Why mindset is everything

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The term ‘mindset’ has been a bit of a trendy topic over the past few years. 

Positive mindset, business mindset, change your mindset…

There are so many ‘mindset’ gurus out there touting the phrase that you can be forgiven for thinking it’s an over-used cliché, based on a whole lot of ‘woo-woo’ and very little substance.

But when it comes to living a happy, fulfilling life, we’re here to tell you that mindset is everything.

Your mindset will determine whether you achieve your goals, how you deal with disappointment, how you work through challenges, and how you get through your darkest days.

Your mindset also determines what you weigh as well. But we’ll get into that in a little while.

Firstly, let’s take a look at what mindset actually means.

What is mindset?

Basically, mindset refers to your thoughts, beliefs and habits that shape your behaviours. Your mindset determines what you believe about the world, yourself and others. It also determines how you behave and how you react to situations. You can either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

Fixed mindset

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities, attributes, habits and beliefs are set in stone and cannot change. You believe that everything from your talents, intelligence, earning power, and body shape are set in stone, and there is no room for you to grow and evolve. You also discount small changes as unimportant or irrelevant.

People with a fixed mindset:

  • avoid challenges by living a complacent life
  • give up easily when obstacles come their way
  • see effort or learning something new as pointless or a waste of time
  • believe that change is impossible
  • don’t believe they can achieve their goals
  • ignore constructive feedback or take it as personal criticism
  • feel threatened when other people succeed
  • gossip about other people as a way to feel better about themselves
  • think they know better than everyone else
  • never reach their full potential.

Growth mindset

If you have a growth mindset you believe that change is possible through perseverance and consistent effort. You see mistakes as stepping stones to success, and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. You don’t believe that everything about you is static but rather that you have the power to determine what your life will look like. You also understand that small changes add up to big changes over time. 

People with a growth mindset:

  • have a desire to learn and grow
  • embrace challenges 
  • persist even when they experience setbacks
  • value work and effort because they know it will lead to change
  • learn from their mistakes
  • use constructive feedback as a way to improve themselves or their performance
  • look for the lessons in other people’s success
  • find other success stories inspiring
  • reach higher levels of success and are more likely to reach their full potential.

A good example of the difference between fixed and growth mindsets is the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The hare was so certain that he would win the race, that he stopped part-way through, lay down and had a nap. Meanwhile, the tortoise kept going, plodding along, always moving forward. By the time the hare woke up, the tortoise had overtaken him. Even running as fast as he could, the hare could not catch up to the tortoise, who ended up winning the race.

The hare had a fixed mindset because he believed that his fast, running skills would be enough to win and he thought he knew better than the tortoise

The tortoise had a growth mindset because he believed that he just needed to keep working hard and keep going to win. He never doubted his ability to win or wasn’t afraid to lose. If he did, he would never have agreed to the race in the first place.

So now you know the different mindsets, it’s time to look at why it’s so important to have a growth mindset.

Why mindset is important

Your mindset will make or break you. The single most important influence when it comes to success and happiness is your mindset. This is because it influences everything that you do. Even if you have the best of intentions to achieve something, your mindset will determine whether or not you succeed or not.

Let’s look at an example.

Sandy wants to lose weight but she’s not sure that she can. She has tried so many times but each time, something prevented her from sticking to her plan. This time, Sandy has decided to join a gym and work with a weight loss coach. She figures that reaching her goal will be easier if someone else can push her to do what she needs to do because she’s never been good at motivating herself to exercise or eat well.

Sandy has a lot of difficulty in the beginning because her training sessions are early in the morning. She’s never been a ‘morning person’ so finds it hard to get out of bed so early. She often runs late and sometimes misses her session because it’s just too hard. If she knew she’d have to get up so early she may have looked for a coach who ran sessions later in the day. She also thinks it’s a little unfair that the coach won’t run sessions to suit people like her.

When Sandy’s coach heard her complain about the time of the training sessions, he gave her some tips that would make it easier for her. Sandy felt like she was a ‘naughty girl’ in trouble for complaining so decided that she wasn’t going to say anything anymore. Her coach will just have to accept that she may not be there for every session.

After a few months, Sandy has lost some weight, but not as much as she was hoping for. She compares herself with the others at the gym and feels angry. She decides it’s not fair that some people find it easy to lose weight and she doesn’t. She tells herself that she’s never been able to lose weight, and she never will. She starts to wonder if she’s wasting her time again.

A week later, Sandy trips up some stairs and sprains her ankle. Her doctor has told her that she won’t be able to do any exercise for at least 3-4 weeks, and when she starts back, she will have to take it slowly. Sandy is angry and frustrated because she knows that without exercise, she’ll never be able to lose weight. She doesn’t see the point in working with her coach right now, so she decides to stop working with them and tells them she’ll come back when she can get back to exercise.

