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If you’ve been struggling to identify your life purpose, consider this…
Having a fixed mindset can prevent you from exploring new passions and from finding your purpose in life.
Your fixed mindset does its best to stop you from trying and learning new things.
I know this to be true because I went through the same thing.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized I had a fixed mindset and uncovered all the ways it was keeping me unhappy, stuck in the past, and causing me to sabotage any attempt to move forward with my life.
And that included all attempts to discover my life purpose and add more meaning to my life.
Finding your purpose in life requires growth. Which means pushing past your current limitations. And there’s nothing a fixed mindset hates more than going outside of its comfort zone.
As I wrote in How to Stop Playing Small and Expand in Life, your comfort zone is there for your protection. It’s built into you. A leftover survival mechanism from our ancestors.
The comfort zone itself isn’t the problem though. The problem is believing you have to stop yourself from pushing past it.
Because the truth is … the best things in life, including discovering your life’s purpose, only happen by venturing outside of your comfort zone.
Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life
At this point you might be asking, “what’s the big deal about finding my purpose in life?”.
Well, people who operate from an inner sense of purpose are known to live happier, more meaningful lives. They tend to recover from setbacks faster, handle stress better, and experience more inner peace.
Purpose-driven individuals know who they are, what they want, and where they want to go in life. Their life purpose acts as an internal compass leading the way.
Related reading: 4 Life-Changing Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life
Studies have shown that those with a purpose in life stay healthier and even live longer than those without a sense of purpose.
If you haven’t been able to discover your purpose, chances are, you either don’t know where to look, don’t know how to recognize it, or you have a mindset (or belief system) blocking it.
In this article, we’ll be talking about the last one. And look at three kinds of fixed mindsets that could be blocking you from realizing your purpose in life.
Once you uncover what’s holding you back, you’ll be one step closer to finding your life purpose, becoming who you were born to be, and making more of a difference in the world.
3 Ways Your Fixed Mindset Might Be Holding Your Life Purpose Hostage
Before we get into the three ways fixed mindsets can hold you back from finding your life purpose, I should give you a brief description of the term, fixed mindset.
So what is a “fixed mindset”?
According to Carol Dweck, Stanford professor, and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success …
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”
In other words, you believe you were born a certain way and you can’t change it.
Meaning, you are either good at something or not. Smart or not. Confident or not. Naturally talented at something or not.
And if you’re not … you’ll never be as good as someone who was born with that talent, skill, characteristic, or trait.
A fixed mindset also believes that any type of failure or criticism is damaging to your entire identity. Because it means your capabilities and talents were never good enough, to begin with.
It doesn’t sound like an easy way to go through life, does it?
Well, now that we got that out of the way, here are three ways having a fixed mindset can stop you from discovering your purpose in life.
1) A Fixed Mindset Stops You From Following Your Curiosity
What is curiosity and what does it have to do with finding your purpose in life?
Oxford dictionary defines curiosity as a strong desire to know or learn something.
Well, a fixed mindset can block that desire. Preventing you from learning and growing in the areas where your purpose might be “hiding”.
“One of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity. That’s because curiosity — a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something — creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy and delight.”
Living with purpose is a journey of growth and learning. Your purpose evolves with you as you become more of who you were meant to be. And your inner curiosity guides you to the areas you need to explore next.
Related reading: Blog Manifesto
On the contrary, when you feel like you already know everything you need to know, you’ll lack the desire to find and explore new passions
Even if you have an interest that starts to lead you into a new area, your fixed mindset won’t let you believe it could be right for you.
It’ll question whether it’s the right path, hobby, teacher, course, philosophy, etc. And make you doubt your judgment for even considering it.
This is a problem because following my inner curiosity is what led me to all of the passions, interests, hobbies, and vocations I’ve had over the past fifteen or so years.
- Journal writing
- Introspective poetry
- Energy healing and Reiki
- Non-duality yoga
- Fiction writing
- Rubik’s and speedcubing
- Knife and sword collecting
- Craft beer tasting
What’s the Difference Between a Fixed and Growth Mindset?
Following my desire to learn and grow is how I started living with purpose.
It came to me through learning and exploring areas I knew nothing about. Including topics I previously had zero interest in, like spirituality.
Back story: I was a math and science person by nature. Into electronics. Fixed mindset. Great at memorization. Logical (everything had one right answer). For the first 24 years of my life, I didn’t consider myself creative, a good writer and religious subjects turned me off.
It was an unpredictable turn of events that led to the study of metaphysics, human behavior, and the subconscious mind. And from there, I learned how to transform pain into purpose … and made finding purpose in life the major theme of my life.
It involved asking questions (on paper and to the universe) and then researching until I found answers that satisfied me. But soon I’d be unsatisfied again and need to go deeper and deeper, as my curiosity and passion for the topic grew.
