Developing a growth mindset (helpful when dealing with tough news)

Being delivered a blow, such as losing your job is really tough. You’re likely to experience a range of emotions, which are normal, but can make it difficult to move forward. Developing a ‘growth mindset’ is a great way to help in these situations. We’ll explain here what we mean when we say growth mindset.

Whether you lose your job because of redundancy, termination or for other reasons, it normally comes as a complete shock (and that includes people who had some inkling of possible change). It can turn your world upside down. Not only the significant loss of income, but this sometimes raises questions about our self-worth. Many of us define ourselves by what we do in our work. We calibrate who we are and our self-worth by the things we accomplish, or do not accomplish. So the first thing we need to do is stop and breathe, share the news with someone you trust, and give yourself some time to just absorb what happened.

Your focus is then on your own future (what happened is in the past, and unless you are taking legal action, it’s best seen as the past). For your future think about acceptance, reframing and moving forward. In Carol Dweck’s book, ‘Mindset’ she suggest that when you suffer a setback you need to be of a mindset that will take risks, confront challenges and keep ‘working at it’- she calls this a growth mindset. A fixed mindset will limit your options (i.e I am limited by what I know I can do and am not likely to learn new things).

Try the following:

  • Give yourself time to breathe and clear your mind. Take a walk, do some exercise, talk to someone.
  • Do something for yourself, preferably in the company of someone you care about, no matter what it is.
  • Imagine the future, know there will be one, and think how it may be even better than the current.
  • How you get there will become part of your plan (more on this in another blog). First imagine your vision and let your next steps be governed by your future aspirations, not your past experiences.
  • Develop a daily mantra, maybe on a post-it notes somewhere visible – ‘I’ll survive, maybe this is a good thing, I will be equipped to move forward’

So with a growth mindset acceptance becomes easier, aspirations for the future surface and moving on becomes an exciting prospect.

Remember: Tell yourself something like this daily; I’ll survive, in fact maybe this is a good thing. Wow, actually I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. What am I going to do next? I can work that out. I feel I’ve got a new sense of purpose; I can look to the future with a renewed energy.