This has been a year of transitions, and it can feel overwhelming when we experience a number of changes all at once. Here are a few tips to help you live (and thrive) through change.
Take stock of change
While it may feel overwhelming, taking stock of the changes we are experiencing or making can help us process them. Grab a blank sheet of paper or use an app to create four columns:
Column 1: Changes
Write down the changes you’re currently experiencing or making in your life. This could include things like remote classes, moving or changing your major. Write each change down on a separate line.
Column 2: Feelings
How do these changes make you feel? Write down all of the feelings you have for each change in column 2. Remember, it’s possible to experience positive and negative emotions at the same time. Try not to judge what emotions come up for you.
Column 3: Behaviors
Once you’ve identified your feelings, consider how your behavior has been affected by these changes. For instance, you may find yourself going for walks more often to get outside or staring blankly at your screen because you’re feeling Zoomed out. Write down all the ways your behaviors or habits have changed in column 3.
Column 4: Positives
Finally, consider the positive aspects of these changes. This can be tricky, but looking on the bright side can help improve your mood and move forward with change in a positive way. For instance, being remote may mean that you get to spend more time with your pets or perhaps you can sleep in longer. Add all the positives, big and small.
Once you’ve completed your columns, look at what you have written. Do you notice any patterns or themes? Consider adding an additional column to brainstorm self-care activities you can practice to help you cope with each change.
Develop a growth mindset
Our mindset is informed by attitudes and opinions that shape how we see, interact and think about the world around us. Mindsets are often split into two categories: fixed and growth.
People with fixed mindsets tend to believe that their qualities are fixed and there is little room for change or improvement. They may also focus on areas that allow them to use their innate talents and intelligence to succeed, while avoiding subjects that require substantial effort, new skills or that may result in mistakes or failure.
People with a growth mindset tend to believe that they can improve their intelligence and talents through time, experience and learning. They are more likely to accept challenges, see mistakes as learning opportunities and welcome feedback, both positive and negative.
These mindsets exist along a continuum, and it’s normal to experience both in different areas of your life. If you’re curious about where you fall, check out this mindset continuum worksheet.
Moving toward a growth mindset
Did you know you can change your mindset? It’s true! People with fixed mindsets can work to develop a growth mindset. Here are a few ways you can move toward a growth mindset:
- Add “yet”. If you are struggling with a class, project or activity, it can be helpful to add “yet” to the end of your thoughts. For instance, I can’t do this… yet. Adding “yet” can help you create a more positive outlook because it implies that you can reach your goals and your hard work will pay off in the future.
- Focus on the lesson. When we have a fixed mindset, we tend to focus on our shortcomings. Instead, focus on what you can gain or learn from your mistakes or failures. For instance, you can ask yourself questions like “What has this experience taught me that I can apply in the future?” or “What would I do differently next time?”
- Think of feedback as a gift. Constructive feedback can feel overwhelming when we have a fixed mindset. Developing a growth mindset often requires us to think of feedback as a gift that someone is giving us or a gift we can give someone else. Remember that people often give feedback as a way to help you improve or grow in your work. Try soliciting feedback from people who you see as experts and allow them to help you improve.
Connect with resources
Whether you have a fixed or growth mindset, change can still be a challenging experience. Remember that it’s okay to ask for support and use campus resources.
- Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has a number of virtual mental health programs to help students process change and life transitions, including individual counseling, Let’s Talk consultations and workshops.
- Health Promotion provides a number of free programs to help students focus on self-care, gratitude, stress management and mindfulness. Students can also meet with a Peer Wellness Coach to set goals, connect with additional resources and find support.
- Human Resources: Student Affairs Human Resources hosted a number of presentations on growth mindset as part of their Employee Learning Week. Follow along with recorded presentations and learn more strategies for developing a growth mindset.
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Content for this article was provided by Mike Murray, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives in CU Boulder’s Department of Human Resources.