Using a Growth Mindset to Improve Your Attitude in 2021

I’m tired of hearing about how miserable 2020 was, aren’t you? I watched the mess that was New Year’s Rockin’ Eve to close out the year, and the constant references to our “unprecedented year” exhausted me.

But today is a new day, and we need to put last year behind us. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Our faith commands us to not wallow, but to have hope, to press forward, to seize the day! And there’s no better time to commit to that than in January, a fresh start to a new year in which new opportunities lie ahead. 

In last week’s article Why reading the Bible from start to finish is a life-changing resolution, I talked about how this one boost to your spiritual well-being can provide knowledge and understanding you never imagined. Single acts such as this one can transform your life, and the best part about them is that they are doable. Even if they seem daunting at first, as you tackle them one step at a time, you achieve a sense of satisfaction that drives your motivation to continue. 

So how can you make this year great? How can you end this year looking back at accomplishments and growth rather than sadness and stagnancy? 

It all comes from committing to a growth mindset. A growth mindset comes from believing you can be better and taking steps in that direction, even when you have no idea where those steps might lead. It’s understanding that hard work and perseverance will pay off. 

A concrete example of this is – sorry to bring it up – 2020. Those with a fixed mindset let their circumstances define them. They holed up and waited to be told it was okay to live again. When the routines that had become so familiar over the years were changed, they froze. They didn’t know how to modify, how to keep moving forward when obstacles were placed before them. If they always worked out at a gym, for example, they stopped exercising, since the gym was no longer available. 

Those with a growth mindset thought differently. They asked themselves, How can I still work, develop relationships, and exercise, even through this pandemic? By asking that question and believing there were answers, they explored opportunities and options. Then they created solutions. They worked from home. They set up home gyms and found online videos that took them through an exercise routine. They had Zoom socials or got together with one friend at a time. 

In other words, they kept on living, regardless of what was going on around them. They ensured their safety and their happiness. If all they did was survive the year with a smile on their faces, that was good. If they were able to learn about themselves and grow in other areas, expanding their horizons in different ways, even better. 

We all know people in both groups, don’t we? We know people who are depressed because their circumstances changed and they couldn’t control them any longer. But we also know people who took charge of their own lives during this time, who controlled what they could and let the rest go. Those people, across the board, are happier. Many of them have even found a way to flourish.

So let’s learn something from 2020 and carry it into 2021. Let’s concentrate on how we can apply a growth mindset to our lives. You can start small and tackle one area of your health, be it spiritual, emotional, or physical. Or you can apply this purely to your career. The key is to reshape your thinking from What will they (my boss, my spouse, my world) do to make my life better? to What can I do (right now, right here) to make my life better?

Once you do that, you will see a shift in your attitude. Keep applying it, and it will spread to other areas of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be taking ownership of your life. You’ll be asking God where He wants you and you’ll be striving to get there.

Remember 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, which tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

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Rebecca Deurlein
Rebecca Deurlein

Rebecca Deurlein is the author of Teenagers 101: What a top teacher wishes you knew about helping your kid succeed, and President of Teenager Success 101, a one-on-one academic coaching company dedicated to helping kids find success. She blogs and writes internationally, speaks to parents across the nation, and loves every minute of living in Sugar Land, TX. Find her on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Huffington Post, or through her own blog A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Teenagers. All can be accessed at