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Published on April 10, 2019

8 Ways to Continuously Achieve Personal Growth

8 Ways to Continuously Achieve Personal Growth

The most successful individuals place great importance to continuously achieve personal growth and development. Despite already being at the pinnacle of their career, they still make the time in their busy schedule to endlessly push themselves out of the comfort zones and to unlock even more of their inner potential.

So what does personal growth mean? It is a lifelong process of psychological, physical, social and spiritual development.[1] It is an active process of learning and developing new skills long after one has completed any formal education.

The beauty of personal growth lies in its unlimited possibility — you can learn across many fields that pique your interest and go as deep as you would like to. And by continuously growing, you’re set on the path of living an extraordinary and fulfilled life.

It is never too late if you have just come across the idea of personal growth. Now is definitely a good time to start!

Taking the first step is always the hardest part of the process, but persevering is definitely harder. But do not worry, we have got you covered.

Discover the 8 simple tips to keep the momentum going for you to continuously achieve personal growth:

1. Grow at Your Own Pace at Something You’re Passionate About

Along with the rise of smartphones, social media platforms have been a staple in our daily lives. Stories of success, while inspiring at times, when served in a disproportionately higher frequency than stories about the ongoing hardship of climbing to the job, can leave even the better of us feeling rather inadequate. Sooner or later, you tend to compare yourself and start to question your current life’s path.

But the thing is, every journey is not the same for everyone. As cliché as it may sound, you need to stop comparing and start appreciating your individual journey. Chart out a path that aligns with your personal values and needs.

To begin, think of your interests and passions. Try to recall your childhood memories. What did you love to do as a child? Bill Gates once said that you’re likely to excel at something that you were obsessed with when you were 12 – 18 years old.[2]

If nothing stands out, then think of what sparks joy in your life now? What are the things you could talk about for hours?

For example, if you have been watching foreign movies for a while, maybe it is time to learn the language. Imagine how rewarding it will be when you are finally able to sit through a movie and ditch the subtitles.

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“Enlightenment must come little by little – otherwise it would overwhelm.” – Idries Shah

Once you have found your passion, you must be patient. Remember that it is okay to take it slow and not rush the process. It may seem to you that everyone else except you is moving forward at the speed of light, that’s probably just a mere illusion. Even if it is true, do not feel demotivated and be brave to grow at your own pace.

2. Make Use of Curiosity to Cultivate Soft Skills

Soft skills are just as important as hard skills. In fact, you need to cultivate soft skills not only to shine at your workplace, but also to become a better human being.

Let us consider empathy, for example, which is considered one of the most important soft skills to have at the workplace and in life. Empathy is commonly associated with having similar past experiences. Award-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang agrees that empathy for others can come from having experienced something similar.[3]

But how do we empathize even with the lack of experience?

The answer is to be curious of everything! The next time that someone tells you that they can no longer cope with something, before you formulate your response, be curious and put yourself in their situation.

Suppose that you are a breadwinner husband and wonder why your stay-at-home wife whines so much about how tired she is at the end of the day. Perhaps you can volunteer to substitute her role during the weekend. You’d be surprised of how your view may dramatically change.

Being curious does not only cultivate your empathy but also enhance your decision-making skills, while at the same time pave the way for your own personal growth.

3. Kaizen Approach: Aim for 1% Progress, Not Perfection

Personal growth is a lifelong process. Sure, being a perfectionist to a certain extent may have its place, but overdoing it and you may risk doing a disservice to yourself and the people around you, as in the case of the creative genius, Steve Jobs.[4]

If you are plagued with striving for perfectionism, it is better to shift your focus on the progress that you’ve made, rather than perfection, in order to avoid feeling discouraged. In fact, perfectionism can have serious adverse effects on your mental health.[5][6]

To give you an idea, pretend that you are into arts and decide to try calligraphy. You’d realize that it is so much harder than it looks once you’d pick up the pen. Suddenly, your goal of achieving the mastery level that you’d once dreamed of seems too daunting of a task…and you may be tempted to throw in the towel.

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First of all, do a reality check. Accept that you won’t become a calligraphy expert overnight. However, your skills will slowly improve if you keep practicing everyday. Change your mindset of aiming to be 1% better than yesterday, which is known as the Kaizen approach.

To summarize this point, stop beating yourself up when progress seems slow. Focus instead on achieving at least a 1% progress everyday. Small but ongoing positive changes will get you there eventually.

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holly ground. There’s no greater investment.” – Stephen Covey

4. Start a Journal and Track Daily Habits

Now come the question:

How to know that you are progressing?

“Inevitable we find ourselves tackling too many things at the same time, spreading our focus so thin that nothing gets the attention it deserves. This is commonly referred to as ‘being busy’. Being busy, however, is not the same thing as being productive.” – Ryder Carroll.

The answer is simple. Document everything whether in actual or electronic journal. What gets measured, gets done. Routine measurement and documentation help you identify the gaps that are holding you back from achieving goals.

For example, you can plot a line graph to track your weight as well as your calorie consumption and physical activities for the day, so as to get a better clarity of what works for and against your fitness goal.

You can also use your journal to develop or break a habit. New study found that it requires a minimum of 66 consecutive days of doing something to develop it as a habit — an act that comes naturally to you without involving any willpower.[7]

The simplest habit tracker is in the form of a table, where you list down all of the activities that you want to track on the left-side column and have the days of the week in the following columns. Remember to be specific when listing the activity. For example, “Drink 2 liters of water” is better than “Drink water”.

It is entirely up to you whether you want to maintain a minimalist or artistic journal. If artistic journaling appeals to you, you can try the Bullet Journal Method.

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5. Boost ‘Happy’ Neurotransmitters

As you progress in ahead in your quest for personal growth, don’t forget to celebrate the small victory along the way by treating yourself to something nice. It does not have to be extravagant. Whether it is indulging your favorite ice cream, having a picnic by the lake or buying stuff from your wish list, go ahead and reward yourself without any guilt.

These small celebrations can boost neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine – that make you happy. Serotonin works by improving your overall mood, while dopamine works as a motivator that pushes you to achieve your goals, so that you can delight in the reward later. Make these two neurotransmitters work to your advantage.

You can learn more about How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals here.

It is important to always be proud of how far you’ve come along. After all, Rome was not built in a day, and there is no such thing as an overnight success.

6. Get the Social Support You Need

You’ve probably heard the saying that you are the average of five people you spend the most time with. A scientific research has disproved that theory – you are actually the average of all the people you surround yourself with.[8]

The people around you play a big role in your journey to achieve continuous personal growth as they directly and subconsciously affect your attitudes and emotions. People who radiate positive vibes can offer you multiple kinds benefits. Apart from the social support that pushes you to be better, their positivity can also rub off of you.

“People inspire you, or they drain you. Pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hasen

But what to do if the people that are currently in your life do not share the values that you hold and aspire to?

You can join online groups or find local communities – both are easily found through a quick Google search. Make use of these platforms to exchange knowledge and opinions, to boost motivation, or to just bask in their positivity.

Make it a point to cut out toxic friends and surround yourself with the ones that cherish your small victories. Sometimes, knowing someone is rooting for your success can be a good enough reason to persevere. A social support will catalyze your growth and make your journey a little bit easier.

7. Find Happiness in the Little Things

Science has proven that attitude of gratitude is just as important as other moral values.[9] But it can be difficult to appreciate the good things that happen in your life when you are having a tough time. As you bury yourself in negative thoughts, it becomes nearly impossible to move forward.

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Writing one line of gratitude per day trains you to find happiness in the little things even if it seems like nothing good is happening now. Whether it is the good traffic and weather, a compliment from your boss, a delicious lunch or affection from your cats, the small happenings that you tend to miss out are worth to be thankful for.

Besides that, you can start by saying ‘thank you’ to others more often. Who knows what miracles you can bring to their lives. After all, we are all interconnected in some ways.

Expressing gratitude helps you to feel good about yourself and your life. And when you feel good, you’ll be more driven to continue growing as a person. Take a look at these 6 Ways To Implement More Gratitude In Your Life.

“Thank you is the bridge from where you are now to the life of your dreams. Your life will change by practicing gratitude and saying thank you.” – Rhonda Byrne

8. Emphasize on Self-Care

You may have been misled to believe that self-care is about pampering yourself – for instance, splurging on a new handbag or that expensive spa treatment after a job well done.

Newsflash: You may have gotten self-care wrong.

Self-care is about being disciplined in nourishing your body and your mind. This includes eating right to ensure that your macro nutrient and micro nutrient intakes are as per recommended, and getting enough quality sleep at night.

If the only means of physical activity you do in a day is taking out the trash, it’s time to step up the game. The key is to choose an exercise that brings you joy. It could be running in the park, swimming, joining Pilates or kickboxing classes. A routine exercise lets the brain function effectively and helps you live longer too.

