“When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world — the world of fixed traits — success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other — the world of changing qualities — it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.”
― Carol S. Dweck
There are two types of people: those that make excuses for their circumstances, and those that succeed despite their circumstances.
Something I learned when I reached my mid-twenties was that a lot of people gain weight around this time, especially those who sit at a desk all day. Something else I learned was people will have endless excuses for this reality.
There are two mindsets that we commonly see when it comes to weight gain/health/fitness (and the rest of life). The first mindset defaults to making excuses for bad behavior, and the second mindset succeeds despite external circumstances. You can read more about these mindsets in Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset (which was the best book I read in 2016).
Which one do you relate to more?
The Fixed Mindset
The “fixed” mindset is easily recognizable. Most of what happens is out of your control, and the circumstances around you dictate the level of success, progress, and general happiness in your life. You can’t really get any better, and you don’t have any ability to change the life around you in any significant way. For instance, since you’re not a “morning person,” you could never wake up consistently at 6:00am to work out or journal.
Let’s apply the Fixed Mindset to the weight gain/desk job scenario. Since you’re really busy at work, that prevents you from going on walks or jogging during lunch. Packing healthy lunches takes a lot of time, and you often forget to schedule it on Sunday evenings, your only time to do so. So, you really don’t have a choice, and the only other option is more fast food.
And even if you tried to work out/eat healthy (which you’ve tried! Many times!), you would just end up reverting back to who you really are, so why put in a ton of work if it won’t even matter?
Some possible solutions might be moving to a country where healthy options are more convenient, like Asia or something. Man, if all I had to eat was rice, meat, and veggies, I’d lose all this weight in no time! Dang! Oh well.
The Growth Mindset
Whereas the Fixed Mindset makes excuses on behalf of life, the Growth Mindset is completely independent from external circumstances. If you have an hour commute each way to your full-time desk job, that doesn’t mean you’re resigned to the fact that you simply can’t be healthy in that environment. That means you have to work extra hard to stay in shape.
While others might browse social media on their breaks, you’re going on 15 minute power walks in between meetings. You studiously plan ahead for the weekend so you’ll prepare healthy lunches for the week. When you get home, you’re out the door in under 10 minutes with your jogging clothes because you know once you sit down, you’re not going to want to get up after your long day.
For people who choose the Growth Mindset, moving to another country where healthy food is more convenient (which isn’t even true, there are healthy options all around you, wherever you live) isn’t a solution, because that depends on external circumstances to make your life what you want it to be.
It’s your choice, and no one else’s. If you want your ideal life, you need to make it happen, despite all external circumstances.
On a personal note
The above scenario isn’t made up, it’s the reality my wife and I are facing as we prepare for our 12 month contract to teach English in South Korea. We’re both motivated to lose weight and eat healthier, but wouldn’t it be easier to just wait until we get to Korea? That way, we don’t have to do any of the work! We just wait until we’re placed in an environment where my choices are made for me.
It’s tempting. I have friends who have traveled abroad and lost a ton of weight because the plethora of fast food options simply wasn’t down the street in rural Thailand or the Philippines.
But for pretty much all of them, they gained the weight right back once they moved back to America!
Why? Because their decision to be healthy and eat better wasn’t based enough on their own decision. Their weight loss was simply a result of not being around junk food, and their weight gain upon return was simply a result of being back in proximity of Big Macs. They were just floating in a river, going along with wherever the current took them.
Choose the life you want, and make it happen despite any external circumstances.
Call to Action
If you liked this article, you can read more articles on achieving success in your 20s at StuffGradsLike.com.