How a growth mindset leads to long-term success

17 April 2023 dot 5-minute read
Feature Feel Well Healthy Mind Growth mindset Live Well
A growth mindset helps you learn a new skill with practice and valuable feedback. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Do you love a good challenge or avoid it? While difficult experiences can be uncomfortable, they allow you to improve and become better. As a result, you develop a growth mindset, the key to long-term success at work, school or in relationships.
Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck is one of the leading researchers on mindset and learning. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explores how your beliefs affect how you feel, think and act. These conscious and unconscious thoughts form your attitude or mentality, which affects your behaviour.
A growth mindset means you trust yourself to improve and learn new skills with practice. Having this perspective can help you achieve success and fulfil your potential.

Growth versus fixed mindset: What's the difference?

Your way of thinking shapes how you approach problems, deal with setbacks and achieve your goals.
A fixed mindset leads you to believe you should stick to what you're good at. As a result, your skills stay the same. With a growth mindset, you view challenges as an opportunity for development.
Research in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development also shows a growth mindset may support cognitive gains in older adults. Although more research is needed, the findings show that adults and the elderly, not just kids, can benefit from growth mindset training. It implies you can successfully learn a new skill throughout your lifespan.
Doing an evaluation of your work performance can kick-start your growth mindset. If your thinking is fixed, you easily get discouraged by not-so-stellar feedback and become defensive. It prevents you from seeing how the review can make you better at your job.
In contrast, a growth mentality helps you become more open-minded towards finding solutions. It makes you more willing to ask for help, learn new approaches and persevere through complex problems. As a result, you sharpen and improve your skills.

How to cultivate a growth mindset

A growth mindset helps you develop resiliency and a can-do attitude in work and life. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Dweck, whose initial research targeted children's learning and motivation, says you likely go through life with a combination of fixed and growth mindsets. But knowing you can develop intellect and new skills throughout your life opens possibilities.
A growth mindset is about seeing opportunities and pushing to find solutions in challenging situations. Here are four ways to train your psyche.

1. Seek challenges

Those with fixed mentalities hesitate to learn a new task or activity because they assume it will go poorly. With a growth mindset, the anxiety is still there, but you are confident you can accomplish it with time.
Try brain-stimulating activities like learning a new language to hone your growth mindset. The effort and persistence they require make you less afraid of mistakes and eager to learn another challenge.

2. Look at setbacks as opportunities for growth

Failure is part of success because it's a learning opportunity. Athletes and entrepreneurs know this well.
If you're training for a marathon, a growth mindset can help you stay focused and motivated, even with an injury. In addition, your desire to move forward makes you more flexible in trying new approaches if it means success.
Starting a new business often involves taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone, which means setbacks are almost inevitable. To conquer this, you’ll need the resilience, perseverance and flexibility a growth mindset provides.

3. Embrace your mistakes

You can cultivate a growth mindset by seeking help from others and being open to feedback. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Elite athletes, chefs and performers spend hours practising. This training builds mental toughness, develops critical thinking and nurtures a creative mindset when problem-solving.
Mistakes may embarrass you, but you can only improve when you see them as a learning opportunity. They help you focus on what you need to tweak, so it doesn't happen again.
The next time you feel you made a blunder, find a mentor who inspires you or seek out a colleague whose opinion you trust. Role models can provide constructive feedback on what you can do the next time differently. It is crucial to your success that you act on feedback.

4. Focus on the process, not the output

Dweck writes that parents raise resilient kids when they praise their effort and perseverance in accomplishing something like a good grade. Kids learn that the journey to getting an A+ is valuable, serving as self-motivation to improve their performance if they get a B+. It's a lesson that applies to adults as well.
As a paper published in Brain Sciences notes, a growth mindset and intrinsic motivation go hand in hand. The belief you can master a new skill or ability allows you to focus on the learning process instead of the output. This attitude makes you confident to tackle any task, helps you persevere when faced with obstacles and builds lifelong resilience.
Boise State University's researchers report a growth mindset increases life satisfaction. It enhances creativity, improves relationships and reduces stress. Joining a community like AIA Vitality can help validate and cheer the progress you make with your physical, mental and financial wellbeing. This comprehensive wellness programme delivers the support and motivation you need as you live a better, healthier, longer life.
Harvard Business Review. 2016. What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
Adult Education Research Conference. 2018. Growth Mindset in Adult Learning: Systematic Literature Review. [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
The International Journal of Aging and Human Development. 2022. Growth Mindset Predicts Cognitive Gains in an Older Adult Multi-Skill Learning Intervention. [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
International Journal of Stem Education. 2020. Growing a growth mindset: characterizing how and why undergraduate students’ mindsets change. [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
Am Psychol. 2020. What can be learned from growth mindset controversies? [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
American Psychological Association. 2021. Making mindset science work in the real world. [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]
Brain Sciences. 2018. The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation [online] [Accessed on 3 December 2022]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

Related articles