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Last Updated on September 25, 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 November 5, 2019

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

1. Construct a Plan of Action

The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

2. Focus Your Attention

If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

    Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

    3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

    Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

    The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

    Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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    This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

    The reason is simple:

    Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

    This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

    If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

    4. Accountability Is a Must

    When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

    When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

    You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

    • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
    • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
    • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
    • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

    Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

    5. Catalyst for Change

    There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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    The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

    By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

    Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

    Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

    Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

    6. Character Matters

    In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

    Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

    Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

    It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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    7. Muster up the Courage

    Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

    Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

    Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

    I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

    If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

    You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

    Final Thoughts

    There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

    Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

    More About Living Your Dream Life

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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