“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~Ernest Hemingway
Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can seem overwhelming at first. If you browse the self-improvement or personal development sections of any bookstore, you’re likely to find hundreds if not thousands of books promising to help you lose weight, make more money, or find the partner of your dreams.
But true personal growth is not about buying a book and letting it sit on your shelf at home, or attending a seminar and feeling like you’ve accomplished something.
True personal growth and development starts with making the decision that one of the most important things you can do in life is to constantly improve, get better, and become a better version of your former self.
And then it’s about committing that you’ll work every day on doing that.
It can start with something simple, like recognizing your self-talk and replacing negative thoughts with more positive thoughts.
Or you can take it to the next level by setting specific goals and creating a plan to achieve them. But if you’re just setting out on a journey of personal growth, where should you start?
5 Steps to Personal Growth and Development
1. Know yourself
This is the first and possibly the most difficult step. What are you good at? What are your weaknesses? What are those areas of your life that are really holding you back from living the life of your dreams?
Understanding yourself and what you want in life is the first, and possibly the hardest step to improving. But it’s also the most worthwhile.
Related: 7 Tips to Achieve Your Dreams
2. Set your goals
Setting a goal and working toward it every day can give you renewed confidence and passion for life. What is it that you really want in life? Do you want to lose weight and have more energy? Do you want to be more successful in your career? Do you want to have better personal relationships?
Whatever your goals are, make sure you set them the right way and then you can…
3. Create a plan
Personal growth and development is a life-long journey, and like any journey, you’ll want to create a plan to help you get to your destination.
Based on the goals you’ve set for yourself, how can you turn into the type of person who will achieve it? You may need to learn more about diet and exercise if you want to become healthier, or maybe you’ll need to develop a specific skill to help further your career.
Whatever your goals are, create a plan to help you strengthen the areas of your life that will make achieving your goal come naturally.
Related: The Power of Expectations
4. Get better every day
The power of habit is pretty crazy. Your habits create your life. Brush your teeth every day and you’ll make your dentist visits go smooth. Save money each month and over time you’ll be able to build up a nice little nest-egg. Invest in your personal growth and development every day and you’ll be able to look back each month and year knowing that you’re becoming a better version of your previous self.
And if you do this with a specific plan to improve your strengths and shore up your weaknesses, you’ll be able to achieve huge levels of success in the areas of life you’re focusing on.
Related: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Maybe you’ve read lots of self improvement books and that’s worked well for you.
Great. What about audio CD’s or MP3’s to listen to during your commute so you can pack in more info without having to squeeze in time at the end of the day? Or perhaps conferences and seminars to help you make more progress, faster?
Switching up the way in which you learn new information and apply that to a constantly improving version of yourself is a great way to get exposed to new types of information, while also building the confidence that you’re able to try new things and make progress against each.
Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can be one of the most important things you ever do. Making that decision can be the easy part – it’s committing to a daily habit of improvement that can be difficult. But if you know yourself, set your goals, create a plan, get better each day, and get out of your comfort zone, you’ll make huge progress in the areas of your life that are most important to you.
Dan Cassidy is CEO and Founder of Inspiyr.com, a personal growth site helping people be healthy, happy and successful. A confirmed self-improvement junkie, Dan is a former collegiate athlete, personal trainer and advertising executive.
Photo by bummyshadow
Originally published 2/2014 and updated 11/2014.