Personal growth is not a destination; it’s a path. It’s your own way to feel better about yourself, to improve your performance at work or to establish more meaningful relationships. There’s always room for improvement, and that’s what makes life so exciting and interesting!
Probably your self-growth tasks rarely get crossed out of your to-do list for the day. It’s way easier to focus on the daily assignments requiring your attention even if personal development is your top priority.
Your mind doesn’t really like to put effort into something. It prefers to choose the road with the least resistance. If you’ve decided on a healthier lifestyle, for example, your brain will try to seduce you with a bag of chips and the newest TV show. Nice try, brain!
Understanding how your brain works will help you consciously make another choice when you’re about to slip into the old habit. Since you recognize its little tricks, you’ll be able to grow.
But how to break the old pattern and convince your brain that the effort is worth it? Here are three tips that will help you stop wishing and start doing.
1. Personal growth comes through experience
Whatever it is you’re trying to improve, dare to go out there and take action. Even if you think that you can’t do something, it’s important that you try.
In the beginning, take a little step. Learn from your mistakes and cherish your achievements. Then move forward to the next step.
The desired long-term change is an improvement, and your mind knows this. But breaking the well-established routine requires so much energy! Your mind knows this as well.
As a result, it tries to trick you. It comes up with a whole list of reasons why you shouldn’t take this first step. When you try to win the argument with your inner critic, try reminding yourself that settling for something easy and mediocre now will bring you pain and disappointment in the long-term.
You and you alone choose what your actions and reactions are. Take the initiative and don’t be afraid of falling – it hurts but it’s the sweet pain of learning something new!
2. Explore your opportunities for personal growth
It’s crucial to realize what you can and cannot change. By accepting who you are, you’re laying healthy foundations for your personal growth.
Embrace the things that will always stay the same and give yourself some space. Space to shrug your shoulders and accept your individuality and peculiarities.
What if you want to change something, but you don’t know what to begin with?
First, answer the question: What will you stop fighting? Maybe it’s your explosive temperament or your sensitivity. Whatever it is, write it down. This way, you’ll make it official, and it’ll be easier to keep your word.
Afterward, write down the answer to the following question: What do you want to change about yourself? Maybe it’s the way you tackle problems or dealing with conflicts. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to admit that this particular aspect of your personality needs improvement.
Most of your behavioral patterns kick in automatically. But this doesn’t mean you can’t change them! You can if you approach the process mindfully and proactively.
Next, assess the current situation and explore your opportunities. Answer the questions, preferably in written form:
- What’s the current situation?
- What’s your goal?
- What is the first small and feasible behavioral change?
If we go back to the healthy lifestyle example, the answers would be something like:
- I eat chips and watch at least one episode of my favorite TV show every evening.
- I want to lead a healthier lifestyle which includes less junk food and more physical activities.
- The third step would be to do something else instead of turning on the TV. Go on a walk, practice self-care or invest an hour in your hobby. As the two bad habits are correlated (you eat chips while watching TV), it’s better if you try to change the “leading” habit first.
I chose a complicated example, but I’m sure you get my point. If you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results.
To simplify this even more, we can say that nothing changes if nothing changes!
3. Personal growth costs time
Growth is a process and processes take time. You can’t do anything about it. Fast results are often temporary and lead to further disappointment and frustration.
Have you heard the expression “dieting behavior”? It’s about wanting too much, expecting it too quickly, and not keeping up. Instead of achieving stable results, you get the yo-yo effect. In the end, you not only waste your time, but you feel horrible about yourself.
Make sure you’re not pushing yourself too much or punish yourself too hard when you’re not making the desired progress. Don’t forget that you’re trying to change a pattern which has been there for years, most probably ever since your childhood.
Allow yourself to see personal growth as a path to a mountain peak. No path is straight or smooth. It makes turns, and it can be so steep that anyone would consider giving up. But eventually, it takes you to a spot with a breathtaking view which makes you realize that the struggle was worth it.