By constantly looking for ways to better yourself, you can make personal growth last a lifetime.
We may reach our full height in inches by the end of our teenage years, but in so many other areas, we have endless room to grow.
To take positive steps forward, you must first open your mind and accept that although you’re wonderful as you are, you can still move to higher places and expand your personal horizons.
As you think about the ways you want to grow, visualize where you want to be. Compile a “future statement,” which can be a writing, picture, drawing, or collage, that represents where you hope to be in six months, a year, or more,” says Stetson University Health Sciences Professor Ronette Lategan-Potgieter. Then, focus in on different areas of your life—nutrition, emotional health, social network, and professional development.
Advance your health with fitness and nutrition
In terms of fitness, manual therapist and movement coach Aaron Alexander suggests assessing the shape of your home environment. “Instead of a wall-mounted big screen TV and high dining table, consider throwing down a comfy rug and placing some self-care items in the space—a foam roller, medicine ball, yoga mat,” he says. “Maybe mount a pullup bar in a doorway you regularly walk through.” By making your home conducive to exercise, you will be more likely to spend time moving in that space.
For personal growth, it’s important to make room in your life for meditation, too. Mindfulness and meditation teacher Joree Rose says you can make your practice your own. “It’s OK if you’re not sitting on a cushion for 20 to 40 minutes per day,” she says. “Meet yourself where you are, be it in your car, on a walk, cooking, or doing chores. The key is to create stillness and silence, so you can get out of your head and into the present moment.”
For all your fitness practices, accountability–whether that means planning to meet a workout partner for a 2:00 hike or making an appointment in your calendar for a yoga class–also helps. A great way to stay accountable to yourself and others is with a fitness monitor. You’ll ensure you get to your 10,000 steps, and by linking the device to friends and family, you’ll get additional encouragement.
No matter what, keep moving, Alexander says. “We are designed to go through a wide range of motion, not to just be sitting flexed at 90 degrees all day.”
To support fitness, Lategan-Potgieter reminds us of the importance of diet. To grow nutritionally, stay away from processed foods, aim to get your five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and avoid eating too close to bedtime. Reach for a piece of fresh produce whenever you have the urge to eat something salty or sweet. As a reminder, she suggests wearing five or more bracelets on one arm and swapping them to the other arm for every piece of produce you consume in a day.
Progress in your profession
Just like we want to grow personally, most of us also strive to grow professionally as well. To do this, Jennifer Thompson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at The Chicago School, suggests planning for obstacles. “Most people say, ‘I want to go for a promotion or get on a special project and they try X to get it. X gets blocked, they think there’s no hope, and they are done,” she says. To up your chances for success, now and in the future, write down every single way you can get to that work goal; then take it one step further and plan what you will do if one of those steps gets blocked,” she says.
Planning for obstacles works in other areas of life, too. “When you want to eat a bad food late at night, say, ‘one, I’m going to go to bed early to avoid that, and two, I’m going to have an apple instead,” Thompson says. “These exercises take five minutes and will open up your mind to all the possible ways you can buffer yourself by having several plan Bs for plan As.”
No matter which area of your life you’re focused on at the time, stay true to yourself. “Set intentions that are congruent with your values,” Rose says. “Studies show respecting your values helps you create new habits that lead to long term change. Don’t focus on what you want to change, focus on what you want to gain.” Remember, the sky is the limit—there’s always room for personal growth.
Quick things you can do to foster personal growth, courtesy of California-based therapist and mindfulness and meditation teacher, Joree Rose:
- Remind yourself change doesn’t have to be big to be significant. Even a 1 percent shift over time will put you on a different trajectory.
- Surround yourself with people who support your higher goals and values of living an inspired life of growth and expansion.
- Exercise, even if in small 10-minute bits throughout the day
- Create healthy boundaries, especially with the difficult people in your life.
- Repeat the words “it is what it is.” This helps reduce reactivity and keeps you neutral.
- Celebrate small successes. Whether you’re creating a new exercise routine, have lost five pounds, or have started a new hobby or job, honor each small step.