Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

It's been a while since I've signed on to PA. That was a mistake. As a means of returning to the fold I'll discuss what I think is an obvious facet of some peoples' procrastination: fixed mindset. It must have been mentioned somewhere on the site, but as I didn't find it in the articles or to a large extent in the forums I decided to cover it in more depth. 

This is an article based on the research of Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007). I'm sorry for plugging the book so blatantly but credit must be given. Dweck characterises people as having either a fixed mindset - one that says that skills are innate and limited - or a growth mindset - one that sees effort not as shameful or embarassing but as a means of improvement. I never knew how much I suffered from a fixed mindset until I evaluated just how automatically I dismiss new challenges. It's a hopeless spiral that insists on sticking only with what you can do naturally, as this will guarantee success and avoid the overblown fear: that you aren't naturally talented in some area or another. If one thinks that natural talent is required for success then naturally they will deem themselves a failure in some areas and avoid challenge that would bring that notion to light. The fixed mindset says, "Give up, it's too late - you won't be like those successful people out there. They started earlier in life and had a gift. If I worked towards success in the same field I would appear desperate and incompetent." And guess what? Giving up is the safest option, the one that will not completely ruin self-esteem, lifestyle, or anything else that is unproductive but unthreatening. 

The fundamental issue at work seems to be the scope and direction of objectives. Fixed mindset seems to make the success of others the goal. A growth mindset has a continual process of mastery as the goal. One views others' success as a threat and causes a shutdown, while the other is not afraid to examine the information gleaned from someone else's success, even if that means confronting one's own weaknesses at the moment.

I could go on but the article says it better. It comes down to this: some procrastinators probably suffer from a fixed mindset rather than an intolerance for unpleasant tasks or inattention, etc. If that is the case it is crucial to switch to a growth mindset.  

Thanks for this

Thanks for your post Vaskaat :)

It was a revelation for me when I was frustrated with calculus and realized that you don't have to be a "math genius" to be good at math- most people just do lots of problems! And that I wasn't "dumb", I just wasn't doing all the problem sets.

I'm wondering if that has been part of my funk lately. I have been "fixated" on other people when that just makes me feel worse.

Sure thing

Glad you liked it. Hopefully you've never had to deal with constant, even compulsive comparisons to some external expectation. That approach never seems to work; even those who use it as a goal still focus on what works for them, rather than wanting to duplicate someone else's life and giving up when it doesn't work. How could it? 

- "A procrastinator's work is never done."