September 15, 2017

12+ Killer Strategies To Develop a Growth Mindset

How To Develop a Growth Mindset

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing.” 

- Pelé

In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to develop a growth mindset from a wide range of experts. 

Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on developing a growth mindset.

# Take time to reflect

A fixed mindset has a core belief that you are born the way you are and cannot change.

Current research uncovers that this is outdated. Our brain is plastic through life. This neuroplasticity allows us to build new habits if enough effort is put toward that new goal.

It may take up to 16 weeks to build a new habit but once the habit is built in the brain it looks like a connection from one neuron to another with a squiggly line connecting the two neurons together. This neurosynaptic connector in our brain is a new habit.

When we are mindfully aware through reflection we are able to grow our brains by building new connections and habits.

Here is a story of my friend Jenny that closely illustrates this process and how reflection can help build a new habit.

Every time Jenny and her partner Cynthia would argue, Jenny would go to the freezer and eat half a gallon of ice cream. She had been doing that for years in their relationship and more frequently when an argument would occur. She entered therapy to try to stop the habit of eating the ice cream after each argument.

Her therapist asked her to put a stop sign on the freezer that prompted her with a visual reminder to walk .5 miles before she ate the ice cream. Weeks passed and she became successful at this step. She even found a lot of the times after the walk she was calmer and did not feel like the ice cream.

Next the therapist suggested she journal after the walk using a feelings chart. She chose which feeling she had and wrote about it. Then she was allowed after the walk and writing to go eat the ice cream. After several weeks following this routine she did not feel like the ice cream.

Finally the therapist took the next several weeks to add a new step. Jenny identified she was angry with her partner and that prompted the ice cream eating as a means to soothe her and cope by numbing her emotions.

The last step in building the new habit was Jenny was asked to talk to her partner about how she felt following each argument. Jenny successfully learned to ID what she is feeling, take some time away to cool off by walking and then come back and talk to her partner about her experience. Jenny has built a new life muscle!

The therapist discussed with her how under stress she may default to the old ice cream habit. This is because that old habit stays in the brain and we default to them under stress because they have been around longer and the wiring is stronger.

The key in this story is taking time to reflect.

Through reflection, one can identify areas of personal growth and then develop small baby steps to get there.

Julie Kurtz, LMFT –

# Stop seeking approval

From an early age, we have learned to change our behavior to 'seek the approval' from others.

For example, as a child, you may have experienced positive attention from your teacher when you had good grades at school, or, managed to avoid punishment from your parents when you were quiet. The list of scenarios that can impact on you as a child to modify your behavior is endless, from the approving smile of a parent to the withdrawal of hugs, etc.

As children, we quickly learn to adapt our behavior to receive love and acceptance. We stop listening to what we want, and what is right for us, because of our basic need for love, and acceptance, from our parents (or caregivers), is hardwired and perceived as a necessity for survival.

Issues arise when we take this childhood learned behavior for survival, into adulthood.

Also, some adults are addicted to positive affirmations and approval from others and will deliberately sabotage situations, or relationships, by spreading negative information to gain attention. Yes, gossiping is high up there when it comes to seeking approval, including putting someone else’s needs before yours and pretending to be more experienced than you are.

How many times, on an average day, have you actively sought the approval of others?

Seeking approval from others takes away your real, and authentic, self. Why do you want to get approved and liked by others? Are you fed up of trying to get someone else's approval and living in 'their shadow'? For example, a partner, sibling, work colleague or parent, etc.? Are you always putting the needs of others before yours?

Why do you put the needs of others before yours?

I know I put the needs of others before mine because I wanted their approval. I wanted to be accepted. I feared rejection. I wanted to keep my relationships. I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to be isolated. These and more were my childhood fears coming to the surface. The fears that were coming to the surface were wanting to be loved, not pushed away (again) and ignored.

