The Power of Having a Growth Mindset

December 21, 2023
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Professional Well-Being
Illustration depecting an individual pouring water on their head with flowers growing above.

By: Tiffani Robertson, MBA, Associate Director, Enrollment Management, Governors State University

December 2023…how did we get here already? I honestly feel like the first half of the year dragged a bit but once August hit, it flew by (for me at least). A lot has happened this year, both good and bad that elicited various feelings for us all.

I have been going through the process of earning my doctorate for some time now and this year was honestly the toughest for me mentally when it comes to this process. I felt like I was in the “perpetual proposal stage”. Not making progress on something I am working on is not the norm and this began to impact my confidence – can I really do this? Also, the “Are you done yet?” question from various people can weigh you down. Although I know they mean well, it is a constant reminder that you are not exactly where you want to be. Let’s pause this here and come back to it towards the end.

A couple of years ago, I purposely put one of my favorite quotes “Mindset is Everything” on the wall that I face while sitting at my desk at home. Whether I am working from home that day or doing research, I literally glance up at this quote multiple times throughout the day. For me, it serves as a confirmation that your mindset truly is everything. I believe in this so much that I earned a Master Mindset Life Coach certification a couple of years ago. This is absolutely more than just a quote for me. I live by it.

Your mindset influences your mood, impacts your ability to accomplish goals, and the way you build and maintain relationships with others. Have you done a “mindset” check-in lately? Are you aware of how your mindset ebbs and flows throughout the day? When you catch yourself in a funk, what do you do to get yourself out of it? Here are three guiding principles you can use to change your mindset:

  1. Know if you are operating from a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

Alternative viewpoint poster from LifeHack

  1. Be able to recognize your triggers.

What situations trigger your fixed mindset? Is it when you take on a big challenge or learn something new? Is it when you are thinking about making a change? Or are you triggered when someone criticizes you or when you procrastinate? 

  1. Positive self-talk

Change from….


“I’m not good enough or I am a failure”

“I may not start off being good at something, but successful people all fail along the way”.

“It’s hard because I am just not good at it”

“If it’s hard, it means I need to put in more effort, and it will be a great achievement when I get good at it”

“If I don’t try, I can’t fail, and I will keep my dignity”

“If I don’t try, I have already failed”

“It’s not my fault”

“If I don’t accept whatever part of this is my responsibility, I give away my power”

So back to my perpetual proposal story. I had a real, “I can’t do this” moment one day and one of my cohort members/friends happened to reach out to check in. After my talk with him, I did a long meditation, it was like a switch clicked and I was able to get back focused. I told myself, you can do this so let’s get a plan together so you can move on to the next phase of the process. After being in the perpetual proposal stage for 3 years, I snapped back to my growth mindset in August, I submitted another draft of my proposal, had a successful proposal hearing in October, made it through IRB in early November, and am wrapping up my first round of interviews with the participants of my study this week. It’s like all the stars aligned for me to get back on track and get way ahead of the schedule I set for myself after my hearing (which didn’t have me conducting interviews til January). Amazing how your mind truly drives you, right? 

Support systems are necessary, but you must remember that you truly are the only person in control of your mindset. Do a mindset check-in with yourself right after reading this and see if you are truly operating in a growth mindset. If not, work through those guiding principles to get yourself there.

Take care of yourself, wholly.


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