Do I Really Think I Can Do Or Be What I Want? Or Have I Boxed Myself In?
We can limit our opportunities by being too fixed in our mindsets. The ones who ultimately succeed believe in the word "yet", says Carol Dweck.
When we think "if I could go back in life and change anything", it can be pretty easy to come up with a couple of things (or more).
And that's fine, as long as we are not still hankering after the things on our list.
We might have taken a college course, say, and quickly wished we had done something else. And despite wistfully gazing over at our peers doing XYZ for the duration, we did nothing about it.
If, years later, we still find ourselves looking at certain types of people with a degree of envy, we need to ask ourselves this: What stopped us then? And what's stopping us now?
The Work Of Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck might argue it's a Fixed Mindset.
Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, is behind the psychological theory of Growth Mindsets.
Based on her research, she says that what keeps us from growing as individuals is our belief that we can't be or do what we want.
We hit a certain point and think we have reached our ceiling - or we think we were born with a limitation in the first place (or a number of them) and are lumbered with it/them for the rest of our lives.
The Magic Word Is "Yet"
Her TED Talk, "The Power of Yet" (below), delves into her findings that the kinds of kids who actually do well at school aren't necessarily naturally gifted at anything - they just take joy in challenges and, crucially, believe they can get better at things.
It is something we could all do well to remember. Perhaps we just haven't quite got to wherever we want... yet.
There Isn't A "Growth Mindset Type"
And, reassuringly, in an interview with ANZ, she points out that there isn't any particular kind of person who is blessed all round with this kind of thinking.
There isn't a "Growth Mindset Type" per se.
All of us can be optimistic about our abilities and ambitions in some areas yet crushingly pessimistic in others, she says.
And she advises we would do well to be aware of those areas of our life where we close off opportunities to ourselves in the mistaken belief we do not have what it takes to get there.
It might be wise to keep that in mind next time we catch a "fit of the envies"...