Unlocking Success in Your Career, Relationships, & Life: Do You Have the Key?

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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If we want to live a successful life, it seems important that we figure out how to be successful in our careers and in our marriages/relationships with significant others.

But, did you know that your success in your career and relationships with significant others is founded on an aspect about yourself that you likely overlook?

There is some research that is about to hit the press that has found that our mindsets play a critical role in our success in these two areas. Specifically, the mindsets that the researchers were looking at were growth and fixed mindsets. And they found that the more you have a growth mindset, the more likely you are going to be successful in these two areas of your life. Let me summarize the research below.

Growth and Fixed Mindsets

First, what are growth and fixed mindsets?

When we have more of a growth mindset, we believe that we can change, grow, and develop; that our abilities, talents, and intelligence are things that we can improve.

When we have more of a fixed mindset, we believe that we are who we are, that we can’t really change, grow, and develop because our abilities, talents, and intelligence are things that are fixed.

Admittedly, it is difficult to assess what type of mindset that we possess because (1) we are inclined to think that the way we view the world is the best way to view the world, and (2) we lack the skills, tools, and time to engage in deep-level objective self-awareness and exploration.

Whether you have an accurate understanding of what mindset you hold, it is influencing your success.

Here is a free mindset assessment you can take to identify whether you have more of a fixed or growth mindset.

Success in our Career

When it comes to your career and identifying your career path, do you believe that there is “one right career” out there for you? Or asked differently, in identifying your career path, have you been focused on “finding your passion?”

Your answer is likely a revealer of whether you have a fixed or growth mindset.

Your answer is also indicative of whether or not you will approach your career in a way that will lead to success.

Fixed Mindset Approach

If you have been inclined to believe that there is “one right career” out there for you and if you have been trying to “find your passion,” it is likely that you have a fixed mindset.

Here is the problem with this belief, approach, and mindset: When people seek to find their “one right career” or “passion,” they intuitively believe that once they find “it,” it will be smooth sailing. But, that is never the case. So, what ends up happening is that when the going gets tough (which at some point it will), they will interpret the tough road as a sign that the path they were pursuing really wasn’t their “passion,” and their interest in that career path sharply declines.

Growth Mindset Approach

But, those that do not believe that there is “one right career” out there for them, do not seek to “find their passion;” rather, they believe in the idea that they need to “discover their passion.” This alone implies that they anticipate that there will be challenges as part of their discovery. Thus, when challenges inevitably come, they do not interpret it as though they are on the “wrong path” and they are able to keep their interest at a high level.

Example of Fixed Mindset Approach

I had a conversation recently with someone related to this. He is a student that just started a new business venture. At the beginning of the semester, he was so excited, thinking it was what he was meant to do. “It felt right” he told me. But later in the semester, when I asked him how his business was going, he said, “I don’t think it is for me.” When I asked him why, he talked about all of the challenges that he was having.

To him, because he was unaware of his mindset, he was unable to see the impact his mindset was having on how he approached his venture and his interest in it. But to me, someone that knows about mindsets, it was clear that what was driving his declining interest and subsequent lack of success was his mindsets.

Success in our Relationships with our Significant Other

While the recent research didn’t focus specifically on relationships with our significant others, I think the same principles apply.

Those who have a fixed mindset are inclined to believe there is “one right” person out there for them, and that it is up to them to find them. This either leads to an endless and empty quest, or if they do end up finding someone that they think is “the one,” what happens when challenges pop up in the relationship? You guessed it, they take it as a sign that they are not “the one,” and they lose interest and are inclined to move on.

But, those who have a growth mindset are inclined to believe that love is not something that is magically appears when you find “the one,” rather they believe that love is an investment: the more you invest the more it grows. Thus, when challenges pop up in the relationship, they do not take it as a sign that “they weren’t meant to be;” rather, they take it as a sign that they need to invest more. Thus, they are able to maintain interest and are inclined to invest more (as opposed to move on) when met with challenges.


Are there times in your life when you likely gave up too early or too easily? My guess is that we all have done so. And, while we didn’t realize it at the time, that decision was likely driven by the mindset that we possessed. Our fixed mindset likely made us eager to see a lack of success as being a sign that we were on the wrong path.

But, the reality is that success in anything takes wading and persevering through challenges, terrain only growth mindset individuals are willing to transverse. Thus, it is the key to unlocking your success in your career, relationships, and life.

You can learn more about the power of mindsets here.

If you are willing to share, what is something you likely gave up to early or too easily?

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