How to Shift from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset … and Catapult Forward
to Writing Success
Want to know the number one reason some folks never achieve the writing success and financial freedom they desire?
It’s because they never allow themselves to start … or they quit as soon as they hit an obstacle.
The answer is simple: they have a fixed mindset.
Ask any entrepreneur from Daymond John to Oprah to Sara Blakeley …
Any author who’s ever published a book …
Any athlete, coach, or creative professional …
They’ll all tell you your mindset is mission critical.
Very simply, mindset is the way you perceive your external world … which determines how you will think, feel, act, or react in any situation.
Hint: You can “hear” your mindset by listening to your internal self-talk.
The good news is … no matter how you were raised, or how old you are, you can adopt a growth mindset — and tune yourself for success.
Let’s get into it!
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset Explained
A fixed mindset is a limited perspective on your potential in general, or in a specific area of life …
- You’re either good at something (it comes naturally) or you’re not, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
- If you aren’t good enough, you should give up.
- Life happens TO you; you have no power to change your circumstances.
Important note: it’s totally possible to have a growth mindset in some areas of life, and a fixed mindset in others!
On the flipside, people with a growth mindset hold an expansive perspective …
They focus on learning through ALL situations — including the challenging ones.
A growth mindset perceives setbacks NOT as failures, but as feedback … and guidance for how to behave or perform next time.
A growth mindset believes:
- Talent, abilities, and skill can be developed and practiced — even when the odds are stacked against you.
- Problems are opportunities.
- Life is an endless process of expanding into your fullest potential … not a final destination, defined by success or failure.
People with a growth mindset are often resilient, even in the face of intense emotion, like self-judgment or disappointment.
They take feedback with grace and curiosity, using it as information to get better. They try not to take critique personally.
They take action toward their goals despite fear …
And, most importantly, they take responsibility for their wounds, emotions, and life circumstances. They don’t make excuses, expect special treatment, or ruminate for long.
Adopting a Growth Mindset Is KEY for New Writers
Once you say “yes” to the writer’s life, you quickly realize how much demand there is for talented, driven writers.
Practically every company on the planet needs a good writer.
But that abundance often leads to paralysis … feeling stuck in the face of option overwhelm.
(Ever try to buy a protein bar from Whole Foods? Same thing! 😉)
But you can use three tenets of a growth mindset to work through this common challenge …
First — if you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncertain, what’s the first step?
If it was me, I’d start by asking the experts … people who have already succeeded at doing what you want to do.
For example, AWAI has a vast library of free how-to articles for new writers, all written by working writers themselves.
After a bit of reading, you’d quickly find out … the trick is to narrow down the ocean of opportunity by choosing a niche or specialty.
⇒ A niche is a topic or an industry — like fitness or finance.
⇒ A specialty is a skill set or a specific marketing asset — like writing email copy or social media content.
⇒ You can also get laser-focused and specialize within a niche — like writing sales letters for life coaches … or sales enablement for B2B companies.
The wisdom here is twofold:
Specializing and niching helps you narrow down who is in your pool of dream clients, so you have a short list of who to approach …
And, when a potential client sees your Instagram or LinkedIn bio, they’ll know immediately whether you’re the right writer for them.
Now, watch out though … there’s a “fixed mindset” belief that will try to sneak up on you at this point.
Many new writers believe if you pick a niche, you must stick with it forever …
And if you choose “wrong” — and change your niche/specialty a year or five years later — it’s all been a waste of time.
Let me tell you with 100% certainty: not true. Not even a little.
A Growth Mindset Is Empowerment
Let’s say you want to focus on writing email copy. Out of the gajillion specialties and niches out there, writing emails excites you the most.
And, you LOVE fishing. So you decide to write emails for fishing magazines and gear companies with an online presence.
If you have a fixed mindset, you may observe thoughts like …
“This is a BIG decision. I’d better make the right choice, or I’ll have wasted all my time. Are you 100% sure? What if it doesn’t work? Maybe I should think about it more …”
There’s fear … scarcity … compression …
And the limiting belief that “making a mistake” is a BAD thing.
Is that the foundation you want to build a new career on?
Of course not!
A growth mindset says, “Email sounds fun! They’re quick, low stakes projects and they pay really well. I’m going to commit to this path for six months and then re-evaluate. If I love it, I’ll keep going. If I’m not as excited as I am now, I’ll try something new. I can always learn something new. And I’ll stack that new skill on top of my email-writing skills, to provide my clients even more value.”
Six months later, you evaluate as promised …
You decide that you DO like writing emails. Buuut … you don’t enjoy writing for clients.
Were those six months you spent building a financially valuable skill a total waste?!?
Of course not. You got paid, you received feedback from real clients and their market, and you raised the bar every time.
Now, you find, what excites you most is writing emails in your own voice, featuring your own ideas … about hooks, bait, lines, knives, and so on.
