What is The Essential Midlife Mindset?


I recently had the opportunity to host a leadership training for a small group of women from a local company. I was asked to come in with some creative and playful ways to look at what it means to be a leader in this company.

One of the topics I always cover is inspired by the brilliant and popular work of psychologist Carol Dweck. She was the first to popularize the idea that people generally tend to have either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. 

I’ve always prided myself on having a growth mindset but I’ve noticed recently that isn’t always true. I can find that fixed mindset creeping in, especially in certain areas of life like health and fitness.

In so many ways, I am experiencing an amazing midlife renaissance. I enjoy adventure, learning new things and getting better at the things I am passionate about: art, coaching and teaching. My life has purpose and I am making a difference in the lives of my clients.

But I find I have some doubts about my abilities to navigate issues of midlife as I age and what’s possible in terms of longevity and thriving to the ripe age of 99 like my husband talks about on his blog: Strong99.

Midlife is a minefield

Like many women in midlife, I am navigating so many areas of change: 

  • Learning to parent young adults
  • Dealing with aging parents
  • Managing personal changes in my physical, mental and emotional selves
  • Staying curious about my career and how long I want to continue in my current role 

Sound familiar? 

The key to navigating this minefield of change is having a growth mindset in all areas of life.

With a little help from ChatGPT, here is a summary of the distinction between having a growth versus a fixed mindset.

“According to Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist and researcher, a growth mindset and a fixed mindset represent two different beliefs about intelligence and personal qualities that significantly impact how individuals approach challenges and perceive their potential for growth.

A growth mindset is characterized by the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed and improved over time through dedication, effort, and effective strategies. Individuals with a growth mindset embrace challenges as opportunities for learning, view setbacks as temporary obstacles to overcome, and are motivated by the process of learning itself. They tend to be more resilient, persistent, and open to feedback, and they understand that success is a result of hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

On the other hand, a fixed mindset is characterized by the belief that intelligence and abilities are fixed traits that cannot be significantly altered. Individuals with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges that may expose their limitations, as they fear failure and view it as a reflection of their inherent abilities. They may interpret setbacks as evidence of their incompetence and lack of talent. Consequently, they often seek validation and avoid taking risks that could lead to growth.

The distinction between a growth and a fixed mindset has far-reaching implications for personal development, learning, and achievement. Individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges, persist in the face of obstacles, and ultimately achieve higher levels of success. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset may limit their potential by avoiding challenges and succumbing to self-doubt.

It's important to note that these mindsets are not rigid categories, but rather exist on a continuum. Most individuals may exhibit elements of both mindsets depending on the situation, and it is possible to develop a growth mindset through self-awareness and deliberate effort to cultivate a belief in the capacity for growth and learning.”

As you contemplate all the many areas in which you are experiencing change right now, ask yourself if you are experiencing a growth or a fixed mindset.

Stay curious if you are noticing a more fixed perspective on something. Take it to your journal and ask, “What else is possible?” I love this prompt! 

Let me know how this topic landed with you today! Please share your thoughts on the benefits of a growth mindset in midlife.


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