learn how to grow into your true potential

Learn How to Grow into Your True Potential

Posted By Allie Cuno on February 26, 2021

The Research-Backed Science of Success

We’re a good two months into the new year ... the year of new beginnings, new vaccines, and new possibilities. Undoubtedly, you made some New Year’s resolutions back in January. How’s that working out for you?

If you’re hanging your head low right now, listen up. Studies have shown that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed by the start of February.1 That doesn’t surprise me, based on my own track record. Yet we still put those same unfulfilled goals down on paper the next year, and the next. Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Let’s stop the insanity. Let’s examine some of the old patterns below that are NOT working for us, and try something new––are you with me?

Roadblocks on Our Path to Success

We settle into our comfort zone. Inertia is the resistance an object has to a change in its state of motion. That describes me at times­­­––how about you? The truth is, if we don’t consciously push ourselves to achieve, we’ll end up choosing Netflix over studying online, or surfing the web over a brisk walk. Inertia also causes us to procrastinate. Saying “I’ll start my goal tomorrow” or “the time just isn’t right” are often excuses that keep us safe within our comfort zone.

We trade long-term happiness for fleeting comfort or pleasure. We want the reward NOW which can throw us into a vicious cycle. For example, we may want to lose weight, but when we give in to a box of cookies that provide instant pleasure, it brings despair, which in turn makes us more vulnerable to devouring the next batch of cookies, which brings me to the next point ....

We focus on failures. Focusing on past failures is the best way to never achieve your potential. When we ruminate on all the times we gave in and failed, we begin to define ourselves as overall failures. Eventually, it becomes difficult to visualize any success in our lives. 

Our Grey Matter Is in the Driver’s Seat

You'll notice that all the obstacles mentioned above have to do with how and what we think. No doubt about it ... our state of mind ultimately determines whether we succeed or fail. How do we keep a state of mind that helps us achieve our potential? Let's turn to research to find some answers.

Growth Mindset: The Science Behind Achieving Your Potential

Let’s go on a brief journey to learn about “growth mindset.” According to an increasing amount of research,2 growth mindset is what enables us to believe we can succeed at something, and thus be willing to put in the hard work to achieve it. Since we know that thoughts determine our reality, whether for better or worse, it’s time to put our thoughts into success mode!

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset. Carol Dweck3 has spent decades doing research into the way we learn, and she has hard evidence to back up the belief that “yes, your mindset matters!” In short, she says the mind can be measured on a continuum. At one end of the scale is a “growth mindset.” People with this mindset believe they can change their intelligence and abilities based on how much effort they put into it. Those on the other end of the scale with the “fixed mindset” consider those things to be set traits. You’re born with a certain level of talents and smarts and there’s not much you can do about it.   

What Carol Dweck discovered in her research is that people with a growth mindset not only learn more new things, but they also learn those new things faster and better. She found the long-term outcomes showed the students with a growth mindset got better grades and gained higher levels of achievement later in life. They achieved more of their goals and set their sights on more successful paths.

Growth mindset: the power to stick in there. She further explains that “no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” According to her research, a growth mindset is what motivates you to put forth the effort and get through the difficulties of learning something new. You’re working for something you know you can achieve, so you’re more at peace with any effort it entails. 

When you truly believe you have the ability to grow and overcome obstacles, you are much more motivated to put in the hard work to get you there. But if you’re in a fixed mindset, well ... you’re stuck!

How to Develop Your Growth Mindset

This is where the fun begins ... our transformation. Let’s learn how to tip the mindset scale in our favor. If you generally have a fixed mindset, here’s what you do:

Scavenge your brain to create a list of areas in your life where you did/do  have a growth mindset. Think back on past achievements. Perhaps there was a class you excelled in, a new skill you learned at work, or even a computer game you picked up quickly.

Now, think of a goal you want to accomplish––something small you can complete in a few days. Approach this goal from a growth mindset, knowing that if you put in the effort, it’s achievable. It’s critical that you remind yourself daily of past experiences where you learned something difficult by working really hard for it. Once accomplished, praise yourself for the effort you put in and the achievement you made.

Success breeds success, so once you’ve accomplished one goal, you’ll be more motivated to take on another, and another. 

Apply the Growth Mindset to Earn a Degree

People have hundreds of excuses for not earning a degree. And those excuses have kept thousands from reaching their potential and creating a promising future. Annihilate those excuses with a growth mindset!

No time? An online degree allows you to learn any time, day or night. Family responsibilities? A degree and new career may provide more family time in the long term. No money for school? Check out financial aid options. You may be surprised at what you might qualify for.

Independence University (IU) provides a streamlined path to your degree with 24/7 online learning for flexibility, so you can still work and meet family obligations while earning your degree. Enrollment at IU even includes one-on-one tutoring, so any road bumps in learning can be smoothed away, showing a clear-cut path to your degree.

Apply the growth mindset to your life today. With the right mindset, you can achieve your potential. Apply the tips in this article. Better yet, read more on Carol Dweck’s work on the growth mindset. Your first small goal can be as simple as looking over IU’s website and calling our admissions consultants for more information.  

You now have a roadmap for success, with research that backs up the results. Let’s get to work! 


Allie Cuno is a human-interest writer for Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE).



  1. https://www.thetimestribune.com/news/local_news/tips-for-making-sure-your-new-years-resolutions-stick/article_8cd14b54-17fd-51a9-ab5a-89859e6e34c4.html
  2. https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/
  3. https://www.mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/people/carol-dweck/