The need for approval from others has adverse consequences on your life, for example, it can cause anxiety because of your inability to stop worrying about ‘what others think’ of you. Needing approval prevents you from actually letting go and reaching out for what you want in life. You procrastinate and avoid doing things that are important to you. You’re unable to take advantage of new opportunities; you're not all that you are and can be!

To be in a place where you no longer need approval from others, you need to have a strong sense of self. You need to accept and love yourself just the way you are!

I could give you a list of ideas of how to stop seeking others approval. A list of how to develop your sense of self by telling you ‘what I think you want to hear' so I get your approval. You know the obvious self-help tips?

For example, keep a journal, be genuine in your interactions with others, do positive affirmations, be grateful, etc. Or, I could get out of my head and resist the need to seek your approval and tell you what I know to be true and what has worked for me. In this post, I am going to come from my heart. I will tell you what I know to be true for me, so here is MY list:

1. Work on your Chakras.

Each Chakra is an energy center, and when your Chakras are off balance, under or overactive, they will affect your life. According to, Belinda Davidson, if one Chakra is imbalanced, it will affect your other Chakras. You can't work on one Chakra and ignore the others; they all need love and attention. Working on your Chakras improves your relationship with yourself and attracts loving and supportive people into your life.

There are many Chakras, but seven main Chakras in total. Below, I will give brief examples of how your first three Chakras being out-of-balance can impact on your life, well-being, and need for approval from others.

- When your Chakra 1 (Root) is out of balance, you may feel unsafe, insecure, you do not have a sense of connection or belonging, you are unable to trust yourself or others, and set healthy boundaries.

- When your Chakra 2 (Sacral) is out of balance, you seek people who will make you feel good about yourself, and you may form obsessive (unhealthy) attachments.

- When your Chakra 3 (Solar Plexus) is out of balance, it affects your personal power, self-confidence, and self-esteem. You can become dependent on, and put the needs of others' before yourself, and attract people who have narcissistic traits.

The above is a very general overview to give you a basic understanding of how imbalanced Chakras can affect your life.

So how do you work on your Chakras? Spend time focusing on each Chakra two to three times a week (every day if possible). Where your attention goes, energy flows, and when this energy flows, you are balancing your Chakras.

The longer you focus on a Chakra, the quicker you will see and feel results (minimum of five minutes on each one is a good guideline). Do not expect to see results overnight, after all; you took your lifetime to get where you are today!

2. Minfulness.

To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts. Be aware and acknowledge when you seek the approval of others. Is there a pattern? Does it bring up any sensations in your body when you think and behave differently to get other's approval?

Focus on the sensations in your body that arise. Do not judge the feelings and make them wrong; just feel and send them love. Observe the sensations leave your body. The process can take anywhere between a couple of minutes and several hours to achieve. You are doing deep work. You are clearing your buried hurts and traumas. You are working on and changing, your energy.

3. LOVE Your Thoughts & Feelings.

When you 'catch' yourself thinking, or behaving, in a way that is seeking the approval of others, acknowledge the thought and feeling that is associated with you wanting to get approval, and LOVE it! When you make yourself wrong, you are in resistance. What you resist, persists.

If you want to change your behavior, acknowledge it and LOVE it! As Kyle Cease says, if you feel bad about feeling something, say what you are feeling followed by "and I love that!"

You stand in your true power and authenticity when you do not seek or need approval from others!

Sharon Craig, Relationship Coach –

# Open your mind to new information

All change is spawned from a desire to experience something different in our lives.

The desire provokes information seeking and the new information allows us to adopt a new perception and alter the way we’ve been responding/reacting/behaving to situations in our lives. But we cannot activate forward movement if we have closed our minds to new information.

I coach a lot of people. The ones successful in their healing are the ones who open their minds to new information. They have realized what they know is not working and they must acquire additional knowledge in order to change things up.

A change in perception creates a change in direction.

We need to be willing to get rid of what was not working (our old way of thinking) and replace it with a new thought and a willingness to do things differently. We do that by educating ourselves in the areas we are seeking to change.

