What is an abundance mindset?
Before I answer that question, I will start by talking about what “fixed and growth mindsets” are. Because you might be more familiar with these mindsets than the abundance mindset.
Fixed vs growth mindsets
Carol Dweck, a researcher from Standford University has famously described the differences between fixed mindsets and growth mindsets:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.
In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
—Carol Dweck, Stanford University
The mindset that we choose has a profound effect on our behaviour.
If we have a fixed mindset, we believe we have a limited capacity and that we have only what we’re given. How do think that impacts what we do on a daily basis? If presented with an opportunity to stretch ourselves, we will likely shy away from it. We will limit our beliefs. We might label ourselves by saying things like:
“I’m not a technical person”
“I can’t do public speaking”
“I am a person who struggles”
“I am shy”
“I am not a leader”
“I am not sporty”
If we keep telling ourselves that “I am not a technical person”, then that excuse prevents us from ever trying to learn a new technical skill. Or by continually telling yourself that you struggle with things, you prevent yourself from learning new things.
When we say “I am not sporty”, we fix that belief and tell ourselves that no matter what we do, we will never enjoy sport or be good at sport. So we may not participate in activities that might be related to sports. We will never try to actively change our situation, because after all you think, “I am not sporty.”
But what if we had a growth mindset? That mindset that tells us that we can improve our situations. That allows us to be open to growth. That gives us the feeling of possibility. Opportunity. Positivity. It’s the kind of mindset that allows us to fail, because after all, if we have a growth mindset then we learn from our failures, meaning that failures really aren’t failures, they are all learning.
There’s a great quote that’s relevant here. I don’t know where the quote came from originally, and I think it may have been attributed to a few different people. All I know is that I like it, and to me it illustrates a growth mindset:
Scarcity vs abundance mindset
This brings me to another mindset, the scarcity vs abundance mindset. This is very closely related to the fixed vs growth mindset. Let’s start by examining the scarcity mindset.
The scarcity mindset
“I can never get ahead, I will always be poor.”
“I shouldn’t buy a coffee every morning, because if I saved that money over a year I would have $1,000”.
“I won’t go to out for dinner because that’s wasteful, I’ll make something at home.”
“My shoes are wearing out but I’ll wear them for a bit longer until I can’t wear them anymore. That’s OK.”
“I won’t buy that thing I’ve wanted for ages because I’ve got bills to pay.”
“My situation is OK, I don’t need a better house. There are people far worse off than me.”
These statements all represent what’s known as the scarcity mentality – that there will never be enough. That could be mean money, food, emotions, or something else. We limit ourselves by coming from a place of lack, and this dictates our emotions and our behaviours. Instead of coming from the place that you have enough and there’s enough to go around, you come from a place where you fear it will run out.
The scarcity mindset is a dangerous one because it drives your behaviour to only retain what you have, inhibiting your ability to pursue new opportunities. The scarcity mindset also has a powerful emotional effect on us. It makes us believe that we are not worthy of anything better. “I’ll never be wealthy or successful, that’s only for OTHER people.” Most people genuinely believe this.
The scarcity mindset often manifests itself in giving you feelings that you owe your employer much gratitude, and that your financial wellbeing is in their hands. You remove all power from yourself and place it with someone else. You become dependent on your employer, and don’t think about what might really be best for you. You place significant importance on the security that your regular pay check provides, and you start to get anxious if you think that it is finite. These thoughts limit you from ever getting more. You don’t take any risks, even if they are calculated and small, to improve your situation. You can’t do anything entrepreneurial.
People with a scarcity mindset tend to focus on getting by and avoiding something bad from happening. This can make them reluctant to take chances. Even if they are small. “Why would I do that, nothing good ever happens to me….”, or, “Someone else would turn that into a success but I don’t have it in me, I’m not lucky like that.”
Unfortunately, the scarcity mindset is often (but not always) also paired with jealousy towards those who are successful.
The scarcity mindset can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. With the scarcity mindset, you don’t believe you will ever not be poor, and everything you do reinforces that. You might only put $5 of fuel in the car at a time. This results in you needing to refuel frequently, so you do it more often than is necessary and each time you think “I wish I could put more than $5 of fuel in the car at a time, I wish I wasn’t so poor.”
The scarcity mindset holds people back from living to their potential. They live in a state of fear that they will lose what they have. They usually think small and avoid risk. They think in the here and now. Coming from a place of scarcity can also leave people feeling like a victim and blaming others for being in the situation they are in, without taking responsibility for their own actions.
What if we had an abundance mindset?
“I really enjoy buying a coffee, so I’ll keep doing it because I deserve it. I might even buy a croissant as well.”
“Gosh my shoes are looking worn out, I’ll get a new pair, because when I look good, I feel good. I deserve to feel good.”
“I’m going to learn something new – who knows where it could lead?”
“I’ve just seen Bob make an extra $1,000 per month doing XYZ. That’s awesome for Bob. I’m as smart as Bob so I’m going to give it a go too – if he can, I can too.”
These are some examples of thinking from the perspective of abundance. Compare those statements with the scarcity mindset statements.
A person with an abundance mindset believes that there is always more. More money, more opportunity, more resources, better relationships, better ‘stuff’. People who think in terms of abundance attract opportunities and experiences, perhaps because they are open to those kinds of discussions and seeing opportunities where someone from a scarcity mindset only sees a risk.
How can we change our mindset?
Instead of thinking about what we don’t have, think about what we do have. And let go of comparisons. It doesn’t matter if others have more than you, and you certainly don’t want to go into financial stress to keep up with them.
To improve the way you view things, let go of jealousy, and be happy for the success of others. Applaud the successes of others – it might even inspire you to try something new to change your own situation.
When you focus on abundance rather than scarcity, you are more tolerant of risk and understand that you need to spend money and invest in yourself in order to make money. It isn’t luck that people are successful. Successful people know that it takes hard work, sacrifice and investment. And they are open to that.
Some more reading
Here are some articles I’ve written that might help you think a little differently, and help you be open to change and self-improvement:
How to embrace change and find new cheese – not literally cheese, a metaphor for finding for something new.
Getting out of your comfort zone – something we all need to do every now and then for own growth.
Careers from home and goal setting – don’t be afraid to set yourself some stretch goals.
How are you going to change your mindset?
Do you want an abundance mindset?
If you’ve ever thought “only other people can make money online”, maybe now you can consider that you might be one of those people too? What if there was training and support available for ANYONE to do it? You don’t need to have any special skills or knowledge. Just the willingness to give it a go.
Leave me a comment or question below and I’m happy to help. What have you done to change your mindset?