A growth mindset is a mindset that believes that change is possible. You have the ability to grow and change in areas that others may assume are fixed. The way we think about ourselves and our capabilities affects how we feel and what we believe we can accomplish, whether these are new habits or skills.
Whereas a fixed mindset believes that where you are at is where you will always be, and there is no hope for change. And leads people to feel stuck and discouraged when they run into life challenges or anything else that feels difficult.
Growth Mindsets vs. Fixed Mindsets
Once upon a time, scientists believed that our brains stopped developing in childhood. However, we now know that our brains continue to grow and change throughout our entire life span, known as neuroplasticity. Psychologist Carol Dweck from Stanford University was the first researcher to explore the idea of growth and fixed mindsets.
Through her research, she has discovered that your view of yourself can determine everything. For example, if you believe that your qualities are unchangeable (fixed mindset), you will want to prove yourself right over and over again (self-fulfilling prophecy).
Some people may know this as limiting beliefs or the inner critic that we operate under. So whether you call it a fixed mindset, limiting beliefs, or critical inner voice, they are all essentially the same things. And when you operate under these, your focus will be on proving yourself right.
And what happens when you do this is you reaffirm the fixed mindset. This leads you to feel stuck and discouraged because nothing will change. After all, your view of yourself determines everything.
So how do you change this? First, you adopt a growth mindset that challenges your limiting beliefs and your inner critic. And I have some growth mindset writing prompts to help get you started at the end of this post.
Changing your mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can have a powerful impact. Because in a growth mindset, you are willing to challenge your limiting beliefs. You’re willing to reevaluate your inner dialogue and what it has been telling you that you are and are not capable of doing or becoming.
The Power of… Yet
There is power in this small word. What if instead of saying “I can’t do this” when encountering difficult situations, you say, “I can’t do this yet”? Or instead of “I’m not good at…” you change it to “I’m not good at… yet”?
By adding this small three-letter word, you can open up the possibility for change to happen. To be challenged and to fail (which is a beautiful gift) and grow from challenges and failures. Because you may not be where you need to be yet in order to find success.
The addition of ‘yet’ helps differentiate growth mindsets from fixed mindsets and how your mindset perceives and reacts to failure. If you have a fixed mindset, you are more likely to believe that you can fail and that your abilities will be questioned. This also causes someone with a fixed mindset to question their self-worth. Just the act of hitting an obstacle may be “proof” enough that you’re not good enough, smart enough, talented enough. Or whatever that ‘enough’ is to overcome them.
Whereas if you have a growth mindset, then failure isn’t seen as an option but as an obstacle that can be overcome. Obstacles are perceived as opportunities to grow and improve and to learn something new about yourself. And this can be done with the addition of ‘yet.’ Because it implies that your hard work can and will pay off in the near future, and you’re just not there yet.
How is a growth mindset developed?
Because we are naturally a mixture of both, it just depends on which of these mindsets you predominately are and in what areas of your life.
Developing a growth mindset is a complex process. Because you have your limiting beliefs and internal dialogue to explore, those can actually be your first great obstacle to developing a growth mindset.
Because the more you understand your beliefs and internal dialogue, the more opportunities you have to challenge it and change it. And there are no right answers. There are just opportunities to make different choices and experience growth from them.
And the growth that you experience one day, you may come back to and reevaluate and identify a different way to grow because your mindset will have naturally changed throughout this process.
A growth mindset is about being honest with yourself. Where do you struggle, and how do you describe that struggle to yourself? What is the story that you’re telling yourself about that struggle? Are you telling yourself a story that will help you persist and overcome? Or are you telling yourself a story about how you’ll fail and never be good enough to overcome it? That you might as well just give up now?
So now that you’re curious let’s dive right into growth mindset prompts.
1. Limiting Beliefs and Your Mindset
Do you have limiting beliefs? And if you’re not sure, I’m here to tell you that you do. But you may not be aware of them, and honestly, you may not ever be aware of all of them because our beliefs change and evolve over time. This is just one of many inevitable changes that we all experience.
Once you begin to learn your limiting beliefs, what new beliefs do you want to have? And if you want to learn about your limiting beliefs, it helps to know what your inner voice is telling you.
2. Your Inner Critic.
What does your inner voice sound like? The most powerful parts of our inner voice were formed early on in life for many of us. And if what you witnessed or experienced were perceived as hurtful attitudes, then you may have a critical inner voice. The beautiful part of this is once you know what it sounds like, you can begin to change it and your mindset.
