As human beings, we constantly need to keep evolving in order to achieve our fullest potential and keep learning and growing. How many times have we heard of our co-workers feeling burned out or an old relative feeling left behind because they refuse to grow with the world? In part, this is all due to a lack of self-development and personal growth.
All of us want to achieve a high level of success in our professional lives and happiness in our personal lives. But ask yourself – how often do you actively work towards it? Do you make a conscious effort to improve yourself every day? Do you set a few minutes every day to focus on yourself? Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is a resounding NO.
Personal Growth Definition
Personal growth is a continuous journey that will go on our entire lives. It motivates us to move forward and master our environment.
Before we dive headfirst into what it means to work on personal growth and how to do the same, we need to know what it actually means. Pop culture has made it a fluffy term that can be used interchangeably with anything. But the truth is that personal growth and development actually means understanding and developing yourself in order to tap your own potential to its maximum.
Here are some tenets of personal growth that need to be understood before you can embark on this journey:
1. A Continuous Journey:
Have you read a self-help book? Listened to a Guru? Attended coaching and seminars on personal growth? If you are reading this article, there is a good chance that you have. The reason why you didn’t see a sudden transformation is that personal growth is a continual endeavor. You need to constantly expend time and effort to improve yourself intellectually, morally, and physically.
2. The Cycle of Positivity:
Personal growth can also refer to changes in behavior, thoughts, and feelings in order to adapt to the changing environment. It can have a lasting effect on how we feel about ourselves and experience life in general. In fact, any change results in successful personal growth further motivates us, leading to an infinite cycle of positive changes. As we commit to personal growth, we also start feeling more passionate about life in general.
3. The Expansion of the Self:
Personal growth allows us to become the best version of ourselves. It helps us master our environment, and show resilience in the face of difficulties. As we become a better version of ourselves, we also tend to become more aware of all the possibilities that surround us.
Our frame of reference shifts from ‘me’ to ‘us,’ and our days are filled with much anticipation.
There is no shortcut to personal growth. It is a difficult process that will go on for a lifetime. Do not measure your success by comparing it with others, we are all on our own journeys.
The Stages of Personal Growth
There are 5 phases in the journey of personal growth. However, they vary from individual to individual, and sometimes we may need to repeat a particular phase multiple times.
When we are in school, we do not worry about the workload of the next grade. Imagine a 5th grader who worried about the syllabus of 7th grader. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s exactly how we treat ourselves when we grow up. A lot of adults tend to feel the need to know everything right now and forget that everybody needs time to learn things.
While reading the phases, keep in mind that you may have to repeat some phases several times. You may develop a new insight or recognize a new problem area, or your expectations may trigger further self-discovery.
There are many phases to personal growth and development and no two people’s journeys look the same. That is why it is important to remember to be kind to yourself and those around you during this process:
1. The Sleeping Stage
When you are not seeking personal growth, you are asleep.
Anybody who is asleep would not be reading this article. The very fact that you are seeking personal growth is proof that you are past the initial sleeping stage.
The tenets of personal growth do not resonate with someone who is still stuck in the sleeping stage. Do you remember the time when you had an excuse for everything bad that happened to you? When you externalize blame and refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions? That’s what being asleep feels like.
Attributes like neuroticism, fear, lack of fulfillment from life, externalizing blame are common side effects of the sleeping stage. When you start believing that only you can the way you live your life, that’s when you wake up.
2. Waking Up
The journey from blaming others to deciding to taking control of our lives falls under waking up.
Usually, there comes a point in our lives when we start asking ourselves – why do people always disappoint us? Why doesn’t our life look like we want it to? Why are we constantly stuck in a situation where we are not in control?
This is the initial process of waking up. It can be due to a traumatic experience or a self-awakening. Many people seek self-growth after they experience some unpleasant situations, trauma, or simply an epiphany. In any case, this rude awakening will make you realize that even if we do not control the events happening in our lives, we do control how we react to them. And that makes all the difference.
This phase will make you connect the dots and realize how to learn and find your true self.
The shift from knowing things to taking measures to improve your life and actually making the changes falls under Implementation phase.
This is the phase when you shift from knowing things to doing things. If you know that you want to improve and grow, but are unsure how to, this is the phase you are in. When your knowledge of how things should be done not reflect your reality, it is time to gear up and start working things out on your own.
