If I asked most people I know whether they want to grow and develop as a person, all of them would say “yes, absolutely!”
But personal growth isn’t always easy or comfortable, in fact it’s usually the opposite.
And it requires you to be willing to push a few boundaries.
Wanting to grow and doing what’s necessary to grow are two different things.
This is my take on the biggest behaviors that hold us all back from personal growth.
1) Clinging to your comfort zone
Much of our biggest growth comes in our discomfort zone.
Waiting for life to force us into crisis or discomfort is a risky move and very unpredictable.
That’s why the most powerful people voluntarily seek out their discomfort zone and work with pushing its boundaries:
Because they want to grow.
As author, veteran and ultra-marathon runner David Goggins says, you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable!
“I’m nothing. But I turned nothing into something.
So that’s what you have to understand: you don’t have to be some special creature and come from some people and have some special school.”
2) Lack of self-discipline and grit
A big reason why many of us cling to the comfort zone is that it’s easy.
We don’t have enough self-discipline in many cases: I know I don’t!
The more small measures of self-discipline I’ve gained in life the more I’ve seen exponential changes in my well-being and life satisfaction.
Self-discipline can come in many forms and every form it comes in is valuable:
- Physically healthy habits like a healthy diet, regular sleep and exercise
- Willingness to put off short-term gain and satisfaction for longer-term thinking and payoff
- Emotional intelligence and ability to stop emotional outbursts and gain control over your emotions
- Balancing self-interest with what you also give to others and the world
3) Sedating yourself with complacency
Complacency can be like a drug:
It tells you to “take it easy” and relax.
I think this can be good advice in some contexts. None of us are going to create a utopia or have a perfect life.
But complacency in your own life can become a very bad habit, sedating you into stopping improving yourself and consistently taking the easy way out.
After all, if the main purpose of life is just to “chill” and not worry too much, then why bother?
One reason to bother is self-growth! You won’t grow much if you just stay in your comfort zone, as I was writing…
4) Getting trapped in temporal discounting
Temporal discounting is basically short-term thinking and relates directly to the previous point about lacking self-discipline.
There’s a reason banks offer a higher return on bigger-term investments: because less people are able and willing to invest sums for a longer time.
People tend to avoid commitment and risk and try to get what they can as soon as they can.
If that describes you in many situations, it can be seriously inhibiting your growth.
That’s because growth goes hand-in-hand with beginning to think more long-term and being more patient in certain goals.
“Stashing cash away now means you cannot buy that luxury car now.
Yet, saving money now will mean more gain for you in the future.”
Thinking and planning long-term is also about believing in yourself and your potential.
Which brings me to the next point…
5) Undervaluing yourself and your potential
Many of us stunt and prevent our own growth because of the story we tell ourselves.
We listen to the naysayers and doubters and the critical voice insider our head that says “you’re nothing special.”
Well, maybe not!
But you can be.
Your potential is likely much, much bigger than you realize, and if you’re reading this right now you probably have a feeling somewhere deep inside that knows this is true.
Back to Goggins: as he says, you need to stop talking yourself out of being great!
“If you can shut all the noise out in your head and all the crap that people are giving you, and you can focus on the task at hand and what you want to do?
You honestly can do anything.”
6) Refusing to take responsibility
Many things which happen to us in life are absolutely not our fault.
There’s damage and betrayal that’s been done to you that shouldn’t have been.
But it’s done.
But there’s no alternative except to take responsibility for yourself and everything in your life if you want to grow.
That’s because nobody else can live your life for you, and even if they try to do so it will just leave you feel even weaker and more dependent.
In order to grow, succeed and fight your own battles, you need to take the bull by the horns:
This is my life and I take responsibility for it. Period.
Shout it into a mirror if you have to. Just make sure you really internalize it and really mean it.
“Repeatedly blaming others or circumstances for what happens in your life is a way of avoiding your own responsibility.
To experience self-growth you have to be ready to take the heat.”
7) Befriending only one type of person
It’s hard to grow as a person when you’re surrounded by people who also aren’t growing.
Having a narrow friend circle in general can hold you back.
It’s good to try to befriend and connect with as many types of people as possible.
If you’re more introverted that’s no problem: find online friends or people on social media who can challenge you and help you grow, too.
Having friends of all kinds is a vital part of growing as a person and being exposed to many different experiences and points of view.
8) Ignoring the importance of networking
Networking is another must for growth.
I’ve met many people who are lone wolves and want to go it alone.
I respect that, but I notice that those who make connections and network generally have much greater success.
Networking is just a matter of getting good at basic chat with people you meet and finding out what they do and what they care about.
Be friendly, get to know people of all kinds and share a bit about yourself.
You’d be surprised how useful and rewarding this can be.
9) Refusing to think critically
Critical thinking is challenging assumptions and beliefs and thinking about things from a different perspective.
It’s necessary for growth, and if you’re not thinking critically you can be sure somebody else is.
Their critical thinking is bringing them to new insights and places of progress and insight that you are likely missing out on.
It’s hard to grow as a person when you won’t ever look critically at your own or other people’s beliefs, values and assumptions.
Even if you only realize you’re absolutely on the right path and resonate completely with what you already believed, no harm will come from critical thinking.
This is especially true in many of the complex challenges facing the modern world which have far more shades of gray than the black-and-white binaries and polarized silos the corporate media tries to force us into.
10) Following trends automatically
When you don’t think critically, you tend to follow whatever is popular.
Trends come and go, and some are more helpful than others.
Many trends can only be meaningfully judged in retrospect to see what they did or didn’t lead to.
But if you don’t think critically or feel like life is just a bit beyond your control, you tend to follow trends wherever they pop up.
The result is a lack of growing as a person and starting to feel like just another number.
There’s nothing wrong with being normal or liking the same things as other people, but make sure it’s you liking these trends and not just you reverting to a default setting.
Why is it important to grow?
The fact is that life is never going to stand still.
You’re going to continue changing as long as you’re alive, but the question is what ways you’ll be changing.
If you don’t grow upwards, you grow sideways!
Life and time are not very forgiving when it comes to growth:
If you don’t do your best to grow as a person, you end up seeing life grow and change around you without your permission.
The decision to do nothing is a decision in itself.
That’s why growth is about acknowledging reality:
Time is always moving, and so will I!