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How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Success

Written by Nicole Krempasky on Thursday, 28 January 2021. Posted in Helpful Tips, Traditional Students

Girl jumping up

The way we think can have a large impact on our attitudes and behaviors. A growth mindset can positively influence how we approach things like schoolwork, offering a greater chance for academic success.

What is a growth mindset?

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “mind over matter”, you know the way we think can influence how we overcome obstacles. Mindsets are a set of beliefs that impact our attitudes and behaviors, with the most common being fixed and growth. A fixed mindset tells us that trying to change things won’t make a difference; things like ability are predetermined and unable to be altered no matter how hard you try. A growth mindset, however, is the belief that you are in control and have the ability to change things, even if the change is only slight, through hard work and focus. Believing you can learn, grow, and develop can help lead you to a greater level of academic success.

How can I develop a growth mindset?

A growth mindset isn’t developed overnight. It takes practice to change years of thinking one way, but it’s not impossible. Starting out with small steps can help change your mentality over time. Here’s how:

  • Replace negative thoughts. Stop using words like “I can’t”. If you have a hard time with a certain subject, having an attitude where you say to yourself (orothers) “I can’t do this” won’t help. Once you put the idea that you’re not able to do something inside your head, you’ve given up before trying. It’s hard, but try encouragingbelief in yourself by having the attitude that you can do it.
  • Embrace your flaws. It’s ok if you’re not the best at everything, you don’t have to be. Stop comparing yourself to others and instead take pride in trying yourbest. If you’re trying your best and achieving that benchmark, you should be proud of yourself. Embracing your flaws or weaknesses also provides you with the opportunity ofovercoming them by acknowledging them rather than pretending they don’t exist.
  • Try different learning strategies. One of the benefits of James Madison’s self-paced online learning is that you can learn your way. Traditional brick- and- mortarschools teach everyone on the same schedule, at the same pace of learning. Learning isn’t one size fits all. You may work better in the morning or the evening. You might prefer tofocus on one subject at a time. JMHS allows you the opportunity to tailor school to your learning style.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Any time you don’t do as well as you’d like, or you make a mistake, it can feel discouraging. Instead of letting it get you down, examinewhere you went wrong and use that as a lesson for the next time. Sometimes making mistakes can help us remember what to do right next time.
  • Set realistic goals. It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. If you struggle in a particular subject, don’t immediately set a goal that you will score100 percent on your next test. Improving yourself takes time. If you set a goal that’s too high and don’t reach it, it can set you back by allowing the negative feelings from afixed mindset to creep back into your thoughts.
  • Celebrate your achievements. Positive reinforcement can go a long way. When you do meet one of your goals, reward yourself. The reward can be a little extra TVtime, a dessert, or just letting those around you know how well you did. Reaching your goal makes the next one seem more possible, and celebrating it is an incentive to keep going.
  • Don’t give up. This should go without saying, but when times are tough, we can sometimes use a little reminder. If you give up, it’s easier to quit on the nextdifficult challenge you face. We don’t always get the results we want, but that does not have to mean you failed. A successful growth mindset is about the journey, not necessarilythe destination.

How can it help?

Embracing challenges and persisting despite setbacks is the purpose of a growth mindset. School is easy for some, hard for others, and somewhere in between for many. If you can persist through your self-doubt, you’re more likely to not only achieve the results you want, but results you didn’t expect. Individuals who embrace a growth mindset often have more self-confidence and are strong problem solvers. It’s important to make that start early because it can transfer beyond school into your personal and professional life, too.

Start growing with James Madison

James Madison High School encourages students to study in a style that works to their strengths. Accredited self-paced, online courses can help students determine their strengths and work towards overcoming their academic struggles with support from certified teachers and student advocates. Start changing your mindset today by enrolling online or call an Admissions Specialist at to learn more.

About the Author

Nicole Krempasky

Nicole Krempasky

Nicole Krempasky earned a BA in Communications with a minor in Art History from Arcadia University. Just finishing her MA in International Journalism from Edinburgh Napier University, she is putting her writing and research skills to use as Penn Foster’s Marketing Coordinator. Nicole enjoys baking, traveling, and British TV.