A closed mind and/or general stubbornness will always block any chance we have of moving forward and changing our lives.

That is why the most important thing we need to do is learn to open our minds and release the need to control by doing it “all my way.”

To initiate change, we must first understand that we are the only authority over our lives.

Even though we are taking in new information, that does not necessarily make it gospel. After educating ourselves with new knowledge and wisdom, we must process the information through our own being, our own soul and decide what feels right and true for us. The only way to tell what to keep and what to toss is by soul discernment – running the information through our inner knowing.

We will know when we have hit the right perception because it will resonate deep inside our being. It will feel good, inspiring and might even bring a sense of relief or tears. Yet again, remember the truth cannot resonate if we have closed our mind. Our block will only continue to deflect the truth coming our way and we will remain stuck.

Additionally, the truth may not always be what we want to hear.

Again, this is where soul discernment comes in. You might hear yourself saying: I know what I need to do, it’s just hard/scary to take that step.

Rest knowing that just because you have gained a new perception, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must make a massive leap immediately.

Sometimes we have more learning and growing to accomplish before we are prepared to take the necessary step. Trust that you will know when the time is right for you. In the meantime, keep your mind open and soak up all the knowledge and wisdom you can!

Daily Mantra:

My heart and mind are open to new knowledge and wisdom. And so it is.

Kristen Brown, Author & Certified Empowerment Coach –

# Cultivate grit

Perseverance, aka, persistence, stick-to-it-iveness or grit, is crucial when it comes to enjoying a growth mindset and succeeding in life. Grit describes a process of keeping at it—whatever “it” is—no matter what. In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth says that it starts with passion and commitment, and involves achieving small goals to accomplish a larger one. She writes that, “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

These pointers will help you develop more grit.

1. Assess your grit or perseverance level

Ask yourself: In pursuing goals, do I persist for a while, then slack off, and continue this on-off cycle until I stop trying? Do I throw myself into something without thinking about pacing, then get overwhelmed and give up? Do I usually follow through when I start something?

To assess yourself, be honest, including considering what others might say about your persistence level. Be self-compassionate and avoid self-judgment. Remember that having grit is a learned skill, and that if you’re at the low end of the persistence continuum, you can improve.

2. Recognize what you learned about perseverance growing up

Consider what you learned about grit from your parents or care-takers. If they were persistent and encouraged you to be so with fairness and kindness, you likely possess grit. If they generally caved at the first sign of a challenge, you might have a similar defeatist attitude. This is also true if they started tasks and dropped them when the going got tough.

Look to how much guidance you received from them. If your parents left you to struggle on your own and expected too much of you as a child without providing appropriate help, you might often have felt overwhelmed. If they jumped in to finish things for you, you might have gotten the message that you’re not doing a job quickly or well enough.

If you were frequently told, “You never finish what you start,” you might believe it and this has become your self view. You can change it by making one of your beliefs, “I finish what I start.”

3. Don't be a perfectionist

If your parents were perfectionists or insisted that whatever you did had to be just so, you may have difficulty moving forward because you’re worried that you’re not doing well enough. This pattern is especially evident with people whose parents set high goals for them, didn’t provide much help in achieving them, and yet expected perfection. Wanting perfection will often stop you dead in your tracks and paralyze future forward movement.

You’re better off focusing on doing some things superbly and some things just well enough. You may want to be outstanding in math because you have the aptitude for As, but be fine with a B in French which is more difficult for you. You might want a clean house, but be okay with a mediocre garden. The goal is to know what is enough for you and to keep going until you are satisfied.

Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. –

# Cultivate a sense of purpose

The need for purpose and meaning is deeply embedded in us.

Without them, life – even an outwardly successful life – feels stale and flat. With them, even a difficult situation can be filled with joy and fulfillment. But purpose and meaning can be difficult to track: not only do they differ from person to person, but they also change from one phase of life to another. The infamous mid-life crisis is often a crisis of purpose, as priorities that guided the first half of life fall away in the second.

