November 22


How to be happy even when your results suck (Growth Mindset Hacks Series)

By Harry Heijligers

November 22, 2017

Growth Mindset

This article is one in a series of Growth Mindset Hacks. Today the third growth mindset hack: How you can still be happy about yourself even when you don’t achieve your goals.

As said in this article, having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset, has numerous benefits for you. And the good news is that you too can develop a growth mindset. Read on, for today's growth mindset hack:


Realistic planning of the work you need to put in makes you happier and more successful.

"It’s not about the results you get, but how much effort you are willing to put into achieving your goals."

- Harry Heijligers

Most people, like me, are driven by goals. You set a goal, and then you get fixated on the target. It’s like someone who wants to lose 2 pounds and stands every day on the scale to see how much he has lost already. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Don’t get me wrong; it is good to set goals. They give you direction in life. But as soon as you have set them, you need to focus on the work you need to put in to achieve those goals. So, in this case, you need to focus on working out and eating healthier. That’s something you can control. What the scale “says”, you can’t control. So, why focus on something you can’t control?

Anyone who ever got frustrated with the results he got for working on a particular goal, including me, say "YES!"

Being successful doesn't come from setting the right goals and focusing on it. Instead, people who are highly successful are focusing on their goals at all. They focus on all the work they need to put in to achieve the success they want. Most of the time we want quick results because we don't like to do the work and we want instant gratification. However, that is the mindset of someone with a fixed mindset. Don’t try to control the things, you can’t control. That’s an illusion. And that is a pity because you focus on the wrong things. You better focus on the things you can control. That's why you need to be realistic about the effort you can put in and adapt your goals accordingly.

When writing this article, for example, I don't focus on the deadline and the number of words and quality this article should have. Sure, I have set a goal, but I don’t focus on it because I know that achieving a goal is just a byproduct of the writing process. So, I only focus on the process of writing this article.

I believe that if you start focusing on effort instead of results, you will be not only much happier but at the same time also more successful. Focusing on effort instead of results gives you control, and that’s something everyone likes to have. I can control how much I work out every day. Is it 10 minutes, 20, 30? I can also control how much I eat on a day. Furthermore, I can evaluate my day based on the effort I have put in. So, did I really work out 20 minutes as I promised to do? And did I really eat as healthy as I promised myself to do? If yes, then I can be very satisfied with myself because I did what I promised myself to do.

Now, here comes the trick! If I did exactly work out as I promised to do, for a whole month, and eat as healthy as I promised to do, then I can be very proud and satisfied about myself, or can’t I? No matter what the scale “says” at the end of the month? Yes, that’s right. So, when I stand on the scale at the end of the month, and it happens to be that I lost only 1 pound instead of 2, now what? Should I beat myself up! Should I be disappointed? Should I be frustrated, feeling hopeless and say “Why is this happening to me?” All because I didn’t lose 2 pounds as I thought it I would? No, of course not.

If you don’t get the results from the work you have put in, it only means that your expectation was based on the wrong assumptions. If you assumed that eating healthier and working out for 20 minutes every day, leads to losing 2 pounds in one month, then now you know that this is wrong. So, what you can learn from this is, that you need two months to achieve your goal, or that you should have worked out 40 minutes per day to get the same result within one month. But, what’s done is done. So, now you can course correct based on the learnings. And you should still be proud and happy about yourself because you have put in all the work you promised to do. The only thing that went wrong is that your assumptions were not correct. But hey, that happens all the time!

To make it real and easy for you, I invite you to follow the steps below, so that you too can become more successful and happy.

Don't believe me?

Just try it out for yourself! What do you have to lose?

So, to develop and strengthen your growth mindset, so that you will be happier and more successful, follow these steps:

1) Realize that setting goals give you direction in your life, which is good. But it doesn’t predict the outcome that direction.

2) Realize that every prediction about the outcome is an assumption. You can only test that assumption by putting in the work and then evaluate afterward.

3) Decide on your evaluation period, for example, one month.

4) Plan the work you want to put in for the next period. Set a goal based on the planned effort and assumed progress.

5) Evaluate after one month:
- Based on the one month result you got, check if your progress-assumptions are right. If not, adapt them.
- Repeat the cycle from step 4.

Having a growth mindset means that you know that you can always achieve more than you think you are capable of right now if only you put in the work to achieve it. The focus, as said earlier in this blog article, should not be on your results. Results are only a reflection of the work you have put in to get to those results. Instead, you should focus on putting in the effort. Be the cause of your effects and results. So, your focus should be effort based.

And when you see the progress you will make yourself - you will have your own experience how realistic planning of the work you need to put in makes you happier and more successful.

I'm totally excited for the coming weeks to come! It will only take a mind-shift from your side. Another way of looking at your work and planning.

And until you begin to see the change in your life, let me know in the comment box below, what is your view on this Growth Mindset Hack, and I'll try to support you with that.

And until we meet …

Live fully, be awesome,

Harry Heijligers

P.S. Please take a moment to share this article. Everyone should have the chance to change his mindset for the better, don’t you think?

Thank you!

Harry Heijligers

About the author

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here:
If you'd like to know about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.

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