Develop a Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset of changing “I can’t” into “I can’t … yet” is one of Action for Happiness’ ‘Jump Back July’ resilience calendar.

As Melbourne prepares to enter into Lockdown tonight for another 6 weeks, some people have asked me why am I bothering to still look forward to being able to meet up with friends and network connections in Germany and Mallorca hopefully in 2021 and 2022. They believe I am wasting my time looking forward to events in the future.  Those questions are the key as to why I feel the action of adopting a growth mindset is so important.

Sure, I can’t get to Germany at the moment, or work with military members who have or are transitioning to civilian life in Australia and Germany the way I eventually would like to, but by having a growth mindset, I am able to face our current COVID-19 challenges and see them as opportunities.

Strategies for a growth mindset

Below are a few of the strategies I am using to develop and strengthen my growth mindset, particularly in the current situation, when moments of anxiety and self-doubt can creep into my thoughts.

  • View challenges as opportunities
  • Adapt negative thoughts to become more positive by focusing on what you are able to change about the current situation. This may be something such as making time for yourself
  • Value the process over the end result
  • Cultivate a sense of purpose – keep the big picture in mind
  • Emphasise growth over speed
  • Accept constructive feedback
  • Provide regular opportunities for reflection
  • Look at your strengths – “What has gone well as you have gone through the COVID-19 crises?” “When things went wrong, what did you do to overcome the obstacle? “What new skills or knowledge did you learn from the situation?”
  • Become a lifelong learner e.g., learn new skills and knowledge to strengthen your career or assist with a change in career direction
  • Use affirmations e.g., “I am responsible for my own growth and am willing to put in the effort I need to achieve my goal”
  • Change the language of statements you use on yourself and others from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset e.g., changing the language of statements that I use to help stay focused is instead of “I don’t know how or if I’ll get there … ever” to “What plan can I make to get there”. “How can I motivate myself to follow that plan?” “What’s my first step?”

What does a growth mindset during COVID-19 restrictions mean to my own wellbeing/resilience and career plans?

I am grateful to be looking after my very good friends’ pet, aka the adorable fur ball in at the Docklands in Melbourne. It’s not Germany, but it’s a break from my normal routine with more reliable internet connection, making working from home less stressful. This is a much well needed break for me, and a chance to have company, as I’ll be honest, the previous lockdown was 7 weeks on my own with the only face to face interaction being for medical appointments and postal / grocery deliveries, where I just waved from a safe distance and that this at times got to me.

Next week I start my Graduate Certificate in Career Development Practices. Working from the Docklands will give me the reliable internet connection, which will be essential as the first day of orientation will be conducted via online delivery with a full day of scheduled zoom sessions. The current restrictions although not ideal, are enabling me to build in time for professional development, learning new skills and knowledge, not only through my upcoming course work, but also by attending webinars, and connecting with new and existing contacts globally, which I can apply to so many areas of life not just in my role as a Career Development Practitioner.

I’m a firm believer in the use of reflective practices as part of being a lifelong learner, not just professionally but also on a personal level. A relatively new friend of mine who works in a similar field has been challenging me in a good way. They are very good at “reading me” and quickly realised that part of my coping mechanism for dealing not just with the COVID-19 situation, but personal circumstances over the last few years was to, throw myself into work and my planned future career path. I appreciated their honesty, and am so comfortable around them, that they in turn feel that they can be honest with me in a respectful way, knowing that I would take on board what they had to say.  They were concerned that I was not making time for myself, putting others first, and worried that I would make myself ill.

Docklands Skyline at night, Melbourne Australia

This hit a nerve, and made me pause to reflect on my current situation and prioritise making time for myself. Being fortunate to currently have such stunning peaceful views like in the picture above, has I have to admit, spent a lot more time than usual, just sitting in the evenings, being mindful of the moment, and also reflecting on where I am at present in my life, and my future plans. 

I’m also appreciative that my friend has helped to reawaken a part of me that through a series of personal disappointments over quite a period of time, I thought I had forgotten and lost, and “letting my hair down”.  This weekend they said that “I seem more relaxed, still very work orientated but it’s not your priority at the moment”, and they are 100% right. Somehow, they have known how to bring out my “fun, mischievous, inquisitive” side, which I honestly haven’t shown since I left Germany and life as a military wife behind me in 2012  

So all in all, although I know we in Melbourne and other places around the world are facing further disruptions and restrictions to our lives for the foreseeable future, I know that with strategies to develop and support a growth mindset, this will help me to be resilient during these times and into the future.

What are some strategies or activities you use to develop a growth mindset?

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