I always tell people (and always have to remind myself), “Mind your business, because your mind is your business.” Clever, I know.
What I mean by that is true success starts with your mindset. Having a growth mindset will have a positive impact on all areas of your life—finances, relationships, career, everything.
Now I know everyone is born into different levels of opportunity, and you don’t really have control over that, but I seriously believe that having a growth mindset is the real key to taking whatever situation you’ve been handed and doing something great with it. So, let’s talk about what a growth mindset is and how to develop one.
What Is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is the belief that you can learn, change and improve with time and effort.
People who have a growth mindset build up the strength to overcome challenges instead of giving up because they think they just don’t have what it takes to succeed. They aren’t scared of failure because they know failure helps them get one step closer to where they want to be.
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Now, the opposite of a growth mindset is something called a fixed mindset. People who have a fixed mindset believe that success (or failure) is a result of permanent qualities, circumstances and character traits that they don’t have the power to change. And my guess is that Eeyore is their spirit animal.
Whether they realize it or not, they believe they were born with certain characteristics—like intelligence, shyness, talent or a hot temper—with no way to improve or adjust. They live their life making decisions based on those beliefs, which can really hold them back in the long run. With a fixed mindset, pessimism always wins.
Here are some examples of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset:
- Fixed: “I’ll never learn how to do this. I’m not smart.”
- Growth: “I might not know how to do this now, but I’m going to read up on it and figure it out.”
- Fixed: “I don’t have to prep for this job interview. I’m good at marketing, so they’ll give me the job.”
- Growth: “I’m going to spend time preparing and give it my all, so even if I don’t get hired, I’ll know I did my best.”
- Fixed: “Being in debt is just part of adulthood. Everyone has student loans and car payments.”
- Growth: “If I’m disciplined and wise with my money, I don’t have to live with debt.”
- Fixed: “Everyone in my family has gotten divorced, so I’ll probably end up divorced too.”
- Growth: “Nobody’s perfect, but I’m going to work hard on this relationship and do everything I can to have a healthy marriage.”
Do you guys see the difference? This mindset thing is something we all have to work on—myself included. No one’s going to get it right all the time. But now that we know what it means, let’s break down some practical steps you can take to start developing a growth mindset.
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Let’s be real: The fact that you’re reading this article tells me you’re already open to growth. Heck yeah! That’s the first step. If you want to pursue a growth mindset in every aspect of your life, here are a few things you can do:
Redirect unhealthy thoughts.
If you notice yourself getting stuck in a fixed mindset about something, pause and take a second to reword that thought or statement. The word yet can really help with this. You could say, “I’m not married yet,” or “I’m not debt-free yet.”
There are a lot of brainy, science-y facts that go along with this, like how taking control of your thoughts changes the cells in your brain and stuff like that. Ain’t nobody got time to go into all that, but the studies are out there if you want to read them. Basically, the most important thing to know is that you really can train your brain to think differently if you put in the effort, and it’ll get easier and easier as time goes on.
Yeah, I know. It sounds weird. Why the heck would you want to fail more?
For this simple reason: If you fail 10 times, you’ll get 10 times better. That’s the game. Because the ones who quit after they’ve failed aren’t around anymore to compete! Seth Godin sums it up perfectly: “The person who fails the most wins.”
It takes a whole lot of suck to get good at playing the guitar, designing, writing, cooking. And over time, you suck less and less and less . . . until one day you’re an overnight success. Try. Fail. Repeat.
The more you can try things and set goals that are so big they scare the crap out of you, the more you’ll grow. And the more confidence you’ll build, because you’ll realize you really can fail without messing up your whole life, and you can actually overcome challenges. As the great philosopher Kelly Clarkson once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Here’s some real talk: People who have a fixed mindset are afraid of failure because it makes them feel less than. But you’ll never win at anything if you keep avoiding failure like the plague—or like, I don’t know . . . a contagious pandemic-level disease. So basically, the only way to not fail is to keep embracing failure. Think about that when you’re trying to sleep tonight.
Not only does reading help you learn more info, but sitting down and reading an actual book (instead of your Instagram feed) helps keep your mind sharp. Instead of getting the instant gratification and dopamine rush of social media, your brain is slowing down, learning patience, and working to imagine all kinds of things about the contents of the book. Choose topics you’re interested in and set a reading goal, even if it’s just one book every couple of months.
