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Mind over matter. A Healthy Mindset is a Driver for Success.

Mind over matter. A Healthy Mindset is a Driver for Success.

What if I told you your mindset is holding you back? 

The way you view what you do, and the outcome of your effort will immediately reveal whether your predominant mindset is fixed, or one of growth. Are you only results-driven, seeing anything but total success as the acceptable end result? Does a major setback seem like the end of the road? Do you believe that if you were meant for the task (thesis writing) it should come easier? Have you thought about quitting because it’s just too hard? Then there’s a strong case to be made that you’re stuck in a fixed mindset.

It’s not a good place to be, and in many ways, it’s a flavour of self-sabotage that happens on an unconscious level. We are all susceptible. And we all succumb to the fixed mindset at times. 

The Fixed Mindset

The fixed mindset is obsessed with performance. It believes that intelligence, creative talent and cognitive skills are gifts and just something you have, not assets that you can grow and develop. This mindset also believes that negative feedback, even constructive feedback, insinuates that you are a failure. This leads to low motivation which causes you to procrastinate and suffer feelings of inadequacy and fear.

The good news is that neuroscience has shown us that the brain is a very malleable organ. It can change and we can always learn new skills. This means you can shift your mindset from fixed to a state of growth.

Caroline Dale Academic Performance Coach

How do I shift into a growth mindset?

The first aspect is definitely awareness. Now that you are aware of how self-limiting your thoughts are, you can change the voice in your head and give it a fresh narrative to follow.

Focus on learning not performance.

Ask yourself these questions

  • What can I learn?
  • Who can I ask for help?
  • What else can I do?


Re-identify your original goals.  In other words:

  • Why are you at this learning institution?
  •  Why are you doing this thesis?  
  • What was your distinctive motivation?
  • Have you disengaged and lost sight of the purpose you had in sight?


Remember how you love to learn, you’ve been doing it all your life – literally from birth! Give yourself time and space to explore for the sake of it. Don’t set standards, just view progress as the ultimate victory. It might sound a bit trivial, but the truth is, if you think of every major success story, nothing ever came easy, and the one thing they all have in common is persistence. Persistence despite obstacles. Despite rejection. Despite Criticism. 

If there ever was a time to adopt an attitude of pig-headed persistence, the time is now.

Tame your mind

The best thinking happens when your mind is calm, that’s when deep focus is easy. Add good quality sleep, regular exercise, a decent diet and a mindful approach to life and the difference it makes to how you view setbacks will be real game-changer.  

Access your working memory

Your brain draws from your body, it needs sleep, exercise and good nutrition to work optimally. According to Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, we don’t give our brains enough idle time to allow it to solve problems and come up with brilliant ideas. So, stop scrolling on your phone after being bored for a minute! Think twice about what media you are allowing your brain to consume.

For further reading, I highly recommend Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success. Here is a link to her TED Talk.