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Growth mindset is a popular discussion topic in education circles. Specifically, the benefits to both our students’ academic growth and the health of the school or faculty that promotes it is of great interest to educators. However, when it comes to nurturing a growth mindset, many of us are uncertain how or where to even begin.
Developing a growth mindset is easier than you think. To help, we’ve come up with a growth mindset development checklist for getting started.
These are things you can begin doing every day to move from the fixed to the growth mindset easily, no matter who you are or what your role is in education.
A 10-Point Growth Mindset Development Checklist for Everyone
A quick growth mindset definition to get us going is this one from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, the growth mindset sees failure or challenge “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”
In the growth mindset vs fixed mindset debate, a fixed mindset is basically every thought or assumption that either limits or prevents our holistic development.
On the other hand, a growth mindset includes everything we think or learn that empowers us and drives us to flourish and improve on every level—so, all that helps us grow.
Now, let’s discuss what you can do every day to keep the fixed mindset at bay. Go through each point and consider the questions that accompany them. How can you or your students use these tools daily to improve your mindset?
1. Embrace your imperfections
If we deny or fear our weaknesses instead of recognizing them, we can’t overcome them. The growth mindset means not only knowing we can improve, but also knowing where to begin. You don’t have to do it all at once, either. Pick something about yourself you want to work on and take it one step at a time.
- What about myself do I know needs improving?
- Why is this important to me?
- Why is it important to others whom I am connected to?
- How and where will I choose to begin?
2. Upload a New Personal Belief
Our mind is a powerful force that directs the course of our entire lives. Generally, the accepted philosophy is this: if you believe it, it will come true for you. What do you want to begin believing and affirming for yourself that will lead to your growth and progress?
- What kind of a personal belief would benefit me?
- Is there an old belief I have that I can upgrade?
- How can I word this new belief in a way that feels good to me?
- How can I incorporate this belief into my daily life?
3. Become Curious About Something
When we commit to being curious, our world opens up to us. As a result, we welcome new experiences challenges, and discoveries that enrich our lives in ways we might not have imagined. What will you give yourself permission to be curious about today?
- What have I always been interested in?
- Have I heard something recently that intrigued me?
- How do I feel about this?
- What can I do to find out more?
4. Learn Something New
We aren’t necessarily talking about speaking a foreign language, learning a martial art, or playing the oboe (but if you want to, by all means, go for it!). This can even be something as simple as a bit of quick research to answer a question, or gaining a tidbit of wisdom from someone in a conversation. In the end, learning is learning.
- What’s one thing I’d like to learn about right now?
- What would I like to learn long-term?
- Why do I want to learn this?
- How will this knowledge benefit me?
5. Turn a Mistake Around
The ability to turn failures into opportunities is a hallmark of the growth mindset-oriented individual. Mistakes are never seen in a negative light. Instead, with this mindset, one tends to look at them as learning experiences, and creates a different approach the next time.
- What do I usually do when I make mistakes or fail at something?
- Is this a constructive or negative approach?
- If it’s negative, what can I do to make it more positive for myself?
- What’s one mistake I made today that I can learn from in retrospect?
6. Be Inspired by Someone
We get by with a little help from our friends, as the old song goes. Truly, we all have friends or acquaintances that have done things that inspire us. But even those we don’t know can still serve as examples of motivation and dedication. Who are these people for you?
- Who is one person who really inspires me?
- What have they done that I find so inspiring?
- How does this person’s actions motivate my own quest for success?
- What will I do to begin acting on this inspiration?
7. Practice Gratitude
This isn’t something reserved for the accomplished or the affluent. Everyone, no matter who they are or what their life is like, has something to be thankful for. And here’s even better news; according to this article from Thrive Global, being grateful is actually great for your brain.
- What can I choose to be grateful for today?
- Who am I grateful to have in my life?
- Why am I grateful for this thing/person?
- How can I continue practicing gratitude?
8. Monitor Your Daily Thoughts
It’s estimated that the brain can have thousands of thoughts in a single day. So it’s best not to try casting a critical eye on all of them (unless you’ve got a lot of time on your hands).
Instead, the thoughts to watch out for are the ones that contain elements of negativity or limitation. For example, can’t, don’t, and won’t are the biggest offenders to developing a growth mindset.
- At what point today has my thinking been negative?
- Can I recall how I felt at the time?
- If I were to continue thinking this way, what would my results be?
- How can I turn this thought into one that’s more proactive and positive?
9. Celebrate Another’s Success
One should celebrate one’s own achievements with humility and those of others with great enthusiasm. There’s nothing like the feeling you get from supporting someone as they rise to a new height or conquer a new challenge.
Think of how you can help someone you know celebrate their success.
- Who do I know that has achieved something great?
- How did this achievement make them feel?
- How can I celebrate this with them?
- How can I apply the same hard work and perseverance to my own goals?
10. Redefine Your Genius
You’ve done something special, something great—something incredible. Don’t deny it; you know you have. The myth of genius being what only a chosen few were born with is busted, now and forever.
Look hard at your accomplishments and talents. Somewhere in there you have a cause to celebrate your own unique genius.
- What have I done in my life that I consider truly remarkable?
- Have I ever done anything I thought I couldn’t do?
- How have these accomplishments enriched me as a person?
- What else can I achieve?
Go With the Grow
Teacher or student, adult or child, young or old—it doesn’t matter who you are. This growth mindset development checklist can benefit everyone willing to apply it to their daily lives. The more you grow, the more it shows.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jul 25, 2019, updated October 25, 2021