5 Practices to Shift from Scarcity to Abundance Mindsetby@vinitabansal
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5 Practices to Shift from Scarcity to Abundance Mindset

by Vinita BansalDecember 8th, 2022
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To succeed in life and go after the things you desire, you need to incorporate behaviors and practices that open your mind to new opportunities by viewing the world with infinite possibilities and unlimited options. When you’re not operating within the confines and constraints of your own limitations, you no longer see the world as a limited pie but view it as an endless ocean where there’s enough for everyone.

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Limited number of promotions.

Limited salary hikes.

Limited opportunities to lead high-visibility projects.

Limited number of people who can receive awards.

Thinking this way makes winning in corporate parlance equivalent to beating someone else. In order for you to succeed, someone else must fail. In order for you to get what you want, someone else must have less of what they want.

When your mind is conditioned to think within limits, it can’t visualize the vastness of the options out there.

Your current job sucks, but you find yourself stuck with the thinking “there aren’t many good jobs out there.”

You’re being paid less but refuse to ask for a hike with the assumption that “only a chosen few can get a compensation increase and I am not one of them.”

Thinking this way makes everything appear scarce—with limited opportunities, experiences, and resources. Scarcity mindset leads to a win-lose mentality—you feel the need to rush to get where you need to be with the worry that others might get there faster.

In The 7 Habits of Effectively People, Stephen R. Covey compares the scarcity mindset to the belief that life is a limited pie with only so much money, success, and good fortunes and if someone takes a big piece of the pie, it leaves less for you. Believing in a limited pie not only limits your options, it also limits what you can achieve.

Not everyone thinks this way though. Those who view the world as abundant find solace in the knowledge that there are enough opportunities for everyone out there. Instead of hurrying through their decisions, they make deliberate and careful choices aligned with their values and the life they want to live.

Abundance mindset also promotes a win-win mentality—if there’s enough for everyone, there’s no need to compare and compete. You don’t have to push someone down to raise yourself up. You can get what you want without snatching a piece of the pie from others.

Thinking with a scarcity mindset or abundance mindset isn’t limited to work, it extends to how you approach everything—friends, family, and other relationships in life. To succeed in life and go after the things you desire, you need to incorporate behaviors and practices that open your mind to new opportunities by viewing the world with infinite possibilities and unlimited options. When you’re not operating within the confines and constraints of your own limitations, you no longer see the world as a limited pie but view it as an endless ocean where there’s enough for everyone.

But first, let’s understand the key differences between the two types of mindset.

Key differences between a scarcity mindset and an abundance mindset

Scarcity mindset is pessimistic thinking

A person with a scarcity mindset:

  1. Considers the limitations of a situation by focusing on the negatives.
  2. Leads with a victim mentality and blames things outside their control which adds to stress, worry, and inaction.
  3. Spends their mental energy on what’s lacking in their life or not working.
  4. Thinking that there’s never enough leads to feelings of frustration, powerlessness, anger, anxiety, and fear.
  5. Their negative attitude demotivates others and drains their energies.
  6. Refuse to collaborate or share credit with others.
  7. Think small, often avoiding risk.
  8. Find it hard to trust others, defaulting to suspicion.
  9. Act as a taker, always expecting more from others.
  10. Establish their sense of self-worth by comparing themselves to others.

Abundance mindset is optimistic thinking

A person with an abundance mindset:

  1. Considers the opportunities in a situation by focusing on areas of growth and improvement.
  2. Leads with control by taking responsibility which inspires them to act with confidence and clarity.
  3. Spends their mental energy on the new possibilities by being flexible and adaptable to their circumstances so that they can see opportunities where others see none.
  4. Thinking about the challenges and growth ahead makes them feel empowered and engaged.
  5. Their positive attitude inspires and energizes others to perform well.
  6. Collaborate well with others by sharing knowledge and success.
  7. Think big, often embracing risk.
  8. Lead with trust by focusing on relationships and establishing rapport first.
  9. Act as a giver, contributing to others well being.
  10. Establish their sense of self-worth by comparing themselves to their own ideal self.

Shift from scarcity mindset to abundance mindset using these 5 practices

1. Recognize possibilities, not limits

The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief - David Schwartz

What you think is possible can place the boundary on what you can accomplish. While a scarcity mindset can get in the way of your dreams and make you settle for less with the assumption that your desires are unrealistic, an abundant mindset makes everything appear within reach.

Lead with a long-term view. Imagine yourself calm and confident leading exactly the kind of life you want to live. Project your desires into the future:

  • How do you see yourself a few years from now?
  • What is that person doing?
  • What behaviors and characteristics that person must have demonstrated to end up where they are now?
  • How can you incorporate those behaviors and attitudes into your daily life?

The ability to think big is the first step to break out of your bubble of self-imposed limits, channel your energy to explore a bigger and better future, and map out the path ahead to make it possible. Thinking big sets the direction. To make progress, take tiny steps along the way—re-evaluate your strategies, reconsider your options, adjust and adapt.

Flexibility in thinking and action can take you far and wide—with more options, more choices, and more resources.

2. Focus on learning, not proving

In my book Upgrade Your Mindset, I explain how people with a fixed mindset (those who believe intelligence and ability are fixed) are more concerned with proving they’re smart as opposed to learning something new. Instead of building new skills, they put their effort into hiding their shortcomings.

Scarce mentality taps into the same fixed mindset thinking. You make decisions with the belief:

  • Every mistake, every failure can reduce my options since there’s less of everything.
  • To get what I want, I need to hide my imperfections.
  • I’ll be left behind if I don’t prove my smartness.

