Have you ever wondered how to achieve personal growth? The personal development field is full of answers, but how can you find an answer when you don’t know what question to ask? I’ve been there. I’ve been at a place where I just knew that I was not happy and something needed to change. I wanted to put together this guide on how to achieve personal growth for you to guide you through the process of starting your own personal growth journey.
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What is considered personal growth?
When you don’t know where to begin, start with the definition. Personal growth is just “development as an individual.” That’s pretty vague. The definition for personal development from Wikipedia goes a bit more in-depth, stating, ” Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. Personal development takes place over the course of a person’s entire life. “
That gives us a little more to work with. According to that definition, achieving personal growth should:
- improve your self-awareness
- improve your sense of personal identity
- develop your talents and potential
- make you more employable
- Increase your skills, knowledge, and experience (human capital – yes, I had to look that one up too.)
- make your quality of life better
- contribute to the realization of your dreams and aspirations.
If an activity fits into one of those above categories, you are on the way to achieving personal growth. Sometimes these activities are unintentional or mandated by an outside force, but most often, you seek them out. That’s why it’s called PERSONAL growth. 🙂
What are Examples of Personal Growth?
Personal growth encompasses a LOT of different areas. Here are a few that I have written about on my blog:
- Worrying Less
- Silencing your inner critic
- Stopping overthinking
- Setting your Core Values
- Defining your Priorities
- Improving your Patience
- Learning to not take things personally (this one is a work in progress for myself.)
- Transforming perfectionism
- Dealing with anxiety better
- Learning to set goals and motivate yourself to see them through to the end
- Acquiring the skill of self- discipline
- Learning how to be happier and more content
- Increasing your confidence level
Why is Personal Growth Important?
Regardless of whether we seek it out or not, we are all going to grow as people as we go through life. This holds true no matter what age you are – we all grow through our life’s experiences. What makes seeking out personal growth important is that it matters HOW you grow. Do you want to grow into a kind, compassionate, patient person that worries less and gives more? Or do you want to feel forever a victim of life, at mercy of whatever circumstance you are in, and through many hard knocks grows sad, bitter, and selfish?
I truly don’t think anyone chooses the path of bitterness and selfishness on purpose. Yet, you can most likely think of at least one person in your life that fits that description. You are at the helm of your life. You control which direction you will steer your ship along the stormy seas of life. If you let go and let the wind take you where it will, you will most likely crash. The choice of learning how to achieve personal growth is one way that you can take the wheel of your ship and steer it in the direction that you want it to go.
How Can We Achieve Personal Growth?
When you are asking how to achieve personal growth, I want you to know that it’s an ongoing process that I hope never stops. I hope you never let go of the steering wheel of your ship and say “Forget it! Sailing is too tough. I’m done.”
When Do We Achieve Personal Growth?
You start achieving personal growth at a time that you need the growth. In my own life, this has been in hard times when I am looking for a change. Like most people, my comfort zones are nice and fluffy and comfy. I am not inclined to leave them unless something inspires me to change. Maybe that’s why change is an inevitable part of life. We are forced to constantly change and grow through each phase. It’s normal, even if it’s not comfortable.
If you are going through a storm in your life, or a hard time, consider how you can grow from the experience. How can you use it as a catalyst for personal growth? What do you want to change and why?
Steps for Achieving Personal Growth: The Beginner’s Guide
Step 1 : The Realization that You Need to Work on Yourself
This first step is major. You can’t change anything that you don’t realize is a problem. When you realize or admit to yourself that you need to work on yourself, you have just completed the first step towards achieving personal growth. This realization usually comes in the middle of hard times when you honestly reflect on yourself. You realize that you’re not happy with how you are currently handling things and that something needs to change.
Step 2: Specifically Identify What You Want to Change and Why
“Personal Growth” is a large category that encompasses many different things. I have yet to discover them all and I don’t think I ever will. When you want to achieve personal growth, start with one specific area. For myself, when I started my personal growth journey, I wanted to be happier with the current situation that I was in. I wanted to learn how to be happy regardless of my circumstances.
Step 3: Analyzing and Breaking it Down
Though I knew that I wanted to be happy, that was still a rather vague goal. So, I started analyzing exactly what the problems were. After taking a good hard look at myself, I concluded that:
- I spent too much time worrying (much of which was about things beyond my control)
- My thoughts were largely negative focused
Those were two concrete things that I could work on. As I talk about in more detail in my book, “The Pearl Perspective,” I had been down the negative thoughts vs positive thoughts road before. I knew what a difference reframing negative thoughts could make. Negative thoughts breed negative thoughts. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to cultivate positive thoughts.
