If I were to say to you, “2020 has probably been the worst year ever imaginable” what would you say? Would you agree with me or would you disagree? If you’re like many people, I would probably think that you would agree with the above affirmation. However, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing and even mutating into new strains of covid in countries like South Africa and England, and another possible resurgence in China as people get ready to travel for Chinese New Year, how can we make 2021 to be better?
In this blog post, I want to explain why adapting a Growth Mindset is so crucial to our success this upcoming year and I also want to give you ways that you can cultivate your own Growth Mindset. But first, what is a growth mindset?
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
The term, coined by Doctor Carol Dweck, a Psychology Professor at Stanford University, describes two different types of mindsets that people tend to exhibit. One mindset, the fixed mindset, believes that intelligence is static, and if one isn’t born a genius, there is no way they can become a genius. The other mindset, the growth mindset, believes that intelligence can be developed and that the only boundaries we place upon what we can learn is the boundaries that we create. Below is a nice infograph explaining more of the differences and implications of both types of mindsets.
Picture From: (https://fs.blog/2015/03/carol-dweck-mindset/)
How Can A Growth Mindset Help Us Succeed?
There is a saying by Roman Poet Horace that goes:
People with growth mindsets rise to adversity. They don’t run from challenges they run to challenges. They want to push their capacity and their limit. When we push past our comfort zones, we realize great truths about ourselves and we grow, hence the idea of a “growth” mindset.
If you are like many Americans, you have probably created some sort of resolution list to tackle over the upcoming year. The flame of many resolutions dwindle and flicker out of existence by the first quarter of the year.
Why is that?
Most likely, it is because the goals set were not realistic. I want to write more this year, but I know my limits. I don’t plan on publishing five books this year like some authors can, I don’t even want to say I’ll publish two books this year, but if I can publish at least one book this year, then I will consider that a success. I have tried blogging in the past and I have always given up, that is because once a week is too much of a time commitment for me when I could be spending those hours of writing a blog post and putting it into the next novel. That is why I am only setting myself a goal of two times per month and being much more realistic with my expectations. If I happen to do more than that, that is great, and it’s considered a success.
A growth mindset helps us achieve our resolutions because we look at these challenges—or resolutions—that we have and we see them as possible. As I noted before, a growth mindset embraces challenges. Writing a novel seems like a daunting task, and it is, trust me. But, if I broke that process down to only writing 1,000 words a day then by the end of the year I would have written 365,000 words, which could very well be three novels. Even at 500 words per day it would still be 182,500 words.
In the face of this continued pandemic, we must learn to embrace a growth mindset and think about all the beneficial things that have come out of this pandemic. The pandemic has increased time with loved ones for those forced to work from home during lockdowns. It has helped heal the environment, lowering pollution levels all over the world. For better or worse, it has accelerated the growth of technology, now utilizing it in unique ways such a live church sessions through Zoom or live concerts on Instagram with big-named performers like Keith Urban and John Legend.
Libraries became highly innovative while in lockdown and started multiple programs across the United States. One such example is “books in a box” where libraries box up a collection of things related to literature and ship it out to those who have subscriptions. “The Nacogdoches Public Library in Texas packs up theme boxes stuffed with books, materials for DIY projects, and suggestions on what to read next.” Moreover, libraries all over the United States have used OverDrive to loan books online. Using this service, “weekly e-book lending across the United States has increased nearly 50 percent since March 9.” Just because they aren’t open, doesn’t mean you can’t rent things from libraries. In fact, anything related to authors and books have continued to increase in online ubiquity. A great example of this is the National Book Festival being held online from Washington D.C.’s Library of Congress. So, while authors cannot go out and make literary events in person, they can still hold conferences virtually thanks to libraries. Link to the full article here.
While there is no denying that Covid-19 has certainly been a horrible virus that has killed over two million people globally, it has made us adapt and be innovation, and that is the essence of a growth mindset. And as 2021 continues, we need to continue to have a growth mindset so that we can face the challenges of the New Year, whether that be a continued pandemic, or the messy aftermath that is sure to follow the pandemic.
How to Adapt a Growth Mindset
1) Read Something New Every Day
I know many of you are thinking that this is a tall order, but it doen’t have to be. Notice I didn’t say, “Read a new book every day” I just said to read something new. The word read to is now skewed in our culture because of the massive rise of audiobooks. What I am really saying is learn something new every day. For example, on my fifteen minute commute to and from work I listen to podcasts about my industry as an author. I learn about industry trends and gain valuable insights into how to make my author career successful. This is something I highly recommend anyone who is a professional do. Doing this every day over the course of a whole year will dramatically improve your business, your mindset, your intelligence, and I am almost willing to bet success will be inevitable depending on how you utilize the information you receive.
Also, a great APP that I want to tell you about is “Blinkst.” In the free version, it summarizes one new non-fiction book in less than 20 minutes daily.
