My Journey with Positive Attitude/Growth Mindset
Hi friend. Today I am writing to you about a positive attitude and a growth mindset. Ironically, this is something that I am currently battling with. For the past week I have been planning to write this post. As my time to write got closer and closer, I got more nervous. As you can see from the previous posts, my coworkers have set a pretty high standard! They have both written wonderful and thorough posts with awesome researched references and fabulous tips on how to improve your lives.
As I sat down to write this post, a gloom began to come over me. I started thinking that I was going to fail, that I was not going to be able to write a post that lives up to the standard that we have set. With the time and energy I had left in the day, I knew that I was not going to be able to do as good of a job on this post as my coworkers had done on theirs. I then began to silently berate myself for not getting started on this project earlier. I started negative self talk about having so much time and not being able to use it wisely. I have so much I want to accomplish and I am the only one holding myself back.
During all this thinking I tried to begin researching my topic, but my heart was not in it. I was too far into a negative space to be productive in my research. This is when I caught myself in this spiral. I realized that what I was doing was not working. So I jumped up, threw my shoes on, and went for a walk. I wish I could tell you that I had some sort of big revelation on this walk about the meaning of life, but I did not. I went outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather, responded to my aunt over Marco Polo, and listened to one of my favorite podcasts.
Since my walk, I have sat and reflected on my perpetuating cycle of self-doubt, coming to the conclusion that I too need to work on this tendency to doubt myself. Today I would like to teach you about what I have learned about positive attitude and growth mindset and how you and I both can stop ourselves from falling into downward spirals that hurt productivity.
Let's start with positive attitude. Many people in my life have praised me for my positive attitude. I am always quick with a smile and like to look on the bright side of the situation. The truth is that as happy and go-lucky as I am, I have a difficult time being positive towards myself. As you might know, you are your own greatest critic, and I for sure am mine. There are many times when I catch myself in a negative spiral like I was in today. I am tough on myself and don’t often give myself enough credit for all of the work that I do.
At this point, you may be wondering what to do if you also get caught in negative spirals. The first step is to realize that you are in it. Today it took me a few hours to notice that I was putting in a ton of effort and getting nothing out. This was when I realized I was in a negative spiral.
The next step is to have self compassion. Something I often catch myself doing is beating myself up for beating myself up. This is a cycle in which nobody wins. Have compassion for yourself and recognize that you are not in a good place, and something needs to change.
Finally, jump up and make a change. This can be really difficult sometimes. For me, this negative spiral often comes around a deadline. During these times, I don’t feel like I have time to take care of myself, so I try to push through. The truth is that this never works for the long term. Sometimes taking a break is a necessary part of the process to successfully getting your important work done, like today when I went for a walk. I did not want to take the time to go for a walk, but I knew that I needed some time and exercise to get out of my head and properly get back to work. After taking this time, and not beating myself up for taking the time, I was in a much better place to actually sit down and get this blog post written. This break time can range from calling a friend to listening to music to daydreaming in the sun. Take the time to do whatever makes you feel better and helps pull you out of your own negative thoughts.
The next part of the process is the growth mindset. Now friend, this is a part I am not very good at. Your girl here is a true blood perfectionist, a perfectionist who did not realize she was a perfectionist until recently. In fact, all my life I have rejected the idea that I was a perfectionist. I always felt like to be a perfectionist you had to turn all of your assignments in early, rewrite your classroom notes in perfect handwriting, and have all of your paperwork organized and color coordinated. I thought to myself, “I don’t do that. There is no way that I am a perfectionist!”
One day I was talking to my therapist, and she told me that I was a perfectionist. I was shocked and immediately denied that accusation. However, throughout the next week I began to notice more and more how much of a perfectionist I really am. Now there is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. The perfectionist part of me can be very helpful and motivating at times. However, there are other times when it can get in my way. For example, when writing this blog post, I wanted this post to be perfect so bad that I stopped myself from being able to even start it.
Have you ever heard the phrase “fail faster”? This can be a hard idea to wrap your head around. In life we are constantly working to succeed. Our society has taught us that every January we sit down and specifically make goals to be better, to succeed higher. While on this climb to success, we are often working to avoid failure at all costs. There is this general consensus that if we fail we might not be able to recover. This is referred to as a closed mindset. This type of thought pattern leads to high stress due to a need for perfection. The thought is that if I am not perfect I will fail, and if I fail my life is over. While this may seem extreme, it is a highly common train of thought. The solution and hope comes with a growth mindset.
The idea behind a growth mindset is that you are always growing and learning, and so there is no perfection, only continuation. As a diagnosed perfectionist myself, I find this a hard pill to swallow. Maybe you do too. The hard truth is that we will always at some point fail. It is our reaction to that failure that really matters. If we are always facing our possible failures with fear, we will always be in fear. I can tell you from first hand experience that this fear is not fun. This fear blocks productivity and creativity that is needed to actually get things done. If you can develop how to have a growth mindset in life, you will have the freedom to take more risks and in the end create cooler things.
If you are interested in learning more about growth mindset, I recommend reading Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives by Maria Popova.
To end, I hope this blog post is not a complete failure. However, if it is, I’ve learned a lot along the way. Thanks for coming on this journey with me of learning more about positive attitudes and growth mindset. Join us next time to hear more confessions and contemplations from us, your peer coaches.
If perfectionism is getting in your way, I'd love to talk to you about it. You can meet with me or one of the other coaches by signing up here, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 801-395-3569.
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