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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 March 21, 2019

          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

          Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

          You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

          But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

          To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

          It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

          “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

          The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

          In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

          Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

          1. Start Small

          The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

          Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

          Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

          Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

          Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

          Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

          It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

          Do less today to do more in a year.

          2. Stay Small

          There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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          But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

          If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

          When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

          I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

          Why?

          Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

          The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

          Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

          3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

          No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

          There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

          What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

          Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

          This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

          This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

          4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

          When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

          There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

          Peter Drucker said,

          “What you track is what you do.”

          So track it to do it — it really helps.

          But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

          5. Measure Once, Do Twice

          Peter Drucker also said,

          “What you measure is what you improve.”

          So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

          For reading, it’s 20 pages.
          For writing, it’s 500 words.
          For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
          For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

          Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

          6. All Days Make a Difference

          Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

          Will two? They won’t.

          Will three? They won’t.

          Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

          What happened? Which one made you fit?

          The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

          No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

          7. They Are Never Fully Automated

          Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

          But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

          What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

          It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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          The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

          It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

          It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

          8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

          Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

          Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

          When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

          The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

          Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

          9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

          The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

          Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

          You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

          But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

          So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

          If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

          This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

          The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

          Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

          10. Punish Yourself

          Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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          I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

          It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

          You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

          No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

          The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

          But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

          11. Reward Yourself

          When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

          Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

          The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

          After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

          If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

          Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

          If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

          In the End, It Matters

          What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

          When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

          And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

          “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

          Keep going.

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          More Resources to Help You Build Habits

          Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
          [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
          [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
          [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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