As you grow older, what have you successfully changed about yourself, in order to live a more fulfilling life? Are there new habits, skills, or even character traits that you hope to make part of your arsenal? Do you think changing certain parts of yourself is even possible? If you are having a hard time answering this last question -- or, your answer is a resounding no -- you may be giving power to a "fixed mindset."

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, when we have a "fixed mindset," we assume our intelligence, creative abilities, and character are static givens, and that we are unable change ourselves in meaningful ways. Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, asserts that this mindset can affect much of our professional and personal behavior, as well how much or how often we feel happy.

Here are some signs that you have a fixed mindset:

  • When you come across success, you consider it to be an affirmation of intelligence that is inherent
  • You give up easily
  • You avoid failure at all costs, while striving for success
  • You view failure as an indication of how unintelligent you are, not as an opportunity for growth
  • You strongly resist any sort of challenge
  • You often ignore useful negative feedback
  • You view the success of others as a threat instead of as a source of inspiration or lessons to be learned

As Dweck says, the view you adopt for yourself "profoundly affects the way you lead your life." It can determine whether you "become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value." If the view you have for yourself is fixed, you are at risk of achieving less than your full potential.

The solution?

Strive to cultivate a growth mindset.

  • Understand that you can always learn, improve, and get better at anything you set your mind to.
  • Be open to new ideas and pursue change -- don't stay fixed in the "safety" of the status quo.
  • Experiment and take chances. Start small, and build on your success.
  • Don't be discouraged by failure. Pick yourself up and try again. In fact, when you operate under a growth mindset, you may not actually ever see yourself as failing -- you'll see yourself as learning instead.

Every day is a new day, filled with infinite possibilities. Let go of your past successes -- and failures -- to grow and succeed in the future. You can do it.

As my friend and Olympian Adam Kreek so wisely says,

"Reflect, learn, grow -- let it go."