Listen to podcasts.
If books aren’t your thing, or you just want an extra way to learn, podcasts are dope. You can find a podcast about anything, and there are a ton of educational ones out there. If you’re looking for a totally unbiased recommendation, check out my new podcast, The Fine Print.
What I love about podcasts is that you can get interview skills, leadership inspiration, relationship tips, and plenty of other helpful life advice just by throwing on some headphones and hitting play.
Develop smarter relationships.
By smarter relationships, I don’t mean you need to find friends with a higher IQ (although that might be a good idea too). I’m talking about seriously considering the type of person you want to be, then taking a hard look at whether or not your relationships are helping you become that person or dragging you down. And I mean all kinds of relationships too—not just romantic ones.
If you’ve realized that some relationships in your life aren’t healthy or helping you grow, that might mean those relationships need to end. I’m not saying you need to selfishly cut everyone out of your life who isn’t “serving” you, but it’s a good idea to establish boundaries with anyone who has a track record of making a negative impact on you. And while we’re on this topic, make sure you’re being a good friend too. Make an effort to lift up and encourage the people in your life and stay away from gossiping and complaining.
Detox from social media.
I’m not about to bash social media, because that would make me a hypocrite. I like posting funny memes and pictures of my adorable French bulldog as much as the next guy. But we all know by now that social media has some unhealthy effects too, like comparison, jealousy and seeking affirmation from people you barely know.
That’s why every once in a while, I take a break and stop posting on all my social media accounts—and you guys, it brings so much clarity and energy back into my life.
If you’ve never done a detox, or even a one-day break from social media, try it out! Take that time to read, do something creative, connect with friends in person, pray, or anything else that helps your mind recharge. For me, that might look like playing guitar, having a game night with friends, or taking a hike with my wife. You never know what kind of good ideas you might come up with while you’re taking a break from wishing you had a tropical vacation or huge biceps like that one person you met at a party one time. Stop this foolishness. Your biceps are fine, and that dude lives at the gym. You don’t want to live at the gym, do you?
Find a mentor.
Looking up to and learning from someone is a key part of growth. Find someone who’s doing what you want to do and living how you want to live, and just ask if they’d be open to meeting up with you for coffee once in a while to hang out and talk. If you don’t have in-person access to types of people you want to learn from, remember you can always learn from their content online.
For instance, Dave Ramsey is my financial mentor, and I’m blessed to work at Ramsey Solutions where I have a direct connection with him. But he can be your financial mentor too if you read his books, listen to him on the radio, or go through the Financial Peace University course in Ramsey+. Sometimes you have to get creative!
Also, look for people around you who might need some guidance and want you to mentor them. It’s super rewarding to be able to pour into someone else and give them the tips you wish someone would’ve given you.
Seek therapy (even when you’re healthy).
If you need some help shifting your mindset from fixed to growth, or if you just want someone to check in and talk through things with you, therapy and counseling are great resources. I’m a huge fan of going to counseling even if you feel like life is good and you don’t have any “issues.” Mental health is important, you guys, and a good counselor will help uncover things you didn’t even realize you needed to work on.
My friend Dr. John Delony is our mental health expert here at Ramsey, and he has a ton of great tips for finding a therapist. You can also check out BetterHelp, which is a professional online counseling service that can match you with a counselor who’s right for you. Boom. Simple.
At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do to improve your mindset is just to lighten up and do something fun. For me, that’s going to watch some stand-up comedy with great friends. For you, that might be playing a round of golf, watching Dateline with a glass of wine, or turning the volume all the way up and jamming to the new Taylor Swift (or old Taylor, either way, it’s all fire).
Truly successful people don’t take themselves too seriously. I mean, I sure don’t, and I’m—at the very least—mildly successful. Think about it: If you’re not taking time to kick back and have fun, all that hustle and grind you’re doing to become the best version of yourself could leave you feeling burned out. And you deserve better than that!
Listen you guys, breaking out of a fixed mindset and developing a growth mindset is definitely a challenge, but I know you can do it. You can do hard things. You made it through middle school. You made it through your first breakup. You made it through 2020. And you made it through this article. Congratulations. You’re on your way.