We all know a growth mindset is a good thing, but if you don't have one how can you foster a growth mindset? Check out this post for five hacks to nurture your mind. #growthmindset #lifelonglearning #intellectualgoals #selfcare #selfcarehacks #podcast #takecareofyourself #learning #piano #telescope #seniorcitizen

We all know a growth mindset is a good thing, but if you don’t have one how can you foster a growth mindset? Check out this post for five hacks to nurture your mind.

With all the bruhaha over whether schools should open or close this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it might surprise you to find out that setting goals for YOUR intellectual domain is important, too! Why? Because when we take care of ourselves, we can’t forget our brains. Healthy self-care includes making sure we learn new things all. the. time. This month’s Self-Care Sunday posts will focus on setting goals for our intellectual domain.

We all know a growth mindset is a good thing, but if you don't have one how can you foster a growth mindset? Check out this post for five hacks to nurture your mind. #growthmindset #lifelonglearning #intellectualgoals #selfcare #selfcarehacks #podcast #takecareofyourself #learning #piano #telescope #seniorcitizen

A Self-Taught Scientist

“Whatcha doing, Grandpa?” I asked, trying to decide if I should hang out with him or go to the pasture to ride my pony. It seemed a little hot to traipse around the pasture chasing down a lazy pony, so pestering Grandpa with questions seemed like a good option.

“Setting up a telescope,” he replied.

“Cool!” I enthused. “Where did you buy it?”

“I didn’t buy it,” he said, “I made it!”

“Really? You MADE a telescope? How did you figure out how to do that?”

He laughed. “I read books and magazines to learn how.”

“What was the hardest part?”

“Grinding the glass for the lenses just right,” he told me.

I watched my paternal grandpa set up his telescope and continued my barrage of questions. When he went in to rest, I grappled with the concept of an old man learning how to do something from books and magazines. As a 13-year-old, I thought people got to stop learning when they finished college.

It turns out, I had a lot to learn about learning.

Learning Isn’t Just for Schoolkids

It turns out you don’t need school to keep on learning. A growth mindset will help you learn faster than a lecture alone. You don’t need the four walls of a classroom, or even a teacher. Our biggest barrier to learning resides in our heads. Likewise, our biggest asset to learning resides in our heads.

Our biggest barrier to learning resides in our heads. #growthmindset #selfcare Click To Tweet

In order to foster a growth mindset (so we can start learning), we need to review our inner dialogue. I’ve told myself plenty of negative things over my lifetime, and internalized untruths other people have told me.

For example, when our girls started piano lessons, I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I’d kind of like to take lessons, too.

“Hrrump,” she replied, “it’s too late for you to learn how to play the piano. If don’t learn when you’re really little, you’ll never be able to play well.”

I let her naysaying persuade me to give up my piano lesson idea as a pointless endeavor. Now, I have more life experience and I realize I could have done a few thing to foster a growth mindset. A mindset that would have made all the difference.

These hacks will help you foster a growth mindset.

Hacks for Fostering a Growth Mindset

1. Examine Your Narrative.

My sister-in-law’s comment went into the ‘can’t learn to play piano’ track I already had playing in my head. The one that said I couldn’t read music very well and would never succeed.

I had tried piano lessons at various times in my childhood, but I never stuck to them. Mostly because I didn’t practice. I had other things to engage my time, like riding my pony, playing with my siblings, or reading books. Because I never practiced, I never made progress and eventually quit.

We all know a growth mindset is a good thing, but if you don't have one how can you foster a growth mindset? Check out this post for five hacks to nurture your mind. #growthmindset #lifelonglearning #intellectualgoals #selfcare #selfcarehacks #podcast #takecareofyourself #learning #piano #telescope #seniorcitizen

When I look back at the narratives in my head, I realize I suffered from an attitude problem, not an aptitude problem. My parents initiated the piano lessons, and I let my attitude take over.

Whose voice tells you you can’t do something you’d really like to do? A parent? Maybe a sibling made fun of your beginning efforts. Did a teacher discourage you? Look back at the narrators and narrative and decide if you need to learn a new track.

At seven, I didn’t have the attitude to learn to play the piano. But at 30, I had the attitude necessary to engage fully in the learning, but I listened to the wrong person.

2.  Define Your Why

At seven, I had no idea why one would want to learn to play the piano. My parents probably signed me up because I spent countless hours entertaining myself with compositions of my own. Admittedly, they probably sounded nothing like what I imagined they did.

