At the beginning of each year, news articles and television shows are abuzz with advice about how to reach your goals – how to lose weight, how to launch a new career, how to get out of debt. And for the most part, the advice is spot on: Eat less, exercise more, cut up your credit cards, meet new people. Pretty straightforward, right? So why is that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions?, according to Forbes.com. 5
If you’re like most, you’ve been in the 92% whose goals dropped off by mid-January. In my years of coaching and research, I’ve discovered it isn’t that you don’t know what to do, it’s that you don’t do it. The real question you need to answer isn’t, “What should I do to get to the goal?” The real question is, “Why don’t I do it?”
The real battle is in your mind. When the doubt comes, when frustration leaves you wanting to give up, do you know how to take control of your thoughts before they derail you? Successful women think differently in the face of challenges and opportunities. There are numerous ways this phenomenon manifests itself, but one of the most powerful is one I want to remind you of this week: your mindset. One of my favorite researchers, Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University, discovered that we can have either a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset,” depending upon how we approach challenges.
If you’ve often been praised for your intelligence or beauty or talent, it can be easy to develop a belief that those attributes are “fixed.” For example, you may believe your intelligence is set. You are either intellectually gifted or you are not. The problem with this belief is that you may shy away from challenges that don’t further affirm your high intelligence. You might also frown upon the idea of “effort,” seeing too much effort as a sign that you are not all that gifted since you have to try so hard. Think of the “A” student who brags casually, “I didn’t even study for the test.”
The alternative is a growth mindset, which says that where you are right now is just a starting point. Your intelligence, your talent, your creativity, your capacity for a successful relationship – all have room for growth. If that’s the case, every opportunity and challenge is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to unleash the potential that comes from stretching beyond your comfort zone, a willingness to fail and venture into unknown territory. With a growth mindset, you don’t need to fear that falling short is somehow a condemnation on your abilities. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn something new that may help you get a step closer to your goal.
What if you tackled your current goal with a growth mindset? What would that change for you? If you let go of a stringent timetable or the need to move from point A to point B in a straight line, what would it free you to attempt? If you haven’t taken any new steps towards your goal since the first of the January, try again the first of February. Learn from what didn’t work last month. Make tweaks. Give yourself permission to do it imperfectly. Ask for advice. Try again.
My challenge to you this week:
See your current progress (or lack thereof) as a starting point. Make a tweak to your approach and try again.
In what area(s) do you see your potential as fixed? What would happen if you believed instead that where you are right now is just a starting point for growth?
Dig deeper into the concept of how Successful Women Think Differently with our 7-CD course and the book Successful Women Think Differently.