Cultivate a Growth Mindset: 3 Tips to help you leave your comfort zone

Practice Mindset

The Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset may be helpful in many areas of our lives. It may be helpful at work, while studying, or even while learning new skills in coaching or therapy. In coaching and therapy, we often discuss and practice new psychological skills. These new skills might help you to better regulate emotions, have an assertive conversation or to gain some distance from unhelpful thoughts. While the opportunity to discuss and practice these skills in session can be helpful, the real benefits often come from practicing these new skills in everyday life.

What is a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. It is a powerful approach to learning and personal development. It emphasises the importance of effort, persistence, and resilience in the face of challenges and obstacles. Those who adopt a growth mindset view failure and mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a reflection of their inherent abilities.

Pathway to Growth

The pathway to growth can be an uncomfortable one. Being aware of the pathway towards growth may help us to cope with uncomfortable feelings which may arise along the way.

  1. Comfort Zone – We start off in the comfort zone. In this zone, we engage in things we already know and feel comfortable with. When we are in the comfort zone, we feel safe and in control. Growth requires us to leave our comfort zone.
  2. Fear Zone – Once we leave the comfort zone, we enter the fear zone. It requires courage to enter this zone, we are faced with uncertainty, feel uncomfortable and like we are out of our depth. We may feel like retreating to the safety of our comfort zone.
  3. Learning Zone – If we are able to endure the fear zone, we enter the learning zone. In this zone we start to learn new skills and ways to cope with new challenges. Entering the learning zone, enables us to increase the size of our comfort zone. We start to feel comfortable with situations which previously caused us to feel fear.
  4. Growth Zone – We can enter the growth zone by passing through the fear zone and progressing into the learning zone. As a result of this process, we gain insight into ourselves. We learn that with resilience and persistence we are able to persevere through fear, learn new skills and take positive steps towards those things which are most important to us.
Pathway to the growth zone

like learning to ride a bike

When we start learning a new skill, we might make mistakes and we’re unlikely to get it right the first few times. Think back to learning how to ride a bike. Most of us probably started off riding something like a tricycle. Eventually we may have progressed to riding a bicycle using training wheels. After becoming comfortable riding with training wheels, the training wheels come off. Our first attempts without training wheels might have been wobbly and we might have had a few stacks. Eventually, with effort and regular practice we are able to ride our bike without any training wheels. The journey doesn’t end there though, we may then learn how to ride on different types of terrain, around tight bends and in different weather conditions. Some of us even take the practice of bike riding to an elite level.

Children seem to inherently understand that practice, mistakes and failure are a normal part of the learning process. After all everything is novel and requires them to regularly stretch beyond their current skill set. Imagine how challenging the learning process would be for children if their fear of mistakes, avoidance of failure, or need to be perfect controlled their actions? They would probably give up learning to ride a bike after their first failed attempt. As adults, we often forget that feeling some stress or a lack of confidence is a normal part of the learning process. We often become crippled by anxiety or scared we might embarrass ourselves. We remain in our comfort zone where it feels safe. While remaining in our comfort zone can help us to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, it severely restricts our capacity for growth and learning.

3 Tips for Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Below are 3 practical techniques to help you on your pathway to achieving a growth mindset:

1. Focus On Process, Not Outcome

Having a clear end goal (or outcome) that we are working towards is helpful to guide our actions. To perform at optimal levels, it may be more helpful for us to shift our focus from the end goal to the process (or building blocks) which lead to our end goal. For example, we might have an outcome goal to work in a job earning $150K within the next two years. Our process to get there might include: creating one new professional contact each week; spending one hour each month researching organisations to work for; or completing three sessions with an interview coach to enhance performance at interviews.

2. Separate Failing From Being a Failure

An inevitable part of learning and growing is failing and making mistakes. We often make global assessments about our self-worth based on failed attempts and mistakes. Thoughts such as “I’m a failure” or “I’m useless” are examples of these types of global assessments that we make. These types of assessments tend to have a negative impact on our performance, and may lead us to giving up altogether. Rather than interpreting failed attempts and mistakes as an assessment of our character, it may be helpful to reframe these in a more positive light. Thoughts such as “mistakes are a normal part of the learning process” or “that didn’t work, I’ll try something different” can work to enhance our performance and push us towards growth.

3. Accept Imperfections

There are really two parts to this one. The first is about accepting that striving for “perfection” may not be a realistic goal. We might become good, great or masterful at something, however even masters make mistakes from time to time. After all, can anything or anyone ever really be perfect? The second part is really about accepting imperfections as a normal part of the learning process. If we accept that mistakes and failure are a normal and necessary part of the learning process, we also need to accept that being and doing imperfect things along the way is normal. Shifting our mindset from “perfect” to “good enough” may be a helpful way to cultivate a growth mindset.

Practice Makes Perfect Good Enough

For those of us who constantly strive for personal and professional growth, it is likely that we will regularly find ourselves in the fear zone as we challenge ourselves to stretch and grow. Experiencing stress and a lack of confidence as we extend ourselves is normal. Our goal is not to get rid of these emotions, rather we work to accept these emotions as normal. Acceptance of these emotions enables us to take steps towards our personal and professional goals despite our emotions. Adopting a growth mindset is one way that may help us to accept these emotions. A growth mindset enables us to make room for feeling uncomfortable or not getting it right. Through adopting this type of mindset we work to create an environment where it is OK to make mistakes, fail or not to get it right; and we reframe these mistakes and failures as part of the learning process.

If you’d like to learn more about cultivating a growth mindset, contact Uplift Psychology.


Some of content in this blog post has been adapted from a resource provided by titled “Leaving the Comfort Zone”. provide scientifically referenced and researched resources based on the principles of positive psychology.

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