How to Upgrade Your Mindset to Succeed in Life

What you think you become.

Posted Nov 12, 2019

Mohammad Ali Mohtashami/ Unsplash
Source: Mohammad Ali Mohtashami/ Unsplash

Your success and happiness depend on your mindset. What you think, you become.

Our mindset affects how we see the world. If yours is distorted, so will be the way you see yourself and others. Our beliefs and thoughts shape the way we behave, even if we don't realize it. 

Developing the right mindset is crucial to succeeding in life. Here’s how to upgrade yours.

The importance of mindset

A mindset is a frame of mind. It’s the sum of beliefs, opinions, and thoughts that we've formed about the world and ourselves. It's the lens through which we observe our world.

Our education, religion, upbringing, and experience shape our beliefs and thoughts. Our mind is "set." It directly impacts how our perception and reactions. 

As Amit Ray said, “The mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world.”

Mindsets can change, but they do so slowly. Attitudes, on the other hand, have a short-term impact. That’s why they are easier to modify. Our mindsets are deeply ingrained in our beliefs, and it requires extra effort to change them.

Your mindset predetermines your interpretations and responses. It shapes your relationship with the world and with yourself. Choose your mindset wisely.

Your mindset can help you or harm you

The most popular theory about mindsets outlines two types: growth versus fixed mindset. 

In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck suggests that our beliefs about our own intelligence determine our ability to learn.

A fixed mindset is a belief that our qualities are fixed traits that we cannot change. People with this mindset believe that talent alone leads to success. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is thinking that our intelligence can grow with time and experience. This mindset encourages us to put in extra time — effort leads to higher achievement.

A fixed mindset limits our capacity for learning, whereas a growth mindset helps us reach our full potential.

However, there are many more types of mindsets. The lenses we use affect how we deal with our emotions. A negative mindset can amplify our negative feelings and get us stuck in rumination.

Our mindsets create two effects on us: They either limit our potential or they liberate it.

For example, binary thinking forces us to consider only two possibilities. We think in terms of "one thing" or "the other" and see things through a right or wrong lens. 

The mindset you use can bring clarity or cloud your perception.

The different types of mindset

Let’s analyze the most frequent types of mindset. This is not an exhaustive list but a starting point to help you reflect on the lenses you use without noticing.

As part of my work helping organizations upgrade their mindsets, teams capture what limits or liberates their high performance. The following are some that people tend to use more frequently. 

Right-or-wrong versus open-minded

We love being right. The trouble with this mindset is that we stop paying attention to other perspectives. Instead of learning, we just care about winning the argument.

"Confirmation bias" is the tendency we have to embrace information that supports our beliefs. The desire to be always right makes us reject facts that might illuminate our views.

Victim versus accountable

Self-pity is a dangerous choice. When we play the victim, we lose control of our life. Instead of taking action, we blame others for the things that go wrong.

Playing the victim role is a lose-lose situation. No one will come to rescue us. Life requires that we own our actions.

Comparing to others versus being your own standard

There will always be someone doing better or worse than ourselves. When we compare to others, we invite jealousy and envy to poison our lives.

Comparisons are deceiving. Recover control by becoming your own standard. Focus on your progress, not on someone else’s status.

Saying “no” versus “yes, and...”

Too many “no's” kill creativity. However, that’s our usual answer when introduced to new ideas. We say no before even considering their potential.

We are trained to reject uncertainty and new concepts. Creativity requires a “Yes, and...” mindset. Rather than blocking the conversation, amplify creativity by building on others’ ideas.

Reactive versus proactive

Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say or do. They don’t control their choices. And let their circumstances control them instead.

Proactive people don’t waste their energy or time. They focus on what they can manage, think through scenarios, prioritize, and focus on the future. A proactive mindset puts you in control.

Fearful versus fearless

Seeing life through a fear lens is intimidating. Fear will always get in our way.

Adopting a courageous mindset is vital to achieving greatness. Courage does not mean the absence of fear but to face our fear. Move forward in spite of your fears.

Avoidance versus facing reality

An avoidance mindset gets us stuck complaining about what went wrong or what we don’t like. Rather than fighting reality, learn to face it. Accepting reality as is doesn’t mean giving up. It’s a necessary step to move forward.

How to upgrade your mindset for success

1. Become more aware of your mindsets

Accept that your thinking needs adjustment. Start by increasing awareness of your mindset. When you react to a situation or before making a decision, which lens are you using to see reality?

Are you adopting a perfectionist mindset? Or a me-me-me one (and think that the world revolves around you)?

2. Avoid seeing reality in binary terms

Most mindsets are deceiving. They force us to see the world in black-and-white terms. Binary thinking creates a false dilemma. We act as if there are only two possible options when there are actually more.

Challenge your binary thinking. Avoid the tendency to split all the things into two categories: black and white, either-or, right or wrong.

3. Reflect on your beliefs

Our mindsets are deeply ingrained in our beliefs. To change our mindset, we must first examine our belief system.

What’s holding you back? Are your beliefs supporting you or limiting you? Identify the beliefs that are helpful and work on those that are not.

4. (Re)Define your purpose in life

We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. What’s your life’s purpose? Find your "why."

Create your own measure of success. What mindsets will help you get there? Select the lenses that will help you achieve your higher mission in life.

Finding your life’s purpose is not about the destination. It’s all about the journey.

5. Turn limiting mindsets into liberating ones

Challenge your existing mindsets. Go back to the analysis you did on point 1.

What are the mindsets that are not helping you? Changing your mindsets is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Upgrading them requires replacing your filter with a new one.

Your mindset is the lens that filters how you see yourself and the world around you. Upgrade your mindset: Turn your limiting beliefs into liberating ones.