective one was self-talk. According to the study's results, thinking and saying to oneself "I can do better next time" increases the intensity of effort people put into an activity. It can also improve performance on any given task.
So, consider paying attention to your inner dialogue and making changes if necessary. This is the "can-do" talk that may have a positive effect if we open ourselves up to it. It might be worth a try when you consider steps for changing your mindset.
Practice like a master black belt.
Changing your mindset about your ability in a certain skill may mean mastering it through disciplined practice. Mindless or haphazard practicing may not cut it. When you set out to master a skill, practicing with intention may help improve that skill. Working with a coach, mentor or teacher who has a proven level of excellence in your desired skill may help you avoid the mistake of practicing the wrong way. Whether it's learning to code, to write more effectively or to know how to pitch an idea, practicing with the best can't hurt. Learning how to learn may help when changing your mindset.
Your mindset may influence your response to the many opportunities and challenges you encounter in your lifetime. Author Wallace D. Wattles may have put it best when he said, "Whatever you habitually think yourself to be, that you are." You can succeed in changing your mindset. It takes hard work, but it may be time well spent. There are no shortcuts to mastery.
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