Step 5: Adapt a mindset for success

Step 5: Adapt a mindset for success


High achievers get the results they want because they have the right attitude. It's important to understand the power of your thoughts in shaping your feelings and behaviour.

Verity Aylward

Confucius said: Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This also applies to school life, which can be a bit like climbing The Dragon's Back - it has its ups and downs.

Overcoming each challenge can be exhausting, but getting to the top brings great relief and reward.

Each step you take is the action that's needed to get you to your destination. But it's your thoughts, your sense of self-belief that controls each step.

Successful independent learners get the results they want because they have the right mindset. There are two different types of learning mindset: The Growth Mindset and The Fixed Mindset

The Growth Mindset represents thoughts and beliefs that can help you achieve your full potential. This is an important element of the mindset for success.

The Fixed Mindset represents thoughts and beliefs that prevent students from achieving their full potential.

These beliefs can hinder your chances of success; you might not get the results you want.

Your state of mind

The Growth Mindset/Mindset for Success

You believe:

you can learn to be intelligent

geniuses succeed because they are passionate and determined

success has a great deal to do with effort

one can learn from failure

you can control and change your thoughts and beliefs

The Fixed Mindset/Mindset for Limited Success

You believe:

intelligence is fixed from birth; you either have it or you don't

geniuses are born with great abilities; they were meant to succeed

success can be limited no matter how hard you try

failure is bad; it's a reason to suffer

You may have found it easy to decide which mindset represents you, or you may have thought you're a little bit of both.

Sometimes our state of mind can change; one day we feel positive and on others we may feel negative.

Mindset has a massive effect on your success at school and in life.

It's hugely important to understand the power of our thoughts in shaping our feelings and behaviour.

Mindset for success

The mindset for success leads to attitudes and behaviour that will help you get to your destination.

You are human though, so it's important to allow for negative thoughts and feelings.

But if they make you give up easily or stop believing in yourself, then you limit so many possibilities.

Strategies for mind success

1 Visualisation - Have a clear idea about what you want to achieve from any learning opportunity. Picture it in your own head or write it down. You might be motivated by grades or other rewards, a future career or lifestyle. Train yourself to believe that you can reach this goal. Recall it whenever you feel low or distracted. Does somebody who is hugely successful motivate you? Investigate their life story. Often, people who face huge obstacles become enormously successful because they never let go of their dream.

2 Get rid of negative thoughts - Some of your thoughts will be very useful to you, so you need to hold onto them. Others might make you feel bad. These thoughts need to be processed and released. Think for yourself and don't let anybody shake your confidence in your own abilities. Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. How else would you learn to ride a bike?

3 Tap into the peak learning state - There are different kinds of brain waves that play a part in learning. If we are relaxed, it's easier to focus. Alpha waves occur at the point of waking or just before we go to sleep, yet we can induce them through relaxed and focused breathing. This opens up both the right and left brain: we are open to learning, both creatively and logically.

4 Nourish your body - If you feel low, or your mind is spinning, the best thing you can do is work up a sweat. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and help you to relax. You might not feel like it at first but it works. Eat healthy food and sleep for at least eight hours a night. Looking after your body will take care of your mind.

Verity Aylward has been a secondary school teacher for more than 10 years. She is the author of the book Mind Explosion: Max Out Your Brain for Exam Success. For more information about the author and her book, go to


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