A stagnant life is a boring life. Even if you know that you might be unsure how to push past stagnation. You’re ready to grow, but you need to figure out how.
Personal growth comes from the choices you make and the relationships you cultivate. If you want to grow as a person, you can do so. It starts with pointing your time and your attention toward the intentional pursuit of personal development. You can build your everyday habits around that goal.
What Makes You Grow: Love vs. Fear
In general, people grow for one of two reasons. They either do it out of love or out of fear.
Growing out of love is the idea of growing towards something. Picture a flower on a windowsill. Over time, it turns to face the sunlight. It loves and craves that light, so it grows in that direction.
You’re a lot like that flower. There are things in life that you love. You make choices that move you toward those things. You probably do that automatically a lot of the time. It’s often the natural outgrowth of loving and desiring something.
You can make a conscious choice to do so much more though. If there’s a direction in life that you want to face, you can point yourself in that direction.
Growing out of fear is growing away from something. Imagine that you’re in the kitchen. The stove is on, and it’s blazing hot. You reach out and touch it. Ouch! You’re probably not going to do that again. Realizing it’s a painful experience, you’ll now go to great lengths not to repeat it.
This is a pretty extreme example, but similar situations come up regularly in our day-to-day lives. There are experiences that pain us or leave us dissatisfied. We can make the choice to grow away from those things if they’re not the experiences we want in our lives.
Taking Responsibility for Your Path Makes You Grow
Who’s in charge of your life? You are. When you realize that — and embrace it — you grow. Your goal is to realize that you are the one who will determine what is useful for you.
Perhaps you’ve spent a lot of your life letting others pick your values and your priorities. While it’s worthwhile to listen to others’ advice, you’ll want to follow that up with making your own choices.
Decisions that you make for yourself hold more meaning. Rather than being something that’s put upon you, they come from within you. They align with who you are and who you want to be. You can shape your life around them.
Discovering Your Values Makes You Grow
The idea of choosing your own path is strongly related to the concept of personal ethics. When you’re truly taking control of your direction in life, you’ll make decisions based on your personal ethics — the value system you live by.
How do you discover your values? You do it by taking the time to figure out what drives you and motivates you in the world. The time that you invest in that helps you grow as a person.
What Makes You Grow? 14 Practical Ideas
What does all this mean in your everyday life? Is personal growth something you can engage in every day? It absolutely is! You can take your daily experiences and activities and shape them into opportunities for growth. These 14 ideas will get you started.
- Decision Making
- There are times in life when you come to a crossroads. Multiple decisions are in front of you, and it’s up to you to figure out which path to take. Those situations are opportunities for growth. You’ll grow as you think through the pros and cons, as you determine what to do, and as you confidently stick to your decision. Seeing how your decision plays out can lead to growth as well.
- Hard Situations
- This is a growth opportunity that you’ve probably experienced for yourself multiple times. You feel stuck in a situation and aren’t sure what the way out is. Determining your next move calls for careful reflection. Eventually, you make your way to the other side. While it’s not always evident at the moment, you can later look back and see how the situation has shaped you.
- Difficult Relationships
- Challenging relationships provide opportunities to look inside ourselves and figure out what we really want. We can choose whether to stay in the relationship or move on. If we stay, we can stand up for ourselves by setting boundaries. If we choose to bow out, we can grow through the experience of taking a new step forward. (Is it time to separate yourself from an unhealthy influence? Check out our resource on toxic relationships.)
- Beautiful Relationships
- A relationship doesn’t have to be a challenge for it to stretch you. Healthy relationships can also be a catalyst for growth. They offer positive motivation, encouraging us to develop ourselves the best we can for the other person.
- Some relationships are built around the idea of growth. In a mentorship, you’re choosing to learn from another person. You do it because you value their thoughts and ideas. You want to develop some of the practices and habits that make them successful. Mentorship is an intentional investment into becoming who you want to be.
- Another type of relationship that can grow you is a partnership. That’s where you’re working together in tandem with someone. As you do, you’ll want to balance each other’s strengths and consider how best to achieve your goals together. It takes practice to do that well, but you’ll grow as you work on it.
- You’ve got what you need for success inside you already. You just need someone who can help you see that. A coach is a professional whose role is to help you see things from a new perspective. An effective coach will also help you learn that change is possible. Through the coaching relationship, you’ll learn how to take yourself further than you may have even thought possible. Working with a coach, you’ll make progressive growth, one step at a time.
- Your bookshelf holds clues about whether you’ve committed to personal growth. If you intend to develop your body and your mind, then your book collection will show it. The more you read on the topic of personal development, the more you’ll fill your mind with thought-provoking ideas. Those ideas will spur you on toward growth. Looking for suggestions on where to begin? I always recommend Byron Katie’s writings, including Loving What Is.
- Sticky Ideas
- When you hear an idea that resonates with you, hold onto it. Let it roll around in your brain for a while. As you ruminate on the idea, it may lead you toward growth. Keep in mind that the more ideas you expose yourself to, the more opportunities for this you’ll have. Books, podcasts, seminars, coaching sessions… any of those could be a great place to grab a new idea or two.
- Skill Development
- There are things that you don’t yet know how to do, but you can learn. Perhaps you want what’s on the other side of knowing something, so you decide to go for it and learn. Every time you learn something new, you grow through the process — particularly because developing a skill takes practice, practice, practice. You’re sure to change as you dig into that effort.
- Meeting Challenges
- Figuring out a new skill is just one example of meeting a challenge. Life offers plenty of other challenges, too. Each one gives you the chance to grow. Whether your challenge today is to have a tricky conversation, meet a deadline or give a presentation, reframe the situation as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.
- Determining Priorities
- Your priorities are your values. They are things that you give precedence in your life because they’re important to you. We’ve already discussed how identifying your values helps you grow. Of course, there’s more involved with real growth than just determining your priorities. The next step is honoring your priorities as you make life decisions. When your choices align with your values, you’ll become a more authentic person.
- Reflection leads to growth. Journaling is a written form of reflection. The writing process encourages you to slow down and really think about the thoughts in your head. As you translate them from your brain to the paper, you can process your ideas and get more in touch with your feelings.
- Physical Care and Fitness
- Personal growth involves both your mind and your body. Taking care of your body through diet and exercise helps you be fit and healthy so that you can achieve as much as possible. Plus, fitness pays off for your brain. Workouts help you get out of your own head, release anxiety, and focus your thoughts.
Your everyday life presents countless opportunities for growth. When you start to see your daily activities and choices in that way, you can spur yourself on toward growth a little more each day.
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