Plan the change!

I recently participated in an excellent seminar held by Dr. Gabija Toleikyte neuroscientist and business coach and the seminar was mostly about how to have a successful mindset in 2017.

We learnt about the two opposite mindsets, the 'fixed mindset' vs. the 'growth mindset'. In a fixed mindset, we believe that our basic qualities, like our intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. People with this mindset spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success- without efforts. 

A growth mindset on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a stepping stone for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

I believe we all have moments when the fixed mindset is predominant and we are probably aware of it at the time, but because we are deep in that mindset with all our feelings we do not wish to rationalise and get into the 'growth mindset'. Our brain is like a muscle. We can train it!

So how can we change from fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

Step 1.  Remember the 'voice' of your fixed mindset. 

Take your New Year resolution as a challenge. As we are fast approaching the end of the first month of your challenge you might start hearing the following:

' I have been coming 3 times a week to the gym and I don't see any result! If I have done the training correctly I would surely see some results by now? It's so much effort as well! It's not too late to back out, I can just say to people if they ask that I didn't have time to go to the gym because of work.'

Step 2. Recognise that you have a choice!

How you interpret challenges, criticism, setbacks is your choice. You can interpret them with a fixed mindset and say 'if I was more talented, more persistent etc, I would have......' or, you can use these to take learning from them and try again. As you try again listen to the fixed mindset and...

Step 3. Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.

Fixed mindset:

' It's too much effort to go to the gym, maybe I am just not made for it'

Growth mindset:

' It might take a longer time till I see results but surely I am doing the right thing. I will just keep going, reading more about it, talking to a personal trainer or peers that have been doing it for long.' 

Fixed mindset:

' What if you waste all this time in the gym and in 2 months' time you are at the same level with no results. I could have done so much more! I basically gave up my social life just to be here!'

Growth mindset:

' The guy doing 10 pull ups must have started where I started. He was a beginner once! I need to know how he did it. If he could do it, I can do it as well!' 

Step 4. Get the growth mindset into action.

With time, whichever voice you feed will win. Practice hearing both voices, and practice acting on the growth mindset. 


Stages of change:

1. Precontemplation ( not ready)

Multiple unsuccessful attempts at change can lead to demoralisation about the ability to change.

Stress and tiredness cause lack of energy, which leads our brain to drive back to old habits - it consumes less energy! Change requires enormous amounts of energy, thus at the start of change we need to reduce mental load and get less busy. 

Do the actions desired in the morning or after breaks.

2. Contemplation ( getting ready)

Think about what do you want to change in your life and what are the benefits of this change. 

Regularly reward yourself for doing the actions new way. Get clear on the drawback of not doing this change. 

3. Preparation (ready) 

Think about your habits. Habits link to time of the day, places, emotional/mental state, person/ people, proceeding action. 

Do a habit inventory:

What is the habit I want to change?

What triggers it?

What do I get out of it?

What other activities would give the same reward?

4. Action

Implement a change in small bits maintaining majority of elements unaltered- feeling of familiarity

Think about the steps in creating the change. Plan your change. Carpe Diem people..I know your take on planning. You probably think it's for architects but some situation we need to plan! 

5. Maintenance

Different habits take different amount of time to implement. Simple habits take around 21 days, standard habits take about 66 days and complex habits can take up to 88 days. 

If you cannot be accountable for maintaining your change, get the help of a personal coach. 


To summarise how to change habits:

- Reduce mental load and stress : change requires lots of energy. Make space for the change.

- Be clear on the benefits of change and drawbacks of not changing

- Get to know your habits and find the alternatives to get the same reward

-Change gradually in small steps

- To create lasting change can take up to 6 months, so get support.


Hope this blog post helped you understand the science of change as much as Gabija's seminar helped me. If you want to hear about more events check her website: