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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

8 Ways to Continuously Achieve Personal Growth

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide for a Better You)

How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide for a Better You)

Chances are, you’re busy hustling between the 40 hours a week you need to work, the family you need to provide for, and the bills that need to be paid.

As the years pass by, you’ve begun to feel the burnout from all the needs and expectations required of you. You don’t feel like you are in control over your own life. In fact, it feels like the circumstances in your life are controlling you.

What if there was a way for you to be able to have better control of your life and create all the positive changes you’ve been aching for?

This can be done through self-realization.

You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but you’re not really sure what it really is or how it can help you.

I’m going to dive into what exactly self-realization is and the exact steps you can take to attain it for yourself. Read on if you want to learn how to unlock your potential and find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety, and gain crystal clear clarity about who you are and what you’re capable of.

What Is Self-Realization?

Self-realization has a few big definitions. In the Western world, it’s generally defined as the activation of one’s full potential of talents and abilities.

How Psychologists Define Self-Realization

Humanistic psychology also follows a similar train of thought about self-realization.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has named people he considered to have reached self-realization such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. His famous hierarchy of needs theory states in order to achieve self-realization (or in this case, Maslow uses the term “self-actualization”),[1] one needs to have a certain set of needs met before achieving it:[2]

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    For example, self-realization cannot be achieved if you are struggling financially and too caught up in worrying about how to pay for the rent and provide food for your family. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for many people, which leaves little opportunity for them to maximize their abilities.

    How Religions Define Self-Realization

    In religions, the concept of self-realization is taken from a different perspective altogether. Connecting with your truest self has a lot to do with transcending your own mind and body. This self is often considered as an eternal being that is not confined to the physical space that your mind and body take up. Many recognize this part of yourself as the soul.

    To put all of these definitions together, self-realization is ultimately learning the answer to the foundational question, “Who am I?”

    The answer lies from understanding that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. Who you really are is not even your body or your mind. These are all things you as a self experience, but they are not you.

    And when you are too caught up in these things that are not yours, that’s when you fall victim to and get stuck in your negative experiences such as stress, anxiety and fear.

    While your thoughts, feelings, and physical body always changes, you do not.

    I know this concept can be a bit confusing to understand, so here’s a great video that explores who you really are explained by Prince EA. It was a video made in response to a bizarre interview session with Comedian Jim Carrey at the red carpet interview at the 2017 New York Fashion Week.

    Here’s the video:

    Why Self-Realization Matters to You

    How often are you distracted, lost in your thoughts, or overwhelmed by difficult emotions?

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    Being in the present is more difficult than ever with the technology today. People are often buried in their smartphones or laptops while others around are craving their attention.

    Most people spend so little time in the present. They’re usually either hurt and having trouble letting go of their past, or busy worrying about their futures:[3]

    “People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

    Here are some amazing benefits to self-realization:

    • The ability to monitor your emotions. Rather than being controlled by your emotions, you can now use your observations about them during the experience to learn how to effectively handle things like fear, anxiety and stress. Self-realizations helps you do this by giving you the skill of letting go of debilitating feelings and taking hold of the empowering ones instead.
    • Improved focus and concentration. Guided by your own inner goals and values, self-realization helps you easily identify when you are entering into distractions and eliminate them. By getting rid of the meaningless things in your life, you stay committed to what matters most and you begin to see real results as you reach your fullest potential.
    • Increased confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. By being connected deeply to your truest self, self-realization frees you from any insecurities, worries, and low sense of self worth that you feel tangled up in by helping you really grasp the truth that you are not defined by them.
    • Becoming more accepting of yourself and of other people. You are able to be more authentic and express emotions freely and clearly. As a result, you are able to form deeper relationships and spend more time connecting with people rather than trying to impress them.

    When people don’t have a strong sense of their own self, they get easily swayed to live life the way other people tell them to live it.

    The truth of this has been shown through Bronnie Ware’s famous work, which has shown that one of the top regrets of people who are dying was:[4]

    “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

    There can be tons of pressure whether it’s from work, society, and even friends and family for you to be a certain way. Maybe your rough upbringing instilled a strong need for other’s approval in you so you do what others expect of you. Maybe you’ve stopped trusting people because of your struggles with letting go of the thoughts and experiences that hurt you.

    Whatever the situation, self-realization gives you the safe space you need to heal and grow.

    How to Start Developing Self-Realization

    1. Start Meditating Regularly

    Aside from all the scientific evidence that shows the health benefits of meditation, it is also a prime way to achieve self-realization.

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    One of my favorite apps that guide you through meditation is Headspace.

    I particularly love this app because it is very straightforward without all the woo-woo types of things you normally associate with meditation. It does a great job of demystifying what meditation really is and how it can benefit you to achieving self-realization.

    Here’s a great explanation of what meditation does for you:

    You can get the basic meditation guidance for free or pay for a premium version for access to more specific meditations that improve things like self esteem, creativity and relationships.

    In case you don’t want to download the app, here is the simple meditation practice you can do right now:

    1. Sit comfortably on a chair.
    2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
    3. Take about a minute to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    4. After a few deep breaths, gently close your eyes while you are breathing out.
    5. Resume normal breathing.
    6. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment with having nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to check.
    7. Take a moment to feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
    8. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing.
    9. As you sit there beginning to notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation, don’t try and stop your thoughts. Simply allow them to just come and go.
    10. At this point, the only thing you need to do is when you’ve realized your mind has wandered, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
    11. Gently bring the attention back to your body, back to that feeling of contact to your chair and the space around you and when ready, gently open your eyes again.

    Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day, learning to train your mind to be present is so important to your journey towards self-realization. You need to take a step back from the craziness of life and recompose yourself to be present for the things that matter most.

    Another great method that can be used to achieve self-realization that involves a bit more body strength is yoga. While there are many variations of yoga and has also become a very popular form of exercise in western culture, its original purpose served as a meditative practice to achieve the higher level of consciousness that comes from self-realization.

    You can access plenty of free Yoga channels on Youtube or join a gym to get started.

    2. Make Time for Self-Realization Every Day

    I know what you’re thinking.

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    “I don’t have time for this!”

    I beg to differ.

    About 40 percent of the things you do in a day don’t involve you actively making a decision. Instead, it is actually a habit.

    Out of all of your habits, there are probably a handful of bad ones. If you can observe your daily routines, there is a simple way to change a bad habit into a good one, which is to start making changes to your environment to make it easier for you to change your habits.

    The idea is rather than trying to squeeze in more time to do something, simply alter a daily habit you have into something else.

    For example, let’s say you start your morning by brewing your coffee and sitting down on the dining table for 20 minutes to browse the internet to catch up on the news.

    The news is usually full of negative information, so why not spend those 20 minutes in meditation instead?

    One easy way to make this change is to change your environment up by keeping your laptop and phone in a different room so you don’t have immediate access to it when you sit down on the dining table. You make it easier on yourself to spend time meditating rather than staring at a screen.

    Want some more great tips on breaking bad habits? You can try out Lifehack CEO’s secret Control Alternate Delete method, which was the method he used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months.

    Final Thoughts

    Self-realization doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time and practice, but if you turn the practices into a habit, you’ll be guaranteed to get there. Once you do, you’ll finally feel like you are in more control over your life and be able to get yourself to the next level.

    Now that you have a better understanding of the importance and benefits of self-realization, why not take a moment to put everything down and give it a try?

    More About Self-Realization

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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