At 30, I wanted to learn to play the piano for my own enjoyment. I actually found a few old piano lesson books and taught myself some songs. That period of self-teaching provided a form of escape in a noisy household. Since the girls had lessons, they understood the concept of letting someone practice in peace. And what mom doesn’t crave 30 minutes of peace?

Although the concept of playing piano sounds cool, at this point in my life I’d rather learn how to properly use a flash with my DSLR camera. Piano playing won’t advance my dream of having my photographs published in magazines. Learning how to use a flash properly will.

Take time to think about what you’d like to learn and why you’d like to learn it. If you want to learn something now that someone told you you couldn’t when you were a kid, go for it! Some personality types thrive when they try to prove others wrong.

3. Discover Your Learning Bent

Not everyone enjoys learning in the same way for different tasks. For example, if you tell me how to change the oil in my FJ Cruiser while I sit inside in my comfy chair, my eyes will glaze over. Take me outside and point out the location of the oil filter, the oil pan, where to loosen the bolt, and what to do with the oil, and I could do it again—no problem.

Likewise, when people try to give me directions to a new location, I fail miserably. Unless I draw a map as they speak. I find it especially difficult to follow directions in California, because Californians take away the normal prefix of highways and freeway (Highway 101, I-15) and just say, ‘Get on the 15 and exit on the 52.’

Even though I don’t always follow verbal directions, I learn a lot by listening. I’d rather listen to biographies than read them. Maybe because I can speed up the narrator. Whatever the case, we have different preferences or bents for learning different things.

Find a teacher (whether a friend, family member, or someone you pay) who will explain things in a way you’ll understand. If your learning endeavor stalls, don’t question your ability, question your teacher. Maybe you’ll need to find someone else. If you don’t want to offend someone, start out by watching YouTube videos.

Most experts agree that learning styles don’t really exist, but go ahead and evaluate yourself. How do you LIKE to learn? It doesn’t have to fit one of the traditional learning styles, either. Maybe you like an odd combination.

4. Baby Steps

We don’t have to learn to run before we can walk. In fact, folks encouraged us to craw, toddle with trepidation, walk, and finally run. Don’t use the excuse that you can’t perform at the level of a master to dissuade you from taking baby steps to learn a new skill.

Pay attention to your inner narrative, and remind it that you can’t do it yet, but one day you’ll master the skill you want to learn.

5. Find a Cheering Section

Look for like-minded people at community colleges, community centers, churches, or studios for the creative arts. If you don’t want to learn alone, find some company, and cheer them on. When we lift others up, they tend to reciprocate.

Tell family members you trust about how you want to foster a growth mindset. Start small by asking a family member to teach you something. If you find it difficult to imagine learning new things, find safe people to learn from and start small. Your confidence will build as you learn new skills.

Check out these five hacks for fostering a growth mindset no matter what your age. #growthmindset #selfcare Click To Tweet

It’s Never too Late to Foster a Growth Mindset

One of the most famous American artists from the 1950s and 1960s started her painting career later in life. Grandma Moses didn’t have the opportunity to pursue an art career skill until she turned 78. For the next 23 years, she awed audiences with her fresh paintings of rural America.

Who knows? You may become a Grandma Moses in your later years. Or maybe you’ll build a telescope or a robot. But you won’t know unless you foster a growth mindset and take risks to learn something new.

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  1. This was an encouraging post Anita! I have a tendency to concentrate on Continuing Professional Development for my profession, rather then the pure enjoyment of learning something new for my own pleasure.
    Being a stargazer I’m very impressed with your grandfather’s ability to make his own telescope!
    Tea With Jennifer recently posted…Wisdom for a crazy timeMy Profile

  2. I’m so thankful that our learning didn’t have to end when school ended. I love learning new things. It’s good for both my brain and my soul.

    I’m not very good with verbal directions either. I need it written down or drawn in a picture. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this, Anita. Before I retired from Starbucks Coffee Company, I was a Barista Trainer, and growth mindset was a big thing! Thanks for sharing these great reminders!

  4. Love this post, Anita! I think kids have a natural sense of curiosity. Somehow by the time they grow up, a lot of that curiosity has been quashed. I think we need to somehow summon our sense of curiosity to achieve a growth mindset. And a cheering section never hurts either! 🙂

  5. My husband says we’re going to live until Haley’s Comet comes back when I’m 99 and he’s 101. That means I have 41 more years of living and learning to do – and that means throwing “can’t do” mind-sets out the window! I’d like to play a little piano or violin! Maybe I will! I’m taking a one day class next month to better photo faces manually with my camera – now that’s scary!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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