I followed every breadcrumb no matter where it led.
And as my mindset became more growth-oriented, I didn’t mind not knowing where I was being led. It became exciting.
At first, I would think I knew where I was going, but one answer would lead to more questions, sometimes taking me in a completely new and unpredictable direction.
It sounds like that should be the end of the story, but guess what?
Following your curiosity into new directions leads to new options to try, new people to meet, and new experiences to have … which means … your comfort zone will feel more and more threatened by the newness of it all.
2) A Fixed Mindset Makes You Afraid to Try New Things
A fixed mindset does its best to keep you from going outside of your comfort zone.
Have you ever heard the term neophobia?
According to Wikipedia:
“Neophobia is the fear of anything new, especially a persistent and abnormal fear. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine.”
Another explanation I found came from Rosewoman.com and says:
“Neophobia: A fear-based response to the unknown or the new. Can show up as being stuck in a rut, or as an unwillingness to try anything new or change a routine.”
So as you can see, fear of trying new things is more than just a characteristic of a fixed mindset. It can become a full-blown neurological condition if you aren’t careful.
How does the fear of trying new things prevent you from finding your purpose in life?
Well, your comfort zone consists of your known talents, skill areas, abilities that come easy to you, as well as your beliefs about yourself and your capabilities.
When you won’t venture outside of your comfort zone due to fear of failure, criticism, or fear of finding out you can’t do something well, you’re also preventing yourself from venturing into the unknown where your life purpose might be.
Your fixed mindset would rather avoid hurting your sense of self and hold onto the self-image it’s built up than find out who you truly are and what you’re ultimately capable of becoming.
For example, your fixed mindset will have you believe you are only good at certain things and can only be good at those things.
And when you do try to learn something new, and inevitably face the challenges every beginner has to face, your fixed mindset interprets it as you not being good at it or not good enough in general.
This might not seem so bad if we’re just talking about a new hobby or something that doesn’t matter to you. Because you can always move onto something else that might come easier.
But what if it’s your life’s purpose we’re talking about?
That’s where developing a growth mindset comes into play…
How Does a Growth Mindset Help You in Life?
What if you’ve narrowed down your purpose and it’s led to a career that resonates with your strengths and talents on every level except one … you’ll need to have good memory skills.
The problem is, you’ve spent the majority of your life telling yourself you have a bad memory.
Well, if you have a fixed mindset, you might give up on your purpose then and there. Telling yourself that you must’ve come up with the wrong purpose because there’s no way you were born to do something that requires a good memory since you don’t have one.
“Many people limit what is possible for their life and what is possible for their purpose by believing that whatever it is they would want to do has to be something that they’re already good at.”
But if you’ve made a habit of growing outside of your comfort zone, you might consider that the mind can be out of shape just like the body … so maybe you can train your mind (and memory) as a muscle.
It’s more obvious when it’s something physical, like the body because you can see it. So people more readily accept it.
But when it’s something invisible like the mind, someone with a fixed mindset would rather throw on a label like “bad memory” and self diagnose an incurable mental illness than learn how to exercise the mind properly.
In our society, we just don’t know any better because most of us weren’t exposed to meditation, relaxation techniques, or concentration training early in life.
So just because you’re not good at something right away or haven’t heard of it before, doesn’t mean it can’t be leading you towards your purpose in life.
And just because you haven’t discovered your purpose yet, doesn’t mean you don’t have one.
3) A Fixed Mindset Makes You Believe You Don’t Have a Purpose in Life
In other words, you won’t let yourself believe there’s more to you than who you’ve always been or that there’s more to life than what you currently know about and have experienced.
The concept of ‘life purpose’ itself might sound like something made up from the viewpoint of this type of fixed mindset.
I mean … How do you know if you have a purpose in life?
It’s a valid question.
Personally, I believe everyone has a purpose, a unique part to play in the world, and that we’re happiest and most at peace when we align with our purpose and follow our inner guidance.
I also believe our purpose interconnects us with the rest of the world. And since we live in an interconnected Universe, what we do and who we become affects everyone around us.
It’s easy (for me) to believe that now, but I didn’t always believe that.
For years I felt like life was meaningless and repetitive. Like I was just another cog in the machine. No different than anyone else and expendable.
From the scarcity mentality of a fixed mindset, that world-view made sense.
With a fixed mindset comes limiting beliefs about yourself, the world, and the way life works for you. The way life works in general.
From a fixed mindset, it’s easy to apply a “one size fits all” model to your understanding of the world. Because a fixed mindset prefers for there to be only one correct answer to a problem.
But even though it makes sense to you, it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Your current belief system is preventing you from being open to seeing life and yourself in new ways.
For example, you might not believe in your purpose when you find it because it seems too far outside of your beliefs of what you can do or achieve.
