If it were easy, everyone would do it. And it would already be done.
Face it, 90 percent of the time the easy stuff has already been done. And if our jobs were easy, if it weren’t for the tough problems, anyone could do them and we’d be earning minimum wage.
The same principle applies to personal growth. If it were easy, you (and everyone else) would already have done it. It would be table stakes, no great shakes. Just the price of entry to play the game of life. No step up.
Sculpting yourself, focusing your life, living a life of purpose: It is fun, it is exciting, it creates energy and passion, zest and vigor. Easy to get started? No, not always.
The good news is that once you have momentum, once you surround yourself with like-minded people, once you sight in on your goals, once you create empowering habits, it does get a bit easier to keep up the momentum.
The other piece of good news? Once you have done all this, once you have seen the incredible results—contentment, peace of mind, happiness that living a directed life can bring you—well, you want more. And you want to share. You want to be even more of a light to others. So, you seek even higher levels of growth, of actualization, of transcendence. You push, pull, and prod yourself joyfully beyond your self-imposed limits. You leap into the chasm of your internal unknowns, you soar beyond your boundaries as far beyond your comfort zone you seek out the “not easy.”
Here are seven steps to jump start your personal growth:
1. Things worth attaining often take time. We can walk through the gate of change in an instant, but we can take as long as we want to get ready to walk through it. Brought up on instant gratification, expecting too much too soon, people often grow discouraged. By trying to hurry the process, we often sabotage it. Accept that it is an incremental process and that the journey is the destination. Ironically, accepting and embracing the process can speed achieving flow, which speeds the process.
2. Commitment to life-long learning: Continuous and never-ending improvement and growth is a must. The world is changing and so must our awareness of it. Mental muscles are like physical muscles—use them or lose them. If you have not grown lately, if you have not stretched your abilities, odds are you are not far from atrophy setting in.
3. Know that everyone plateaus at some point, setbacks are normal. Take them in stride, don’t over react. Just kick back and reassess, sleep on it, and tackle it when you are fresh and rested.
4. Periodically recharge, refresh, recuperate, and renew. Take the time to re-create yourself. We all need some occasional downtime. Do not neglect yourself. You cannot love others or care for them if you do not first love and care for yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. Even saints must sleep and priests must play.
5. Accept that not everything works for everyone at all times. Pick and choose what works best for you. We each have our own learning styles, our own productivity peaks and valleys, our unique methods. Be comfortable being a maverick if that is your way.
6. Celebrate your victories, take joy in even the smallest progress. Rome was not built in a day. Build upon your successes, take pride in every incremental step forward. Regularly review your goals, your action plans, your movement toward them. Think about what you could do right now, today, to move you closer to your dreams. We all want to be better than we are. You, with your concrete plans and specific accountability check points, will fly further and faster than those who wander randomly, those who wish but never act, those who act but only sporadically. Each victory lays the foundation for the next.
7. Focus on the mountaintop to maintain your motivation. Regularly visualize achieving your goals, make them real and vivid. See them in razor sharp, 3-D color, action, motion. Feel the emotions of elation and excitement you expect to enjoy. Keep your goals real, keep them close, keep them focused.
“(W)e choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…” — President John F. Kennedy
This is a classic from the NSC Blog archive, originally posted October 1, 2008.