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5 minute read

Career Planning: Experts Share Why a Growth Mindset Trumps a Fixed Mindset

Whether you are just starting out in your career or looking to make a change, having a growth mindset can help you achieve your goals and reach your full potential.

Career planning is no easy feat as it requires one to have a clear vision of their professional goals, an effective strategy for achieving those goals, and a willingness to adapt and evolve.

For those with a fixed mindset, it can be even more challenging as their professional worldview may be clouded by their own misgivings. 

There is more awareness around the term growth mindset as a direct response to the evolving nature of our professional landscape. As such, personal growth and adaptability are no longer optional but essential for long-term success.

What’s the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset?

The concept of growth and fixed mindsets was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck in her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. As the name goes, a fixed mindset generally refers to people who believe that their abilities and intelligence are fixed traits that cannot be changed. 

On the other hand, Dweck coined the growth mindset in referring to people who people believe that their abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and a commitment to learning. 

In summary, fixers tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, and feel threatened by the success of others, while growers embrace challenges, persevere in the face of obstacles, and find inspiration in the success of others.

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How does mindset impact on career growth and success?

Inevitably, we all face challenges and setbacks in our career journeys. However, it is how we respond to these obstacles that can make all the difference. 

Growers are more likely to embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and development. Failure is seen as a steppingstone to success rather than a dead-end in their professional journey. 

The positive attitude of growers translates into taking a proactive approach to their career development, taking ownership of their professional growth, and actively seeking out opportunities for learning, networking, and skill development. 

In contrast, fixers may shy away from challenges, fearing that they will expose their limitations. According to Dweck, challenging situations can be catastrophic for fixers because of the implication that if they don’t already have the skills or intelligence to complete a task, there’s no chance of improvement.

While having a fixed mindset stems from the innate human instinct of self-preservation, it is a hindrance when it comes to professional growth driving people to be unwilling to take risks or step outside of their comfort zones.

How to develop a growth mindset in career planning?

While it is apparent that having a growth mindset goes a long way for your career planning, the big question is: how do you go about developing it? 

Similar to working towards a healthier lifestyle goal, nurturing a growth mindset in career planning requires a conscious effort and a commitment to personal growth. It doesn’t happen overnight.

But if you’re ready, here are some tips from experts to guide you along:

1. Embrace challenges 

Instead of avoiding challenges, seek them out as opportunities for growth. According to Dr. Margie Warrell, author, and international speaker on courage in leadership, sometimes the most difficult conditions have the unintended benefit of awakening reserves of strength, stamina, and courage that would otherwise be dormant. She elaborated in her article:

“While you may have been in situations where you’ve felt that you lacked the resources to meet your challenges, what you really lacked was the self-trust required to look within for the resourcefulness to figure it out… one day, one hour and, on the more testing days, one moment at a time.”

So in scaling your career, don’t be afraid to take on projects that push you out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to develop new skills.

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2. Learn from failure 

No one can escape experiencing failure in any aspect of life. However, instead of seeing failure as a setback, view it as a valuable learning experience. Analyse what went wrong, identify areas for improvement and adjust for future success. 

Rita McGrath, renowned speaker on leadership and Professor at Columbia Business School said: “I’m not going to argue that failure per se is a good thing. Far from it: It can waste money, destroy morale, infuriate customers, damage reputations, harm careers, and sometimes lead to tragedy. But failure is inevitable in uncertain environments, and, if managed well, it can be a very useful thing.”

In the process of your career planning, reflect on your past failures to gain a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for growth and improvement.

Read More: Unlocking Your Career Potential: 7 Self-Reflection Questions to Ask Yourself

3. Cultivate a curiosity for learning

Adopt a mindset of continuous learning and seek out new knowledge and skills. Take advantage of training programs, workshops, and online courses to expand your expertise. 

Ryan McGrath, Forbes councils member and CEO said: “Mastery involves developing deep expertise, honing skills and integrating knowledge into a coherent and meaningful whole. But mastery isn’t necessarily a destination, it’s a process of continuous improvement and refinement.”

As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power”. In career planning, having more information is always a good thing. Having knowledge about the industry you’re working in or considering, available job opportunities, relevant skills needed, or even the career conversion programmes that prepare you for the role you’re gunning for, will put you at an advantage to make better decisions for your professional journey.

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4. Seek growth-minded people 

Surrounding yourself with people who have a growth mindset can be incredibly motivating and inspiring. Seek out mentors, colleagues, and friends who encourage and support your personal and professional growth. 

Caroline Castrillon, global career and leadership coach shared: “People who want to grow personally and professionally tend to ask for and value feedback. This is because growth-oriented individuals are interested in developing and challenging themselves. They aren’t afraid to be criticized or judged.”

Read More: Networking: Is it Still Relevant in the Digital Age?

Mindset is important for career success

Essentially, adopting a growth mindset helps you to manifest career success. Achieving your professional goals will be less stressful if you see challenges as steppingstones rather than hurdles that slow you down. 

If you’re looking for advice on your career journey, register for a complimentary session with WSG’s Career Matching Services and get the support you need here.

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