Personal growth in life is more important than achievement. Without it, you’ll never reach the higher levels of yourself.
Personal growth is a constant and consistent development of skills, mindsets, and behaviors that will keep you growing forward over and over and over again.
Why don’t most people continue to grow in their lives?
Whether it’s comfort, contentment, or a lack of desire to improve — many people stop growing and evolving in their lives. Which, if you aren’t careful, can happen to any of us, and the results are scary.
Phil Knight, a co-founder of Nike, wrote about growth in his memoir, Shoe Dog:
“Leaning back in my recliner each night, staring at the ceiling, I tried to settle myself: Life is growth. You grow or you die.”
The more achievement you have, the more focused you should become on even more significant personal growth.
As John Maxwell said, “Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.”
This article will break-down 13 powerful ways to sharpen your personal growth. The result will develop more courage, potential, and income.
Here they are:
Produce the Significant and Delay the Urgent.
If you’re going to improve your personal growth in life, you have to understand how to work on the things that matter most and ignore the less important.
Yes, it’s time to ‘eat that frog’ as it goes. Get what needs to get done, done.
It’s more than just be productive; it’s about understanding what is truly important to get done, not the urgent. “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important,” said Dwight D. Eisenhower.
You want to become productive in a way that moves your life forward — which is not always the same as crossing things off your to-do list or answering emails and phone calls as they arrive.
You must protect your time and focus on doing your most important work, the work that will move your career, life goals, and financial ambitions forward — first!
Otherwise, you risk delaying your goals and plans for your future.
Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, puts it best, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
So, what’s essential to moving your life’s plans forward?
Don’t wait to find the time — make time. Schedule it. Do it first thing in the morning.
If your goal is to become a writer or start your own business, get up each morning, and start. Spend the first 60 minutes working on your big life-changing goals — before email, before checking the news, before texting with a friend, or seeing who won the game.
Eat your frog!
Keep Setting Goals Until You Find the One That Excites You.
Goals are essential to personal growth and living a life of happiness. Whether it’s becoming a millionaire or a published author or starting a business or losing 30 pounds — goals are important and necessary to our growth.
But, you better set the right goals if you want to move your life forward; otherwise, you’ll have no excitement towards doing the work it will take to achieve it.
As Mark Manson puts it:
“If your goals suck, then strong strategies and work-ethic will make your life worse, not better.”
You can’t ‘work’ or ‘grind’ your way through a life-sucking goal. You need goals that push, pull, and demand more of you, like a fighter fighting above his weight class. As Jim Rohn said, “Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.”
You can’t do that if your goals are boring. You can’t do that if your boss or your company sets your goals. Your goals have to be yours, you can’t play small, and they have to “move the hearts,” as Goeth said.
Does your 2–5 year goal scare you?
Does it ever wake you up in the middle of the night?
If not, you need to re-examine your goal.
Set the goals in life that you desire. Not safe goals. Not goals your parents or boss or employer sets for you. Choose the goal you want to pursue and the goal you want to become.
The personal growth you’ll experience along the way will blow your mind.
Declare Proudly Your Heart’s Intent and Be Fearless of What Anyone Thinks About It.
“Life is too short to not be pursuing the best opportunity you know of.”
— James Clear
If you could be whatever you wanted to be in life, no matter what others would say or think, what would it be?
I want to be a writer, entrepreneur, and investor. That’s what I want to do with my life, and I have a lot of work to get there, but it’s how I want to spend my time, my energy, and the life I want to build. Since declaring this, I’ve freed myself of the concern of what others would say or think.
As the Avett Brothers lyrics go,
“There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in
And demanded that somebody free it”
It’s your life. It’s your dream. Nobody else can see it, relate to it, or understand it entirely as you do. So, don’t expect others to have the joy you have for it or roll the red carpet out for your dreams. It’s not theirs; it’s yours.
The freedom you will feel, well, Marcus Aurelius was right, “Tranquility…comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.”
Try sitting down with a journal or open up a document in word and take 20 minutes to list out all the goals and things you’d like to do in your life. Don’t overthink it, don’t question it, or judge it — just write it out.
Now, pursue those goals without wondering what anyone will think.
Live and Compare Yourself to the Person You’ll Be In a Decade.
We’re told not to compare ourselves to anybody. It’s believed to be unhealthy to our psyche to live our lives in comparison with others.
Still, we need someone to chase, someone to pursue, and someone to measure ourselves against. There is no better person to compare yourself with than the person you want to be in the future.
After winning Best Actor in 2013 for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey tells a story about who his hero became early in his life. His answer is beautiful,
“My hero’s always ten years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna obtain that; I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
When you decide who you want to be in the future: your goals, how you spend your time, your habits, what your day looks like — you will have a measuring stick for your future. You’ll now have a filter in which you run every decision through in life, right now, to determine if this is getting you closer to who you want to become or not.
