It has been said that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In our last blog, we discussed taking the first step towards cultivating a growth mindset – accepting help. I know, I know, for some of us that is much easier said than done, but maybe making that first step a baby-step will help. Look at it this way, you don’t have to ask for the moon but if someone offers to lend you their telescope so you can see it, take them up on it! Don’t argue and apologize for inconveniencing them, simply say, “Thank you, that would be fantastic!” and just like that, you’ve taken the first step! Now that we are headed firmly in the right direction, everything we do from here on out will be predicated on the knowledge that we cannot make this journey alone.
Now, that’s not to say that you have to set crazy ambitious goals, like becoming an Ironman Triathlete. In fact, aiming too high can be just as detrimental to nurturing your growth mindset as not aiming at all! Let’s look at it this way: How many of us start off each new year with lofty ambitions and goals like “This year I’m going to read 52 new books” or “In 2022 I’m going to climb Mount Everest” when you didn’t read a single book in 2021 and have never climbed higher than the three-story walk-up to your apartment? Or perhaps we even cultivate some less grandiose goals and resolutions like “I’m going to run a 10k this year,” but we soon realize that for whatever reason, that goal just isn’t going to come to fruition. That realization can deal an absolutely devastating blow to our psyche and in turn, our motivation to make any positive progress. Once we realize we aren’t going to hit that specific target, many of us abandon the goal completely. But as I’ve said before (and I’ll continue to say again mainly because sometimes I just need to remind myself), it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, black-or-white. There is beauty in the grey areas, and there is absolutely validity in moderation! In short, step number two towards cultivating a growth mindset is: Be consistent!
For me, personally, I have abandoned all specific weight-related goals and instead vowed to simply “make better choices for my health.” This could mean simply having water instead of soda, or getting up and walking around between meetings instead of staying seated at my desk all day, or saying “no” when I would normally be quick to acquiesce despite already struggling with a heavy load. I am no longer committed to reaching an “ideal” weight because honestly, I reached that weight several years ago. Then I suffered some debilitating injuries and was not able to maintain that weight, which had a horribly negative impact on my emotional health. So, I am now committed to being a healthier individual and I have prioritized my mental health for the first time in, well, EVER! As a result, I have found that I am sleeping better and stressing less, both of which are significant factors in weight loss. That, coupled with my commitment to make better choices all-around has naturally resulted in a bit of weight loss. But since losing weight is no longer my focus, I don’t feel defeated if I eat a doughnut for breakfast every once in a while because that simple act brings me pleasure, which is good for my mental health. Even with the occasional doughnut, I am still someone who makes healthy choices overall.
To summarize, how you phrase things matters. For instance, instead of declaring, “I will read 52 books new books this year,” how about stating: “I am a reader and as such, I’m going to read at least five days a week.” You don’t need to identify a specific number of books. Whether you read War and Peace in its entirety in a single day (and if you do, please make sure to let the people at The Guinness Book of World Records know), or you only read a single paragraph each day, that’s perfectly fine, because on both days you are exactly what you said you were going to be…a reader! Phrasing your goals in a way that supports success eliminates a lot of the pressure and subsequent disappointment if for any reason you are unable to meet a specific goal. Life happens and sometimes through no fault of our own, we are simply unable to reach our goals, no matter how hard we try.
So let’s reevaluate how we approach our goals and continue to take these steps together because we are people who are cultivating growth mindsets, one step at a time!