How does your way of thinking influence self-discipline?
According to the psychologist and researcher at Stanford University, Carol S. Dweck, there are two types of people in this world – people with a fixed way of thinking and people with a growth attitude. This article examines how your way of thinking influences self-discipline.
What is the difference between fixed and growth mentality?
People with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities, characteristics and abilities are permanent and therefore cannot be changed. They tend to attribute success to their natural talent and feel connected – and proud – of their current level of brilliance, skill or intelligence, rather than seeking improvement through hard work and focus.
Conversely, people with growth mindsets assume that talent, skills and intelligence can change and grow through practice, learning and hard work. They recognize that wherever they are, they can always improve. As such, they view success as achievable regardless of the starting point. No goal is too big.
A fixed way of thinking is the enemy of self-discipline
If you follow Dweck’s model, it is easy to see that a fixed way of thinking is the enemy of self-discipline. For example, suppose you want to lose weight. Perhaps you compare yourself to a very slim or physically fit friend. What if you hear this friend say things like “I’ve always been small”, “I have a fast metabolism” and “No matter what I do, I just can’t gain weight! This person seems to eat and drink whatever they want, never exercise (as far as you know) and look fantastic. On the other hand, while you can’t seem to lose weight no matter what you do. You conclude that you “only have a slow metabolism”, “accept that you are probably not meant to be smaller”, and believe that it is beyond your power to make the change you want.
The truth is that your strong beliefs prevent you from achieving your goals, nothing more. Your fixed way of thinking steals your power. It distances you from the great idea that you can change, even though it may take a little more effort than you are used to.
It’s all about perspective. Most of the time, people who have achieved results that you only dream of have generally invested much more work and effort behind the scenes than is apparent on the outside. They just don’t talk about it.
Think about “celebrity overnight”. Stories of people who seemingly appear out of nowhere to become famous immediately. You’ve never heard of them, then suddenly you see them everywhere and they make it look so easy. But when you look into their past, you realize that they have worked extremely hard for years, finally took a big break and are now reaping the fruits of the seeds they had sewn years before.
A fixed way of thinking closes itself off from the ideas of hard work, patience, determination, perseverance, trial and error and progressive learning. But it is precisely these qualities that self-discipline is about.
A growth-oriented mindset makes self-discipline essential
Just as a fixed mindset is the enemy of self-discipline, a growth mindset surpasses self-discipline and positions it as the most important tool in your goal-setting process. Let us return to our example of weight loss and this time assume a growth mentality. What changes? Well, first of all you acknowledge that you may have struggled with your weight in the past, but you decide that this has no impact on your future. You know that you can change.
If you believe that you have “a slow metabolism” rather than assuming it is preventing you from losing weight, you will go to your doctor, have some tests done and get concrete evidence and recommendations for improvement. You will also find out about healthy, sustainable methods of weight loss, taking into account your lifestyle, preferences and limitations. You understand that the process may take some time and may not always be fun, but you are aware of why you want to lose weight at all, commit to the goal and believe that you can achieve it with time, concentration and determination.
Which Mindset Do You Have?
In Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success, Dweck explains that it is common to have a fixed way of thinking in some areas and a growth way of thinking in others. If you are introverted and rather shy by nature, you may have little confidence in social situations. However, a growth mindset can cause you to leave your comfort zone and go to events where you can meet new people and try new things. On the other hand, since you have always been shy, you may have spent a lot of time as a younger person reading and studying books and achieving academic success effortlessly. Perhaps you consider yourself “naturally smart” and have a firm attitude in this area.
You can change your way of thinking
One of the first steps to improving self-discipline is to become aware of yourself. If you analyze your personality and find that you have a fixed way of thinking, you know that you can change. Dweck explains: “Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”
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