What do you think of when I mention personal growth? Most people think of working toward some kind of advancement—school, classes, learning something to further their career. While all these are important, personal growth is so much more. If you are someone who has had a diagnosis later in life of ADHD, anxiety, or some similar disorder, chances are, personal growth has taken on new meaning for you.
It's important to take time to invest in yourself and in your self-improvement. Personal growth matters because it makes up a huge portion of our lives.
What is personal growth?
It goes by many names: self-improvement, personal development, self-growth, and self-help. These are all terms we’re familiar with, but have you stopped to consider what it actually means?
Simply put, personal growth is working toward accomplishing something in life, like setting goals and achieving them. It starts with the drive and motivation to do better and be better.
Before you can tackle goals, you have to start with a positive mindset. Having the right mindset helps you believe that the goal is possible for you. Otherwise, why do it? Having a positive mindset means that you believe you can pretty much do anything, and even if you don’t meet your ultimate goal, you will learn valuable things along the way. No matter what, you’re not wasting your time.
You are not a failure.
Having a positive mindset makes you more resilient. You consider the bright side of every experience and motivates you to keep going. Personal growth is subjective. Only you get to decide what success looks like.
For some people, success means having a high-earning career. For others, the health and happiness of their family take top spot.
Personal growth is about improving as an individual. It’s being a better version of you.
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Why does personal growth matter?
Now that we’ve defined what personal growth is, you can see why it has a positive effect on people. As you strive to be a better version of yourself, you will in turn motivate others to do better as well.
It’s similar to the cycle of success and positivity. If you’re surrounded by successful happy people, you are more likely to be successful and happy.
Personal growth doesn’t have to be a solitary journey, even though it is a personalized, individual one. You have to put in the work, but the rewards make it worth it, and your enthusiasm will be contagious.
As you work on various aspects of your life, the gains will impact other areas. For example, if you work on being a more patient person, your loved ones as well as your co-workers will benefit, which can positively improve your home and work life.
Working hard to reach your goals will also help you to be more compassionate. You will feel better about yourself and you’ll be more likely to help others feel good about themselves.
How to engage in personal growth
As I mentioned, it starts with a positive mindset. Personal growth isn’t about feeling bad about yourself or thinking that you’re a failure. It’s about deciding what areas in life you want to improve on, which areas will make you feel better.
If you are one of the many, many people who reached adulthood and finally discovered that you have ADHD (through self-diagnosis or official testing), you might have spent a large chunk of your life feeling weird, out of place, or like a failure. Your brain doesn’t work the same as other people’s do.
You get frustrated with yourself because you can’t do the things that everyone else seems to do with ease. You convince yourself that if you just do a planner like your friend, life will be easier. If you could just… fill that in with whatever negative thing you’ve thought about yourself.
For someone like you, your first step in personal growth is to really understand your diagnosis. Dive in and listen to podcasts and read blogs written for and by people who are like you. Understanding something about yourself that you always viewed as a problem can be enlightening.
Part of the reason so many Gen X women (and older millennials) were not diagnosed with ADHD is because it often presents differently in girls. Girls are called flighty or air-headed and their brilliance and talent is often overlooked. Yeah, I said it. The women I know who have ADHD are some of the most brilliant and creative people I know.
Really understanding yourself is the beginning of self-growth. Once you have a true picture, then you can decide what you want to work on and improve. Make yourself a list and then prioritize it. What will make your life easier? What will make you happier? Start there.
Set short-term goals
Setting goals is key to making change and achieving success. Look at the list of things you’d like to work on. Choose 1 (or more – I know some of you like to bounce around a bit, and that’s okay).
- Choose a realistic goal (learn how to write SMART goals)
- Break bigger goals into smaller, manageable steps
- Write each step down and put the steps in places you’ll see – write them on sticky notes and put them on the mirror or above your monitor or on the fridge.
- Acknowledge and accept your strengths and weakness
- Celebrate your wins
I mentioned that if you have a relatively new-to-you diagnosis, you should start learning about it. This whole true for anything you want to work on changing in your life.
I’ve always considered myself someone who is good at budgeting. I mean, I was 19, living on my own, making $600 and I squeaked by. (It was a long time ago. I’m old. And I didn’t have to pay for school because I had a scholarship). But here I am, today, coming to terms with my issues with money. I’ve been reading and learning about manifesting. I want to be better at money management, so I’m learning from people who are good at it.
Whenever you want to be good at something, you never stop learning. The world changes, new inventions and advancements are made, people create new things and new ways to view the world. If you want to improve, you can rest on your gained knowledge and experience.
Learning new things can reinvigorate you. I’ve written and published over 20 novels, but I still go to conferences to learn. I learn about marketing, but I also learn about process and craft. Will it change my ability to tell a story? Probably not, but I might gain insight into how to make my stories better.
Have a purpose
Find what makes you happy, what gives your life purpose. Remember, this is about you. Your purpose should be something you are passionate about. Not what your family or society thinks should be your purpose.
You do you.
Part of this personal growth journey is to accept yourself. You have to learn to acknowledge and accept all parts of you. Own your skills and talents. Acknowledge what you’re good at. It’s not bragging—it’s confidence.
You also have to be aware of your weaknesses. This part is easy. Most of us are quick to point out all the things we’re not good at. While you need to be able to admit when you can’t do something, it certainly shouldn’t be your main focus.
Personal growth requires you to know who you are inside and out so that you can decide what you want to change and in what ways you want to grow.
So many people I have worked with over the years spend far too much time berating themselves and feeling like failures. They cannot see their talents and skills, or if they do, they dismiss or dimmish them. This often happens because of whatever has caused the executive dysfunction.
As you embark on your personal growth journey, I really, really want you to focus on the things that matter to you. Ignore all the echoes of voices of people who have told you what to do your whole life. What do you want?
That? Whatever that idea was that caused a small smile that you tried to stifle? That’s where you start. Learn about that thing. Do that thing. I promise, you won’t regret it.