Cultivating a sense of purpose is a deeply personal and on-going process that begins with two powerful words: attention and intention.

Spend some time with pen and paper, simply thinking about the things in your life that you value, from relationships to time alone, learning, travel, physical activity, spirituality, helping others, having fun. Don’t censor your list with what you think others would approve of. This is your list and must come from what is truest in yourself.

Start with a list of specific activities that you find meaningful, and from there draft a broader statement or two about what is most important to you in life.

(You can and should tweak this regularly, so don’t think you have to land on one perfect statement for all time!) I like to use a few thought-provoking questions, like Why am I here? What do I want in life? How can I best use my gifts and abilities? What makes me happiest?

Regularly giving your attention to these questions helps you prioritize how you spend your time and make choices, both big and small, that support what’s truly important to you. It lets you lead your life intentionally, rather than simply following what society deems worthy, or what worked in the past but no longer lights you up.

Living with intention is the key to a growth mind-set, because when we don’t choose our growth it tends to find us anyway – but in less pleasant forms. Not that life will automatically serve you up a rose garden, but a sense of purpose and meaning make even the most difficult challenges more tolerable. We are here to grow, and growth will happen even when we try to barricade ourselves against it, but growth can also take many forms.

Use your attention and intention to craft a life filled with the kind of growth that brings you joy and fulfillment.

Amaya Pryce, Life coach & author –

# View challenges as opportunities

You might have heard people say that personal growth is the reason we face our challenges, but what is that all about and is it worth it?

It can be tempting to take the seemingly easy route to stay firmly in our comfort zone. The only trouble is that ‘comfort’ zone isn’t really that comfortable. If you refuse to face things in life, they will invariably resurface and cause you ongoing problems until you deal with them. So how do you not only face your challenges, but embrace them as opportunities for your growth?

Why challenge yourself?

Neale Donald Walsch said that “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, because that is where you push yourself into growth. Indeed, research shows that coaches need to provide challenge, in equal measure to support, in order to get the best results and the most chance of transformational growth for the person they are coaching. In short, challenge is necessary for growth. In the words of Eleanore Roosevelt, “You gain strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do”.

It’s going to be tough!

So, we know that facing our challenges makes us stronger and leads to growth. Like eating our greens, we know it’s good for us! However, it’s going to be hard. In particular, identifying and bringing up issues within ourselves, so we can address them and move on, is a really difficult process. Choosing to face the darkness, to accept every part of ourselves and not just the ‘good’ bits, is tough. However “nothing worth doing is easy”. If we have worked for it, it has value. It’s true that you get a real sense of achievement from successfully doing something that not everyone is prepared to do.

What happens if we stick our head in the sand?

If the benefit of personal growth is not enough of a driver, another way to look at the decision of whether to tackle an issue you are facing is the consequence of not facing up to it.

As Dorothy Corkhill Briggs says, “Actually, you have only one choice if you want to be free. Past pains need to be dealt with if they are to be laid to rest permanently. Band-aiding abscesses doesn’t remove the infected materials”.

Whilst it might seem easier to put your fingers in your ears and go “la la la… I can’t hear you”, to block out what you don’t want to hear, you can bet that – if you squash those issues and feelings down, they will find a way to come out sideways when you are least expecting them. “What you resist persists”, as they say. It will keep showing up again and again – maybe causing problems in all your relationships. You can fool yourself into thinking that the issue is always with the other person, but what ‘baggage’ are you bringing with you that you don’t want to face? “The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow.”

I don’t know about you, but I am at a place in my life where I don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes and playing the same old ‘tapes’ of my past. I want to drag that stuff up, face it and move past it to make healthy choices. I want to face challenges in my life head on, however painful. I want to improve the way I interact with others and let go of things that stop me reaching my full potential. And, in the words of Robin Norwood, “The only way out is through”.

