It’s human to get stuck. It happens to everyone.
When we’re stuck, we often just stop looking for a solution. We stagnate. We stop learning. When we get stuck, we are operating in a fixed mindset.
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?
If you’re not growing, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you’re not failing.
So many of us see failure as, well, failure. I’m going to show you how growing, learning, and yes, failing is a good thing.
When we’re very young, our job as a human is to physically grow and learn. We learn by playing and using our imagination. We learn from the experience of play, and this fuels our growing imagination.
As we get older, we learn to anticipate the future. We imagine what a future event will bring. Remember how much you looked forward to your birthday, Christmas or that special occasion? Remember when a year seemed to crawl along and take forever? Do you ever wonder why the years pass so quickly now that we’re older? Stay with me. I’ll tell you.
As children, our lives are focused on the next thing. The next thing is the beginning of a school year, the end of the school year, summer vacation, and then the beginning of a new school year. We constantly have something to look forward to on the horizon, just out of reach. We’re living with future focus.
As children, we have a growth mindset. We believe in the future.
When we’re learning to walk, we just know it’s possible. We see other humans walk and we believe we can too. We stand up and fall down, stand up and fall down again. Our belief drives our action. Our failure makes us stronger. Each time we push up, get our balance, and take that next tentative step, is a step closure to success. With our growth mindset, we fail forward to accomplish the goal. That’s a good thing.
As we move through childhood, we believe we will grow bigger, learn to ride a bike, get our driver’s license, and eventually, drive our first car. We anticipate going to kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, and for some, college and our first real job.
As we move into our 20s, we look forward to finding someone to love, starting a family, or growing a real career. We are future focused.
When we approach our early 40s, our thinking changes. Up to this point in our life, our growth mindset, future-focused brain, is anticipating who we are going to be. When we hit 40ish, our identity switches from future focused to past focused. We hit a stage in our human development where we realize that we’re not who we thought we be. This realization is the cause of more than one midlife crisis.
It’s like we take a look at our current life, decide that isn’t what we thought it would be, and then turn our attention to the glory days of our youth, when things were so much better. Things were so much better because we were future-focused, looking to the next thing, not past focused.
The result is that we get stuck. All of us do it.
In some part of our life, we get stuck thinking that life shouldn’t be the way it is and that it was better back than it is now. The really interesting part of this perspective is that we can get stuck thinking that we can’t do anything to make the stuck part of our life better. This is a fixed mindset.
I see this all the time in my new weight loss clients. They come to me hoping I can give them a magic pill or wave my magic wand, and zap them into thinness.
As a coach, I help my clients gain awareness that what they think about their current life is holding them back. I teach them how their thinking is making them stuck. Most people who are overweight, perhaps have health problems, perhaps are older than 40, think the state of their health is static, and that their health is probably going to get worse, not better. This is an example of a fixed mindset.
These perfectly normal human people look at the past, when they were healthier and thinner, they look at the present and see that their health isn’t great, and using this data, they look to the future and predict that things will continue to go downhill. They think, “This is just my life.”
If you think things aren’t gonna get better, they won’t. I guarantee it.
When we are stuck in a fixed mindset, how do we get out?
We have to look positively to the future and really start using our imaginations again. We have to start believing in something different. We have to have faith that we can be better, that we can be healthier, that we can have a different life, perhaps, the life we dreamed about when we were younger.
Many of us stop dreaming because it hurts to think our dreams will never come true. When we stop dreaming, when we stop hoping for the future, our dreams will never come true.
My dear friend, please don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop thinking about the possibilities in the future. Don’t live in fear of failure. Failure is learning. Learning is growing.
Don’t be stuck. Grow.
Elizabeth Pearch is a Master Instructor and Certified Professional Weight Loss and Life Coach. To reach Elizabeth, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.