Developing a Growth Mindset and Its Role in Retirement
March 11, 2020

Have you ever found yourself saying things like…

“That will be too hard to accomplish.”

“There is no way I can learn that technique.”

“Learning Spanish would be cool, but it will take too much time and energy.” 

The list could go on. At times, people don’t have the right mindset or the right amount of energy, drive, and vision for what they really want and the steps to achieve. So, we settle for what comes our way. We settle in comfort. We find happiness in that, but deep inside wish for more for ourselves and our family. 

I have always thought of myself as someone who continued to learn and grow during my career. Throughout my adult life, I have always been interested in learning – reading books, attending seminars and retreats, leading meetings and workshops

Some were for personal growth, but when I think back, most of it had to do with being a good leader, making my business more efficient, and making my business more profitable. That went on for 40 years and I grew a lot. But looking back at my attempts, I realize I had a limited mindset when learning. I chose to learn things that I was always interested in or good at, but never truly pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I realized that I had to change to grow. 

Change Equals Growth

Change is inevitable. Without change, there is no growth.

So how do we change? A “growth mindset”, a buzzword of sorts, is a characteristic needed to make a change, to do more, to be better. 

In Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. she does a tremendous job of explaining the difference between limited and growth mindsets. Once you gain an understanding of that, she then leads you into steps to take to change that mindset for the better. Dr. Dweck dives into a discussion on the ability to make a change. Her book covers parenting, business, school, and relationships. There are takeaways for everyone, regardless of the stage of life you are in.  

When My Mindset Shifted

Two years prior to retiring, I had stepped down as our office leader and started to think about my retirement. I began researching how to live a fulfilling retirement, expecting to find endless knowledge, but quickly was surprised by the lack of information in regard to any topic other than finances.  Are finances important for retirement? Yes! But money doesn’t create happiness or fulfillment.

Questions like:

What are you going to do with your time?

Where do you see yourself for the next 15, 20, 30 years?

Will my daily routine keep me inspired?

Preparing for retirement is about so much more than being able to afford it.

This was the beginning of the shift for me. I realized in order to succeed in retirement, I need to change my mindset and give myself the resources to grow and learn for the next stage of my life. I poured myself into learning all that I could about retirement. I embarked on a journey to figure out how to live this time of my life with purpose, passion, and clarity.

I could not predict that my growth mindset would have brought me to where I am today, teaching and growing and learning with all of you. But this shift has allowed me to find fulfillment in ways I never thought possible.  

How You Create Your Own Shift

There are many ways in which you can make moves towards a “growth” mindset.  Carve out one hour a day for learning about a topic you are interested in. This could involve reading books, learning a new language, or taking a course online. My wife Jody is taking some courses at UPenn on applied positive psychology and she is really enjoying the reading and research she needs to do. She is writing papers, taking tests and attending classes via video online. For both of us, the more we learn and the more time we spend learning, the more our minds begin to open to new ideas and increased creativity.

Develop new habits. Find yourself a new addition to your routine, start a new fitness class, craft club, or simply journal every day. Here are some additional tips. 

Don’t put yourself in a box. Retirement doesn’t have to mean you are done working. Would you love to retire but you are still interested in having an impact in the workforce? Sit down and write a list of jobs that have always interested you. They can be full-time, part-time or even volunteer. Use this time to do what you really want to because you can. 

Mental decline is one of the most feared consequences of aging. Don’t that fear become reality.  Harvard Health has found some helpful tips to keep your brain sharp and your creativity flowing. 

Now that you are in this retirement phase, it is critical that you do not find yourself with all this free time and not sure what to do with it. Develop a shift in the way you think, strategize a realistic plan, and enjoy yourselves.

Your life doesn’t stop once you retire. How will you shift your mindset?

Leave any comments below about your mindfulness practice and the benefits you see.

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Markham Rollins is dedicated to developing meaningful, transformational journeys for career-oriented professionals when they’re facing—or anticipating—retirement. He serves as a guide for successful individuals who, up until now, have built their identity around their business and professional successes. Markham helps entrepreneurs and executives rewrite their story of retirement so that it is filled with purpose, passion, and clarity.