Lifestyle

Do you have the right mindset?

Meyken Houppermans
Head Coach and Founder

Do you have the right mindset?

At CrossFit Eudokia we focus on personal growth. An important aspect is mindset. Is there such a thing as the ‘right’ mindset? In this article we dive into that concept and give you practical tips on how to develop it.

What is the right mindset?

As is true for most things in life the ‘right’ mindset is, to some degree, individual and situational dependent. In other words, what works for one person or in one situation does not always work for another person or in another situation. Nevertheless, with some certainty we can say that the ‘right’ mindset is one that works with you, and not against you. Furthermore, the ‘right’ mindset can be defined as a ‘growth’ mindset (Dweck,2007).

Growth versus fixed mindset

An important characteristic of a growth mindset is how you perceive success and failure. A growth mindset means you feel proud of yourself regardless your success. You are convinced that your achievements are the product of your own hard work and of your qualities, instead of being coincidences or things that just happen to you and are out of your control.

You consider failure a learning experience and are not afraid of it. If you fail, you do not get angry with yourself (or at least not for long) nor do you give up or let it affect your mood. You focus on what is within your control, and what you can learn (from failure), and you move on with a positive attitude. You focus more on the process instead of solely on the end result.

Compared to a fixed mindset where you are afraid to fail, do not want to take any risks or try new stuff, are convinced the things that happen to you are out of your control, think your success is a result or coincidence or just your talent instead of your hard work and your growth.

A CrossFit example:

Athlete G sets the goal of being able to do a bar muscle up. Athlete G focusses on the small steps she is taking to get there. Every pullup and every attempt is one step closer to a bar muscle up. She is convinced she will get there eventually and keeps working hard and feels proud of it. She loves when bar muscle ups are programmed in a WOD; a perfect opportunity to practice.

Athlete F also sets the goal of being able to do a bar muscle up. Athlete F focusses on the end result: the muscle up he must get. He gives it a try, fails, gets angry, and quits. Maybe in a few weeks he is going to try again, but already thinks it is probably not going to work. He hates when bar muscle ups are programmed in a WOD: another failure waiting to happen.

How do you develop a growth mindset?

Maybe some of us are more predisposed with a growth mindset than others. Nevertheless, you can learn to develop it. At first this might take some energy but in the long run it will give you energy and you will benefit from it, mentally and physically.

It all starts with a goal you want to achieve. For example losing 10kg bodyweight or being able to do a bar muscle up.

The next step is to set intentions: the things you plan to do to reach our goal. In our example: starting Monday you are going to eat veggies every day and go for a daily swim, or you’re going to practice strict pullups three times a week.

In many cases, this is where it ends. Because once it is Monday, you don’t feel so motivated anymore or other stuff comes in your way. Sometimes you blame yourself for not having enough motivation, discipline or willpower, but that is not always the case (read our previous article about motivation being an unreliable friend).

To understand what is actually the case here, we need to dive into three important factors that are strongly related to our motivation, mindset and success: Attitude, perceived self- efficacy and social influences (Ajzen, 1985; Bandura, 1986).

Attitude

Sometimes you set a goal when in fact you don’t really care about it. Maybe you don’t really want to lose weight but since everyone else is doing it, you feel you also need to. Or maybe your intention is to go for a swing every day, but you actually hate water. When you are not really intrinsically motivated and do not have a positive attitude towards your goal or your intentions, it takes a lot of time and energy to commit to it and get the work done.

Perceived self- efficacy

If you are not convinced you can lose weight or eventually do a bar muscle up on your own; if you are not convinced you have the qualities within you and hard work will eventually pay off; if you think ‘stuff just happens to you out of your control’, it can be really hard to commit to your goal and get the work done. Self- efficacy means you trust your own capabilities: you can do this and your hard work will eventually pay off.

Social influences

Maybe your friends and family think it is ridiculous to spend extra time at the gym to practice your bar muscle up. They rather want to spend time with you drinking beer. A lack of social support or an environment in which the social norm is to drink beer and live a sedentary life, can make it hard to commit to your goal and get the work done.

A growth mindset, yet still a struggle

A growth mindset covers these two of these three preconditions: a positive attitude and perceived self- efficacy. You are truly motivated to reach your goal and have a positive attitude towards it. You are convinced your hard work will pay off.

And even with these two preconditions covered, it can still be hard to reach your goal. Especially if you set a long- term goal. Temptations, setbacks and short- term goals can get in the way. Birthdays can disturb your weight loss journey. Injuries can be a setback on your training. Also, short term goals such as wanting to be the best during a specific CrossFit WOD (short- term goal) can interfere with your long-term goal for example because it leaves you with no energy left to practice the bar muscle up (your long- term goal).

Positive perspective

A growth mindset means you are able to deal with these temptations, setbacks and short- term goals in relation to your long- term goal. Saying no to that piece of birthday cake. Focusing on what you still can do with that injury instead of cannot. Holding back a little but during that tempting CrossFit WOD so you still have some energy left to work on your long-term goal.

A growth mindset means you are able to look at things from a different, more positive and challenging perspective. The birthday, the injury and the WOD not as attractive things you want or need right now, or as horrible hurdles you cannot overcome, but as challenges on your journey towards your long-term goal.

Two tips for a growth mindset

Tip 1: Focus on yourself

Set a goal and set intentions that truly matter to you and that you are really motivated to reach and have a positive attitude towards. Focus on the positive, on what is within your influence; on what went good thanks to your hard work; and on what you can learn from attempts that were not successful. Every day. And never give up.

Tip 2: Create a supporting environment

A supporting environment means adding little nudges to your living space to help you on your way. For example by getting rid of snacks and instead surround yourself with healthy foods. Or by having your gym bag always in your sight. Because what is in our sight gets our attention.

A supporting environment also means having a support system: people who support your goals and intentions. Ideally our friends and family are supportive. Ideally the social norm is to live a healthy life, to eat healthy, and to do CrossFit 😉 But that is not always the case. Maybe your friends and family do not understand your wish to reach a specific goal. But understanding is not necessary, as long as they support you and want the best for you. Simply ask them to be there for you and tell them what you need from them. And expand your network and your environment, make new friends!

Life is a learning process, so you might as get the most out of it. Grow and enjoy!