Climb your mountain – don’t let criticism or doubt throw you off your path

It can be difficult sometimes not to let the doubts, fears or cynicism of others put you off. You might well experience criticism, sometimes even from those closest to you. They can’t relate, they might be scared of facing their own challenges and they probably believe they are speaking out of love for you. But their concerns are likely to be more about them than you.

Also, don’t let your own keenness to move past your challenges deter you when you seem to have stalled or plateaued. As Susan Jeffers says in her book “Feel the fear and do it anyway; “Do not be discouraged thinking that you’re learning nothing from your efforts. This is when changes are taking place within you. We become aware of them long after they have been going on”.

Use everyday challenges as your spiritual practice

Whilst facing challenges so that you can learn and grow can be a deeply spiritual pursuit, you don’t need to go and meditate on a hilltop to practice this or go on any sort of heroic quest. Instead, realise that you have everything you need right here in your everyday life to support your growth.

Pema Chodron (an American ordained Buddhist nun and author) talks about “how to use the unwanted, unfavourable circumstances of your life as the actual material of awakening”. What?! You mean I don’t need a special room with embroidered cushions, incense, gongs and a resident guru to help me meditate my way to enlightenment?!

In Pema’s view (and indeed that of Buddhist philosophy), on the path of the Boddhisattva (or awakening warrior – i.e. anyone seeking personal growth), there is no interruption: “The path includes all experience, both the serene and the chaotic”. Pema highlights how “We would like to believe that when things are still and calm, that’s the real stuff, and when things are messy, confused and chaotic, we’ve done something wrong; or more usually someone else has some something to ruin our beautiful meditation”.

Rather than cursing our ‘unfortunate’ situation that we feel is not conducive to our growth or happiness, we can instead choose to recognize when we feel irritated or upset, this is also a chance to practice growth.

What does our frustration with these disruptive people tell us about ourselves? How does it mirror to us what we need to work on/accept/come to terms with within ourselves? Are we making excuses here – blaming the external for what is really going on inside? Rather than dismiss or blame these outside influences, can we be encouraged to dig a little bit deeper and see what is really underneath? (However scary or unpalatable that might seem.)

Keep going – you are not alone!

It is brave to face your challenges and step into growth. To choose “the road less travelled” – the “rocky road [that] makes hardy travellers”. For those who get the feeling that they are ‘awakening’ to something, it might at times seem like a lonely path – with the majority of society plugged into ‘the norm’ – whatever that is. But you are not alone. There are others out there who are prioritising growth and self-discovery over TV, fast food and the “unexamined life”. Will difficult things surface? Yes. Will it be hard work? Yes. Will it be worth it? Definitely!

The more you follow this route, the more people you will encounter who have a similar mindset.

Go and find those people. Learn from them and inspire each other.

In the words of Carl Jung,

“There is no consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the dark conscious”.

Jo Ritchie, Personal and Business Coach–

# Set realistic goals

Setting goals can help you maintain a growth mindset, with which you are constantly working on growing and developing as a person.

6 Steps to Setting Goals:

1. Identify your values.

Values are ways of living, they are what you find most important in life.

Questions to ask yourself:

- What matters to me the most in life? What are my highest priorities?

- What direction do I want my life to go in?

- What do I currently have in my life that I don't want to lose?

- What things do I value but are missing from my life at this time?

2. Identify one value to work on now.

Trying to work on all values at once can cause stress and make it more difficult, if not impossible, to take any steps towards progress. Determining one value to focus on, makes working on goals more manageable.

Questions to ask yourself:

- Which value is my highest priority?

- In what areas do I feel my life doesn't currently match my values very well?

- Which values are not in my life right now?

- What do I need to change in my life so that it will match my values?

3. Identify a few goals related to this value.

While values can be more broad concepts, goals are very specific and end with a clear result.

Questions to ask yourself:

- What is one thing I want to accomplish that fits in with this value?