Waking up is not enough for transformation. You need to implement what you know, changing your belief systems, and control negative behavior in order to move up the ladder. It is the time to forget your old stories, discard your programming, and get ready to commit.
Implementation involves being brave – digging up old wounds, working through our issues, and not letting our past define us.
The implementation phase will also involve failures and do-overs. Often, you will feel as if you have failed and you will have to start all over again. Do not get disheartened. Doing things over and over is the best way to break toxic patterns and integrate awareness with action.
Self-growth is a long, winding road that needs emotional labor, healing, forgiveness, and kindness towards the self. Allow yourself time to move from the awakening phase to the implementation phase, as it can be a difficult transition.
Acceptance involves learning how to accept the things we cannot change. It also brings us closer to our authentic self.
Acceptance refers to the acceptance of ourselves, and that of others. As we move towards successful personal growth, we also start developing new habits and this new way of being. We start to become truer, more authentic versions of ourselves. It also helps us see others in a new light and feel kinder, more open to those of us who are on a similar journey.
This does not mean that we have completely evolved and no longer have anything else to work on. As human beings, we can always improve how we see and do things. There will never come a time when we are such a perfect version of ourselves that we don’t need to grow anymore.
Acceptance simply means that we stop fighting our reality and accept the things we cannot change. Impulses no longer have any control over us and we are simply happy with our current circumstances, whatever they may be.
A key part of acceptance is knowing we are not new people, but more authentic versions of ourselves. This phase helps us develop our identity and learn to accept the things we cannot change.
When we use our experience and knowledge to help others who are also on their personal growth journey, we move to the Expansion phase.
Although personal growth is an ongoing process and will continue for the rest of your life, the next phase expects you to shift your focus outwards. Expansion refers to changing the lives of those around us. Once you move past the acceptance phase and learn how to love yourself, your next step should be of service to those around you and teach them how to complete their spiritual journey.
Research has revealed that supportive relationships often foster personal growth. If you can help a struggling individual, it will not only accelerate their journey but will also make you feel better about yourself. Share the love you feel for yourself and make the world around you a better place.
You may feel tempted to jump into the expansion phase when you are still working on implementation. Remember, there is no finish line on personal growth and there is no rush.
The phases are just an outline, there is no model that fits everyone. It may help you lend structure to your unique journey, but it is not a cut and dried solution that absolutely needs to be followed.
Here is an interesting video for five stages of Personal Growth –
How To Start Your Personal Growth Journey Today?
Educating yourself about what’s happening around you, volunteering to help the less fortunate, and traveling can help us accelerate personal growth. It is also important to ensure we are physically and mentally healthy during this journey and stay truthful and honest about our lives.
There is no fast or easy way for personal growth and development, but there are certain ways you can kick start the process:
1. Start today
Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow, by evading it today.”
This means that you have to jumpstart your personal growth journey today. It is going to take a long time to get to that place where you want to be. So, it is better to start building the foundation of your tomorrow today and stop procrastinating.
2. Keep learning
Education is an important tenet of personal growth. The more you are aware of what’s happening in the world around you, the more you can learn about your own drawbacks and problems. The internet age is the age of information, and there are hundreds of educational courses you can take up to commit to your journey in a deeper, more dedicated manner.
3. Volunteer for social causes
Being close to people who are less fortunate than you and helping them open up the gateways to self-understanding and self-growth. It will help you pick up new skills, and develop a more compassionate and empathetic world view. The improvement of society as a whole is essential for the improvement of the individual.
This sounds like a millennial thing, but it is true that traveling to new places is the only way to learn about new people, challenge your thought processes, and enrich your life. By opening yourself up to an entirely new way of living, you will discover corners inside your heart that was completely hidden from you before.
5. Take care of your health
Self-care is an important aspect of personal growth and development. It promotes self-understanding and helps you keep your body in shape. Taking a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep to provide direct benefits to your physical well being and keep you energized throughout the day. Personal growth is an active process – you will not be able to commit to it fully if your body is not at its peak performance.
Personal growth is an aspect of a healthy mind. And for keeping your mind healthy, we need to keep our bodies healthy too. Taking care of your health will have positive effects (direct as well as indirect) on your journey of self-growth.
6. Be honest with yourself
No journey will be fruitful if you do not act objectively towards your own life. Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. This will help you avoid those mistakes in the future, and accelerate your movement towards the Acceptance phase.