What happens when you have a fixed mindset?

In the above example, Sandy has a fixed mindset. 

  • She doesn’t believe she can lose weight
  • She believes she needs someone to motivate her to lose weight
  • She claims she’s ‘not a morning person’ 
  • When her coach gives her tips to help her cope with early mornings, she takes it personally
  • She’s not willing to try new things to help her get up early
  • She believes that other people find it easier to lose weight than she does
  • She decides it’s not fair that others can lose weight and she can’t
  • She thinks she’s wasting her time even trying
  • When she is faced with the challenge of spraining her ankle, she gives up because she doesn’t see the point in trying if she can’t exercise.

It’s safe to say that with Sandy’s fixed mindset, she will never succeed in losing weight. 

But what would happen if she had a growth mindset? Let’s take a look.

Why you need a growth mindset?

You will keep going when it gets tough

You’ve heard the saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Well, the tough people are those with a growth mindset. These people are not afraid of challenges and don’t run away from them, because they know that the path to success will always include hurdles and adversity. Instead of giving up, they will find a way to keep going no matter how many times they may get knocked down.

In the case of Sandy, she was annoyed about the early morning sessions because she found it hard to get up early. She took it personally when her coach tried to help her cope with the early mornings. She got angry when she saw other people succeeding, and she gave up when she sprained her ankle. 

If Sandy had a growth mindset, she would have understood that getting up early would become easier if she consistently practised doing it. She would have understood that her coach was only trying to help her with advice, not criticise her and that taking the advice may have made things easier for her. She also would have realised that consistent effort would lead to her losing weight, just like the person she was comparing herself too. And she also would have understood that while she may not be able to exercise, there were lots of other things she could focus on instead (e.g. sleep, better eating, reducing stress etc.) that would have helped her lose weight. In short, Sandy would have been able to keep going despite the difficulties she was facing.

The truth is that a weight loss transformation is not a linear journey. You need to be able to keep going through the tough times and not give up, which is why a growth mindset is so important. This is explained in more detail in our blog The Seasons of Body Transformation.

You’ll focus on what you can control

People with a growth mindset understand that they can’t control everything, and trying to only leads to stress and overwhelm. Instead, they focus on the things within their control and let go of the rest. In the case of Sandy, she was trying to control her weight by focusing on exercise. When she couldn’t use exercise anymore, she freaked out, instead of looking at what else she could have done.

For example, Sandy could have used this time to get better at her meal prep. She could have focused on getting more rest and sleep, or she could have used it to work on her WHY — the reason she wanted to lose weight in the first place. (If you don’t understand what we mean by your WHY, read our blog Find your ‘WHY’ to lose weight). There were actually a lot of factors within Sandy’s control, (you can read about them in our blog How to lose weight without exercise) but her fixed mindset caused her to focus on the one thing she couldn’t control. And in the end, she gave up.

You will find the positives

A growth mindset will allow you to see the positives in any situation. A good example of this is the COVID-19 global pandemic. There’s no doubt that there are a lot of negatives with this situation, which is what most people focused on — not being able to see family members, loss of income, homeschooling, being in lockdown, etc. However, there were also positives associated with the pandemic. The people who coped better were the ones with the growth mindset because they were able to find the positives in the situation and focus on those instead of the negatives. You can read more about that in our blog The positives about corona virus that no one is talking about.

In the case of Sandy, she only focused on the negatives associated with training early in the morning and the negatives of having a sprained ankle. Instead of thinking about how hard it was to get up in the morning, a person with a growth mindset would have seen the positives. For example, they get their exercise out of the way nice and early, they get to see the sunrise, they start their day doing something positive for themselves, etc. Similarly, while a person with a growth mindset may have been frustrated about spraining their ankle, they would have been able to see past it and found some positives (e.g. they had more time to work on their habits, they had more time to focus on getting better sleep, etc.) 

When you have a growth mindset, you’ll be able to see the positives in every situation — even a global pandemic. This will leave you feeling happier, less overwhelmed, and less stressed, and will ensure that you will continue to progress forward with your weight loss, instead of giving up on it.

You’ll embrace the lessons

Every situation, especially the negative ones, is an opportunity to teach us something. That’s the attitude of someone with a growth mindset. In the example above, someone with a growth mindset who sprained their ankle may have asked themselves what they can learn from the situation. It may have been an opportunity to look at the reason they tripped up the stairs. Were they tired? If so, why? Was it because they weren’t eating enough or maybe not getting enough sleep? What could they do to improve their sleep? What could they do to ensure they were eating enough food? Was there something they needed to learn, to prevent something similar from happening again in the future?

