The answer to this question could be all over the map. There are tons of theories about motivation, readiness, learning styles, success, self-reliance, resilience, happiness, building habits, how to stop procrastinating, and eliminating barriers. And that’s just the beginning! But I will stop now. Once the mind starts to boggle, it’s tough to sort things out. Sometimes, it’s better just to move on.
Instead, we have Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. She wrote a book that was published in 2006 and again in 2016 called Mindset: the New Psychology of Success.
I discovered this book through reading a few others that I really respect. Most notably, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath and Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, PhD.
Instead of branching out in all sorts of directions that can be conflicting and confusing, Dr. Dweck has come up with two mindsets. She did this after spending her entire career as a research psychologist studying how to foster accomplishment and develop individual abilities.
The gist is this: There are basically two mindsets. Most of us have a combination of these, often dependent on the situation. But many of us have strong tendencies toward one or the other.
The two mindsets are (drum roll please): FIXED and GROWTH MINDSETS.
It may be that you know more than one person with fixed mindset tendencies. In the next couple of paragraphs, I will give you some examples of both fixed and growth mindsets, how they relate to fitness, and how you can use a growth mindset for yourself and others in the quest for fitness and a healthier lifestyle.
Suppose you know someone who has been told by their doctor that they need to exercise more and lose weight. Or, you have been thinking this about them for years. Here’s how this may play out in conversations with them. They say, or project a certain attitude, which is…
“That’s for other people, not me.”
“It’s too much work. I don’t have the energy at this point.”
“That’s just who I am. Why change now?”
OR “I have tried that before, and it just didn’t work.”
Now imagine some other phrases that people could utter in response to the challenge of exercising more or losing weight.
“I have always liked a challenge. I will attack this one the same way I always do”.
“It’s time to do something for my health. I will find out how to make the right changes.”
“I know it will be hard at first, but I know I can persevere as long as I keep learning new things.”
Here’s the thing. People with a fixed mindset tend to think they are stuck with who they are and what their habits are because “that’s just who I am.” Or, if there have been several attempts at exercise or diet change, perhaps there is the perception that they just don’t have what it takes. Or, sometimes they think they just don’t have enough motivation and discipline to keep going.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset see their abilities and talents as fluid. Abilities and talents can be applied to many different situations. Growth comes from realizing that you are not born a certain way, and that learning something new takes time, patience, and trial and error.
It’s opening up to learning something different that can create a lasting, health-driven change. Here’s an example that applies to everyone:
When we were growing up, did we all of a sudden know how to walk? Eat with a spoon? Ride a bike? Know how to add?
The Magic Formula
The same sort of process applies to fitness. The magic formula is: Staying curious, being patient, preparing to try even if it doesn’t work the first time, and knowing deep down that you can learn and adjust in order to stay with the process. The more you can learn about how your body works (or doesn’t), the better you will be at making decisions that keep you safe, healthy, and moving forward.
Here’s to staying fit and having a growth mindset,
© 2019-2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.