Is Your Hard Work Working?
The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset offers some insight into how people make progress in their lives or flounder.
- Does it sometimes feel like you’re working hard, yet getting nowhere closer to your goals?
- Do you tell yourself, “I’ll be happy when…” and then imagine how content you’ll finally be when things line up with your idea of a good life?
- Do you ever think, “I’ve been working toward a better future for a long time, yet I don’t seem any closer to being happy”?
The key is to develop a keener understanding of what we’re working hard at. If we look carefully we might discover that we’re working hard at results.
So what’s the problem?
Results are about creating a different future. Nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that results are the cumulative effect of growth. And when we’re fixated on results, we’ve lost the perspective and advantage of a growth mindset person.
The Secret Advantage of Growth Mindset People
There’s actually a hidden secret to being happy that allows growth mindset people to experience a remarkable amount of progress, satisfaction and achievement.
It’s the combined weight of all those little actions that provide us with an effective process.
What really determines the results we get in our lives are the small, repeated activities that it’s easy to stop seeing after a while. The actual processes we engage can get lost in the weeds of our attention while we’re dreaming about our goals and desires.
Growth mindset people notice, track, adjust and manage small daily activities in relationship to their larger goals. They are, in effect, engaged in a form of mindfulness.
Losing sight of our daily habits, on the other hand, is how we can wind up bewildered by why we’re making less progress than we hoped for. Our experience of life comes from actions we perform over and over again automatically, often without noticing that we’re repeating them.
- Whether or not we walk when we can or take cars, escalators, and elevators.
- How we deal with email.
- How often we eat right or consume junk.
- What the first thing we do is right after we wake up.
- How often and with what tone we answer the phone.
- How much we sleep.
There are many forms of such low-level engagement that have a much greater impact on our lives than we imagine. Perhaps even more important, however, and even more invisible, are the small, repeated movements of our attention.
- Do we see what’s wrong, or do we see what’s working in a given situation?
- Do we notice our feelings or do we ignore them?
- Do we expect the worst to happen or do we expect positive outcomes?
The combination of our visible actions, along with the inner habitual movements of our attention, has profound momentum and create an energetic field that others palpably sense and that we ourselves tangibly experience.
In short, these two types of habits, external and internal, determine others’ experience of us as well as our own experience of ourselves.
Outer and inner habits woven together determine such things as:
- Whether we praise or criticize ourselves and others, privately or verbally.
- How often, when and where we smile.
- Whether the language we use creates conflict or dissolves it.
- Whether we get left to struggle on our own or enjoy collaborating with others.
There is a simple rule we can follow that helps us get to the end of each day without wasting our opportunities to succeed and clarifies the crucial difference between a growth mindset person and a fixed, or future mindset person.
Get a Great Night’s Sleep with the 90/10 Rule
Successful and happy people are able to make a distinction between growth mindset and future mindset. And there is a big difference.
A growth mindset person is actually quite focused on the present.
Ninety percent of their attention may be devoted to observing themselves, their behavior, their choices and the real-time results they’re getting, while the remaining 10 percent of their focus is lightly holding their big picture goals in mind.
This is when we allow 90 percent of our attention to be monopolized by:
- Our fantasies of a better future.
- The things we want, but don’t have.
- The things we have, but don’t want to lose.
- The better life that will finally provide us with a sense of relief or fulfillment.
With a future mindset, only a small part of our attention is left for successfully working with the small, yet pivotal, details of our path right now.
When we finally lay ourselves down at the end of the day, we either have the feeling that we’ve served our core desires and goals in some way, or that we’ve mostly wasted the opportunity to fulfill them.
The feeling of having truly served our most important aims in life is a product of active mindfulness (small conscious habits) held in the context of a larger vision.
The feeling of having wasted another day of our lives, however, is the low-grade nightmare we’ve gotten so accustomed to tolerating that we don’t even register it as the cause of our distress, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction.
It’s not much different than having a savings account. If we get in the habit of making small deposits on a regular basis, we’re going to set ourselves up for a life we’ll be really happy with.
Games for Pros
If you’d like some help with practicing the small actions that make a big difference for professionals, just sign up for Games for Pros using the sidebar form on the right of this page. You’ll get a weekly Game that will help you target simple, small, useful behaviors that will shift you into a true growth mindset.