Growth vs Fixed Mindset

How do you look at life?

Research has shown that what makes people succeed depends not upon their abilities or the quality of instruction they receive but on their belief about their abilities; in other words, their mindset.

A “growth mindset” is a tendency to believe that you can grow. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck explains that while a “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we cannot control or change in any meaningful way, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

When we believe that who we are and what we’re capable of is predetermined, limited and unchangeable (fixed mindset) we doubt our abilities which in turn undermines our resolve.

A fixed mindset can negatively impact all aspects of your life, Dweck says.

I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves in [a learning setting], in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

In contrast, those with a growth mindset, who believe they can learn and grow show more perseverance and remarkable results even in the face of difficulties.

This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

“In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.” –Carol Dweck

No one falls completely in one category over the other 100% of the time.

Most of us fall somewhere between the two depending on the situation and the first step to learning to move towards more of a growth mindset is to know that you CAN & to begin to recognize the fixed mindset patterns in action.

Fixed mindsets reveal themselves when we’re about to quit trying. Before giving in to them, question them & the thoughts behind them. When you notice them, start to question and change the thoughts that are keeping you stuck in this mindset.


  1. Replace the word failing with learning

  2. View challenges as opportunities

  3. Stop seeking approval

  4. Value the process over the end result

  5. Provide regular opportunities for reflection

  6. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished

  7. Use the word "yet" in, you can't or haven't "yet"

  8. Emphasis growth over speed

  9. Cultivate a sense of purpose

  10. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections

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About The Author

Roni Davis
Cognitive Eating Founder

Writer, Producer, Host - It's All In Your Head Podcast

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Roni Davis spent over two decades struggling with weight, food (mindless, emotional and binge eating), an eating disorder, depression, panic attacks, and an anxiety disorder. She's also been a nationally qualified champion figure athlete, written for bodybuilding websites, was featured in a national fitness magazine, by and spent almost a decade helping people transform their bodies as an award-winning personal trainer and nutrition and wellness coach.


After over two decades of her own personal weight & food struggles and almost a decade in the weight loss/fitness industry, Roni left the fitness industry and bundled everything she learned from her own recovery, from her time as a trainer & nutrition & wellness coach with everything she learned in her mindfulness-based cognitive behavior coach training, to create Cognitive Eating.  This allows her to guide and support people to live healthier lives through behavior and habit modification at the brain level, where it counts and will actually stick.

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NOTE: While counselors or therapists often use CBT to deal with mental illness or a patient’s mental/emotional conditions and/or processing trauma, MBCT & cognitive eating does not. My roll as a coach, in its most simple form, is to encourage, coach and/or act as a facilitator of a client’s self-reflection, decision making, planning for the future, and creating life changes. As an MBCT & cognitive eating coach, I am obligated to refer clients in need of mental or physical health therapy to an appropriate licensed professional.  

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