Two faces

How a growth or fixed mindset helps or hinders a career change

The mind has a powerful way of attracting things that are in harmony with it, good and bad.

Idowu Koyenikan

The biggest thing that helped me make a career change was understanding what mindset really means.

Mindset refers to whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits.

According to research by Dr. Carol Dweck, in her book the Psychology of Success she tells us how the beliefs we carry about ourselves determine the outcomes we have. Dr. Dweck coined two phrases which categorised us into having either a ‘fixed’ or ‘growth’ mindset.

Fixed versus growth mindset

Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that intelligence and ability is a static thing and that you’re born with a certain amount. Some people will have more and some less, but it’s essentially fixed.

On the other hand, those with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that through your own efforts, you can cultivate your abilities and intelligence. 

This simple distinction was an ‘a-ha’ moment which helped me get unstuck and move towards my new career.

Why does mindset matter when changing your career?

Your mindset plays a critical role in your decision making and how you cope with challenges in your life. 

When facing the problem of changing jobs or changing career, having a growth mindset shows that you are likely to persevere when obstacles arise, however if you have a fixed mindset there is a higher probability that you will give up.

Having a growth mindset means being resilient, willing to learn from mistakes, enjoying the challenge, and embracing new experiences. 

On the other hand, having a fixed mindset means avoiding challenges, ignoring constructive feedback, and feeling threatened by the success of others. This means you’re less likely to persevere.

In my experience, I have coached both growth mindset and fixed mindset people. The ones who successfully made the transition in their career were those with a growth mindset. Although they had some down moments, they were ready to work through everything that might get in their way to make that change, and they made it.

A recent study has found that  69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and only 3 out of 10 people are happy with their lives. People are feeling stuck and mindset has a lot to do with it.

How to shift your mindset, if yours is a fixed mindset?

1. Be aware

Think about what you were told when you were younger by your parents. You need to work hard, you can’t make mistakes, you need to find a good job because life is hard, etc. When you have heard these things all your life, you will think they are true, right?

You need to become aware of the beliefs you have before you can challenge them. 

2. Focus on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’.

Another thing that helped was to focus on what change I wanted and why I wanted it, rather than focusing on the difficulties. 

You see if I had focused on the challenges and negativity around me, I would have given up and not pursued my dream. I would have found excuses at every occasion so I could justify myself why that change was impossible to make.

When your ‘why’ is something that really matters to you, you’re more likely to pursue change in the face of obstacles.

3. Take on small challenges

As part of my career change, I decided to do things that I would have never done before. 

  • I challenged myself to meet new people, so I went to a networking event on my own.
  • I started being more active on some platforms to have more visibility.
  • I joined some groups related to the field I wanted to work in, so I could learn from others and get advice.

With each challenge I noted the positive outcomes, no matter how small.

After a few months of trying new things, I was contracted by an organisation which was related to what I wanted to do. The change I wanted was happening and I was so grateful for it. 

So, set yourself one small challenge and afterwards make a list of all the positives that came out of it. This will start a shift in your mindset.

Is your mindset keeping you stuck?

Changing your mindset can make the difference between being stuck in the wrong career to finding the career of your dreams. To discover more, you can do a mindset assessment here to learn about your type. 

Or, if you want to discuss a potential career change, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation where we can start to crush those ‘fixed mindset’ beliefs.

Sylvia Nicolas
Verified Coach
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Sylvia is an ICF Certified coach who can help develop your potential as a leader. Email to find out more or book a free consultation with Sylvia right now.

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