Remember this: A healthy body and an alert brain will tremendously help you in your personal growth.

Final Thoughts

Design the journey that suits you. You can seek for inspiration from others but remember to appreciate your own journey.

Be kind to yourself as you embark on the quest towards your personal growth and development. After all, it is a lifelong journey.

Are you ready now?

More Resources to Help You Grow & Improve

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] V. Berger, Psychologist Anywhere Anytime: Personal Growth and Development
[2] Inc.: Bill Gates’s Simple Trick for Finding a Career Where You’ll Shine
[3] G. L. Yang, Big Think: Minority Book Report: How Reading Grows Our Empathy
[4] The Atlantic: The Crazy Perfectionism That Drove Steve Jobs
[5] Medical News Today: How Perfectionism Affects Your (Mental) Health
[6] M. Etherson and M. M. Smith, The Conversation: How Perfectionism Can Lead To Depression In Students
[7] P. Lally, C. H. M. Van Jaarsveld, H. W. W. Potts and J. Wardle, European Journal of Social Psychology: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.
[8] The New England Journal of Medicine: The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years
[9] S. Scott, Happier Human: The Science of Gratitude: More Benefits Than Expected; 26 Studies and Counting

More by this author

Jay Liew

Founder at Great Big Minds, Positivity Enthusiast, Social Media & Digital Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can?

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can?

Think of the last time your bought something you really wanted. How did you feel afterwards? It felt good.

    Now, is there something else you really want? Maybe a new laptop, smartphone, or some nice clothes. Buying that thing, whatever it is, will bring you happiness. When you finally have it, you will be excited to try it out.

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          As cliche as it says “money can’t buy happiness,” we feel happy when we buy the things we want. Why is that?

          The Real Reason Why You Are Happy When You Buy Stuff

          Human beings are hardwired to seek instant gratification. You’ve probably heard the phrase instant gratification hundreds of times. To get that thing we want, the moment we want it. This desire for instant gratification came to us as a survival mechanism. I’m not going to talk about instant gratification in details here, if you want to find out more about it, take a look at 5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification.

          While instant gratification is in human’s nature, we live in a society driven by delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is the desire for something but the inability to get it when you want. In our society, you have to wait for your pay day, your meal at a restaurant, your coffee at Starbucks. When the thing you want finally arrives, you get excited.

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            Your excitement for this thing, the delayed gratification often elicits stronger emotional responses in you than when you get it. This feeling comes from dopamine a chemical that influences the pleasure centers in our brains.[1] When you become excited for something, you are actually enjoying a release of dopamine into our system. The thing you are actually excited for is almost secondary to it.

            Think about it, how did you feel a couple hours after buying something you waited a long time for? It was probably not nearly as good as when you first got it, or when you’re waiting to get it. It’s natural, it’s a part of human nature.

              In this way the happiness you feel isn’t true happiness. In fact, biologically speaking, you’re just enjoying a blast of dopamine. When this blast of dopamine is gone, you want something new again, which is secretly, more dopamine. This is what that old saying “money can’t buy you happiness” really means.

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              There is, however, a way in which money can buy you happiness. It’s just not in a way you think.

              An Alternative to Buying Happiness

              Recently Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA conducted a study where two groups of people were given $40 each.[2] One group was told to spend it in buying a possession, an object, something they wanted. The other group was told to spend it in ways that would enable them to have more free time, for example, having food delivered to save them from cooking, or hiring a cleaner, instead of cleaning their house themselves. When each participant in the study were to measure their happiness to a 10 point scale, those who spent their money on more free time were almost always one whole point ahead of those who spent their money on stuff.

              In a sense, they were happier because they brought themselves out of doing something they didn’t want to do. Just buying more stuff, in the long run didn’t have much of an affect on their happiness, when those who spent money on time found an increase in life satisfaction.

              It was the free time that made people happy.

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                It was the quality time that contributed more to their happiness, the money was just a tool they used to get more time. But the money ultimately is unnecessary. All that is required is a re-adjustment of how you measure time.

                Everyone has 24 hours a day. The life expectancy for females is 81.2 years; for males, it’s 76.4 years. Most people have more or less the same time of living. To make every hour, or minute count is the way to create your own happy time. If you are always feeling busy and don’t think you have enough quality time for yourself, you need to make a change to turn things around.

                To be truly happy, make quality time a true value in your life. Find out how to do so in my other article How to Gain More Time Like Making Money.

                More About Happiness

                Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

                Reference

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