How This One Personality Trait Determines Your Wellness Success

Human head silhouettes facing each other with brain inside. Growth mindset VS Fixed mindset. Illustrates the difference between a positive growth and a negative fixed mindset.

Have you ever noticed that children tend to let mistakes roll off their backs? Kids are constantly trying new things without the “fear of failure” many of us know so well. After all, it’s how they learn and grow! From crawling and walking to putting the puzzle pieces in the correct place – if they fall or “mess up,” they simply get back up and try again, or try a different puzzle piece. When we were younger, we didn’t have the capacity (or know-how) for planning, for predicting certainty, and for only accepting the best possible scenario. Now, as adults, we want certainty, we love to plan, and it stresses us out when those plans don’t pan out the way we wanted. I fall in this category and work on the latter literally daily.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over-planning, accepting only what we have in mind, and the need for certainty have huge implications for our wellness. When we continually try the same practices yet expect different results, so many of us run into frustration and, more importantly, don’t meet our wellness goals.

It is part of who we are as human beings to want comfort and the “known.” It is part of our natural makeup for survival. Yet, we know that the brain will grow new pathways and fresh possibilities arise when we…

  • stay in that uncomfortable moment,
  • engage in a new activity,
  • make mistakes, and
  • learn from the process and not the outcome.

In my 15+ years as a fitness and wellness coach, I have found this one “trait” is essential to achieving wellness goals. It is a growth mindset.

People with a growth mindset tend to believe the development of skills associated with intelligence and even wellness have no limits. They see failure and mistakes as opportunities to grow, and they like to try new things.

People with a fixed mindset tend to think with their feelings, predict the worst outcome, or “forecasting,” and have “always” and/or “never” thinking.

Human head silhouettes facing each other with brain inside. Growth mindset VS Fixed mindset. Illustrates the difference between a positive growth and a negative fixed mindset.

We live in a society that has normalized the avoidance of anything that challenges us or pushes us out of our comfort zone. We love our routines. It is common to want to “numb” those things that make us feel, well, uncomfortable. Conversations, experiences, or just thinking “outside the box” can feel uncomfortable. How many of us are avoiding a tough conversation we’d like to have for fear of how it will not turn out?

Similarly, considering different ways to approach your wellness can be intimidating and rife with doubt.

Let’s take the example of someone who really wants to make 2022 the year of health and to feel better about their fitness/body/wellness. One way to approach the year is to try the practices they’ve tried before and see if they turn up differently this time around. Yes, it is undoubtedly possible, yet the circumstances around the often-attempted strategy would need to change to ensure “success” this time. Let’s take an example of coaching conversations I often have with clients. Often, they want to “cut carbs” or “eat clean” to see short-term results.

In this event, I ask questions like:

  • How will this time be different than the other times they’ve tried the same thing?
  • Is it possible the outcome will change?
  • Are you able to focus more on the process than the outcome of reaching your goal so you can learn what works in the long term?
  • When you “meet your short-term goal,” how will you continue your life post “cleanse or “detox”?

In getting curious about that question, perhaps a mindset shift is possible. If not, we eventually land on why it feels like “Groundhogs Day” all over again.

Another option is to try new ways to approach a practice used previously, like cutting carbs.  When we change our approach, we are also changing the way our brain behaves around that activity and goal. We are challenging the system. Trust me: our brains are used to our wellness and fitness pursuits. We talk to ourselves about it constantly. So, to make things easy, the brain continues to do the same thing.

Using the same methodology as above, a client decides to focus on consuming more fuel-conscious foods and decrease her intake of processed foods. This time, however, she paces herself, listens to how her body responds to the new way of “fueling” herself and considers the lessons learned along the journey just as important as the actual outcome for which she longs. Given the latter, she can’t lose. She will learn, and her brain will grow because she’s tried something different. She will reach her goals because she has observed what works so that she avoids the roller coaster and “Groundhogs Day.”

Both approaches are reasonable. Yet one will push them to learn more. One will live on the roller coaster. The other is setting herself up to reach her goals.

Are you open to change quote with scrabble letters on a tabletop.

 

Over the years, I have learned to recognize the benefit of discomfort, uncomfortable thoughts, and feelings. When we avoid discomfort, we also avoid challenging our brains to develop new pathways to manage difficulty. For example, if we avoid a new approach to our fitness and wellness out of fear of the unknown, fear of failure, etc., we deceive ourselves into thinking these new and challenging situations will not arise anymore. When we approach them with a growth mindset, we are ready to take on the uncomfortable and even get better at it.

I work with several coaches. I stay current, I remain indebted to those who know more than I do, and I am much more at peace and calm with them in my life. A dozen years ago, in my early 40s, a coach taught me to get “comfortable in the uncomfortable.” I promise, I was in an incredibly uncomfortable place. All I wanted was to numb myself, get some relief from the discomfort, and make it all go away. Now, I welcome new and challenging situations to grow, improve, and learn.

Living with a growth mindset allows us to move past our failures or shortcomings, embrace our imperfections, accept feedback, and remain open to new ideas. A growth mindset also leads us to make fuel-based choices around our food, sleep, and exercise and is a foundational stress resilience practice. With a growth mindset, we bask in the journey, not the outcome.

Tips:

  • Try new ways to reach your wellness
  • Trust the process
  • Learn every step of the way
  • Avoid those pitfalls you’ve experienced before

We want to help you (and your team!) take charge of your health and wellness. Here are two ways you can get started today. If you are interested in any of our newest programs, like our latest special for our small group fitness program, email us at alicia@alexandriawellness.com.

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