Step 4: Pick One Thing at a Time to Work On
I’m sure that there are multiple areas that you want to grow in. If you notice above, I listed two. Those were the most glaring, however, I could have listed many more things that I needed to work on. (Notice how many articles I linked under the Examples section? Not all, but most are things I have had to work through myself.) When you are first starting, pick one thing to focus on. For me, the first thing was that I wanted to start thinking more positively.
Step 5: Learn More
Once you have your one thing to work on, start researching it. In my case, I already knew how to start thinking more positively, but when I moved on to working on worrying all the time, I didn’t know where to begin! I started finding books on the subject and reading blog posts. Eventually, it became one of the chapters in “The Pearl Perspective” since I had learned so much about it. Learning how to deal with it assured me that I was taking steps in the right direction when it came to what to do.
Step 6: Raise Your Self Awareness
Self-awareness is “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” In order to start cultivating more positive thoughts, I first had to start noticing the negative ones. This was becoming aware of my feelings. Reframing negative thoughts into positive ones is most effective when you do it right after you have a negative thought.
Raising your self-awareness is hard at first, but it’s something that gets better with practice. Try to catch yourself in the act of an action or reaction that you are trying to change. When you first start, it might be the end of the day when you reflect on it and realize what you did (or are doing.) However, as you keep trying, your self-awareness increases and you are able to “catch yourself in the act” more and more.
Step 7: Have patience with yourself
Patience is hard sometimes, isn’t it? Achieving personal growth is a process. Your brain is wired to react in a certain way. There is a phrase that says “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Imagine this – you have a certain path outside that you walk every day. (Pick a visual image with at least some grass. Pavement and concrete don’t work well for this example.) If you walk that same path over and over, what happens? First, the grass gets trampled down. It may be very hard to tell at first, but over time, more and more grass gets trampled, and it might even start to wear away to the dirt. Then the path starts becoming wider over a long period of time where you take the same route over and over again.
Neurons in our brains that are wired to our emotions work in a similar way. If you are always using a negative thought neural pathway, you have trained your brain to think negatively. Whatever happens, that’s the default route that it will take when being processed. (We pay more attention to negative thoughts, by the way, so this actually is our “default” setting.) However, we can consciously make an effort to change it to a positive neural pathway. It takes time, and especially when you first start, you will find your thoughts going back to the default setting because that’s the well-worn pathway. However, over time, as the positive pathway becomes used more frequently, it gets much easier.
Have patience with yourself. This is a process and will not be an instant change. When the change does come, it will be worth it.
Related: Patience is a Virtue
Resources to Help You Achieve Personal Growth
If you are just starting with achieving personal growth, you might feel lost and not know where to begin. I didn’t either when I started. My first book, The Pearl Perspective was written after the first year of my personal development journey. I took note of all the things that I worked on for myself in hopes of helping others along the way. It’s meant to be a quickstart guide, as well as a downright enjoyable read. I included many examples and relatable confessions. I hope that it leaves you feeling as uplifted as I felt after writing it.
To further help you in your journey, I have a free VIP resource library. All I need is your email address and you’re in! It’s a work in progress, so it will only continue to grow. I have printables of things like 31 secrets that you need to know to be happy and content, ways to turn a funk mood around, and ways to master patience. I also included the first two chapters of The Pearl Perspective completely free. You can sign up in the box below.
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I also have linked many blog articles that I have written on personal growth topics throughout this post. Just click on the links to learn more. If you have questions or just want to chat, I’m also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Achieving Personal Growth
Achieving personal growth is an ongoing journey, but a pleasant one. It’s incredibly personally fulfilling as you watch over time as your happiness and contentment grow. You can only change one person – yourself. However, when you start changing yourself, it’s like a ripple effect. By focusing on improving yourself, it starts affecting everyone around you for the better. It’s not a quick journey and you will not see overnight change. It will take work.
When you realize that you need to start working on yourself, start by focusing on one area. Identify specifically what you want to change and start learning more about it. Break it down into smaller parts. This makes it easier to change and helps when it’s something vague like “I want to be happier.” Raise your self-awareness and have patience with yourself as you start implementing the changes towards a better you.
What part of personal growth are you working on? Leave me a comment below! I love hearing from you!