We all know the expression “Use it or lose it.” I was always amazed when I’d watch my babies, lying on their backs. They would grab their toes and put them in their mouths! Such flexibility is unheard of for most of us as we age, but there was a time when we could ALL do it. Regular and fun physical activity as children constantly reset our brains, opening us to new experiences and intellectual pursuits. Think if babies stopped trying to walk after only a few hundred times? A growth mindset is critical for our normal development. We just forgot HOW!
Many of us struggle to maintain that level of activity even though daily stretching and exercise have been proven to keep us looking and feeling healthier! A physiological change, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or a quick sprint across the street, causes a psychological shift, giving you the momentum to “take charge”. Although I have no desire to put my feet anywhere near my mouth, I know that I can - and want - to maintain a certain level of flexibility as I get older. We CAN rekindle this ability to grow by looking at a challenge as “there’s a different way to look at this.”
We can do the same for our mind that we do for our bodies. We can stretch the way we think! Like all great journeys, this one can begin with a question: Where must we put our efforts to ignite the most meaningful and valuable change? Ask yourself, How can I stretch myself right now? Have I established the building blocks of good nutrition, physical activity and living in a growth mindset? Taking good care of our physical and mental health must be our number one priority.
Perhaps you would like to find more purpose in your life. Volunteerism is a wonderful way for us to feel helpful and productive. In a fixed mindset, we would worry and focus on the obstacles. Perhaps we would think: I don’t have enough time, I’m too shy, I wouldn’t even know who to reach out to, etc. However, a growth mindset focuses on the possibilities: If this matters to me, I will organize my schedule to find time; I have always loved animals so a local shelter might be a good idea; and so forth.
Put simply, when we put time into what we find energizing and meaningful, our inner narrative changes. We no longer feel like life is a slog. We are filled with curiosity and hope.
Increasing your confidence is a powerful way to stretch your mindset. This was something I certainly struggled with for many years and continue to work on every day. I used to think, Once I get older/have a job/get married/have kids I’ll be a confident person! All these life events happened and my confidence didn’t change one bit. Recently I began to recite the following statements every day: “I am a loving wife and mother. I am a confident coach. I am a patient and kind human being.” Notice the verb in these sentences. By saying, I am, my mindset is in the present, not looking and hoping for something to attain in the future. At this very moment, I am those qualities!
There are so many benefits to living a life in a growth mindset. From improving practical life skills such as focusing and time management to enhancing your coping capabilities, you will stretch those brain muscles to look for positive and successful experiences.
In fact, research proves that “The major factor in whether people achieve expertise, is not some fixed prior ability, but is purposeful engagement”. People may start with different genetic endowment and aptitudes, but experience, training and personal effort determine whether they reach the goals that matter to them. A person’s true potential is unknown.
This can still be a daunting journey for many of us. You will have challenges and obstacles along the way. Recognize that all of them can help you grow and become a better person. To quote leading educator Dr. John Demartini, “Everything on the way rather than in the way.”
Our team can help you break down old, dominant stories and make progress faster than you think.
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Sarah Hammond, Life Coach
Janna Ernst, Life Coach
“Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibilities.” - Oprah Winfrey