When it comes to change, mindset is one of the ultimate drivers in taking action towards achieving a goal. As a a person giving or receiving information, it is often just hearing the benefits and downfalls of certain strategies are not enough to bring an individual to the brink of action. In other words, you as an individual are entirely responsible for changing.
The necessary internal motivation that acts as a "lightswitch" in your head leading to change can most powerfully be derived from one thing: your mindset. People often use their mindset to determine their identity, This can be dangerous or this could achieve a lot of things.
So let's start with identifying your mindset before we talk about changing it. Read the four statements below and decide which two you agree with the most:
1. You are a certain kind of person. Not much can be done to change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
4. You can always change things despite the kind of person you are.
If you agreed with statements 1 and 3, you have a fixed mindset.
If you agreed with statement 2 and 4, you have a growth mindset.
If you agreed with statements 1 and 2, you are in a confused mindset.
Let's say you are in a fixed mindset, but you would like to change. To be effective or even simply begin the change, you MUST move to a growth mindset. First, let's identify some of the traits associated with the three mindsets.
An individual with a fixed mindset may have one or more of the following qualities:
- You perceive your abilites as static (you are what you are)
- You behavior accurately represents you perceived natural abilities
- You tend to avoid challenges (if you fail, people will think you're not what you say you are)
- You can be threatened by negative feedback
- Youcan be afraid to show yourself exerting effort (if you have your abilities, you are naturally good at them and you want to show everyone how easy it is for you)
- You register compliments based off of skill the greatest
An individual with a growth mindset may have one or more of the following qualities:
- You believe you can build up abilities with practice
- You tend to accept more challenges to grow as a person
- You accept more criticism for improvement's sake
- You think more in the long-term and how little steps lead to big payoffs
- You register praise as result of effort the greatest
So how do we make the switch? How can change our mindset so that we can manipulate our identitiy to become something we want to be? Let's go through a few steps:
- Avoid talking about abilities as if they are traits. You will often hear a middle school student who is struggling with math say, "I suck at math." In fact, I still say this in college. But if we wanted to be better at say, math, we have to stop associating "sucking at math" as a part of who we are. After all, math is a subject, and your capacity for demonstrating a conceptual understanding is simply an accumulated ability. This is the same for just about any ability, including the will for fitness goals.
- Acknowledge that your brain is like a muscle. It can be built up, made stronger. We just need to put in the effort. It won't happen overnight, but you will never get worse than you already are.
- Act like a coach, not a scorekeeper. A good coach will focus on what can be better instead of the amount of times a team has failed or won. Do the same for yourself or those you're teaching. Never focus on the quantity of failures, but rather what you can learn from them.
- Every failure is a necessary investment. No matter what you're doing, you will most likely fail at one point (whether big or small). Fail early, admit mistakes, and be more prepared before you actually need to be.
- Best to say "not yet" instead of "never." Saying never cannot lead to successful change. Saying not yet, however, can serve you well. If you do not succeed today, hold off your expectations but not your efforts, Even when you don't think about it, you will be moving forward.
Follow these five steps, and you will be on your way to changing your perceived identity. Be realistic with yourself. I have met many a person who will say something like, "I would love to work out frequently and move recreationally, but that's just not ME -or- I don't have enough talent." In this situation, everyone has the opportunity to be an athlete. My favorite definition of 'athlete' is "one who is trained in a skill or movements". ANYBODY can be an athlete if they simply build up abilities aside from their fixed mindsets. So get out there, change, and be better.