And that leads you to digital marketing skills like building an email list, the craft of e-newsletters, and even writing e-books to sell to your avid readers.
Wonderful! That’s the bones of a fulfilling and financially rewarding writing career … all on your own terms.
All because you bravely went with what felt “most right.” Not PERFECT, but “most right.”
You trusted yourself to pivot, to stay flexible, and keep moving forward.
Now imagine if you hadn’t made that decision … but held yourself in entrepreneurial purgatory for six months, agonizing over making the “right” choice, fearing wasting your time.
No clients. No practice. No feedback. No money.
Ick. Feels compressing, right?
And ironically … you ended up doing the exact thing you were afraid of. Making a bad decision (inaction) and wasting time.
Now, let’s get back to that positive momentum we started …
How Growth-Oriented Is Your Mindset?
Think about an area of your life where you've been super successful.
Maybe it’s a career … maybe you raised great kids … maybe you are an avid yogi and can drape your leg around your neck like a scarf.
Now, in that area of your experience, think about how it felt to:
- try something new, accept feedback, fine-tune, and try again?
- rise to meet a challenge vs. feeling defeated?
- see real growth and improvement, when you committed the time, energy, and effort?
What has that experience taught you about YOU — your resilience, strength, desire, and drive?
Now, apply how you feel, think, and act in that area of your life … to your writing career.
Can you draw on those resources … that powerful growth mindset … and make some shifts in the way you’re approaching your writing?
(Hint: a growth mindset says, you betcha!)
6 Tips to Help You Adopt a Growth Mindset Now
Now, even if you’ve been operating from a fixed mindset your entire life, you can shift into a growth mindset right now.
First, take these growth mindset mantras with you:
- I do not confuse the abundance of opportunity with overwhelm.
- Only good things happen to me. (This is a perspective, not a demand!)
- There is no such thing as a “wrong decision.” Only action, feedback, and flexibility.
- I am brave. I walk WITH my fear. I trust myself to pivot when necessary.
- I will succeed … or I will learn. Even falling flat on my face “failure” is just feedback.
But there’s more you can do beyond mantras to adopt a growth mindset. Try these SIX things you can do …
Growth Mindset Tip #1: Stay present in your day — and watch for opportunities to learn and grow.
When a challenge or setback arises, practice consciously identifying it as an opportunity. Literally tell yourself: “This is an opportunity for growth. How will this situation help me grow?”
Growth Mindset Tip #2: Make a plan.
Journal it out — ask yourself when, where, and how you will make these opportunities work for you. Answering these questions makes your plan concrete.
Growth Mindset Tip #3: Execute and repeat.
Act on your plan. When new challenges arise, ask the question again: “How will this help me grow? When, where, and how?”
Growth Mindset Tip #4: Celebrate even the SMALLEST wins.
Celebrate everything, all the time, as much as you can … especially in your self-talk.
The more you celebrate, the more you’ll have to celebrate. This is called a positive feedback loop, which creates momentum and natural desire for more growth.
Plus, training your inner self-talk for celebration (versus harsh criticism) is key for confidence and an unshakeable sense of worthiness.
Even if you have the worst day ever, a growth mindset would say, “I had the worst day ever — and I see enormous potential for growth. I am still standing. I have food. There is a roof over my head. I am loved. I am worthy. I am alive. Tomorrow, I will try again.”
Growth Mindset Tip #5: Crowd-source evidence of success.
When you’re learning a new skill — like copywriting or running your own business — your brain doesn’t have proof that YOU can do it.
But you can always seek stories from people who started from where you’re at and achieved similar goals.
There is an enormous body of evidence proving anyone can become a successful writer.
AWAI has hundreds of in-depth case studies, written about people from all walks of life (including me!) … not to mention the thousands of articles in The Writer’s Life and Barefoot Writer magazine, all celebrating successes and passing on hard-won wisdom.
Crowd-source that feeling of success and celebration … get the evidence and inspiration you need … and you’ll train your subconscious mind to believe it’s all possible for you, too!
Growth Mindset Tip #6: Having a growth mindset DOES NOT eliminate emotion.
You WILL still feel fear when trying something new … or disappointment when things don’t go perfectly … or triggered when you receive criticism, no matter how constructive.
Feeling emotion does not mean you have reverted back to a fixed mindset.
Feeling emotion does not mean you’re “doing it wrong.”
It means you’re human … and you’re growing.
When you’re feeling emotion, my suggestion is to stop everything. Give yourself the gift of taking 90 seconds to fully feel and release the emotion … instead of trying to white-knuckle your way through it.
- Feel the emotion fully.
- Don’t judge it. (“I shouldn’t be feeling this way! This is bad! I’m frustrated that I’m frustrated!”)
- Release it.
- Give it space.
Then … later … when you’ve fully processed and you’re outside that feeling of intensity … ask, “How can I learn from this?”
What resonated here? How will you apply this new perspective to your life? Where is your mindset fixed — and how can you shift it into growth?
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to post comments below.
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