- What is something about my behavior that I would need to change to live a life that's guided by this value?

- What are some obstacles that I need to overcome in order to start living a life in line with this value?

4. Choose one goal to work on now:

It is not possible to effectively work on all your goals at the same time. List your goals in order of importance and reasonableness. Start with the goals that are of high priority and are the most realistically possible at this time.

5. Identify small action steps toward your goal:

Think about what steps will bring you closer to your goal. Break down the tasks as small as possible.

6. Take one action step now:

Your action steps may need to be completed in a specific order. So make sure you have a clear step-by-step picture of where to start and what order to continue in. If that is not the case, and your action steps are not as interconnected, rank your steps in terms of ease and resources at your disposal. Start with the easiest first and move through your list in that order.

Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC -

# Make a new goal for every goal accomplished

Have you ever heard that you can’t make $1000 until you have successfully made $100?

Consider that for a moment. When trying to achieve a goal, whether it is money, sales or weight loss, it’s important to reach the goal before the goal. If one day you see yourself as a millionaire, figure out how to make $100 in a business. Once you have made $100, move to $1000.

Once you have hit the $1000 mark, go bigger and go for $10,000 and then increase by $10,000 each goal. Once you hit $100,000 move your goals by the $100,000s until you reach one million.

Why is this an important strategy?

Because having goals and replacing our goals once we achieve them is an excellent strategy to reach your finance goals and have a solid growth mindset. Set small goals and once you achieve those goals, move on to the next level of your goal. Before you know it, you will have achieved a big, long-term goal.

When you are setting goals, be sure the goals are SMART.

SMART stands for specific, measurable achievable, realistic and time-oriented. A SMART goal would look like this: I will read five books on personal growth by December 2018. The goal is specific to the type of book, how many books and when the books would be read by.

Having a due date helps keep you accountable to your goal.

Reading 25 books would probably not to too realistic. When setting goals, always ask yourself “Is my goal SMART?”. Once you read those five books, set another goal for yourself. And the biggest piece to all of this? Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP -

# Be a curious learner

You’re never too old to learn something new.

My philosophy has always been to be curious and to not be afraid to ask questions. After all, somebody may know something that would help you out of a dilemma that you hadn’t thought of before.

If you’ve ever felt unhappy, anxious, overwhelmed, unappreciated, misunderstood, envious, or any other uncomfortable feeling, and don’t know how to get out of it, the more you inform yourself, the more you will grow.

Curiosity means that you are willing to listen to someone else’s point of view and transcend your own stubbornness to do things another way.

Curiosity requires that you are open to another way of approaching things, whether it’s doing a task differently, taking time to relax or exploring a new route to work.

It’s human nature to be skeptical, uncertain and even cautious about things you don’t know, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore good advice. By continuing to do the same thing over and over again, you are only reinforcing the same results. Therefore, be curious about alternative solutions because it will broaden your horizons and stretch the boundaries of your behavior. Keep a mental note of the questions you ask and revisit them from time to time to understand your challenges and to discover unexplored outcomes.

The best kinds of questions are “how and why”.

“What if… “is also good because it implies you are curious about many possible results and are looking to make an educated choice. A curious person is an informed person, who is able to make knowledgeable decisions and discover interesting sources of information about things previously unknown.

The learning process never ends if you maintain your childlike inquisitiveness. The more you absorb of the world around you, the more you will feel alive and vibrant. If variety is the spice of life, then curiosity is the fountain of youth.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC –

# Place effort before talent

What is more important? Trying or succeeding?

I remember a topic of debate my cohort in grad school discussed one night. It was the subject of how “Everyone’s a winner” is sending the wrong message to kids. For the last decade or so, gold medals and blue ribbons are passed out to everyone who merely shows up and participates in a competition.

The debate was, is everyone a winner? Or is the winner the one who crosses the finish line first? Theoretically, the winner would be the person who finishes the competition first, however, in order to be the winner, at some point great effort, practice and attempts had to be made.

