What is personal growth?


It seems simple enough. We all know that we can make better choices in life. Deep down we all want to change for the better. But change is hard, and change is scary.

How do you create personal growth without the mindset or tools? The answer, unfortunately is you don’t. We as humans, get stuck in circular thinking and endless loops. Our psychology allows us to slip into depression and keeps us there because being happy is harder (at times) then remaining unhappy.

But personal growth is an amazing skill-set to have and often times, your ability to grow determines your happiness in life, your status in life, and your perception of life.
Anyone can develop the skills to grow, yet so many struggle with finding answers to questions about how to grow.

I struggle with it on a daily basis, and realize that I will likely struggle with it for my entire life, and that is okay. In fact, that is the point.

Personal growth should be viewed as a lifelong quest, not a 6 month plan.

Although a personal development plan can aid in personal growth, but it is a tool, not an end point.

So what is personal growth?

Personal growth may include the following activities:

  • improving self-awareness
  • improving self-knowledge
  • improving skills or learning new ones
  • building or renewing identity/self-esteem
  • developing strengths or talents
  • improving wealth
  • spiritual development
  • identifying or improving potential
  • building employability or (alternatively) human capital
  • enhancing lifestyle or the quality of life
  • improving health
  • fulfilling aspirations
  • initiating a life enterprise or (alternatively) personal autonomy
  • defining and executing personal development plans (PDPs)
  • improving social abilities

I don’t know about you but everything on that list fires me up. Seeing it laid out makes it seem like a huge task, and it is. But being aware of where you are on your journey to personal growth is as important as the actual steps you take to improving activities from the above list.

picture of cobblestone path

To me personal growth is whenever you put yourself in a frame of mind to analyze where you currently are, make a decision, and then act on that choice to improve something in your life.

When we talk to ourselves, psychologists refer to this as inner speech, we are deciding if we want to grow.

For example, when we are ordering a meal and we want to improve our health, our inner speech runs down a decision tree, do we want something tasty, even if we know it’s high in fat? Should we order a side salad instead of fries? When we start listening to our inner speech and making decisions to get us towards our goals, that is personal growth.

The more you can put your mind in growth mode, achieve small wins, and appreciate them, the more you will grow personally.

There are dozens of frameworks out there to help you on your journey of personal growth and development. But at the heart of all of them it comes down to us listening to ourselves and understanding why we make the decisions we do.

In order to grow, we must first listen, then think, then react.

What personal growth area are you currently working on? Let me know.

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