Have I reached my peak? If you have ever asked yourself that question, this article is for you.
Don’t feel alone—this thought has crossed far too many minds. Thousands of us, including myself, have consistently chosen to believe that we were born with a certain amount of potential, that we each come with a predetermined set of skills and once we’ve acquired them, there is nothing left for us to do.
But, what if I told you that it does not have to be like that? What if I told you that you have an untapped and unlimited amount of potential? What if I told you that the only thing holding you back—from everything you ever wanted to achieve—is yourself?
Would it change things for you?
Read more to discover how you can never stop learning, never stop changing, and—most importantly—never stop growing.
Neuroplasticity and The Growth Mindset
neuroplasticity (n.) the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following an injury
Imagine you are driving to your friend's house when, suddenly, you see that the road is closed ahead. You have the option to sulk, turn the car around, and go back to your house. But, instead of giving up, you decide to take a different road and manage to get your friend's.
That is the simplified idea of neuroplasticity. The idea that, with experience, your brain can cultivate neural pathways to achieve new abilities and relearn old ones. Neuroplasticity is applicable in every part of life: from how linguists become fluent in several languages to how stroke patients learn to walk again.
When the brain cannot take the easiest path, it can train and rewire itself to get to the same destination. The idea that your brain stops developing by a certain age is being debunked more and more every day. At any stage of your life, you can change and grow with new experiences, all through the power of neuroplasticity.
the growth mindset (n.) motivational theory coined by American psychologist Carol Dweck that posits human growth is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your efforts
The growth mindset takes neuroplasticity one step further; it challenges you to believe that you have the power to keep changing (because your brain certainly can). In reality, even though there is scientific evidence to show that neuroplasticity is real, people still set imaginary limits to their potential. Maybe it's because they are afraid of failing, or maybe they are afraid to try new things.
The growth mindset forces you to adopt a lifestyle in which you believe you are in control of how far you go. It contends that by purposely putting yourself in situations that force you to think divergently, you can ensure that you never stop growing and changing as a person.
Realizing Your Own Self-Destructive Tendencies
Harnessing the power of neuroplasticity and the growth mindset only comes with your effort. The first step is realizing that you have a fixed mindset, or a mindset that asserts you have a limited amount of potential. Here are some signs that you have a fixed mindset:
- You avoid new challenges, especially because of the fear of failure
- You believe you have learned all you are able to learn
- You believe you have a "tapped" amount of potential
- You think you cannot achieve new skills because of age, background, or lack of previous experience
- You believe you are incapable of change
- You think failure is a sign of your innate abilities, as opposed to an opportunity to grow
You cannot change your mindset if you do not realize you need to. If you identify with any of the above signs, you might be working against yourself. But, don't worry, there are ways to get out of this mindset and start realizing how much you are capable of. You can be the master of your own fate, but only if you choose to believe that.
"You can only go as far as your mind lets you." - Surbhi Sachdev
Training Your Brain
Adjusting to a new mindset takes practice and strategy. Overwhelmingly, advocates of the growth mindset theory say that the key to maximizing your potential is purposely putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. "Uncomfortable situations" does not mean situations where you feel unsafe—it refers to experiences in which you encounter challenges you have never had to surmount. New experiences dare you to think differently than you ever have before, and when you think divergently, you will inevitably grow.
Your brain is forced to come up with unfamiliar ways to tackle the obstacles before it. Growth is much harder when you can fall back on what you already know. It is often only in the unknown where you can truly expand your potential.
Here are some ways to exercise the power of neuroplasticity and the growth mindset this year:
- Start learning a new language
- Pick up a new musical instrument
- Try out a new hobby
- Travel to an unknown place—especially one with a different culture/environment
- Find a physical activity different from how you normally exercise
- Read books in a genre you do not normally read
- Practice mindfulness
- Write down or say positive affirmations
- Catch yourself when you say "I can't do this"
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." - Brian Tracy
Something to Remember
In my experience, changing your mindset requires constant effort. When I failed and fell back into my self-destructive tendencies, I was forgiving to myself and continued to push myself to try. As you try to take full advantage of neuroplasticity and growth mindset, I encourage you to remember that this will be a slow, but inevitably fulfilling process. And, when you're lacking motivation, or confused about why you are trying to change the way you think, I encourage you to ask yourself this question:
If the fear of failure did not exist, what would I be able to do?