A phrase I would often hear as a kid was “As long as you do your best!”

In my opinion, this phrase served as a security blanket in the event of failure, where I could say as long as I was doing my best, my best was just enough. As an adult, I’m curious how often this phrase really applies to our lives? How many times have we failed, even though it felt impossible for us to try any harder than we did?

“I should have tried harder”

There’s that word should. Did you know that saying the word "should" is actually a common negative thinking pattern that can contribute to feelings of fear, worry and anxiety?

Let’s practice replacing the word should…

“I can try harder, I will try harder, I’m going to try harder, I could try harder, I’m capable of trying harder, and I’m able to try harder”

Not so bad, was it?

I’ve noticed, at least in my life, that during most of my failures I wasn’t really trying my “best”.

It’s rare when I can’t recognize a moment where I couldn’t have put in more effort, worked harder, or been more consistent.

The times when I surely believed I went all in and still came home empty handed are greatly outnumbered by the times when I lost, but still had chips on the table.

You don’t always win.

You don’t always get the job or the promotion.

But if you can honestly say that you did your best, that you went all in, and that you learned something from the process, I believe that makes you are a winner. That’s what defines a winner. They show up, do their very best and always learn from their experiences.

Megan Harley, MS, LPCC -

# Take calculated risks

Risk mean fears. Best way to deal with your fear is to confront it.

Although you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and retreat backwards. For instance, someone may try to lose weight (fear of poor appearance to others) but they want to do it so fast it is unhealthy. Then when it does not work, they beat themselves up and eat more. You don’t want to change for the sake of being someone you are not but instead to be a better you, growth not replacement.

Break it down, make steps that are small.

If you feel overly fearful, back up and try a smaller step. But never take such a large step you stop all together. For whatever reason, you have little confidence in what you wish to change. The small steps allow you to build your confidence. We learn from our mistakes, build our confidence by continuing to move forward making corrections, succeeding and then the loss of fear.

A common fear of growing is the fear of making mistakes.

Mistakes are a wonderful tool to improvement. Nothing great was done without experience. Experience is done by making those mistakes. Not just one time but over and over experiencing growth. Making mistakes allows you to have a better knowledge base to be successful.

Every improvement is a success, not just making it to the end.

And how many times do we want more once we make it to the end? It’s human nature, so don’t wait, congratulate yourself today. That includes reading these articles, you made a choice, took action to begin improving yourself today.

Go You!

Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC –

# Don’t be afraid of failure and keep trying

People strive for growth when they are confident enough to take risks.

Risking failure is the only way to stretch yourself into new territory. Most successful people have many stories of failure. What sets them apart is that they learned from those failures and kept on trying. I really believe that you can learn almost anything if you are willing to commit and persist.

Our culture is competitive.

We are always striving to be the best. Parents have a ways of making comparisons- “Your sister got A’s. Why can’t you?” Teachers reward and make a fuss over the “smart kids”. If you’re not a natural athlete, you can find yourself on the bench for an entire little league season. Even if you get to play, you can tell that the other kids and probably the parents too, wish that you weren’t. It’s only natural then that we would all want to win.

The problem with this focus on winning is that it minimizes the process.

Sometimes the joy is in the creating and if you think you have to be good, you’re less likely to try. There is also the problem of how to define winning. Maybe it’s not always first place. Maybe the kid who emphasizes sportsmanship is just as much a winner as the kid who hit the winning home run.

Eventually we have to learn to identify what we love and then just keep trying. Shifting the mindset from being the best to enjoying the process is a critical shift. It takes a lot of self to ignore the social imperatives to be the best. You have to be willing to do it out of love, rather than praise.

If you try, you’ll grow.

The more you engage in your passions, the more you will be exposed to new ideas and new processes. You will automatically grow. It’s people who play it safe that fail to cultivate a growth mindset. It may take a long time and a lot of disappointing experiences before you find out what makes you feel good. It’s totally worth the effort.

