Fixed vs Growth Mindset: How to Improve Your Life

Fixed vs Growth Mindset: How to Improve Your Life

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said any of these things about yourself.

“I’m just not a math person.”

“I always get angry about politics.”

“Everyone else is so much more creative than I am.”

“I’m such a procrastinator.”

 (I’m sitting here waving my hand hard in the air right now!)

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck is a pioneer in the research about fixed vs growth mindset.

Most of us live our lives in what is called a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is being stuck in the belief that who we are now is who we will always be; we were born like this, and we will never make any meaningful changes in our traits, abilities, or creativity.

The results of this kind of mindset are numerous.

People with a fixed mindset…

1. Feel the need to prove themselves over and over. (If we equate our performance with our identity, then we have to prove that we can do everything right or we aren’t worth very much.)

2. Compare themselves to others instead of allowing the successes of others to motivate them

3. Are afraid to try new things. (There is a deep fear of failure and rejection because failing means, “I AM a failure.”)

4. Cannot live authentic lives. (They hide their struggles and weaknesses because these things are seen as failure.)

5. Use words like “never” and “always”

6. Are focused on only the outcome, not the process or their progress.

Everyone fails. It’s inevitable. But the fixed mindset makes failure much more painful.

So all of this sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? What is the alternative?

Enter the growth mindset.

Opposite of the fixed mindset, the growth mindset is the belief that talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and perseverance.


People who adopt a growth mindset…

1. Have a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval

2. Develop resilience and can overcome challenges

3. Maximize their potential

4. Create changed definitions of success, failure and effort

5. Learn from and welcome criticism

6. Are inspired by the successes of others

7. Look for people who challenge them to grow instead of people who simply shore up their self-esteem

The growth mindset majorly impacts three big areas of our lives- relationships, career, and happiness.


Rather than insisting that the only partners who fit the bill are the ones exactly as they “should be” right now, people with a growth mindset understand that lasting relationships come from effort and working through differences.

Couples with a growth mindset will experience more freedom and less need to control. There isn’t an overwhelming need to “fix” the other person because it’s understood that people really can and do change with time and effort. No one demands perfection.


Employers look for people with a growth mindset. They want problem-solvers, not people who sit down and the floor and cry when problems arise. When problems are seen as creative challenges that can be solved or improved, magic happens.

Individually, those with a growth mindset are able to realize their dreams. They know that with enough work, they really can have the career they really want, even if it involves risk. There are no limits.


People with a growth mindset are not hard on themselves. They don’t spend their time focusing on all of their shortcomings; instead, they think about the next step, how they can improve, and what potential they have.

They have hope, they know something better is coming, and they don’t feel stuck.

So how do we move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

1. Reframe your thinking and self-talk

The way something is said really has a bigger impact than you might realize. For example, rather than saying, “I always get angry about politics,” try reframing the statement to be, “In the past, I have usually gotten angry about politics.” Do you see it? Instead of making a generalized statement that leaves no room for change, I am allowing my brain to consider the possibility that I will not always be this way.

What about in our relationships? We can change, “He is so frustrating!” to “Here are some things he has done that have frustrated me.” Reframing thoughts and statements can really shift your outlook.

2. Value the process and your progress over the end result

Now, I am not a proponent of the whole “every kid gets a participation trophy” mentality. We don’t always need rewards for showing up. But we do need to see progress as meaningful and worthwhile. Viewing things on a learning curve rather than a steep cliff is the way to go. “I didn’t reach the final goal this time, but look how far I’ve come from where I started.”

Perhaps setting smaller goals for yourself with a view to conquer a very big goal is beneficial. Every time you reach a goal, set a new one.

3. Use the words “not yet”

Dweck believes that a mentality of “not yet” gives people the hope of eventual success. Rather than, “I am not” or “I can’t,” we see the possibility of more.

4. Reflect often

People who reflect on their lives and their progress have a higher emotional intelligence, a better understanding of others, and more developed creative thinking skills. Think about the goals you’ve reached, the little successes, and the process you’ve gone through to become a better person.

A good way to do this is with a journal. It doesn’t really matter how you write; just write. Write down struggles, brainstorm solutions, and set incremental goals to effect those solutions. Journaling is a very effective way to grow.

So, now what? What is the next step? Click below to get an action plan for moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, and get ready to see big changes in your life!

My research came from the following sources:



  • Kathy Erickson

    I spell my name the same way! So I like you right off the bat 🙂 Great content here! I often don’t even hear myself when I continue to define myself by the failures of the past or the limitations I think I have. Thanks for making me think today!!

    • Isn’t it the best way to spell Kathryn??? I just love to look at it!

      And yes, isn’t it eye-opening when we start to really examine how much our thinking affects us?? Thanks for reading, Kathy!!! <3

  • I am stuck on a few of the items. “Creative.” I am going to change to a growth mindset. I like that.

  • How interesting! Looks like I need to change my mindset a little.

  • This is such a unique perspective and your recommendations to change one’s mindset are spot on. 🙂