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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.

          More by this author

          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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          Published on January 16, 2019

          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

          We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

          You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

          You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

          That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

          Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

          1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

          Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

          We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

          To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

          At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

          The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

          2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

          Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

          The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

          In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

          It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

          It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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          So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

          • Are you a great strategist?
          • Are you an effective planner?
          • Is Project Management your strength?
          • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
          • Are you the ideas person?
          • Is Implementation your strength?

          Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

          3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

          One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

          Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

          Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

          Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

          4. Take Time for Planning

          “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

          One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

          You can take the time to think about:

          • What’s the purpose of the project?
          • How Important is it?
          • When does it need to be delivered by?
          • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
          • What are the KPIs?
          • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
          • Who is working on this project?
          • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
          • What tolerances can I add in?
          • What are the review stages?
          • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

          Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

          5. Focus on Priorities

          Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

          Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

          One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

          1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
          2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
          3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
          4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

          James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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            The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

            If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

            If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

            6. Take Time Out

            To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

            If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

            Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

            In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

            Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

            7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

            Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

            I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

            Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

            If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

            8. Stop Multitasking

            Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

            So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

            When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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            If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

            9. Work in Blocks of Time

            To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

            I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

            Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

            Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

            Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

            Then take another 10-minute break.

            Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

            By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

            10. Get Rid of Distractions

            Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

            “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

            Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

            If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

            11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

            You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

            Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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            Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

            12. Take a Time Audit

            Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

            Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

            You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

            Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

            Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

            At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

            If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

            13. Protect Your Confidence

            It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

            When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

            Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

            When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

            Final Words

            A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

            The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

            If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

            Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

            Reference

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