THE KEY TO UNLOCKING YOUR POTENTIAL by Audrey Berger, Ph.D.
As we head into 2016, many of us think about how we didn’t accomplish some of our goals in the past, and we wonder if things will be different this year. If this sounds like you, there is some really good news: we now know that there’s a key for unlocking your potential, and it’s something that anyone can learn how to do. Studies have found that the key to success is to develop a growth mindset.
In order to develop a growth mindset, you will need to change how you think about yourself, your abilities and your potential. If you tend to believe that your intelligence, aptitude, or any other aspect of yourself is set in stone, then you probably believe that you can’t improve significantly no matter what you do. If you have this type of “fixed mindset,” you might brood over what you see as your shortcomings, and you may feel defeated in the face of setbacks and obstacles. Consequently, having a fixed mindset makes it more likely that you will give up on your goals and dreams.
Ironically, it turns out that to succeed, it’s very important to give yourself permission to make mistakes and even to fail. Still more intriguing, studies have found that people who do give themselves permission to make mistakes are much less likely to end up actually making them. When you take on a challenge or begin something new, you should expect that you will make errors. Not only are mistakes acceptable, but they may be necessary to your ultimate success.
Instead of trying to do things well from the start, if you put your focus on learning and improving, you are less likely to feel anxious, overwhelmed or defeated. So, when you are working on something new, remind yourself that it will take time for you to get really comfortable with it, and that you will inevitably make mistakes along the way. When you do make mistakes, or encounter a setback, instead of putting yourself down, add the word “yet” to any negative things you are tempted to say to yourself. For example, “I’m not able to do this yet,” or “I don’t understand this yet.” Rather than trying to prove to yourself and others that you are smart enough, talented enough, or good enough, try to view the process of pursuing goals as an opportunity to learn new things and develop new skills.
If you run into difficulty while you are pursuing your goals, give yourself permission to ask for assistance. Rather than comparing yourself with others, focus attention on how you’re improving. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you have accomplished in the past (see “Stepping Stones to Success”). Remember to also give yourself credit for the things that go well now as you pursue your goals, including each small accomplishment along the way. (And, by the way, that includes giving yourself credit when you’re able tolerate making mistakes or when you’re willing to ask for help!) Here’s to your growth and success in 2016 and beyond!
If you want more information about cultivating a growth mindset, you can take a look at: http://blog.turningpointlifecoaching.com/developing-a-growth-mindset/
or you can read: Dweck, C. (2006) Mindset: The new psychology of success. NY: Balantine Books,