Your inner voice lies in your subconscious mind and talks to it all the time. And your subconscious mind is where you narrate your story and holds onto the messages you might have heard. Such as “you’re not good enough” and “who do you think you are.”
And a great way to bring this inner voice into conscious awareness is through journal writing. One of my favorite tools (and if you’ve read other posts, you’ve probably seen this) is a simple journaling prompt: “The story I’m telling myself is…”
What are the stories that you’re telling yourself around “I’m not good enough” or “who do you think you are”? Because it brings what you were not consciously aware of to conscious awareness, which is a powerful tool. And now you have insight into what you were not aware of and can take whatever action steps you need to take to change it.
What are the stories that you’re telling yourself?
3. Where are you living your life?
Are you living your life in the past, the present moment, or in the future? If you’re like most people, you’re probably predominately living in the past or the future with very little time spent in your everyday life. Except, your everyday life is where your power lies.
So honor your past. Learn whatever lessons that you needed to learn from it. Such as what are the stories that you tell yourself about your past? What positive thoughts or positive things can you take away from it?
Because no matter how bad it was, you survived it, and the fact that you survived it makes you a strong person. And you do not need to continue to live your life with whatever mindset you adopted from your past experiences. Because you do have the power to change your mindset.
So take whatever you can from your younger self and make it a learning process to help inform your present life that your future self will thank you for.
4. What are my beliefs?
We all have beliefs and core values that help get us through difficult times. How have those beliefs and values helped get you through bad experiences? And do your beliefs and core values align with or do they contradict your own limiting beliefs?
5. What am I afraid of?
Are you afraid of change, being challenged, or failing? And what are you telling yourself about each of these? Because change is one of the very few guarantees in life. What about being challenged or failing? Learning what it is that you fear can be an amazing opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.
And help you move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Because once you know what is keeping you stuck, you have the opportunity to do something about it.
6. How can I turn my fear into an opportunity?
Think of the possibilities that could come out of turning your fear into an amazing opportunity if you fear change, journal how change could open up new opportunities. If you fear challenges, journal about how being challenged can help you find new strengths. And if your fear is failure, then journal about the good things that can come from failing.
Because all of these are gifts and can teach us so much about ourselves, how we handle struggles and what our greatest strengths may look like is what creates a growth mindset.
7. What does my dream life look like?
We all have a dream life. We all have things that we fantasize about when we feel the need to escape our present life. What are some goals today, long-term goals, or life goals you need to get to where you want to be? Again, the present moment is where you have the power to make changes happen. Use that power to get yourself to where you want to be.
8. What have I given up on?
There are times in our lives where we need to give up on something, and it makes a lot of sense. But then there are other times where we have given up on something because it was too hard. Or we let other people’s opinions instead of our own opinions decide for us. Or perhaps it was even your inner critic that decided that this important thing you were doing wasn’t worth it.
A powerful growth mindset journal prompt is to explore this. What got in your way, and what new things have you discovered about yourself that can help you be able to try again next time?
9. What are my passion and purpose?
I had passion and purpose described to me as being like a car. Passion is the engine, and purpose is the steering wheel. Without either of these, the car will sit and rust. And that’s true about life. Without passion and purpose, we have a hard time seeing the big picture. As a result, we become easily frustrated or discouraged, and sometimes we just give up.
And if you don’t know what your passions and purpose are, that’s okay. So how might you be able to expose yourself to new things that might ignite your passion and help you find purpose?
10. Which do I value more, the process or the end result?
This can be eye-opening. If you value the process more, this can be an amazing growth mindset lesson. But if you value the end result more, what are you missing out on? And if this is the case, what have you given up on because the end result didn’t come as quickly or easily to you?
11. Inspirational quotes or Growth Mindset Quote(s).
I have two quotes that come to mind when I think about what a growth mindset looks like.
First, there’s the Edison quote about the lightbulbs and finding 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.
And then there is the “Man in the Arena” quote by Theodore Roosevelt.
I would rather be in the arena getting my butt handed to me from time to time versus being in the cheap seats making fun of the person’s shirt who is in the arena because I’m too afraid to get into the arena.
What about you?
Is there a quote that speaks to you, and if so, what is it? And how does that quote help you to have your own positive growth mindset?
It’s important to remember that creating a growth mindset will take time and effort, but it is well worth the journey. And a good journaling habit is an effective way and a great resource (that’s super cheap) that can make a huge difference in your daily life.
These growth mindset writing prompts can be a fun way for you to challenge yourself and lead to self-discovery and new perspectives and help get you unstuck when you’re unsure where to begin.