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7 Things You Haven’t Tried To Spark Your Personal Growth

7 Things You Haven’t Tried To Spark Your Personal Growth

Being comfortable with who you are and satisfied with what you have are noble traits that will ensure that you stay fairly happy in life. However, wanting more out of life – a better job, a fit body, more confidence, and a more active social life – is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact being ambitious is a great thing, as it focuses you on goals that become a major source of motivation to improve and grow. Becoming a better person allows you to improve your quality of life and forge strong relationships with those around you, while giving you the strength to deal with difficult or toxic people and persevere through hard times. So, how do you grow as a person? Are there effective ways of reaching a high level of emotional maturity, happiness and financial stability? Here are a few different things you can try in order to reach these goals.

1. Find the time to read more

Painting of woman reading

    An essential part of personal development is intellectual growth. Don’t be fooled by faulty rating systems like IQ tests, or allow yourself to crumble at the first signs of criticism or mockery. If you are a slow reader, and even a slow learner, it only means that it will take you a bit longer to attain information. But to accumulate and retain knowledge takes time and effort regardless of how quick your mind is. You can become more knowledgeable through active reading than people with 10 to 20 IQ points above you who waste their potential. Set aside one to two hours a day or several hours on the weekends to brush up on some basic knowledge, learn more about certain topics, work on your vocabulary and read a mentally stimulating piece of fiction. Reading will help you expand your knowledge, which makes life a bit easier. Audio books are also a good choice as you can listen to them while you run or perform household chores.

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    2. Seek out and befriend smart and accomplished people

    When it’s time to relax and just chat with some friends, the last thing on most people’s minds is the fact that this can be an opportunity to learn something new, become more creative or get a different perspective on certain things. There’s no better way to test your knowledge on global economics or find some detailed information on wilderness survival skills than talking to someone who is a professional in the field or has at least done plenty of research on it. Some people will have tons of practical skills and experience in a few fields, while others will have plenty of information about minute details on certain areas of their chosen field.

    If you start choosing your friends a bit more strategically, you will find yourself in the company of experienced, skilled, well-read and interesting individuals much more often. Don’t shy away from old friends or make every relationship strictly quid pro quo, but try to gravitate towards people whose company you enjoy and who can help you evolve. This way every relaxing afternoon or night out with friends becomes a unique learning experience.

    3. Try to learn several useful new skills and focus on mastering one or two

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    Couple Dancing

      There are tons of things that can look good on a resume, and quite a few skills that would come in handy in your day to day life. Have you ever caught yourself saying something like: “I’d be a lot less nervous during this date if I was a good dancer,” or “Things would be so much easier if I knew Spanish”? You can probably think of three or four skills that would be useful to have, just off the top of your head. I’m going to shock a lot of you with a huge revelation right now: there’s not much stopping you from acquiring those skills. Yes, as some may argue, time and money are a factor, but with the amount of free information on the internet and given the amount of time a huge majority of people already spend there (you are, after all, reading an online article right this second) picking up new skills is just a matter dedication and motivation.

      You only need to become good enough to meet your basic needs in most areas, but you should have one or two main skills that you should strive to truly master. This means that you’ll devote an hour a day or a total of seven to 10 hours a week for several years on your main hobby. Attaining mastery can be incredibly beneficial for mental growth, as the long, arduous journey teaches you a whole lot and helps develop a strong will.

      4. Strive to be somewhat selfless and join a good cause

      Making a stand and fighting for something you believe in is a great way to become more assertive and proactive. Find something that you believe is worth fighting for and join a non-profit organization. Just raising awareness on some issues can mean a lot, and these days it can be as simple as posting some pictures on Instagram or creating a buzz on Twitter and Facebook. Just pointing things out isn’t enough, but it is a great first step. You can get more involved if you want and meet some like-minded people, organize events or help out in any way you can. This can really make you appreciate the luxuries you have and help you become more humble and considerate.

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      5. Do some traveling and experience different cultures

      Travel

        The single best cure against prejudice, dogmatic views and general close-mindedness is travel. When you spend enough time among people of different cultures you start to see all the basic similarities and learn about some interesting little differences that make us unique. Broadening your horizons some call it. You can also learn a lot about human social interactions and the nature of various traditions and ceremonies. Travel doesn’t have to be very expensive, and there are probably plenty of places close to home that you have never been to. It can be a real eye-opener to see your own country for what it is and experience the cultural nuances in different areas. Going abroad for a while and getting your share of cultural shock is an excellent experience that everyone should go through at least once in their lifetime.

        6. Train your body and mind on a regular basis

        There can be no major improvement in the mental plane without improving in the physical plane as well. Physical exercise and a relatively healthy diet can help you significantly reduce the risk of a huge number of health issues, keep your mind fresh and sharp, become less injury prone and feel more confident and full of energy. It can also help you go back to healthier sleep patterns, thus making you less mentally fatigued and sluggish. There is also something to be said about the lessons learned through hard training, e.g., learning to cope with failure and keeping going, controlling your fear and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to spark growth. This brings us to our last point.

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        7. Push yourself past invisible barriers created by fear and insecurity

        Overcome fear

          We could all just sit around and feel comfortable, but nothing exciting ever happens when you are absolutely comfortable, and you can’t learn unless you jump into unknown territory and make some mistakes. By forcing yourself to try new things, to jump into situations that make you feel uncomfortable and fearful, you will slowly learn to cope with fear and anxiety and perform well under all kinds of stress. Eventually you will be able to thrive in an environment that once frightened you, and then it’s time to find another situation or activity you are inexperienced in and uncomfortable with, and then conquer your fear all over again. You don’t have to become a daredevil, do anything illegal or go out of your way to make yourself uncomfortable, but do try to set up a tent just beyond the border of your comfort zone.

          No one said self-improvement and personal growth were going to be easy. All of the things in this article require a decent amount of determination and even courage to do, but with some persistence they will make you a better and stronger person.

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Last Updated on April 19, 2021

          The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

          The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

          Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

          The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

          Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

          In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

          When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

          Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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          1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

          When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

          As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

          That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

          The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

          What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

          Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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          There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

          So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

          2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

          When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

          No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

          3. Move Your Body

          A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

          It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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          So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

          4. Connect With Another Person

          Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

          One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

          Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

          5. Use Your Imagination

          When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

          That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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          And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

          Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

          Final Thoughts

          Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

          Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

          More on the Importance of Taking a Break

          Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

          Reference

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