Growth Mindset Example – Learnings from My 4-day Cleanse

growth mindset example

growth mindset exampleA few months ago, I did a veggie and fruit cleanse for the first time in my life.  Why?  All the usual reasons

  • Vanity – I wanted to get back to my college weight after having two kids.
  • Peer Pressure – My husband and my friend were doing it that week
  • Efficiency  – I didn’t have to worry about what I will eat for 4 days.  Everything was pre-prepared by our friend.  That actually helped a lot as I was starting to have meetings all day long.
  • New experience – I have been curious about doing a cleanse for the last two years.    I almost did a juice only cleanse once last year, but backed out the last minute.  I realized I rather still chew during a cleanse.

This article is less about the cleanse and more about what I learned during the experience.  First of all, I actually didn’t expect to last four days.  This is because I had some very strong pre-notions when it came to food and cleanses.

  • I believed that I can’t fall asleep at night if I am hungry.
  • I believed that I would have bad headaches due to lack of proteins (such as meat).  I love meat and seafood and had never even tried being a vegetarian for a whole day before.  I have done it for one meal before and was starving after only 2 hours.
  • I believed secretly that a cleanse is probably just a marketing fad.  I was already pretty fit.  What can it really do?
  • I believed that I probably won’t be able to think well after a few days on the cleanse since I will not have much food.  This meant, I may have to quit early if the cleanse started to jeopardize my ability to work.

As you can see, I had all the “legitimate reasons” (aka excuses) ready in my head in case I couldn’t last.  In a way, it was fine to have them since they made it less daunting for me to say yes to the cleanse and at least try it.    I realized by focusing more on learning from new experiences and less about accomplishments (in this case, finishing the cleanse) made me more open to try new things in life and at work.  I was brought up with a strong idea that  if I tried anything, I had to do  it well.  It’s perhaps a very Asian upbringing.  While I did well most of my life, I also avoided taking any big chances.  I realized about 5 years ago that was not how I wanted to live my life anymore.  Life now is about having a growth mindset and trying new experiences no matter the result.  How can we grow by leaps and bounds if we always played it safe?

So what happened with my cleanse?  Well, I learned 3 lessons that was valuable for my life and work.

Lesson 1: My pre-notions are not true!

I was able to fall asleep every night by 9:30 or 10pm.  I was a little hungry but was just tired enough to sleep.   I was also surprised that I felt more energized.  It was as if the lack of meat in my food didn’t weigh me down.  I was fast at making decisions and got a lot done at work.

Larger picture:  Many times we don’t try new things because we already decided in our minds that we can’t do it for variety of “reasons” or what I call “legitimate excuses”.  What are we telling ourselves about what we can’t do?  What if they are simply not true?  What if all this time it is we who are limiting ourselves from learning more, experience more, and accomplishing more?

Lesson 2: Cheating is okay 🙂  

Instead of being super hard core with the cleanse, I decided to add a veggie pattie to the cleanse diet daily and a few nuts if I felt light-headed.  It prevented me from experiencing any major headaches.  I think that is part of the reason I was able to finish the cleanse.

Larger picture Don’t expect perfection on the first try or ever.  High expectations are often the reason we don’t try new things at all.  Half of the battle of any new learning is just showing up and deciding to do it.  So do whatever we need to mentally to get ourselves to say yes.  The more we say yes to life and new experiences, the more we will grow and achieve beyond what we think is possible.

Lesson 3: We can use a cleanse every six months

I don’t actually mean this 4 days cleanse.  That’s completely up to you.  I meant we can use a mental cleanse every six months.   This 4 day cleanse for me was as much physical as it was mental.  Since I have never done it before, it put me in a completely different state of mind.  I was self-aware and self-reflective (yes, even more than usual); I was open to new learnings; and most importantly, I was willing to give up old notions that I thought were true for many years.

Larger picture:   It is important to put ourselves in completely new and unexpected situations every six months.  It’s like a reboot and a fresh perspective for our minds.  It may be uncomfortable at first, but it is also a great learning experience to reinforce our growth mindset and what it really means to live life to the fullest.

Your comments: What is the biggest challenge you face when you are developing your soft skills (e.g., I am too shy to learn how to present well)?  What if it’s not true?  What new possibility would that open up for you?  I would love to hear your comments.  Let’s have a discussion

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I hope we all dare to live and experience beyond what we think is possible.  It is what helps us evolved as professional and as people overall.  Best wishes to your success and living a fulfilling life.


Day 1 CleanseDay 2 Cleanse

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