February 14, 2020

Mindset: the foundation for designing the career you want

Change starts with self-awareness and willingness to leave your comfort zone; it begins with mindset.

The phrase “everything starts with mindset” may seem like a cliché, but many people still struggle to appreciate what it really means. We all know that to succeed in life and in our careers, we need to begin by making changes within ourselves. We’ve also been told many times that the key to success is to believe in ourselves first.

Everyone is well aware of these basic truths, but the issue isn’t about knowing; it is about understanding why mindset is so crucial and knowing how to adopt and apply the right mindset in our own lives.

Why does everything need to begin with mindset? If we can act immediately and make behavioural changes, it would be better and faster, right? Well, for starters, all our behaviours stem from our mindset. That mindset is shaped by our experiences and beliefs, which are an integral part of who we are and the way we behave.

All our intentional reactions and unconscious behaviours happen because of our mindset.

Let’s say that we only change our behaviours without starting with our mindset. Sure, we might see some quick and immediate results. But in the long run, such a change is not sustainable because it is not embedded in our minds. As a result, we fall back to the same old ways.

Mindset comes in many forms, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that we must pick just one and then strive to shift in that direction. Most of us understand the concept of the “growth mindset”, which tells us that adversity and challenges are opportunities to grow, not a step back from success.

The Arbinger Institute, meanwhile, has drawn attention to the “outward mindset”, which tells us to stop thinking of other people as obstacles to our success and start seeing them as allies on the journey toward achieving it.

Both mindsets are quite important in their own way, tackling different aspects of the life and career journey. A growth mindset can influence your perspective on how you grow, while an outward mindset has a bearing on the effectiveness of your collaboration and teamwork skills.

Now that we understand what mindset is and why it is important for our success, what’s next? Here are some steps to take as you build begin the foundation for the career and life you desire.

The first step is to understand your own mindset through self-reflection and self-awareness.

Though seemingly easy, this can be tough and here’s why. The way we behave is often subconscious – we seldom think twice and often don’t think at all about the way we do our job.

Self-reflection can help us open our eyes to how we truly are, and how others see us. We can ask ourselves questions like: How did I react to the negative feedback my boss gave me? Did I become angry or demotivated and if so, why? Did I get annoyed at my colleague for asking me for help too often?

Once we’ve discovered more about ourselves, the second step is to connect our behaviour and reactions to other people’s reactions.

How do other people react to our behaviour? As assessing your mindset can be subjective, we can only understand our true mindset when we also connect other people’s behaviour toward our behaviour in a more objective way.

The third step is to recognise that your mindset can be shifted – but only if you choose to.

We’re all stubborn in our own ways, especially when we’ve been the way we are for our whole lives.

But, it is important to understand that if you want a change in your career and life, you have to step out and make some changes. If you feel you’ve been stuck in the same spot for too long, it is probably because you haven’t taken that first big step.

The fourth and final step is to define clearly the solid steps toward change and actually implement them.

We won’t do anything about a problem if we don’t decide what concrete steps we need t take to solve it.

Let’s say we’ve chosen to develop more of a growth mindset. The first concrete step you could take is to do something that you are uncomfortable with. When you expand your comfort zone by stepping out of it, you’ll soon realise that mistakes and failures are what help you grow.

Change isn’t always easy. We know we need to adapt to it because if we don’t, we won’t ever live the life and have the career we’ve always wanted. All of this connects to designing the life and career we want based on our perspective.

If we expect others to change so that we can pursue the career we want, then we will never attain it. However, if we shift our mindset to see things differently, it affects the way we work and the way we behave, and in turn helps us take that huge step forward toward toward the life and career we desire so much.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com. Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at https://www.yournextu.com