“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”Jane Goodall
Throughout our entire lifetimes, it is important to realize that self-growth and improvement are not goals that should end at a certain age or point. As human beings, we have the remarkable ability to develop and improve in so many areas of life from the time we are born until our very last day.
For one reason or another, a lot of people are under the impression that people reach their final version at some predetermined point such as the end or formal education, entering the workforce or even at retirement. This is such a limiting mindset in that it prevents them from even attempting to keep developing as a person when this point in life is reached.
Rest assured that you are never a finished product, that’s not how we are meant to be.
While there are many things you can do to promote self-growth in your own life, this list consists of 25 actions (and some things to actively NOT do) to get you started.
1. Identifying A Strong Enough “Why”
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”Carrie Fisher
When attempting to make any significant change or improvement in life, it is so important to know exactly why you want to do so. The bigger and more difficult the change, the more convicted you must be regarding your reason.
When you face obstacles and encounter resistance to change, whether personally or from those around you, having a deeply-rooted reason why you are pursuing whatever the change is can provide just the motivation you need to keep on going.
2. Having A Plan
“The swiftest way to triple your success is to double your investment in personal development.”Robin Sharma
Deciding that you want to grow or improve in a particular area of your life is great. However, simply telling yourself you want to do something or setting out blindly in search of your goal is a futile action.
After making the choice to pursue something, you absolutely must have a plan in place for how you are going to go about obtaining it. Failing to plan is synonymous with planning to fail.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”Jordan Belfort
If there is one thing we are all skilled at, it is making excuses for ourselves to justify actions that we know are not conducive to our improvement. We will often blame everything but ourselves for why we do not make a needed change in our lives.
However, in order to truly grow as a person, you have got to be honest with yourself. By analyzing your habits and actions in an objective manner, only then will you be able to highlight the key things preventing your personal improvement.
4. Accounting For Obstacles
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”Michael Jordan
One of the surest ways to get discouraged along your pursuit of self-growth is to assume things are going to be smooth sailing. As you are almost surely aware, life doesn’t work that way. However, a great way to deal with the inevitable setbacks and problems you will face is to expect them.
By doing so, you avoid being ambushed and overwhelmed when your plan doesn’t go exactly as you drew it up. Remember, plan for the best but prepare for the worst case scenario.
5. Making It Bigger Than You
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”J.K. Rowling
While the literal title of this article mentions “self” growth, oftentimes the conviction you need to actually make a change needs to be bigger than yourself.
Throwing in the towel is far easier when you are the only person being let down. It is much harder to do so when there are other people or an important cause depending on your ability to grow and improve as a human being.
6. Eliminating Distractions
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.Mark Twain
Today’s world is basically a nonstop flurry of distractions. There are notifications, noise and clutter constantly bombarding us from every angle. Trying to maintain the focus and attention span of anything more than a goldfish can be challenging.
A great way to increase your chances of success, in any endeavor, is to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Set aside a specific place and block out specific, consistent portions of your daily schedule towards whatever your thing is and fight like crazy to not let anything disrupt.
7. Surrounding Yourself With The Right People
Surround yourself with good people; surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better.Ali Krieger
There are plenty of quotes and phrases describing how we are all basically the sum total of the people we spend the most time around. This idea actually carries a lot of weight. If you are trying to grow and improve as a person, yet your inner circle of people do not embody or abide by any of the qualities you want for yourself, good luck actually rising above that.
Always remember to surround yourself with people that have already been through the process and accomplished what you want to accomplish and/or those who are making a sincere effort to do so.
8. Asking For Help
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”Brené Brown
Sometimes, asking for help can feel like a defeat or display of weakness on our part. Therefore, it is often a natural tendency to avoid doing so at all costs. This defense mechanism caused by our own pride can be to our detriment.
There are going to be many situations in your life when you can either ask for the help of someone more knowledgeable than yourself or complete a lengthy process of trial and error. Don’t waste precious time and energy by not seeking help when you need it.
9. Overcoming Outside Opinions
“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”Aristotle
People have the unfortunate tendency to dislike people who they feel are either doing better or trying to do better than themselves. This usually has nothing to do with the subject of the criticism and everything to do with the source.
When you are trying to grow as a person, other people are going to take notice. Inevitably, you are going to receive some criticism and negative opinions from these people. When this happens, always keep in mind the high likelihood that these remarks do not reflect who you are or what you are trying to improve on.
10. Creating Internal Motivation
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”Michael Altshuler
No one is going to argue with the fact that maintaining a strong form of motivation is necessary when trying to accomplish anything worthwhile. While there are many forms of motivation and different people draw this fuel from unique places, being able to motivate yourself is key.
