If you are not around people who openly talk about their insecurities or fears, it can be easy to think that you are the only one who experiences feeling confused, lonely, or scared in life. As you continue to get older, you will realize that everyone is on a learning journey. Learning happens throughout life – how to drive, how to manage a career, how to be a spouse, how to be a parent, how to manage an illness, or how to bravely face the end of life. Each person is in the process of learning, changing, and growing.
Personal growth means continuing to expand your capabilities and potential. It is about realizing your dreams and enhancing your quality of life in a way that is meaningful. Personal growth happens proactively, experientially, and reflectively. Let’s discuss each of these:
You can be proactive about your personal growth by reading books, articles, taking classes, and learning a skill or from others. You can study a book about parenting prior to having a child, for example. Proactive growth happens because of preparation, taking interest in a topic and learning more about it. Reading this book is an example of proactive growth, because you are learning skills and planning for your independence.
Some growth also happens experientially, which means as things are occurring. If you hear that a hurricane is headed your way in the news report, then you quickly work to prepare your safety supplies. If you attend your first conference, you learn how to navigate the breakout rooms after you receive the brochure. The way that you learn about navigating the complexities of high school is to attend high school. Experiential growth is therefore about learning real-time as you experience a situation.
Some growth also happens reactively. This can mean that you think about your situation or event after it happened, including evaluating how you responded to it. You consider what you might have done differently, and what you learned from it. You can have a situation not work out the way that you hoped it would and still learn so much from it. For example, if you ask someone out on a date and they say no thank you, you might think about what you could do or say differently next time. Taking time to reflect on what has happened and how you would handle it differently next time is a sign of maturity and will result in personal growth. This is a skill that will help you become more self-aware.
Personal growth means commitment to thinking about yourself and your life in a way that is productive and focused on improvement. It is a lifelong journey of continuous maturation, and it is not linear. Sometimes the points of the most profound growth in your life happen when things go wrong, when you experience a setback, or when facing a disappointment. Sharing your lessons learned and journey with others along the way can help them with their personal growth journey, too.
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