The Difference Between a Fixed and Growth Mindset: How They Impact Your Life

6 months ago   •   4 min read

By Zero Machina

Your mindset influences the way you invest your time and engage with life.

You've probably heard the saying: "Where there’s a will there’s a way." Or, "whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right."

But many people don’t realize that our mindset has already developed into two distinct categories: fixed and growth. Whether you realize it or not, the mindset you gravitate toward will determine how you spend your time and your overall quality of life.

Let’s dig into each mindset a little deeper.

A Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset is, like it sounds, an unwavering view of the world and one’s role within it.

A person with a fixed mindset believes that their qualities or talents are set in stone. They can't change or improve.

Likewise, they think that if they don’t already possess the quality or talent, they never will. A pianist, for example, is good at playing piano because they're naturally gifted at music, not because they practiced a lot.

Fixed mindsets often reject feedback, viewing it as unwanted criticism. If they don’t believe they'll improve, then they won't see the point in feedback (and respond negatively).

Those with fixed mindsets usually stay away from challenges if they aren’t certain that they'll succeed.

People with this mindset view the world in absolutes: "I’m just not a reader." Or, "Yoga is too boring for me."

Curiosity doesn’t thrive in a fixed mindset. Those with this mindset like what they like. They know what they're good at, and what they're not.

Pros:

  • Very confident regarding their specific talents
  • Sense of certainty
  • Self-assured

Cons:

  • Unwilling to try new things
  • Easily discouraged
  • Sometimes lends itself to a negative view of the world

A Growth Mindset

By contrast, a person with a growth mindset believes that qualities and talents can be achieved through learning and practice.

A growth mindset is ever-changing and can easily adapt to new circumstances and information.

They don’t expect to be great at something overnight. They understand that mastery takes time and consistent practice. The only reason they can't play the piano, for instance, is because they haven't put in the effort to learn.

Challenges are welcomed by those with a growth mindset. The outcome is irrelevant. Either they'll overcome it or learn from their failures—there's only upside.

Curiosity is a key component of growth mindsets. Instead of thinking “I wouldn’t like yoga,” they think, “Maybe I’d like yoga if I gave it an honest chance.”

In a growth mindset, the possibilities are endless. This person believes that they can always improve, learn, and be better.

Pros:

  • Easily adaptable
  • Constantly learning
  • Positive outlook on the world
  • Not easily discouraged

Cons:

  • May not be fully confident in their skills
  • Can get stuck in analysis paralysis
  • Can get distracted and become a "jack of all trades", instead of mastering one thing at a time through deep work.

Mindset and Productivity

Whether fixed or growth, your mindset plays a big part in how you spend your time.

As you can guess, a person with a growth mindset will spend their life searching for learning and growth opportunities. And this has many advantages at work and in life.

They understand that they can improve in any area they wish and will dedicate time to practice and grow.

The Buffet Formula is a great example of this. Billionaire and business mogul Warren Buffet claims to spend 80% of his day reading and learning. He believes that consistent learning is key when it comes to long-term success.

And his business partner, Charlie Munger, also adheres to this philosophy. When he was first starting out in business, he would give himself an hour every day— usually in the mornings—dedicated specifically to learning.

The two business partners would agree that their determination to constant growth is responsible for their exorbitant success. Even today, they don’t believe they’ve reached the pinnacle of knowledge—growth and learning are never-ending.

Those with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, will spend most of their time stagnant. They focus on proving what they already know to be true.

Psychologist Carol Dweck explains this further in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. When talking about people with fixed mindsets, she says, “I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves.”  Those with fixed mindsets believe that their talents are innate or given to them at birth, and it's all they'll ever have.

Instead of growing or evolving, they spend the majority of their time trying to stay afloat. If they discover that they aren’t as gifted or talented as they initially thought, their whole worldview is suddenly challenged. And since fixed mindsets don’t particularly like challenges, they'll resist making the necessary changes to make progress.

In essence, having a fixed mindset is exhausting and a waste of time.

The Relationship Between Your Mindset and Quality of Life

Some people who have a fixed mindset are happy to remain at their success level and content to stay in their current life situation. We're not here to judge.

But, if your overall goal is to live a life full of experiences and successful ventures, then a growth mindset is key. People with a growth mindset are much more likely to be successful. They tend to live bigger, more full lives than people with fixed mindsets.

Carol Dweck says that a growth mindset is “what allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

Not only is a growth mindset a healthy way to live, but it’s also the most fun. If life is meant to be enjoyed, then the measure of success can be how well a person embraces new ideas, new moments, and new challenges.


Next Steps

If you feel like your life is smaller than you’d like it to be, or success is just out of reach, it may be time to shift perspectives. It’s never too late to change a fixed mindset and start growing.

Want to stop feeling stuck and get your productivity back on track? Check out our article: How To Identify A Bottleneck In Your Productivity And Stop Feeling Stuck.

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