For a moment, let’s imagine a situation:
You’ve worked at the same company, in the same role, for almost ten years. You stayed because it was familiar, comfortable, and, maybe at times, easy. But despite this, you are not content. Rather, you feel immobilized. You’ve been treading water for months or years, but you don’t remember how to swim, so you can’t move forward.
We’ve all been in a similar situation at one point or another. And while “treading water” may feel like a negative situation in which to find yourself, think of it more as an “ah-ha moment.” It’s a sign that something in your life is not going right and recognizing this feeling is the first step in leaving it behind.
What’s the second step? Change your mindset. Of course, that’s easier said than done; but a positive, growth mindset is the essential factor that will help you get moving again.
Carol Dweck, Ph.D., one of the leading researchers on motivation, states people have two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. Fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or athletic ability, are innate talents. They don’t work on building and improving them, because they believe talent comes without effort.
Growth mindset people, on the other hand, foster a love of learning. They believe that all their abilities can be further developed and improved upon. People with this mindset tend to be motivated, productive, and can cultivate healthy personal and business relationships.
Here are some tools to cultivate your growth mindset, which will also help you to swim again:
- View challenges as opportunities. Fixed mindset people will often skip a challenge for fear of failing. Growth mindset people see challenges as opportunities for personal growth and improvement.
- Stop viewing mistakes as failures. Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” We all can’t be professional athletes or mathematicians, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have special gifts of our own. When you make a mistake, you didn’t fail; you learned. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You may fall flat on your face and end up with a great story or you just might shine. Either way, it sounds like a win.
- Value growth, not speed. Everyone learns at his or her own speed. Just because it took Johnny an hour to learn a new computer skill, doesn’t mean it will take you the same amount of time. Anything worth doing, takes time.
- Stop seeking others’ approval. Constantly needing approval and recognition takes time away from your own learning and self-growth.
- Use the word “yet.” Sometimes you may struggle with a task or goal. That’s okay! Not everything comes easy to everyone. Don’t get too discouraged. Remind yourself that I haven’t mastered that skill… yet!
Treading water is an experience we’ve all been through at least once, if not more. Be positive and know this is just temporary. And if nothing else works, remember the wise words of a scatterbrained fish: “Just keep swimming.”
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were treading water? What steps did you take to start swimming again?