Growth Mindset…It’s Exhausting

Growth mindset. It’s something I frequently talk about with my clients and implement in my personal life. Rather than seeing everything as win or lose, I approach everything in my life as a growth opportunity. We can grow from wins, but we can also grow from losses.

In a nutshell, growth mindset includes seeing failures as growth opportunities. Opportunities to get better and to learn. It includes being at peace with my imperfections, being okay with failing at something. and embracing challenges. I absolutely love a growth mindset. I believe a growth mindset is the birthplace of success in all areas of life–school, work, relationships, parenting, etc.

But, I will admit that there are times that a growth mindset can be exhausting. Say what?! Yes, a growth mindset does produce a more positive, resilient attitude. But it can be exhausting. Let me offer my own experience as an example.

As those who follow my blog, and my loved ones know, I’m a mental health counselor. My job is helping others have a better quality of life with mental disorders and life challenges. In order to effectively help my clients the best way I can, I have to constantly be growing myself as a professional. This comes in several forms. First, through the obvious CEU’s that are required to maintain my counseling license. Second, this professional growth involves things that are not required for continuing education. For example, I may have a client that has been sexually abused in their childhood. Sexual assault knowledge may not be required to renew my license, but it is required to effectively help my client. Third, this professional growth involves personal growth. For example, a counselor who is currently abusing drugs is not going to be effective with a client who is abusing drugs. Moral of the story: counselors are most effective with their clients when they, too, are committed to personal growth.

Typically, I embrace this. It means I get to continually work towards a better me and, in turn, be more effective with my clients. I love striving to be my best self every day! However…this also involves accepting that your “to do” list for growth is NEVER done. As a person who prefers for my “to do” list to be complete before I relax, this is a challenge. It means there is ALWAYS something I can grow in whether that is knowledge, skills, or personal attributes. There is never a time that I am finished. This can be overwhelming. Often times I find myself thinking “it would be SO nice if I could just arrive. Be done. Just be still!”

Needless to say, this has been a struggle for me. I often times find myself wishing to be done. To have”arrived” at being competent. Oh, how nice it would be to not have to work on something for a change! However, this concept of “arrived” is a smoke screen. I could have a Ph.D, certifications, and have 40 years in my field under my belt, and I still will not have “arrived” at being finished. There will always be a new situation a client presents or a personal struggle for me to work on. This is exhausting. Constantly working on yourself is exhausting. This is why I think it is important to take time to recognize when we have “arrived” at our goals.

If you’re like me, you always have in mind the things you need to work on. You strive to work on them regularly, which leaves little space for appreciating the things you accomplish that you once were working on. Currently, I am working on becoming more competent in certain professional and personal areas. But, I have “arrived” at the things I was once working towards. A master’s degree, a counseling license, and a job in the counseling field. You see, I HAVE arrived. But I am also still growing.

Becoming comfortable with the idea of never being done is hard, but I think it is easier when we take time to appreciate the goals we have met, the things we worked on in ourselves that was once a growth area. I once thought of the “arrived” feeling and the growth mindset as either/or. You have either arrived, and finished something, or you are working on something. However, I have come to the conclusion that you can be BOTH at the same time. You can be “finished” and still be growing at the same time. You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time

When you find yourself overwhelmed with the things you still have left to work on, reflect on the goals you once had that you have accomplished. Tell yourself, you have arrived!

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