Focusing on proving instead of learning leaves less opportunities to build skills that are necessary to confront challenges and obstacles in life, making it harder for you to deal with them when they do arise. Not having the skills to navigate the complexities of life further reinforces those negative beliefs.

To lead with an abundance mindset, shift your frame of thinking by asking these questions:

  • What can you learn from this situation? How can you improve?
  • What new skills do you need? How can you build them?
  • What do your mistakes and failures teach you? How can you apply those learnings to move forward?

Thinking this way shifts your mind from fixating on your shortcomings to acknowledging your strengths, from things you don’t know to the skills you possess, and from seeing challenges as obstacles to considering them as new opportunities.

3. Succeed together, not alone

Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Living with a scarcity mindset is living with the same resentment and jealousy that Nelson Mandela describes. When you derive your sense of self-worth from comparing yourself to others, you never feel enough. Someone’s always doing better than you. It feels like an endless roller coaster ride.

In 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin describes 6 problems with resenting others' success:

  1. You’ll stop focusing on your own path to success. The more time you spend focusing on someone else’s achievements, the less time you have to work on your own goals.
  2. You’ll never be content with what you have. If you’re always trying to keep up with other people, you’ll never feel a sense of peace with what you have.
  3. You’ll overlook your skills and talents. The more time you spend wishing you could do what someone else does, the less time you’ll focus on sharpening your own skills.
  4. You may abandon your values. It’s hard to stay true to your values when you feel a lot of anger toward people who have things you don’t.
  5. You may damage relationships. You won’t be able to have an authentic and genuine relationship with someone when you’re holding secret grudges.
  6. You may begin tooting your own horn. You may resort to boasting about yourself or even outright lying about your accomplishments.

Instead of resenting others for what they’ve achieved, use their accomplishments to serve as encouragement and inspiration that the same success is also within your reach. Instead of viewing others as your competitors and trying to beat them, view them on your team:

  • What knowledge do they have that you are lacking?
  • What skills do you need to build? What qualities do you need to adopt?
  • What steps do you need to take to make progress in your goals?

Practice abundance mindset by focusing on cooperation rather than competition, help each other, and succeed together instead of trying to do it all alone.

4. Be a creator, not a victim

Steve Maraboli, a behavioral scientist and an author says -

Someone with a victim mindset is always looking for a villain to blame and a situation to suffer from.

Looking at the world through the lens of scarcity turns you into a victim—others, your circumstances, or your conditions are to be blamed for your struggles and everything bad happening in your life. You feel powerless, helpless, and not in control of your situation. Refusing to take responsibility makes you spend more and more time blaming others as opposed to finding solutions. Instead of taking action to influence and inspire a positive change aligned with your goals, you waste that time and energy in finding fault with others and what they should have done.

People with an abundance mindset consciously opt-out from being a victim to becoming a creator—they take responsibility for their experience and align their actions with the outcomes they desire. They may not know how to do something yet, but they believe it’s always possible with the right kind of effort, persistence to stick with the task long enough, and resilience to get over minor disappointments and setbacks.

To shift from a victim to a creator consciousness, ask these questions:

  • What’s in your control?
  • What outcomes do you desire?
  • What small steps can you take to bring about a positive change?
  • What are other alternatives to solve this problem? How can you contribute?

Taking responsibility for your life opens your mind to new possibilities that didn’t seem possible earlier. Feeling in control energizes you to think creatively. Fear of failure doesn’t stop you from stepping into the unknown. Opportunities, options, and resources appear limitless once you take on the role of a creator.

5. Act proactively, not reactively

John Maxwell said “If you're proactive, you focus on preparing. If you're reactive, you end up focusing on repairing.”

Scarcity mindset creates a reactive focus—you react to the things in your environment as opposed to proactively going after the things you want. Reacting not only leads to poor choices, it also limits your options. When you haven’t spent time carefully determining what you desire, constantly shifting goalposts, confusing priorities and unfocused attention hurts your performance. You don’t get what you want and assume it's due to lack of opportunities while not realizing that it’s your own lack of planning that’s getting in the way of your growth.

To build an abundance mindset, be clear about what you want and lay out a plan to achieve it. Knowing what you want gives you a direction away from distractions so that you can focus your energy on turning your dreams into reality. To build a proactive focus, ask these questions:

  • How do you define success?
  • What goals can you undertake that align with how you view success?
  • What steps can you take to fulfill those goals?
  • What obstacles stand in your way? What can you do to get past those obstacles to the outcomes you desire?

Living a proactive life requires knowing what you want and the intent to align your behavior and actions with the life you desire.

You become unstoppable when you believe there’s enough out there for everyone—you’re willing to tap into possibilities by thinking big, implementing small steps, focussing on learning, sharing your success with others, taking responsibility and becoming proactive.


  1. Scarcity mindset leads to the belief that there are limited opportunities, options, and resources while abundance mindset tells you that there are enough resources and successes for all to share.
  2. Scarcity mindset pulls you back through destructive choices. Abundance mindset pushes you forward through constructive action.
  3. Don’t let your thinking get in the way of your dreams. Think big without constraints and then take small steps towards them.
  4. Don’t waste your time proving your smartness. Learn from others and build new skills. They will enable you to deal with challenges and obstacles without letting them crush your dreams.
  5. Don’t use comparison as a yardstick to feel bad about yourself. Use others' successes as an inspiration to learn something new and move forward.
  6. Don’t blame others, your circumstances, or your conditions for your outcomes. Take responsibility, feel in control and create magic by taking action.
  7. Don’t react to whatever life throws your way. Be proactive about what you want and get there with the help of a plan.

Previously published here.