But Sandy only focused on the inconvenience and the impact it had on her ability to exercise. By doing this, she failed to learn a valuable lesson or two, and she self-sabotaged her results by telling herself that she will never lose weight if she can’t exercise, and ended up quitting altogether.

You will achieve your goals

People with a growth mindset achieve their goals because they believe they can. They don’t see setbacks or hurdles as barriers to success, but rather an opportunity to learn something they need to learn, in order to move forward. They are not afraid to make mistakes, because they focus on the lessons they learn, rather than the mistake they made. People with growth mindsets are not afraid to take action and don’t run away from challenges. While they may find challenges difficult, they believe that on the other side of them is something even better and so are willing to keep putting in the work, push through the discomfort and come out the other side. They also understand that achieving goals takes work and time.

Sandy on the other hand doubted that she could lose weight before she even started. She then saw every other obstacle as ‘proof’ that she couldn’t. The early mornings, other people succeeding when she wasn’t, and finally the sprained ankle. The truth is that the trajectory to success is not linear. It involves twists and turns, obstacles and setbacks. The only way to navigate these is with a growth mindset. Without one, everything seems too hard, and you’ll end up quitting before you even get started.

You’ll get through your hardest days

There’s no escaping the fact that we are all going to have dark days. We are all going to get the call that someone we loved has died. Or maybe we’ll be diagnosed with a serious illness. Or perhaps you’ll find yourself in a traumatic situation. How we deal with and react to these experiences will be determined by our mindset.

If we have a growth mindset, we’ll cope much better than we would if we had a fixed mindset. That doesn’t mean that we won’t be sad, or scared, or devastated, or feel whatever emotion we’ll feel. But it does mean that we will be able to handle the situation without blocking it out with alcohol or engaging in emotional eating. 

2020 — the year of the global pandemic — hasn’t been easy for anyone. We have all lost something as a result and we have all grieved these losses. However, some have managed to thrive in spite of COVID-19, while others got through it by drinking, overeating, bingeing on TV and complaining very loudly. The people who believe that 2020 was a wasted year, are the ones with a fixed mindset, who weren’t able to see any positives about the situation. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset saw the opportunities for growth and learning, and as a result, they are genuinely grateful for 2020.

The truth is that none of us is immune to the difficult curve balls that life will throw at us, so we need to prepare ourselves by developing a healthy mindset. You can read more about how mindset impacted two of our clients when they went through difficult situations in our blogs My true story of how cancer transformed my life and My true story of how years of abuse shaped me, and what I know now.

You’ll be able to help others through difficult times

While we’re talking about difficult situations, how did you help those around you cope with COVID-19? Were you able to keep your elderly parents calm and filled with hope, even though they were worried and lonely? Or did you drag them down into your misery? What about your children who were homeschooled and anxious about their future? Did you agree with them that the year sucked, or did you empower them to do their best and focus on what they could control?

Just as we can’t escape our difficult days, nor can those we love. Having a growth mindset is vital if you want to be a good role model for your kids. If we have a growth mindset, we can support them through it and help them learn lessons of resilience and persistence. But if we have a fixed mindset, we’ll teach them that they are at the mercy of whatever curveballs life decides to dish up. They’ll never learn how to handle difficult situations or learn the important lessons that will help them succeed in life. Instead, they will grow up with fixed mindsets, always destined to give up before they try, never reach their potential, and live a frustrated, unhappy life.

You’ll thrive, not just survive

It’s clear that a growth mindset will help you succeed in anything you do, including losing weight. But more than that, it will ensure you thrive, not just survive. Your mindset is the difference between:

  • living a mediocre life and living an extraordinary life
  • settling for what you can get, or having whatever you want
  • feeling frustrated and unhappy, or being ridiculously happy
  • running away from challenges or rising up to meet them
  • feeling like something is missing from life or feeling completely fulfilled.

How to develop a growth mindset

It’s very possible to develop a growth mindset, even if your fixed mindset says it’s not! The key steps are to:

  • Commit to developing a growth mindset
  • Understand and accept that you will have challenges
  • Avoid running away from challenges
  • Let go of trying to control everything
  • Look for the lessons in everything and become teachable
  • Celebrate all your wins (big and small)
  • Work with a coach to help you do these things.

At Imani Tribe Transformations we help people develop strong, healthy mindsets to help them lose weight and equip them for life. Through our structured program, we provide you with the systems, tools, strategies and accountability to help you develop a strong mindset. Of course, change takes time, but we are with you every step of the way.

Your mindset is one of your greatest assets because it really does shape the rest of your life. 

If you want a mindset that will lead to the life you desire, we can help.

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