Think about the last time you tried something new on your health and fitness journey and struggled with it.
Did the struggle make you feel hopeless? Did you consider giving up (“I’ll never be good at this, so I might as well not even try”)?
Or did encountering the struggle give you a boost of motivation (“I won’t let this thing beat me. I’ll keep trying until I get it”)?
If you responded the first way, you most likely have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success calls a fixed mindset. In this way of thinking, effort is seen as a bad thing. If you have to put effort into something, that means you’re imperfect. Having to work hard is a defect. If you don’t succeed, or you’re not the very best, everything feels pointless — your efforts wasted.
The alternative, a growth mindset, means that you’re focused on overall growth, not just one specific outcome.
You run to get better at running, not just to win a single race. You train to become stronger and more well-rounded, not just to get one PR. You challenge yourself to try new things and grow as an athlete over time.
With a growth mindset, your effort is never wasted because you’re never focused solely on results. Effort is worthwhile regardless of the outcome. Putting in effort is meaningful because in trying, you allow yourself to take a chance and go all-in, even if you don’t end up where you expected you would.