For most individuals, personal growth comes by accident. However, it does not have to be that way. We often leave our personal development to chance, when there are steps we can take to do something about it. The best way to gain in the area of personal growth is to make it intentional. We can either choose to grow, or to remain complacent where we are. By default, however, if we are not growing, then we are dying. Personal growth is NOT a matter of time, it is a matter of intention.
It is hard to change your life unless you do something different. You see, nothing changes unless something changes. There comes a time when you must make deliberate efforts to grow, to have a realistic shot at changing your life. The following are some of the things we have done to make our personal growth more intentional:
Change How We Spend Our Time
Everyone has 24 hours in a day. If you have a full-time career, most likely you spend 8-10 hours a day dedicated to that. Of course, each night we all need a few hours of sleep (let’s say 6-8), and a couple hours to eat and take care of “basic needs”. This leaves us with a about 6-8 hours each day that we can “choose” what we do with. How we use that time matters.
So where does our time go?
Often times it goes to unproductive things such as watching TV, playing video games, browsing social media, or hanging out with friends. These are all fine, and certainly entertaining, but when we started being intentional about change, we saw that those hours would easily slip away, and quite often make us feel “numb”. What if some of that time was spent toward doing something that could set us up for the future? It doesn’t take a lot of effort to push yourself toward achieving your life’s goals, but it DOES take focused effort. As Jeff Olson says in the book entitled “The Slight Edge”, most things are easy to do, but also easy to NOT do.
When you know the outcome you are trying to achieve, you will set aside time to do what is necessary. This could mean attending an evening class, enrolling in online courses, practicing a skill, or working on a business idea. Say you are a writer. The best way to hone your skills is by writing. If you take just an hour each day to write, you will have work to publish at the end of the year. If you are an athlete, the best way to hone your skills is to get out on the field and practice. Many of the best business men and women set aside time for networking, creating the connections necessary for business growth.
Reading to Become Better
We’ve found that setting aside time to read is not always easy. However, when we are intentional about our growth goals, we do whatever it takes to make it, and that involves reading. Making time to read is an essential healthy habit. Books about leadership, relationships, and better understanding ourselves stretch us. Regardless of whether we enjoy reading or not, it is well known that leaders are readers.
There’s something different about picking up a book. Listening to a podcast or attending a seminar can help to learn a skill set, or develop a mindset, but reading is intimate. Reading allows us the time to take in what the author is saying and to apply it to our personal lives. We say that books open us up and allow us to take a look at what’s really going on inside. This is where real change happens.
Reading makes us sharper, more knowledgeable, and provides perspective. It’s the advantage you can gain, as most people in today’s society are not reading for personal growth. It increases your analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as your vocabulary to make connections across literary, actionable, and conversational plains. It changes how we think, and the limits are taken off of what our minds can accomplish.
Changing What We Feed Our Mind On a Daily Basis
Although it may sound elementary, watching the news when waking up, or before we go to bed, can be detrimental when it comes to your overall mood during the day and outlook on life. Feeding our minds with all the doom and gloom that makes up the majority of the news creates fear, as it constantly tells us that the world is a horrible place. We choose to feed our minds with life’s positive things. Dwell on what is good, and right, and trustworthy, and you’d be surprised how your outlook on life will change.
Television and online videos are all about watching someone else live. Use that time to create a life for yourself. If you must do anything before sleeping, try reading, try quiet time to yourself, or perhaps even a visit to the gym to relieve tension. Aside from sleeping better, you will wake up more refreshed than ever. This reduces the negativity your mind feeds on, and may just open up new and more positive ways of doing things. You will find yourself happier and feeling even lighter.
What we feed our minds creates thoughts. Our thoughts become words. Our words become actions. Our actions become habits. Our habits create character. Then our character shapes our destiny. Being intentional about the books we read, the music we listen to, what we watch, and who we associate with will help us to create thoughts leading to personal growth.
Changing Our Interactions With Others
Our personal growth depends on how we interact with other people. If only we were taught as children that the world is full of people, and that relationships are key, our lives would be so different. “How to Communicate 101” involves finding better ways to engage and attract other people. For personal growth, we want to engage with other successful people who will take us to a higher level.
Realize that conversations start before a word is spoken. Engage others by mimicking their posture. If you are speaking to someone who is leaning in, do the same. Learn to smile using your eyes if you wish to put others at ease. It looks genuine and attractive. Try it! You may surprise yourself!
Realize that our body language says more than even the words we speak. We attract others when we have a positive posture. Learn to be more curious when engaged in a conversation and tell an interesting story. Ask open questions that show the other party you are interested in knowing them more. With that, you will build stronger relationships that lead in a positive direction.
Everyone has the potential to gear their personal growth goals toward success. It’s too easy to get busy in the non-essentials of daily life, so we must be intentional. Making better choices, just as if you were starting a new diet, is necessary for a healthier mindset, healthier activity, and healthier results in life. Use your time wisely with the the right input and you are well on the path to accomplish the desirable output.