Paying for the app gives access to all of their summarized books, which makes the daunting task of reading much more manageable and allows you to sift through the author’s main points in a fraction of the time it would be necessary to read.
2) Build a Morning Routine
Morning routines are so essential. Every since reading the 5 a.m. club by Robin Shawrma, I have been consistently rising at 5 a.m. (or 6 if I feel it necessary to sleep in) and I do my hour-long morning routine. That morning routine consists of twenty minutes of light abdominal cardio, fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation, and then twenty to thirty minutes for reading the Bible. When finished with all of these things I eat and then head off to work, and while at work, I am mentally, physically, and spiritually ready to tackle my day. By doing this daily, I have seen incredible improvements in the growth of my health over the past year, and while you may not feel inclined to rise at 5 a.m. like me, whatever time you wake up, incorporate a morning routine and you will see your productivity soar through the roof.
3) Give Gratitude Daily
Every morning I wake up and thank God for still being alive on this planet, for still being healthy, and for keeping my family and loved ones safe. I know there are many people around the world who don’t get to see the next sunrise for one reason or another. We cannot take life for granted. That is why it is important to give gratitude daily, and by giving gratitude daily, you become cognizant of the things that are most important in your life. When you realize that, you can start to prioritize your time around the things that truly matter and thus grow intellectually, spiritually, physically, emotionally or even perhaps a combination of all four. It makes us more positive and when we are more positive we are in a better state mentally and emotionally to tackle our challenges.
Meditation is a great technique to really focus on what is going on inside your mind. I am still relatively new to meditation, only having practiced it for about half a year, but it is part of the morning routine that I mentioned above. Every morning I wake up and I do meditation for ten to twenty minutes.
Mixed with giving daily gratitude, the self-affirmations I say during meditation allow me to increase self-confidence and get me ready to tackle the day ahead of me through the visualization process.
An app I recommend for meditation is “Let’s Meditate.” It is a completely free app with no ads. They have a great variety of guided meditations for all parts of your day.
5) Prioritize Yourself
Your time is valuable. In today’s world of doing more with less time, time has become our most valuable resource and one that we can never get back. Don’t waste it. Be stingy with it. Be careful who you spend your time with and ask yourself if they truly are worthy of your time. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but as Corinthians 15:33 states “Bad company ruins good morals.” I have found myself moving away from the constant scene at the bars, seeing the same old people every weekend, and have focused on prioritizing myself and my goals, not only people’s happiness in the form of shots and beers together. This means that I focus on getting eight hours of sleep every night. I make time for the gym five days a week to maintain a good figure. And I focus on my goals of completing my master’s program while working along with still making time for publishing.
6) Know Your Limitations
Having a growth mindset isn’t about doing it all, it is about knowing what you can do and can’t do. I already mentioned to you that I can’t commit to doing a blog post each week, not if I want to put out good, quality blog posts like this one. That is where knowing your limitations come into play. By knowing your goals and prioritizing them, you can truly start to make moves to where you want to be at the end of the year, you can truly “grow” and tackle those resolutions you made for yourself at the beginning of the month.
To further demonstrate this point, I used to post content three times per week on a WeChat channel called “Learn English with Mike.” People loved it and it got decent amounts of views but never actually succeeded in bringing in money. I couldn’t navigate the other social media platforms here in China, so I just utilized one. In December, I decided to stop posting content and focus on what I like doing most—writing. While the time commitment wasn’t huge for Learn English with Mike, it detracted me from my goals and I paid money to editors and translators that I could spend on advertising my own books on Facebook and Amazon. Since abandoning the channel, I’ve had many people around the city who know me ask why I stopped, and I tell them because it didn’t fit my goals at the moment. And, it didn’t. My goal was to have it funnel into a course that I sell online, but I did not have the course created yet, rendering the content actually quite useless. I have no doubt that I can go back to it when I want to, but right now I am focusing on my writing career and prioritizing myself and knowing my limitations. Those two things are so essential in a growth mindset.
Don’t focus on improving your areas of weakness; instead, double down on your strengths and excel at those. We have to excel at being us!
You don’t have to change who you are, you have to become more of who you are.”
– Sally Hogshead
Finally, I want to end this post by saying that a growth mindset is everywhere today. If you are fans of my blog or know me personally, you should all know that my favorite rapper is Eminem. Recently, he just posted a music video called “Higher” and in it he has the lyrics: “Where I’m supposed to go from here, oh baby? Really, I have no idea. All I know is that every time I think I hit my ceiling, I go higher than I’ve ever f*ckin been.” It is a great song for the gym and has helped me push past new PRs. The chorus is the embodiment of a growth mindset, and one that I hope that you all take with you as you continue onwards this year. And, in returning to the question I posed earlier about 2020. Sure, it was a bad year, but only if you look at it as such. And 2021 may get worse, or it may get better, we have no way of knowing right now, but what we can do is prepare ourselves for it mentally and adapt that growth mindset to achieve anything we want to achieve in 2021 no matter the difficulties that come our way.
Michael E. Thies
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