You need that. We all need that.
As Einstein said, “The same thinking that has led you to where you are is not going to lead you to where you want to go.”
Four steps to developing into the person you want to be in the future:
- Determine the difference between who you are now and who you want to be in the future.
- Imagine the person you want to become and use this example to filter your decisions — for instance, would the person you seek to become eat a bag of potato chips at the end of the day or put their workout clothes on and go to the gym?
- Live your life as you are that person from your future and believe in yourself the same way that person would. You control the narrative and story within your head.
Determine Your Dream Day and Dream Life, Then Find a Way to Create That Life.
Most of us learn this lesson the hard way. Or, even worse, many people never know it until it’s too late or they decide it’s not worth changing.
We’re mostly taught to finish High School, then go to college and get a well paid, steady job. Focus on salary and benefits. If you do this, you will be happy, well-compensated, and build the life of your dreams.
You can. That works for some.
Nobody told you that just because you make good money and can afford the things you want in life doesn’t mean you enjoy a single moment between 9–5 Monday through Friday — which is much more time in your life than we care to admit.
Maybe this is one of those lessons most of us have to learn the hard way. I don’t know. I know that 45 years in the workforce is a long time if you don’t enjoy your work.
They say, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Do you show up to your job to pay the bills or because you enjoy it?
They can be mutually exclusive, but it’s not guaranteed.
The world has changed. Working 45 years for the same company is rare. Opportunities for entrepreneurship and making a living doing things you feel a purpose towards have never been easier. It’s still hard. Really hard.
Still, it’s more achievable now than ever before, and if you want a specific lifestyle, then decide how you want to live, then find a way to make money to live it, not the other way around.
If you want to avoid meetings, corporate gatherings, wear jeans and a t-shirt, travel when you want to, and check your email from the beach — it’s possible.
So, decide the lifestyle you want to live, then figure out how to make it happen. There are no longer any reasons you can’t achieve this in your life.
I’ll give you a quote from Dr. Stephen R. Covey:
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
Eliminate the Unnecessary Mercilessly.
“Instead of asking how many tasks you can tackle given your working hours, ask how many you can ditch given what you must do to excel.”
— Morten Hansen
If you’re like me, you have a list of practices you try and integrate into your daily and weekly routine, which you believe will fuel your growth in life, increase your income, and help produce more — but the truth is that you just can’t get it all done.
So, what do you do?
Deploy elimination as a tool to work your way into deeper and deeper clarity towards what really needs to get done. “Sometimes the most productive use of your time is in discovering what NOT to do,” says writer Mark Manson, “It feels like wasted time, but we don’t think about how much time it saves us in the future.”
What can I eliminate to go deeper into something that needs my attention?
In an interview on The Daily Stoic podcast, Matthew McConaughey tells Ryan Holiday a story about eliminating things to go deeper into the things that matter the most. In McConaughey’s words, “It’s a constant re-calibration and calibration.”
Some great questions to ask yourself and journal to aide consistent re-calibration:
- What if the answer isn’t to do more?
- What if the answer is to want less?
- What is ONE thing you can do today to make yourself feel great?
- What is the most important thing?
Finding what’s most important requires work, time, and constant care over the calibration process. Still, it’s worth it.
Dive Deeply Into Ideas, Strategies, and Concepts You Believe Will Enhance Your Life.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
— Albert Einstein
One of the most exciting elements of personal growth in today’s world is the fact that there is a book, podcast, or course on almost anything you desire to achieve in life. You just have to find it.
Still, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. You can suffer from decision fatigue for all the information that is readily available at your fingertips — understanding how to navigate this may be the difference between you being successful and super successful in the future.
As Robert Greene, author of Mastery and 48 Laws of Power, puts it:
“In the future, the great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle these complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them — those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.”
It’s a double-edged sword we are all dealing with and must learn how to handle with care.
You must learn mastery of ideas, strategies, and concepts. As Einstein explained, you have to pursue them deeply, not just ‘get it’ but fully understand.
When you find something you think could move your goals forward, double down on it, learn it more in-depth, and work to master those concepts. It will pay off in your future.
Here are some strategies to deep diving on topics:
- Read great and informational blog posts at least three times or once a week until you get all the concepts.
- Re-read the most influential books. (A tip I picked up from Ryan Holiday was to re-read five books every year, which I started doing.)
- Listen to great podcasts 2 or 3 times instead of just staying up to date with the latest.
Don’t worry about missing out on something or not catching the latest hot business book or podcast. Take deeps dives into the skills, knowledge, or wisdom you feel will get you closer to your goals. Same as a block of legos, your skills will grow from those foundations over time and build something special.
