I remember when the growth mindset changed my life.
I was not one of the popular kids in school. I did no sports, I was average in class and I was one of the “nerdy” types. I used to look at the high achievers and the popular kids and wish that I could be more like them. But I knew I couldn’t. I would just be this way forever.
But when I realised that I can change and actually be like them someday, I was thrilled. It gave me hope and something to work towards instead of feeling stuck and helpless. It pushed me to get rid of my limiting beliefs and try new things without automatically assuming that I would be bad at them. Growth became one of my primary values and a cornerstone of the person I am today.
But there was a downside. I got so focused on growth that I started to measure my life through productivity and progress. I had big ambitions where I underestimated the time and effort required and felt disappointed by my inability to achieve them. I had no patience, I wanted everything now and I felt that I could get anything, if only I got my shit together.
I started feeling discontent all the time. Like I am not doing enough and that I could be doing more. I felt guilty about taking time off since that time could have been spent doing something productive. When I finally had time to work on my projects, I kept changing them or procrastinating since failure was not an option and I didn’t want to “waste” my time on something that might not work.
I realise that I made a mistake in how I understood growth. I saw it as a way for me to become perfect and have complete control over myself and my circumstances. That will never happen. I will always be flawed and the world will continue to be unpredictable. So instead of aiming for perfection and control, a better aim is to accept the imperfect nature of myself and the world and strive to achieve my goals in spite of it. That meant coming to terms with with the longer durations and increased effort that my goals needed in an uncertain, human world.
I also realised that I was sacrificing my present in the name of a joyous future. But the future is not real. We only have the present and if I am giving up all the joy in it for the future, then that will be the total sum of my life. The time for joy is right now.