3 Simple Tips For Adopting a Growth Mindset in 2024

It’s okay to suck at new things when you try them for the first time. Heck, it’s okay to suck at something for years on end while you’re figuring it out.

You have to believe that you’re capable of improvement – and believe that the payoff will be worth the struggle – or you risk staying stagnant indefinitely. 

Embracing mistakes isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and getting knocked down over and over again definitely isn’t fun. But life goes on whether or not you find the courage to take that first step – and to keep trying even when it’s hard. 

What is growth mindset?

Growth mindset embodies the idea that we’re capable of improvement (in any capacity) when we persevere and put in the requisite amount of time, effort, and dedication. 

Instead of thinking “I can’t do it,” or “I’m just not cut out for this,” someone with a growth mindset thinks, “I can’t do this yet” – and views mistakes, challenges, and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. 

(Fun fact: I spent a semester as a college freshman doing research in the lab of the Carol Dweck, world-renowned expert on growth mindset!) 

How can I develop a growth mindset? 

If you’re struggling to trade a fixed mindset for a growth mindset, here are three simple tips that helped me take life into my own hads. 

  • Shift your self-image. 

Do you want to run a half-marathon? You’re now a runner. Do you want to be considered reliable by friends and family? You’re now reliable. Do you want to wake up earlier in the mornings? Congrats, you’re now a morning person. 

When you choose to see yourself as already being the type of person you want to be, it becomes easier to make choices and decisions that are consistent with that identity. 

If you feel like you’re pretending to be someone or something you’re not at first, you’re doing it right. The whole idea might sound a little kooky, but there’s actually legitimate research demonstrating that performing identity-congruent actions can lead to more effective behavior change. 

Change your identity first, and it will be so much easier to make actions that align with who you ultimately want to be. In this case, try to see yourself as someone who has the ability to change, and a strong desire to learn from their mistakes and continuously get better at whatever they set their mind to. 

  • Redefine failure. 

See failure as feedback, rather than as a dead end or immovable roadblock.  Making mistakes and falling short is part of being human. It’s how we respond to those mistakes and shortcomings that determines who we are – not the act of failing. 

In the same vein, you must accept that effort is never wasted. Progress can be tediously slow, and it’s rarely ever linear. These realities can be frustrating, but they also build strength and resilience. 

Hard work and perseverance have immense value. Instead of dismissing them whenever something goes awry, celebrate whatever did come out of your efforts, regardless of whether or not it was the outcome you were expecting. 

  • Quit comparing yourself to others – in a bad way. 

Everyone’s rate of progress is different, and comparing your journey to someone else’s in a way that makes you feel inadequate will only slow you down. 

Instead of using other peoples’ achievements and successes as a yardstick to measure your own, view it as a source of inspiration. Ask questions about how they did it – about their strategies, tools, resources, and thought processes – and consider how you might apply them to your own pursuits. 

It’s human nature to compare, but if you can do it with a sense of curiosity (rather than bitterness or resentment), you can gain valuable insight that allows you to make huge strides in the right direction. 

Whether you want to get better at running, lifting, writing, public speaking, cake decorating, or mindful eating, have the courage to try – and to keep trying – until you get it right.