7. Embrace change
Before you can embark on your personal growth journey, you have to understand that change is the only constant. if it wasn’t, we as a civilization would still be living in caves. If we people didn’t change their ideas about the world, everything would fall into shambles.
The sooner you accept it, the quicker you will be able to start changing your life for the better.
8. Learn from the mistakes of others
Life is short and you do not have time to make all the mistakes yourself. Read about other people and learn from their journey, so that you do not make the same mistakes they did.
9. Be Grateful
In the race of life, always remember what you have. Only be recognizing your blessings will you be confident enough to grow into a better version of yourself.
10. Don’t give up
The journey of personal growth is littered with hurdles and obstacles. The sooner you learn how to accept them and work hard, the better your journey will be.
One of the biggest enemies of personal growth is the excuse that you do not have enough time. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. You can choose to waste it in front of the TV, or start improving your life.
Personal Growth Quotes
1. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain
2. “Sometimes in life, we take a leap of faith. Remember, the leap is not about getting from one side to the other. It’s simply about taking the leap…and trusting the air, the universal breath, will support your wings so that you may sour.”– Kristi Bowman
3. “The swiftest way to triple your success is to double your investment in personal development.”– Robin Sharma
4. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”– Jane Goodall
6. “Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the moment of time over which you have any control: now.”– Denis Waitley
7. When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your “decision to get there.”– Zig Ziglar
8. “The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.”– Jim Rohn
9. “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”– Brian Tracy
10. “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”– J.K. Rowling
Personal Growth Books
Here is a book list if you want to read further on this subject:
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Author: Dale Carnegie
This book was first published in 1936, and since then, it has sold over 15 million copies all over the world. It is probably one of the most popular books in the world, and it teaches people exactly what they want most – how to win friends and influence other people. Read this book to know Carnegie’s secret for the ultimate aspect of personal growth.
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Author: Stephen. R. Covey
If you want to know how successful people think and how you can use their secrets to grow rich, you have to read this book. In it, Covey creates a system that allows you to learn to be successful in life, no matter what you do.
3. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Author: Brian Tracy
In this personal development book, you will learn 21 ways to overcome your tendency to procrastinate. It teaches you how to motivate yourself, focus on the task at hand, and do the most important tasks of the day the first thing in the morning.
4. The 48 Laws of Power, Author: Robert Greene
No matter at which point of life, Robert Greene offers you 48 laws of power that can help you achieve more in life, and prevent any mistakes you might make on the way. This book is a must-have for people who want to gain more power in life, and protect themselves from being manipulated due to lack of power.
5. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
A big part of this book is based on the idea of finding happiness instead, simply by changing the way you think about things. This is, more or less, a handbook of happiness. It defines what happiness means, and how you can achieve a level of personal growth, or Flow, to get that happiness.
6. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations, Author: Seth Godin
Seth Godin offers an honest look into the world and helps you develop a more colorful perspective towards it. You will also learn to explore new possibilities and get out of your comfort zone.
7. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys, Author: James Fadiman
This book is perfect for those of you who want to learn to think, be creative, develop better introspective skills, and develop emotional balance.
8. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition, Author: Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill masterfully teaches how there is more to life than just the cash in your bank. He covers all aspects of decision making, planning, and hard work and helps you shape your life in a better way.
9. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life, Author: Maxwell Maltz
This book teaches you that getting what you want doesn’t necessarily mean that your life will be better. You have to make it better.
10. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything, Author: Chris Hadfield
In this fascinating story, astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about how living at the edge of the world taught him some of the hardest truths of life, and how that changed his life for the better.
Personal growth is a journey unique to every individual. It takes effort, time, and energy, and it never ends. But it is the only way to live.
As humans, we need to keep evolving, keep bettering ourselves, and keep moving towards a life that is true to our vision. There is only one life – as far as we know. So what are we doing, if not moving forward?
Namrata is a Doctor i.e. dentist turned writer and a clinical researcher. Eager to learn about anything and everything, she is what you would call a jack of all trades and master of none. With a zeal for reading novels, books, and anything she could get her hands on ever since she was little, she embarked into a writing career purely out of luck. After indulging in a freelancing career for nearly two years, she can now write on anything - from dentistry to decor, travel to technology, medicine to management - but the psychology remains her first love. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, she hopes to raise awareness for the same and help people with her work in association with The MindFool team