Dear Fixed Mindset,

I am writing to you today because I need to be honest with you. We’ve been in this serious and committed relationship for years and years, and I thought we were meant to be, but I know it will be better for us both if we stop seeing each other.

Growing up, I knew that I was good at languages, history and arts and that I was terrible at math and sciences, and you helped me throughout these years, you made me believe I could only be good at certain things, do certain things and be a certain way.

I felt safe with you. You were always protecting me from possible failures or frustrations and it felt good. The time went by and our relationship grew stronger, you were also now in charge of my professional life. You had a plan: I was going to study hard, develop my English and teaching skills, I was going to take certain courses and sit some exams, and everything would be OK. You had designed me to fit a pattern, and that was what I was going to do, because you had said so.

One day I felt something was not right, I started getting sick, and I soon realized our relationship was abusive. When talking to friend or family member, they would tell me that I could do more and that I should put a stop to this. I knew they were right, but I was weak. You had me under your thumb.

Then one day, during a training session, a dear friend and teacher, Marcela Harrisberger introduced me to someone, someone who made me feel whole, that made me feel different. For the first time ever I felt free, I could finally be myself, I could finally do more and feel I could accomplish more. I was ready to move on.  I have decided that my professional development would take a different path. It’s not right, or wrong, it just is.

In Japan they have a concept called “
Ikigai” (A reason for being), and experts recommend starting with four questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

And this is what I did.

What do I love?

I love my family and I love teaching. I love teaching in a way that people feel they matter, and their development matter.

What am I good at?

I’m good at languages, communication, management, technologies, … (I realized that I was good at so many other things, which I had never realized before).

What does the world need from me?

Love, help, support, empathy, appreciation, friendship, trust.

What can I get paid for?

Teaching, management, development.

I didn’t mean to betray you, please don’t feel as if I did. I just needed something else, and I was certain you wouldn’t offer it to me. I knew it because you had been part of my life for so long and that was expected.

We lived good moments together and I’ll forever be grateful for always being there, however our relationship was toxic.

I’m telling you this because you need to be the first one to know and before you see me again sometime in the future. Please, don’t feel offended if you see me with someone else, his name is Growth Mindset and I believe you’re cousins, so I understand it might be awkward for you.

There will always be a special place in my heart for you. I wish you find someone one day.

It’s not you. It’s me.



Special thanks to Marcela Harrisberger for introducing me to the Growth Mindset, my professional development will never be the same.


*Mindset – The New Psychology of Success (Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.)

*Management 3.0

*How to find your Ikigai

Karin Heuert Galvão
Karin Heuert Galvão has worked for 17 years as an EFL teacher and 10 years as Director of i-Study Interactive Learning, a language school based in São Paulo, Brazil. She holds, among others, the CPE, the CELTA and IH Certificate in Online Tutoring. She is a Google Educator and also works as an ELT consultant for schools, helping them find solutions for their EFL programs. At BLT Institute, she works as a Teacher Trainer specialized in Business English. Karin is also a member of the Advisory board of EFLtalks, she has also been working with the Intercultural Language SIG as their Vice-President (Braz-TESOL) and with the BESIG as their Treasurer (Braz-TESOL). She is also a Speaking Examiner for Cambridge Assessment English and holds certificates as Life Coach by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), International Association of Coaching (IAC), the Professional Coaching Alliance (PCA), the Association for Coaching and Sociedade Latino Americana de Coaching (SLAC). In order to help teachers develop their careers and her own, Karin is always looking for opportunities to teach, learn and share ideas.