This Holiday Season, Mind Your Mindset

Okay, honesty time. Halloween is STRESSING me out this year. No one has any plans, and it’s such a bummer! Usually we have this huge neighborhood bunco party, but with social distancing still in effect, this XL gathering is a definite no-go. I feel a little silly, since there were years past when I complained to my friends about having to make an appearance. This year, their companionship is the thing I miss most! 

Anita & Travis as Anna & Kristoff with Natalie in a stroller at a past block party

Maybe I’d be more willing to throw my hands up if I didn’t have an almost-seven-year-old! Being that Halloween is so close to Natalie’s birthday, this holiday really feels like a nail-biter. Obviously, going door-to-door is a super-spreader event waiting to happen, and you all know I don’t really decorate for Halloween. (It’s too scary!) So what’s a mom to do? 

Demanding that his year feel exactly like it’s “supposed to,” or else chalk it up to a failure is a futile thing. And I don’t want to teach that mindset to my girls! So Travis and I put on our problem-solving hats, called up the families in our Pod, and arranged about five doors to hit for Trick-or-Treat time. 

It won’t be the same—but seeing all her aunties and uncles will feel even more special given the circumstances. She’s known these families since the womb, and it feels like a great opportunity to show our girls how powerful cultivating these community relationships can be.    

Anita & Emily share a DIY pumpkin treat with the neighbors

Growing Past a Fixed Mindset

Thinking about Halloween naturally has me thinking about all the other holidays coming up. And I am bound and determined not to feel overwhelmed! This year has been FULL of overwhelm, and the holidays are supposed to be a respite from our troubles. When else do we really get a chance to just celebrate? 

This all takes me back to my psychology background, where I was fascinated by the work of Carol Dweck, Ph.D. Her twenty years of research have proven that your mindset literally defines your reality. So, if you believe that you deserve to celebrate, nothing will keep you from doing just that! With this attitude, obstacles are simply hurdles to overcome, and the outcome is allowed to look different depending on the process. 

Natalie's teeny hands cutting fall shapes (leaves, pumpkins) into pie dough

We call this a Growth Mindset—where our personality and individual qualities are developed over time, through effort and feedback. In order to grow, we have to try! And what are challenges other than opportunities to try new things, under a new set of criteria? There is no failure here—simply learnings to take into consideration for next time.

The alternative to the Growth model is a Fixed Mindset. This is the belief that your personality, intelligence, and talents are innate & unchangeable. People with a Fixed Mindset believe they’re only as strong as their successes, and tend to be more focused on proving themselves. This leaves them afraid of challenges, where failure would reveal their “inherent” inadequacies. 

Fear of failure can be debilitating, leading to paralysis and perfectionism. But with a Growth Mindset, we can flip the script, and open the win/lose binary to a world of infinite possibilities. It’s proven that practice makes for progress over time—and after years of DIY work, Travis & I know this in both psychological theory and in business!

Travis on a stepladder and Anita holding power tools as the two take on an epic DIY!

Growth Mindset, IRL

True story: for the first 7 years we lived in our house, I didn’t put one thing on the walls. Commitment-phobic, I was convinced I’d put something somewhere, but it wouldn’t be “right.” And then I’d be left with a bunch of holes in my walls! I was so afraid of being bad at it, I didn’t even let myself practice. I was totally perfection-seeking. So, we lived without art for SEVEN YEARS.

Then I learned to spackle, and a total light switch-went off in my brain. My mistakes were suddenly fixable! I could just try again. I felt so silly. Like, SO WHAT if there’s a nail-hole in the wall!? Fast-forward to today, I have an interior design business, plus Trav & I are DIY machines. If you can find a love for learning, rather than a need for validation and approval, you can watch yourself grow! 

Anita, leaping into home improvement ACTION

To be imperfect is nothing to be ashamed of. And in the fear of proving we are not enough, we risk losing sight of what we already have. But with a healthy amount of irreverence, all things are possible. Once I turned off my spiraling negativity, I was able to jump into my home’s interior design transformation with both feet! 

Growth-Minded Holidays 

Now, in 2020, I’m learning to work against my own fear of failure for the Holidays. Rather than blaming this strange year, because we can’t have the “right” kind of celebration, I’m trying to consider what KIND of celebration we might be able to create under the circumstances. Who knows? It might just teach us something profound about our families and our lives. 

Just look at little Natalie—with the help of our quarantine pod, I’ve got my community rooting for her this year! When I was able to let go of my picture-perfect Halloween, I was able to make space for a better question: “How do I make this a rich experience for her?”  

Natalie is dressing as Mulan for Halloween this year!

I want to celebrate the hell out of these holidays. We need to put some happiness into our lives!! So if it doesn’t have to be perfect, what could it be? I know this year will be MORE rich and soulful, because my intention is to see the good in the bad. And as we all know, there has been plenty of bad. 😂

This is MURKY stuff. And in making the holidays happen this year, everyone will have a different cost-benefit analysis. There are going to be a lot of setbacks—but the light is always so much clearer and brighter in the dark. 

Xo, 

Anita

 

Leave a Comment