When you are young, a lot of your goals are external. School determines what you will learn, how you will demonstrate your learning, and when it will be due. Your parents dictate your goals around the house. Even clubs and lessons keep you to a structured set of achievements. When you get older, you start having to develop internal motivation. You still have social and occupational obligations, but the rest of your time can be used to achieve whatever interests you. For some people, simple works well. These people don’t look for personal growth because it isn’t what drives them, but other people are constantly seeking out ways to improve themselves.
If you are always trying to excel, you have determined what being better means to you. Now, you are working to put that set of values into action. The following suggestions for personal growth are broadly based improvement activities. Some of them won’t fit with your attitudes on bettering yourself, but a lot of them will give you ideas and start you off on a new path for self-enrichment.
Some people will urge you to read a book a day and if that is sustainable for you, go for it! But, most find that amount of dedicated time hard to work into an already full schedule and setting such a lofty goal just sets them up for failure and disappointment. Instead, spend a little time reading each day and reap the benefits. Reading is linked to:
- Stress reduction
- Mental stimulation
- Vocabulary expansion
- Stronger analytical thinking skills
- Memory improvement
- Better writing skills
- Improved concentration and focus
If you have a good library program in your area, you can also do all of this for free.
Take a Class
Just because you aren’t school aged anymore doesn’t mean that continued learning isn’t something in which you should participate. There are always new things to be learned, so why not go to an expert and allow them to guide you through the subject matter? You can start looking at local colleges, but you don’t have to enter a formal learning institution to take a class. You can look for cooking classes, dance classes, symposiums, conferences, and seminars. As long as you are learning, you are improving.
Develop Sleep Hygiene
In the busy modern world, people let their sleep suffer in order to get more done. There is always work to do and things to clean and social obligations to fulfill. That may mean staying up very late. And, even if you get to bed at a reasonable time, you may find yourself anxious about all of the things you need to do, which can trigger insomnia and further sleep deprivation.
Now is a great time to begin going to bed early and waking up early. Be sure to:
- Establish and maintain a regular sleep routine
- Avoid naps
- Avoid staying in bed awake for more than ten minutes
- Don’t read or watch TV in bed
- Avoid caffeinated drinks late in the day
- Avoid substances, like alcohol, cigarettes and over-the-counter medication, that can interfere with sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Hide the clock face at night to avoid stressing over the time
- Maintain a comfortable quiet room
- Establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine
Ask for Feedback
Sometimes, it can be great to return to external motivation to center yourself. Ask people you trust for feedback and they may help you identify blind spots and cement your intentions. These conversations will help you by bringing things to light, but they also give you a chance to ruminate and make decisions about how you will progress from that point on.
Chris Shaffer is a life coach and author. In addition to writing her own blog, she frequently contributes to lifestyle publications as well as write about addiction and free rehab centers in the state.