What’s the deal with all this personal growth and self development business? Why bother in the first place? Charles Atlas who earned himself the title as the ‘the world’s most perfectly developed man’ had this to say: ‘Truest SUCCESS is but the development of self.’
It’s so easy to treat personal development as ‘optional’ and so few people ever take the time to actively improve themselves. Your personal growth and self development is arguably one of the most important thing you can do with your time. You can even argue that to actualize your true potential is the purpose of being here. In many ways all your actions are geared towards ‘self improvement’. Everything you do, you do with a positive intent. This, however is mostly unconscious and for the majority of people it’s a case of pursuing ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ with the (all to common) assumption that when they get enough stuff they will be happy.
You don’t have to search too far to find just how wrong this theory really is. Every day we read about ‘extremely successful’ people who end up in rehab or who kill themselves. Why? To return to Charles Atlas – true success is but the development of your ‘self’. At no point in your life can you just stop and say ‘now I am successful – I think I’ll take the next 10 years off’. Unfortunately this is ‘the dream’ that so many people aspire to.
The key to a lifetime of happiness lies in personal growth. Real and lasting fulfillment in life comes from consistently improving the quality of your life. Life is dynamic and it has to keep moving. Like in nature, everything that does not grow, dies! You will either grow or die, and although you probably won’t die a physical death, you most certainly will suffer a psychological death. Depression is but one example of the effects of failing to grow as a person. If you are not growing you will feel like you are dying.
Every day life hands us opportunities to grow. They are mostly disguised as problems and unfortunately most people curse them instead of seeing the wonderful opportunities that they present. Earl Schoff once said ‘Don’t wish for less problems. Wish that you were better’. This is where personal growth comes to play and you must do it on purpose and with an active state of mind.
So why do people fail to actively participate in their own personal growth? Well, there are certain personal growth barriers that prevent them from actively progressing in any area of your life. The key word being ‘actively’. The three biggest personal growth barriers are three interrelated behaviours that tend to keep us immobilized and locked up in inaction. The result being the failure to progress with our lives.
Personal Growth Barrier #1: Procrastination
Procrastination is the irrational delay of tasks, especially important ones. On a conscious level you might want a specific result and you know what course of action to take, but still you remain immobilized. The failure to act is what keeps you where you are. It is likely that what you are procrastinating about is what you MUST do as this will help you grow in your ability to take action and just do it. Keep in mind that you only procrastinate about tasks that you value and at some level you know you will benefit from it.
Personal Growth Barrier #2: Indecision
Every single action is preceded by a decision. The ancestor to every action is a decision and the failure to act can be traced back to the failure to make decisions. The ironic thing is that not making a decision is a decision – isn’t it? Indecision is like a disease that you have to eradicate from your life. Indecision is simply the result of a fear of failure and by not making a decision you can’t fail – right? Realize that nothing in the future has happened yet and fearing the worse possible outcome will almost certainly keep you from making the decision. If you don’t make the decisions you won’t take the actions and you will remain immobilized.
Personal Growth Barrier #3: Comfort Zones
Comfort zones are all those things that you are too familiar with – and often to the point where you don’t even attempt anything else. Inside your comfort zones everything is known and you have this sense of certainty that you can comfortably deal with anything that comes your way. You’ve done it before and you feel ‘at ease’ with it. Stepping outside your comfort zones challenge your beliefs and it challenges your perceptions. Stepping outside your comfort zones however, challenges you to grow as a person – you have to grow to get comfortable outside your old comfort zone. Most of your limitations are self imposed and controlled by what you belief you can or cannot do, what you like or dislike, what you think is right or wrong. You have to keep stretching your ‘self’ physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to avoid standing still and remaining imprisoned by your comfort zones. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said ‘Man’s mind, once stretched to new idea never goes back to it’s original dimensions.’
All barriers are only that – they are barriers. It often strikes me how these typical vehicle barriers at boarder check points are so ‘flimsy’. They can hardly stop a bicycle, yet they stop big sixteen wheelers. The barrier is more psychological than actual. So are the barriers to your personal growth. They can stop you, but they can’t keep you unless you allow them to. Simply acknowledge them and then move on. Personal growth is a choice and it’s an active process. To ensure a happy and fulfilled life that is filled with joy and appreciation you have to consistently grow and expand your ‘self’.