Sally Leboy, MS, MFT –

# Be willing to step outside your comfort zone

When was the last time you did something that made your heart race?

Something that pushed your boundaries? Something that felt challenging at first, but so worth it at the end?

When we step outside our comfort zone we put ourselves in a position for tremendous growth.

Because our brains like to keep us safe, our mind will do everything in its power to stop us from doing things outside this safe zone. Our minds will ask us things such as, “But what will people think?” or, “Who do you think you are to do that?” or even better yet, “What if you fail?”

Our comfort zone is meant to keep us stagnant.

It’s a safe place where we know what to expect and how we are going to feel. But when we really want to push ourselves to the next level, we must push through past this place of comfort. We must step outside our comfort zone in order to see what’s waiting for us on the other side.

When I was completing my yoga teacher training program, I was so afraid to teach my first practice class.

Ever since I was little, I hated speaking in front of people and being the center of attention. I remember turning bright red every time I was called on in school to answer a question or to read out loud in front of the class. As I stood in the front of the yoga studio and prepared to start teaching, I felt similar fears flooding back from the past to the present moment.

But I also knew that this time was different. I had wanted to teach yoga for so long and I knew that I would be able to teach it well. I knew these fears weren’t serving me anymore, and they were just holding me back from something that I really wanted. In order to feel more confident in my abilities to speak in front of others, I had to step outside of my comfort zone and push through this first teaching experience. Once I got outside my comfort zone and stepped into this place of courage, I was able to see that I was truly capable of achieving my goal, and I grew so much just from that one experience.

If you want to experience tremendous growth in a short amount of time, then cultivate more opportunities to step outside your comfort zone.

Say “yes” to things you might have normally turned your nose to because you doubted your ability to do them well. Question those moments when you close yourself off to something quickly without consideration. And choose to experience life more fully by participating in the things that scare you.

I promise you, even if it seems scary at first, you’ll be glad you challenged yourself at the end.

Lauren Madden, Health & Wellness Life coach –

# Be Creative

“Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs

Creativity is about making connections and about expansion.

Creativity takes up space. When we’re in our creative process, the results become visible, tangible, and real. A creative idea we come up with brings a smile to our face, often noticed by others. A creative painting is looked at. A creatively prepared meal is enjoyed. A piece of music is deeply listened to and a good book is devoured by its readers.

The results and outcomes of being creative are naturally noticed.

Creativity is about originality, which demands people’s attention because we value truth.

Working towards having a growth mindset is about expanding our awareness and taking up space in the world with our curiosities and interests.

We achieve a growth mindset by connecting what hasn’t been connected before.

If we’re on a journey towards growth and positive change, stepping fully into our creativity will directly lead us to our own inner wisdom, knowledge, and desired intentions.

Creativity is about process. It’s about being attuned to our presence and about actively doing something.

Creativity becomes our greatest teacher. When we are its student, we remain open to everything it has to teach us.

When we are in a creative state, we are able to access our unconscious mind, which is responsible for 97% of our thoughts. Merely 3% of our thoughts are conscious.

To grow, we need to be attuning, listening, and creating to gain entry into our unconscious mind.

Think of an image of an iceberg. The top part, seen above the water represents our conscious mind.

Stepping slightly outside of our comfort zone and developing a practice of daily creativity strengthens our growth mindset and taps into our unconscious thoughts.

When we are being creative, we take a risk, make art, sing a song, write a letter, walk, bake, share an idea, dance with our children, play, go for a jog, journal, and connect with old friends.

In essence, when we are being creative, we tap into our spontaneity.

Creation is an outward expression of energy.

Society often tells us to play it safe. Do things like everyone else. Don’t change.

To grow, we must change. The opposite of flow, growth, and change is stagnation.

I invite you to enter the fast track of your growth mindset, priming you for success and wisdom, by developing a practice of creativity.

Happy connecting things.

Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT -

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