When you rely on motivation from other people in the form of support, praise and encouragement, you leave yourself vulnerable because you will then depend on people to continue providing these things. What if they don’t? On the contrary, when you are able to source motivation from directly inside of yourself, you rely on nothing externally to keep you going.
11. Objectively Measuring Progress
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”Pearson’s Law
Similar to the importance of having a plan, being able to objectively track your progress towards whatever it is you want to achieve is key. It is one thing to say you are “getting closer” or “doing really well”, but what do these statements actually mean?
Part of your planning needs to include the creation of measurable, objective steps in the process. This prevents opinion and bias from creeping in. It is also a great way to keep from cutting yourself too much slack.
12. Focusing On The Whole Human
While you may identify very specific areas of your life that you want to focus on improving and growing in, keep in mind that you are much more than this one area. In order to truly become the best version of yourself, taking care of each part of yourself is important.
What does this mean? Well, all of you involves your physical, mental and spiritual wellness. These can be broken down even further into the way each component changes in social settings as well. The point is, take care of your body and your mind.
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”Roy T. Bennett
13. Avoid Looking For Shortcuts
There is a big difference between optimizing your time and energy versus slacking by taking shortcuts. In your desire to grow and improve as a human being, there will be many opportunities to skip certain steps or make decisions that are easier but do not benefit you nearly as much down the road.
Don’t look for or choose an option simply because it is easier. Regardless of the time or energy required, make sure that your choices are based on the degree to which they serve your purpose. Ill-advised shortcuts will do nothing but jeopardize your overall success simply for the sake of short-term ease.
“There are no shortcuts in life – only those we imagine.”Frank Leahy
14. Seeing The Other Side Of Adversity
A common ability among successful people is being able to maintain a clear mental image of the goal despite being right in the middle of adversity and hardship. When everyone else around them is caught up in the struggle of the moment and decides to throw in the towel, these people know that the reward on the other side is worth it.
In your own life, you are going to deal with adversity if you ever try to achieve something difficult. Being able to emerge victorious on the other side is a major filter separating successful people from the rest.
“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.”Lou Holtz
15. Being Patient With Yourself
There are some things that you simply cannot rush. Depending on the nature of your goal or the area of your life that you wish to grow in, there’s a good chance that a lot of time will be required to get there.
Don’t allow yourself to get in an unnecessary hurry or feel like you are not progressing as quickly as you should towards something. Grant yourself the patience to simply give your best-effort, one step at a time. By focusing on each individual aspect of your process and being patient, you can do things right the first time.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”Leo Tolstoy
16. But Also Understanding Life Is A Short, One-Time Trip
As our last action described, being patient with yourself is important. However, there is a difference between patience and complacency. It is no secret that life is short and we are all given a very finite amount of time to be who we want to be and accomplish our goals.
Don’t get caught up in the all too common cycle of “some day.” That is not a day of the week. If there is an area of your life you want to improve on or an aspiration you really want, go for it. Time is not slowing down for anyone and there are no do-overs.
Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”Helen Keller
17. Avoiding Comparison
An extremely common and very detrimental thing that many of us do is compare ourselves to other people. We directly judge how good our lives are, how successful we are or the rate of our progress based on how we see our peers doing. When we observe someone who we feel is in a comparable situation to our own seemingly doing better than we are, we immediately view ourselves in a critical light.
If you find yourself doing this, stop. Regardless of what you observe in someone else’s life, there are a variety of factors at play behind the scenes. We are each on our own journey with different starting points, varying resources and wildly unique circumstances. Rest assured that as long as you are consistently doing the very best that you can do, things are going to work out.
“Comparison is the root cause of all evil. Why compare when no two people are alike?”Haresh Sippy
18. Being Process-Oriented
Everyone loves the finished product, the reward waiting on the other end of the finish line. The obstacles and process required to reap these things does not get nearly as much love. An action that you will often hear successful people talk about has to do with falling in love with the process.
If you subject yourself to constant misery and discomfort all for the sake of success at some later date, you are going to have to possess some ridiculous mental fortitude to stick with it.
An easier way to approach difficult goals is by learning to love every step of the process required to reach that final goal. Don’t view all of the hard work and time required as a form of punishment that you have to grit your teeth and deal with.
“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.”Swami Vivekananda
19. Doing More Self-Work Than Promotion
In the age of social media, why does it seem as if making a change for the better or improving in an area of one’s life cannot be valid if they don’t let everyone on their friends list know about it first? In all honesty, most people are more dedicated to securing likes and praise in their comments section than they are about actually doing the thing in real life.
