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It’s no secret that 2020 hasn’t exactly been what we bargained for.  We are constantly being exposed to negative news in the media, we are cut of from our loved ones and may be facing financial hardship; all of this together can make it seem like the bad will never end and may have you feeling a little blue.  While we know that some days it is harder to block out all the noise and focus on the positive than others (trust me, we are in the same vote), adopting a growth mindset is a skill that can have a huge impact on not only your outlook, but also that of those around you.

A growth mindset sees people take a view that their basic abilities can be grown and developed through dedication and hard work, to create a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment1.  The alternative to this is a fixed mindset…  So how do you maintain a growth mindset?  Especially when there is so much that seems to be dragging us down.  Well, we have listed nine helpful tips to get you started and keep you on track to creating and maintaining a growth mindset, even during times of crisis.

1. Defeat the little voice in your head that says you can’t!

You know the one!  It’s the little voice that seems to find a reason you will fail before you even try.  The little seed that plants self-doubt in your mind.  Don’t worry we all have one, but we also have the power to dictate how we let it affect us  To quieten the little voice try:

  • Recognising what triggers the little voice – is it when you are going for a new project or promotion?
  • Create a persona or avatar for your little voice, even going as far as to give it a name! This will help you separate your little voice from your potential.
  • Educate your little voice by saying things like: “Look, I know this may not work out, but I would really like to take a stab at it. Can I count on you to bear with my effort?”  By simply addressing your little voice you are creating space to explore a growth mindset.2
2. Focus on what you can control

During times of uncertainty, it can be easy to fall into the habit of feeling helpless, like everything that is happening around you is out of your control.  But by adopting a growth mindset it encourages you to focus on what you can control (trust me there will be something, no matter how small).

  • Get the facts – having all the information can help you feel more in control.
  • Where are you getting your information? – Be aware of the sources you are using to get your information. A lot of media outlets use scare tactics such as negative article headlines as click bait, so make sure you understand where the information is coming from.
3. Be flexible

We love a good plan as much as the next person, but during times of uncertainty it can be, well, a little tricky to keep one going.  This is where you need to be flexible!  Work with a timeframe and goals that are achievable and reassess where necessary.  The world is changing so quickly, that even the best thought out plan may require a few changes along the way.

  • Try to maintain some sense of normality in your daily routine, but be ready to adapt if necessary.
  • Write it down – this will help you have a clear vision of your goals and give you something to strive towards, even if the road map to get there changes.
4. Practice happy habits

It’s not hard to imagine that we are all a little stressed out and living with a bit more fear and anxiety at the moment.  In these conditions we often forget to take care of ourselves and practice our usual happy habits.  From sleep, to nutrition, exercise and our usual relaxation methods, these can all suddenly be kicked to the curb.  BUT now it is more important now than ever to incorporate them into our daily lives, after all if we are feeling a bit more in tune with ourselves a growth mindset is sure to follow.

  • Stay connected – reach out to family members, friends and loved ones for chat. While we might not be able to meet face to face right now, even a phone conversation can make the world of difference.
  • Do what makes you happy! – if that means watching a show on Netflix, reading a good book, dancing around your living room to your favourite song… DO IT!

Still not feeling it? – there is no shame in talking to someone about how you are feeling, whether that is a professional, a family friend or something else, always reach out.  There are some great resources here.

5. Start saying ‘yet’

In a crisis, you’ll most likely be facing issues and decisions that you never have before. When you adopt a growth mindset in a crisis situation, the path to change will be less intimidating. And you can do this buy using one very simple word: yet.3 For example, as stated by Jonathan Grinstein (2020)3 if you’re feeling overwhelmed and are having trouble focusing, instead of saying “I don’t know how to focus during a crisis,” you could try saying to yourself “I don’t know how to focus during a crisis, yet.”

6. Fail better

Nobody likes feeling like they failed… but here is the thing: there are always going to be times where we feel like we could have done better.  So that is why we need to approach failure just like everything else – with a growth mindset.  Instead of setting yourself up to play the blame game by asking, “Why didn’t I perform well” ask yourself “How could I make my performance better?”4  By simply shifting your stance on failure to a proactive one you can suddenly look at the experience for opportunities for improvement rather than following an unrewarding path to blame and resentment.

7. Fake it until you make it

I’m sure you have all heard this phrase being thrown around from time to time and that is because it is TRUE!  By using a growth mindset, we are able to approach tasks with more confidence, which results in little wins… which ultimately results in even more confidence and a greater self-belief! Over time this will develop further into a passion for learning rather than a need for approval5 (hello, growth mindset!). 

8. Be curious

By nature, we are curious beings.  A growth mindset encourages curiosity and your drive to try new things.  While sometimes trying something new or venturing into the unknown can be scary it is important to remember that it can also be very rewarding.  Not only can you potentially expand your horizons, but you can also further develop your mindset.  Sounds like a win win to us!

  • What interests you? – if there is a particular topic you want to know more about or perhaps, there is a new skill you want to try, give it a go! The important thing is that it is of interest to you.
  • Bring a friend – still a bit hesitant to try something new on your own? Try encouraging a likeminded friend or family member to come along too.
9. Change your language

A key ingredient to adopting a growth mindset is thinking about the language you use.  Now we aren’t talking about curse words that result in money being put in a swear jar, but rather the language you use when thinking about a problem.  For example, instead of saying “I give up” try saying “I’ll use a different strategy” instead.  The second phrase uses positive language and opens you up to a growth mindset by searching for a different approach to the presented problem.