Having the ability to develop yourself is great! I got really into the topic of personal development a couple of years ago. I find it absolutely fascinating how much you can learn about yourself (and others) without doing formal a learning program. These days there are so many materials available, and a bunch of them are even completely free. Great right?
But because there is SO MUCH out there, from books to blogs to podcasts to courses and everything in between, it can be hard to focus. Especially if you’re new to it and you know you would like to start with personal growth but you feel overwhelmed because of amount of information that’s coming at you.
Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.
When I first started, I was going from left to right, trying to read as many books as fast as I could about a range of different topics. I would listen to podcasts every free minute of the day. But because I went around like a maniac trying to learn as much as possible about as many different topics as I could, this actually had the opposite effect. I didn’t remember much of what I’d read or heard because I was jumping around all the time and in the end, repetition is the best way to remember something.
What is personal growth or personal development?
Personal growth or personal development is about the desire of becoming a better version of yourself on all fronts. It’s about improving your habits, behaviors, actions and reactions. For example overcoming procrastination, changing your mindset and learning how to deal with your emotions.
But okay, you clicked on this article because you want to know how to get started on your personal growth journey so let’s get into that now! So don’t do it like I did – that will get you feeling overwhelmed and demotivated very quickly and that’s exactly the opposite from what you want.
Pick your focus areas
The mistake I made when I first started with personal development was obviously not to focus and channel my attention to specific topics. So what I decided to do after my first attempt was to pick two areas that I wanted to focus on. I went for health to start with because I felt that when you don’t feel good and lack energy, it will be a lot harder to improve other things in your life. Because personal growth is not only about reading and listening to advice, it’s also a LOT about taking action.
Decide what you want to change
Great, you’ve picked your focus area. You probably know why you’ve picked it. Now write down the top three things that you would like to work on. I like to stick with three because it feels focused and still challenging, but not overwhelming.
For my health focus, I wrote down: eat better, exercise more and sleep longer.
I like the feeling of physically writing things down. It makes me feel more connected in some (weird?) way and it makes it more real. Think about what works best for you. Is it writing it in a notebook? Keeping it on an app on your phone? Writing it on a post it and put that on your bathroom mirror?
Create your goals
Based on your top three of things you would like to improve, write down specific goals for each one. For example for ‘eat better’, I wrote: cook at home at least five days a week and only order takeout once. For exercise this was going to the gym at least two times a week and get 10k steps a day for at least five days a week. For sleep, my goal was to get at least 7.5 hours a night and don’t go to sleep after 11 PM.
It’s important to be specific here. For some topics this is easier than for others, but try to get as precise as possible.
Create your action plan
No progress without action! But be nice to yourself here and give yourself some time. What would be a realistic time to accomplish the goals you’ve set yourself?
Most personal growth goals are about **sustainably changing** a behavior, mindset or habit. This always takes time, because you’ve been programmed a different way and you will need time to get into the rhythm of changing the way you think, behave or act.
Monitor and track your progress
I don’t know about you, but I love to get gold stars for accomplishments. Make sure you monitor and track the progress on the goals you’ve set. This will help to motivate yourself as well as to keep yourself honest. Depending on your goal you can track how you’re doing in an app, a notebook, a journal or use a gadget like an Apple Watch or Fitbit.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, the first of the month or the new year. You can start at any moment. Don’t postpone the changes you want to make. Just start!
Make sure you grab the resource guide that I created for you. It’s focused on what I call the energy triangle: sleep, exercise and nutrition. Because I strongly believe that if you sleep, eat well and move regularly, you have a strong foundation. This is what you need in order to adopt new habits, improve your mindset and find your focus.