Don’t be this type of person. If you want to publicly talk about some self-growth or life improvement you are attempting on social media, that is your choice. However, do yourself a favor and make sure the actual work you are doing in private far exceeds the keyboard time expended talking about the work you are doing. After all, we are talking about self-growth, not the public perception that you are growing.
“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves.”E. Joseph Cossman
20. Avoid Complacency
As you work to continually grow as a human, you will inevitably experience small positive changes in route to your big goals. These noticeable improvements in your life feel great and you should be proud of them. However, there is one caveat that you need to be cautious of.
Sometimes, we have a tendency to get complacent after enjoying consistent success. This complacency can cause us to rest on our laurels and stop putting forth the effort required to reach the larger goals we set out for originally.
There is a quote that says, “good is the enemy of great.” Don’t allow yourself to slack up when you experience good things here and there and fall short of great.
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”Anthony J. D’Angelo
21. Not Being Elevated By Praise Or Crash From A Lack Of It
Similar to the importance of generating your own internal motivation and not buying into the negative opinions of other people, letting positive feedback get to your head can also be the downfall of your success.
As humans, this can be especially hard to resist. It feels great when other people brag on us and tell us how good we are at something. Rest assured, however, that the moment you start believing in your own hype is the moment you will think you’ve already made it big. Of course you should appreciate and be thankful when people praise you, but never allow this to turn into arrogance.
Once again, when you are going through those inevitable low periods when success seems to evade you and praise from others is hard to find, it is paramount that you don’t depend on other people to push you forward.
Remember, you are doing this for yourself, by yourself.
“Anything that’s not positive, I don’t have the energy to focus on it. Anything that’s not going in the right direction, I don’t have the time or the energy.”DMX
22. Being Selfish For The Sake Of Selflessness
A common misconception about seeking personal growth and improvement is that doing so is in some way selfish. People sometimes think that investing a high degree of time and energy into personal gain shows a lack of concern for other people.
The truth is actually the complete opposite. Consider the fact that the extent and degree to which you can help other people can never be more than you have available to give them. You cannot give something you do not have. With that being said, the more you improve on a personal level, the greater positive effect you can have on others.
Whether it be physical energy, monetary donations, influence, etc., the more success you enjoy personally, the more you can freely give. Personal improvement has the potential to be an overwhelmingly selfless act.
“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.”Joel Osteen
23. Sacrificing Now For Later
It cannot be said enough that achieving anything worthwhile requires a large amount of sacrifice and short term discomfort. Simply knowing this to be true is one thing, acting accordingly is another. There are going to be so many times when your mind and body will try and convince you to settle for what feels good at the time despite being counterproductive to your long term goals.
Delayed gratification is a term and mindset that you need to become familiar with if you want to reach your fullest potential at anything you do. Never allow yourself to settle for the readily available “good enoughs” that will tempt you. Set aside your natural human tendency to avoid discomfort and you will look back and be so glad that you did so.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.Pele
24. Lifestyle Mindset VS Fad
When it comes to personal improvement, far too many people view the process as a short-term change to reach a particular goal that they can then ditch when they reach it. This is readily apparent in the form of fad diets, month-to-month gym memberships and every magazine article preaching the possibility of “30 days to six pack abs.”
If you are going to truly grow and improve in your life, you must view the change as a lifestyle one, not a temporary fad. Not only will the fad mentality lack the conviction required to cause a positive change anyway, even if you do reach your goal you will revert right back to your old self if you stop doing the things it took to get there.
It seems that everybody wants a quick fix, a cure-all or an easy button that they can press to immediately obtain the things they want. Life does not work this way. If you are going to grow as a person, you have to be in it for the long haul.
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”Abraham Maslow
25. Helping The Next One In Line
This final piece of advice cannot be emphasized enough. Should you have the good fortune of reaching a place in life that you are currently dreaming of, your next action is to be proud of yourself and feel an enormous sense of fulfillment for what you have accomplished.
After that, your next action should be to turn around and offer a helping hand to the people trying to reach the same mountaintop that you ascended. Our lives are only as important as the impact they have on other people.
Should you achieve monumental success, you immediately gain your own admirers and people who look up to you as a symbol of hope that they too can one day make their dreams come true.
Never forget where you came from. Always keep in mind how you felt standing at the bottom of the mountain looking upwards at the long and arduous climb that awaited you.
More than likely, the people who beat you to the top were a source of motivation, whether they knew it or not. It is your turn to be that for other people. Help the next person in line.
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”Muhammad Ali