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Goal vs. Growth Mindsets: How to Avoid a Personal Growth and Development Plateau

By Maxwell Leadership | July 26, 2022
Goal vs. Growth Mindsets: How to Avoid a Personal Growth and Development Plateau

Have you ever reached a goal, and then—after celebrating your achievement—been left questioning “What now?” You probably worked very hard and maybe exceeded your original expectations. But now that you’ve achieved your goal, you feel like you’ve lost your sense of direction and purpose. So, you start coasting along and stop growing. In other words, you plateau. 

Whether this has happened to you, or you’ve seen this happen to others, it can be a discouraging stage in life. Usually, people don’t choose to stop growing. So, what leads to a plateau in growth, even to people we would consider very successful? 

Are You Goal-Conscious or Growth-Conscious? 

This comparison might seem confusing at first. We all need goals to grow, right? But what we see is that goal-conscious people plateau more often (and longer) than growth-conscious people. Below, we define these two terms and explore some ways to avoid a personal growth and development plateau. 

If after reading this post, you’d like to hear more about this topic, tune into this podcast, where John C. Maxwell, Mark Cole, and Chris Goede discuss the difference between these two mindsets and how to apply a growth-conscious mindset to your life and leadership.   


Before we get into these definitions, we need to clarify that we’re not saying don’t have goals. We all need goals, and they are a vital part of our growth journeys. But what we are saying is that there’s something more important than just setting goals. 

If you’re goal-conscious, then you tend to focus on a destination: a new position, a target weight, a raise, a sales metric. You are a motivator, putting the target in front of yourself or your team and driving towards that target. Your measures of success are also variable or seasonal, and it can be easy to get discouraged easily or let setbacks derail you. The arc of your achievements comes in short sprints, and there are sometimes large gaps between results. Sound familiar? 

On the other hand, if you’re growth-conscious, you focus more on the journey. You see the bigger picture and understand that success (and ultimately significance) is achieved through an ongoing process that includes personal growth goals. Growth-conscious people are more concerned with growing themselves and the people around them, and they place more priority on progress and learning opportunities. You are usually an avid learner and see the road to success as a life-long journey with highs and lows, not starts and stops. 

See the difference? 


It’s natural to prioritize events and goals rather than the process. After all, results are what we want to celebrate and show off, especially after we’ve worked hard. But achieving those results happens through the process, not by arriving at the destination. To avoid a plateau and move from a goal mindset to one of growth, we need a plan and the resources to guide that process.  

By keeping our goals in perspective—as markers along the path to reaching our potential—we’ll not only avoid life’s plateaus. We’ll also live a more vibrant and present life that leads to powerful, positive change in ourselves, in others, and in the world. 

Need a daily dose of inspiration as part of your personal growth journey? 

Subscribe to Minute with Maxwell—a free resource that includes daily coaching videos delivered straight to your inbox to help you positively impact your own life and the lives of those around you! 

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