It’ll feel like wishful thinking and “fantasy” if you’ve spent most of your life playing small and thinking “realistically”.
“You need to see clues. You need to feel progress. You need to know that having purpose is possible.”
A fixed mindset feels threatened when you try to see yourself in new ways, playing new roles, or becoming someone different.
It might go as far as to make you feel undeserving of having a purpose or wanting a better life altogether.
But don’t believe it. Those are your limiting beliefs talking.
If you have a fixed mindset you’d better get used to limiting beliefs creeping up. Because limiting beliefs and a fixed mindset are besties.
How Are Limiting Beliefs Preventing You From Finding Your Purpose?
If you haven’t heard of limiting beliefs before, you can think of them as all the excuses and objections you give yourself, the negative beliefs you have about yourself, and the stories you tell yourself over and over that keep you from going after the things you truly want in life.
In essence, a fixed mindset is itself, one massive limiting belief!
We all have them. They can creep up from anywhere, and while pursuing any goal.
Limiting Belief Example
Here’s an example of a limiting belief I discovered a few days ago while reading Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
I’ve been holding onto the limiting belief that I can only have what I absolutely need. And that it’s selfish or somehow “unspiritual” to want more than the bare minimum I need.
It came up while reading the part of Think and Grow Rich about imagining myself in possession of the $5 million net worth I set as my monetary goal (Definite Chief Aim in Life, Chapter 2).
When I read the daily script, I start coming up with all types of reasons why I don’t need that much. How I can live on a lot less and be fine. My family can be fine. I don’t need to make their futures easier or leave them money. Blah blah blah.
That’s a limiting belief if I’ve ever heard one!
Something about selfishness or undeserving.
As if it’s saying my reasons for wanting it aren’t good enough or valid.
Like I should put my attention on other things and settle for what I already have.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for what I have and the life we have, there’s a difference.
But there’s also nothing wrong with wanting my family to have more money and more opportunities to live a better (more full) life.
A life where we can afford to solve home, auto, and medical problems as soon as they come up.
Where we have a house big enough for each of our sons to have a room of his own and a fenced-in yard to safely play in.
Or where I have the money saved to help my kids start a business doing something they love to do if that’s where their journey leads them.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
These feelings lead me to believe that I still have something inside of me (feelings or mindset or limiting beliefs) where it’s not ok to want more money.
And I don’t understand where the guilt (or undeserving part) is coming from yet.
I mean, I’m not trying to take anything from or hurt anyone. I’m trying to help people and make the world a better place for my readers, my family, and myself.
The value I plan to give in exchange for the money centers around my purpose in life …
“I, George McMillan, Jr., will coach, teach, and guide people on how to find their purpose, upgrade their mindset, overcome limiting beliefs, and empower themselves so they can live happier, more meaningful lives and make a positive difference in the world.”
But I shouldn’t have to justify my reasons to myself over and over.
And neither should you when it comes to believing you have a life purpose and knowing that you deserve to have one.
Limiting beliefs are FALSE beliefs.
Once you uncover them and question their legitimacy, they dissolve.
Conclusion – Can a Fixed Mindset Be Changed?
In this article, you learned that your fixed mindset can sabotage your attempts to find your life purpose.
Your fixed mindset can kill your desire to learn new things, twist the idea of venturing outside of your comfort zone into a phobia, and can convince you that you don’t have a purpose at all.
But now that you understand how a fixed mindset may be preventing you from discovering your purpose in life, the obvious next step is to work on developing a growth mindset.
With a growth mindset you’ll be able to:
- Passionately follow your curiosity and explore new areas of life as you’re led closer to finding your true purpose.
- Enjoy growing outside of your comfort zone, while having new experiences, discovering new passions and interests, and meeting like-minded people who might have a similar life purpose.
- See your life, yourself, and the world in new ways. Self-empowering ways where you get to choose how you see the world and what you believe is possible for yourself.
After reading the growth mindset examples above, your next question should be …
How Do I Develop a Growth Mindset?!
Long answer: Develop new habits that are the opposite of a fixed mindset.
Meaning, explore your curiosities, try new things and let yourself suck at them at first, practice being open to other people’s opinions and belief systems, look for new ways of doing things, and question your self-image.
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
-Carol S. Dweck
Short answer: You learn from people who already have a growth mindset!
To help you with that, here’s a list of growth and abundance mindset books from authors who are experts on the subject.
It’s a great place to start. And you should have no trouble finding one that resonates with you.
But remember, you can learn something from everyone but only you can determine what’s right for you and your path. The solutions are ultimately inside of you.
The more you learn to trust yourself and your decisions, the more confidence you’ll gain, and the more empowered you’ll feel.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!
P.S. – Don’t forget to grab my free ebook before you leave. It goes deeper into detail about overcoming the limiting beliefs holding you back from moving forward in your life.