Personal Growth: Steps to Reach Your Potential

notebook with new mindset over new results

Conversations about mental health and well-being often include discussions of personal growth. These conversations encourage us to go on journeys of self-discovery, find new ways to communicate with loved ones, and reconnect to our purpose in life. All that sounds great, but if you’ve lived in adulthood for any length of time, it can feel like adding personal growth to your to-do list is enough to push you over the edge.

What if personal growth is the thing that makes your to-do list more manageable? What if self-improvement could lead you to new ways of relating to those you love, so you feel less stressed about relationships? Personal growth could get you out of your comfort zone and teach you easier ways of managing your life.

At SMPSychotherapy and Counseling Service, we believe personal growth is the key to unlocking your potential. We aren’t talking about a simple new years resolution here – we want to see people make real, lasting changes that help them live the life of their dreams. This blog will discuss why personal growth is so significant and give you practical steps to set and achieve new goals. We can’t wait to see how you change your life.

Personal growth Definition

personal growth diagram

Personal growth is a self-improvement journey where you focus on learning new skills to improve various areas of your life. Personal growth requires people to deepen their value systems and make changes to align their actions to those values. Personal development involves self-awareness to identify potential growth areas in the following categories.

  • Cognitive ability and intelligence.
  • Interpersonal and relationship skills
  • Spirituality
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Physical health and well-being.

Why is Personal Development Important?

Personal growth is often terrifying – especially if you’re new to the process. Our brains try to keep us in the status quo because it’s comfortable and familiar. Getting out of your comfort zone requires you to first look at the parts of your life that you aren’t happy with and then recognize that you can change things and access your full potential. Self-improvement will help you develop a growth mindset that can lead to greater self-confidence, higher levels of self-esteem, greater resilience in the face of adversity, and increased personal and professional success.

How to Achieve Personal Growth

The process of personal growth is ongoing. It’s not something you finish on a Saturday morning and then announce you’re an official grown-up. The list of steps is written in paragraphs below, but imagine them as a circle because once you finish a cycle, you start over again.

Decide What You Truly Want

Many of us make decisions based on what our parents, society, or even our spouses want. We let the fears and insecurities of others cloud our vision. Deciding what you want out of life requires you to develop self-awareness and tune into your feelings about your current life. Pick one or two aspects (home, family, friends, work, health, etc.) of your life and complete the following prompts.

  • How do you feel about (that aspect)?
  • How would you like to feel instead?

Perhaps you want to switch careers, stop churning through a soul-sucking master’s degree program or find a life partner. Whatever your desire is, you can achieve it, but only if you admit that you want it.

Set Goals

personal development notebook graphic

Once you’ve admitted what you really want, it’s time to set a goal. This goal will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Your goal could be about procrastination, physical health, work-life balance, new habits, or your love and personal life.

Make sure your goal is something you can control. Saying, “I will find my dream partner this year,” Is not in your control. It’s unrealistic and not at all measurable.

Instead, say something like, “I will make myself more available to date. I will sign up for two dating services, spend time in public spaces where single people gather, and practice talking to at least one attractive person each week.” These are all things you can do.

Include a timeline for each step of your goal. Now it might sound like this, “I will make myself more available to dating. I will sign up for two dating services this week, spend one evening a week in public spaces where single people gather, and practice talking to at least one attractive person each week between now and March 1.” This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Adjust Your Mindset

Your mindset is often the biggest roadblock to achieving your dreams. Mindset includes self-talk about a topic, as well as the feelings associated with that self-talk. Often, our minds are full of limiting beliefs about what “people like us” can do, have, and be. Without a growth mindset, you won’t achieve any goals in your personal growth journey.

Even the most successful entrepreneurs must continuously remind themselves they are worthy of investment, growth, love, and care. Reframe your mindset through positive journaling, affirmations, reading, and speaking with people who can help lift you up. Journal about the dream job you’re planning to apply for, and read about people who’ve built families like the one you want. Whatever your goal is, work on your mindset until you believe you deserve it because you do.

Get Educated

Education will show you what is possible and give you the tools you need to achieve your dreams. Education can come from many sources. It doesn’t always mean college. Many of our clients enjoy podcasts, self-development books, and online courses where they learn to do mindset work or even learn the practical skills they need to succeed.

Take Action

a diagram showing the stages of personal growth and development

Create an action plan for your goal. If your goal is to learn new communication skills to improve your relationships, your action plan will look very different than if your goal is to learn skills for a new career. The action plan will serve as your roadmap to success. Like any map, though, you have to leave space for detours – something will try to throw you off track as you work through your plan. You must work around it and get back on the path to your goals. To make your action plan ask yourself the following.

  • What one small step can I take to move toward my goal?
  • Who can I reach out to for information or support?
  • How will I hold myself accountable for this step?
  • How will I celebrate this step?

Repeat this process for each additional step in your action plan. Suppose your area of personal growth is to adjust your money mindset. In that case, your action plan might include the following steps: take a realistic look at your finances, identify some knowledge gaps (what do you need to learn?), pick one knowledge gap to focus on, find ways to fill in that knowledge gap (courses, books, mentors, etc.), seek support from two sources. Then, you’ll repeat this process once your new learning indicates a new direction and new learning gaps. Self-development is a cycle of continuous learning.

Celebrate, Reflect, and Seek feedback

At every milestone, it’s vital to celebrate your success. Celebrating can mean calling a supportive friend to announce your growth, having a delicious dinner with people who helped support you, or purchasing something for yourself that helps you memorialize the milestone.

Don’t stop after celebrating. Make time to reflect on your goal-setting process. What did you do well? What roadblocks did you hit? How did you manage those detours? What would you change about your process (the things you can control)?

If other people are involved in your personal growth journey, seek feedback to improve your next cycle of the process. For example, if your goal is to improve your communication skills in close relationships with your friend, spouse, and family for feedback on any improvements and areas for more growth opportunities. Be careful who you ask. Seek advice and feedback only for those willing to acknowledge your growth journey and celebrate with you. You can trust someone willing and able to point out your wins to share a fault or two with you.

Support For Your Personal Growth Journey

woman sitting down and writing in a notepad with her coffee

Many of us desire personal growth or self-development but cannot find a supportive circle in our family and friends. Perhaps you’re the first person in your circle to stretch out of your comfort zone, or maybe you don’t have many close people. In that case, working with a therapist can provide the emotional support, encouragement, and feedback you need as you work on your goals.

At SMPsychotherpay and Counseling Services, our providers know when you need a listening ear, some hand-holding, and someone to push you toward your personal growth goals. We can also help in your action plan and self-reflection processes. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to get qualified support for your personal growth journey.For more about personal growth, get on the waitlist for the new book, Unbreakable, by Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services. The book releases in Spring 2023. It’s a story of one woman’s journey through adversity and how you can use her principles to build the life of your dreams. Join the waitlist here!

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