Confront What’s In Your Way and Fight Through the Growing Pains.
Growth is painful. It requires something within you that you frequently wonder if you have.
Still, if you’re willing, if you have the courage, you will, more often than not, find the strength to work through that pain and come out a better version. A stronger version. Thus, growth.
To face our fears is inevitable in life. It’s crucial, life-changing, and moves us forward.
Avoiding our fears will not bring joy or happiness and will certainly not bring growth into our lives. Joseph Campbell said we must enter the cave we fear to find the treasure we seek.
Are you living fearlessly enough to enter the caves you fear?
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela
Conquers the fear. Enters the cave, not knowing the outcome, not without hesitation, but with the willingness to face it and pursue our struggle so that we can find our treasure.
Maybe even, as Ben Horowitz says, when speaking of entrepreneurship, “Embrace the struggle.”
Facing our fears and dealing with the anxiety of new things, new feats, and rising to new levels is a part of life. If you are to grow, evolve, and move your life forward, you will have to face fears regularly and conquer them regularly.
So, what’s on the other side of that fear? Well, as Jamie Foxx said in an interview on The Tim Ferris Show, “nothing.”
Face your fear, embrace it, and get comfortable with squaring off against this enemy regularly.
Appreciate the Beauty of Unfinished Pieces of Something Larger.
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
— Alan Watts
This is really hard.
Allowing yourself to appreciate the small piece of a process before seeing the finished product or experiencing the results is extremely difficult.
More often than not, I write something but don’t finish it that day. I have to live with unfinished articles. I’m a salesman in my day job, and I’ve never been able to make a sale the same day as I make the call.
Learning to live with the process, not see immediate results, and keep showing up — is quite possibly the hardest adult lesson to learn.
It’s the single most necessary lesson to finding peace of mind in your work-life balance. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself nuts during the non-working hours, wondering if that project you’re working on will work out.
Learn to appreciate the beauty of the unfinished. Learn to appreciate the beauty of the tiny pieces coming together, one by one.
You can’t get it all done in one day. You won’t see immediate results.
Pursue your craft methodically. Appreciate the tiny pieces and steps along the way. Not only will you become better and better at the small details, but you will enjoy your work. You’ll become a craftsman.
Break your craft down into the tiny pieces that matter the most, then be meticulous about how you go about doing each part. Repeat this over and over until you master these small sections of your work.
Pursuing your craft in this way will bring more joy over the long haul than results. You’ll start grading yourself by the process rather than the product, which will, in turn, only improve you over time.
Each day, in your life, you are writing a story one page at a time. Write the best story you can on today’s page.
Reverse Setbacks Immediately.
In your path to personal growth, you will experience setbacks. It’s not the ability to avoid them that will push your journey forward; it’s your ability to recognize them and stop the slide before it builds momentum.
Learning to catch things early makes it easier to stop the damage from getting out of control and setting you back further than necessary. Having the self-awareness to see when there are roadblocks and learning how to navigate them is critical.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, has some great advice:
“Solve big problems early. Rebound after one missed workout, not a decade of inactivity. Repair a strained relationship the next day, not years later. Fix overspending before it becomes a lifestyle. Problems with simple solutions at first become difficult to unwind over time.”
Don’t allow setbacks to build momentum. Stop it in its tracks.
The next time you experience a setback, double down your effort to make sure it only turns in to one missed workout or day of writing or poor meal.
Think in Abundance, Not Scarcity.
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” — Thomas Jefferson
I’ve spent most of my life thinking that money, success, and happiness were all hard to come by. That you had to hold your breath just right, cross your fingers correctly, and carry a rabbit’s foot around.
And while I’m not suggesting there’s a tree somewhere that grows money or sustainable success doesn’t take work, or that happiness still has to be chosen regularly, life is much easier if you carry the right attitude around.
This attitude or mindset is not what the media wants you to hold. Nope. If it was up to them, they have you so scared you’d just sit in your house locked up all day watching their channel to find out what the next tragic event in the world entails.
Don’t do that. Don’t even watch that crap or read it or allow it to get you worried. If you do, you risk it bleeding into your whole life.
You’ll start to see scarcity in every facet of your life, including ideas, opportunity, money, and even happiness.
Dr. Jim Loehr, a world-renowned performance psychologist, said,
“The power broker in your life is the voice that no one hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality.”
In my life, the story I tell myself daily is very different than it was three years ago or even a year ago. This story that I tell myself has enhanced my life, relationships, my roles, my income, my health, and the level of my belief in myself and my dreams.
What story are you constantly telling yourself?
Is it useful? Is it truthful? Is it empowering?
Do you need a new narrative in your head?
Protect your mind with the narrative that you provide. It’s critical to your confidence, courage, and view on life.