Many of us have different fitness goals we want to achieve.
Here’s the thing though: if you want to achieve your fitness goals, you need to have a growth mindset. I’ll explain so read on.
What is a growth mindset?
Psychologist Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” described the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset says “my abilities are static.” “I cannot become better at something, especially when I have failed at it.” “My intelligence is fixed”. “There’s no point in putting in effort”.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that abilities are fluid.
Such a mindset says “I can become better at something, especially when I failed at it many times.” “My intelligence is fluid – I can improve.” “Effort will help me improve.”
How important is the growth mindset for achieving fitness goals?
Goals always represent the gap between what is and what could be.
And for us to close that gap, we often need to stretch ourselves, putting in more effort than we would normally do.
Let’s say you want to lose weight, perhaps 20 pounds in 6 months. The gap (hence the goal) is your current weight versus your desired weight.
To be able to close that gap, you will firstly need to have the mindset that losing those pounds is possible. A growth mindset accepts that possibility.
However, if you blame genetics and other factors outside your control and accept that you cannot change your weight, then you have a fixed mindset.
How does a growth mindset help you become healthy?
A growth mindset is rarely business as usual. It’s always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow. It doesn’t compare itself to the Joneses. It aims to be the best self.
A growth mindset knows that nothing beats hard work. Because it recognizes that luck is the language of the fixed mindset.
Depending on luck often leads to a lack (of effort). But hard work also brings along its favorite pal: luck.
A growth mindset is not looking for perfection. Because it knows that perfection is the shortcut to hiding and avoiding doing work that matters.
Instead, a growth mindset looks for progress. Because progress means we did something. And we learned.
How I achieved my burpees’ goal with a growth mindset?
I used to have a love/hate relationship (mostly hate) with burpees. It was so hard for me to do even ten in 30 seconds. And I felt, always like a slave repressed and stripped off my right to be stronger.
It was grueling, facing his domineering force each morning at 6:30 at the gym.
There were days I wished he, burpees, died a horrible death, slipping in the bathroom and hitting his head on the sink.
Then also I’d imagine me being in that same bathroom, at the time of his death, looking on, being able to save him, but I do nothing, only offering a wry smile of disgust.
But I learned love burpees.
Because over time, he showed me grace and progress. And soon, freed me from myself, my mind, and limits of my psychology.
With time, I understood that I can do 20 or even 50 burpees in 60 seconds. I had a growth mindset.
It wasn’t easy, but that belief that I can do it changed everything for me. Soon, I surpassed 20 and 50 and now can easily add 100 burpees to my high-intensity workouts.
Translate goals into habits with a growth mindset
One of the easiest ways to achieve your fitness goals is to convert them into disciplines (habits).
Let’s go back to our example of losing 20 pounds in 6 months for example. Instead of having such a vague and audacious goal, try converting this to a habit.
So, for example, aim to do 30 minutes of high-intensity workout five days a week. Or you can do 20 minutes of full-body workout three times a week.
That is a lot easier to execute and doesn’t take up the mental space of needing to lose 20 pounds.
Also once it’s a habit and part of your routine, it’s easier to add it to your daily activities and not drop it when things come up on your schedule.
I like habits because it helps me to show up every day. And for any fitness goal, showing up is all that matters. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon and you’ll need to build the habit of showing up.
Goals, translated into habits, controllable actions, will be motivating and compelling than the ones far out.
If you want to achieve your fitness goals, ignore the media. The media likes to idolize superstars, athletes, and role models as people who were born the way they are.
But it turns out that it is not entirely true.
Their dedication, and willingness to put in the effort more than anyone else’s, set them apart. And they fail in the process.
They are scorned. They are depressed. But deep down they know that effort will make them better.
When the effort helps them achieve the goal, people say they are geniuses and talented. With enough dedication and commitment, we can all improve and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves.