Staying inside your comfort zone is, as advertised, comfortable, and doesn’t require a change of mindset. Unfortunately, it’s also a way to stagnate personal growth and prevent you from achieving your best self. Pushing your boundaries and finding new experiences is the best way to shake up your mindset, but it can also be stressful and anxiety-inducing.
Fortunately, if the problem is in your head, the solution likely is too. Motivational psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant says that an individual’s in-going mindset has a huge impact not only on how we anticipate and experience new situations, but also in what we do – and don’t – say and do.
Performance Versus Learning Mindset
Dr. Grant says we often tend to focus more on performing rather than on learning, or “being good” instead of “getting better.” But the problem with a performance-oriented mindset is that it can turn any new experience into a test of our skills and abilities instead of an opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. It’s easy to put too much effort into being the person you think others want you to be instead of just being yourself.
What A Learning Mindset Can Do For You
From progressive business media company FastCompany, a learning mindset:
- Gives you more energy and enthusiasm. Seeing new situations as interesting challenges with the opportunity for discovery can give you more incentive and desire to put yourself out there.
- Stifles performance anxiety. If you’re focused on learning from others and not competing with them, you’ll have less mental bandwidth for worrying about how you’re doing.
- Helps reframe mistakes as part of the learning process. You’ll stress over them less if you see your mistakes as helpful feedback to help you do better, and not as signs of your less-than-perfect abilities.
- Keeps you open to new possibilities. If learning is your main goal, you’re more likely to recognize and take advantage of surprises, unexpected connections and new opportunities.
- Makes a great first impression. Approaching new people as individuals you can learn from encourages you to ask questions and listen intently.
How To Change Your Mindset
So how can you approach new situations with a learning mindset? Here are four steps you can use before and after.
- Define what you want to learn from the situation before you enter it. Learning how to set the stage this way can take some practice, but it can also give you some direction on who to talk to and what to do.
- Write a recap afterwards. If it helps, pretend you’re a journalist or researcher gathering information in the field. This can help you focus your purpose for navigating an unfamiliar situation, and help you ask better questions and stay focused the next time around.
- Evaluate your progress. Make sure you’re getting the most out of whatever situation you find yourself in. Sometimes you’ll discover you’re learning something completely unexpected, so remain open to adjusting your learning goals in order to take the best advantage of the opportunity.
- Relax and have fun. So much of our lives are already about performing well and being productive. Give yourself a break from that.
Making A Mindset Change Takes Practice
Just like any new skill, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to start small and go slowly. Try writing out a list of personal goals you want to achieve and find opportunities to meet them at your own pace. You’ll find that even the smallest steps, if taken consistently, can expand your mindset to new horizons.