Those of us who are driven often feel unsatisfied with our current career standings. The answer might be a new job with better pay, becoming your own boss or finding more meaningful work. But if you really want to multiply your career opportunities, all you need is a growth mindset.
It takes true courage to step outside your comfort zone, try new things and follow different paths.
But the reality is, people often limit themselves with negative thinking that was likely instilled at a young age. Perhaps a teacher said you should steer away from science because it wasn’t your strong suit. For many, early advice like this affects what they believe about themselves.
The good news? You don’t have to hold onto this.
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What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is opposite to a fixed mindset, which believes that one is limited to their natural ability or talent.
A growth mindset believes that if you want something badly enough and work hard to get there, you will succeed.
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, a mindset is a self-perception that people hold about themselves.
For example, some individuals describe themselves as being “not a math person.” Her findings revealed that a fixed mindset or a growth mindset “can have profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success and many other dimensions of life.”
Meaning that if we go through life assuming we aren’t smart enough or talented enough at a particular thing, we are holding ourselves back from learning them. This way of thinking becomes habitual to the point where “I can’t” seems to roll off our tongues. This can lead to stagnation in our careers.
Remember this guy?
An example of a growth mindset thinker was Steve Jobs. Throughout his young life, he would hop in and out of university classes (without actually being a student) to see what he could absorb.
He regularly snuck into a calligraphy course where he learned about different styles, fonts and their function, perceived meaning and sentiment. All of this knowledge that many would deem “useless” came in handy when he and Steve Wozniak were designing the visual layouts of early iMac computers.
Their user friendly-designs set a standard for the personal computer, setting the iMac apart from what was currently on the market. Jobs was not held back by his lack of traditional education or software skills. As a result, he built one of the most influential companies of our time.
What the best entrepreneurs have in common
Here are some qualities of a person with a growth mindset:
- Perseverance. Working through failures and mistakes to solve a challenging task at hand.
- Positivity. Believing in yourself and your support system to achieve a difficult task even through hardships.
- Creativity. Practicing out-of-the-box thinking that looks for other ideas and better outcomes.
- Resourcefulness. Taking initiative to improve processes, preparing useful information beforehand, finding solutions independently through critical thinking.
Not all of us will be as successful as Steve Jobs. But if you’d like to be more — at work, in relationships — these are the qualities you’ll need.
How a growth mindset multiplies your career options
Once you’ve realized that you can learn and work your way up to meet any challenge, your thoughts will change from “I can’t” to “I can’t yet, but here’s how I’m going to learn.”
This simple shift in thinking will help build the confidence you need to start looking for that better job or to reopen the task of finishing your business plan. You’ll no longer see your career as a linear climb, but one that could involve endless routes to take.
A growth mindset can even lead to growth within your current job.
As your peers and superiors start noticing the new skills you’ve acquired, it can lead to more opportunities for greater responsibility and promotion.
It is increasingly common for workplaces to encourage higher education or part-time learning. It makes you a more valuable asset to the company, so they might even pay for it. Take those opportunities so rarely given, as it adds to your overall growth.
3 things you can do to improve your career opportunities
Here are some things you can do to expand your opportunities:
1. Set your intentions
If you are considering or are now ready to explore different avenues in your career, set those intentions within your mind.
Stick a note to your mirror that says “Today I’ll do one thing to get that new job."
Think about what it is you want from your career, how it fits into your current life and the outcomes you want to see manifest.
2. Plan a course of action
Just like how a builder manages a job, write down the steps you need to take in order to achieve your next move. Ask yourself:
- What courses you need to take.
- Which networking events you’ll attend.
- What new projects you’ll take on at work to grow.
This breakdown of tasks and projected milestones will help connect the dots for your next move.
3. Don’t say no to uncomfortable requests
If new opportunities come your way that make you doubt yourself, do them!
Say yes to that public speaking opportunity. Say yes to joining the social committee at work. Don’t stretch yourself too thin, but make the time to be uncomfortable. You might be surprised with the learning and networking opportunities that come with participation.
Want more career opportunities? Change your mind
Silence that negative voice in your head that often convinces you that you can’t. You can learn or improve any skill you want by having an open mind, learning how to use the tools and putting in the work.
Thinking on your own, taking risks and feeling uncomfortable can lead to a greater outcome.
A growth mindset will set you apart not only from your peers or competitors, but from the former self that was holding you back. Here’s to your growth!