Let me ask you a question, or rather, a series of questions: this time last year, what were you doing? What kind of person were you?
And what are you doing now? What kind of person are you now?
Why do I ask these? Because this article is about personal growth. And if there’s anything we know about personal growth, it’s that it often happens in such small increments that we barely notice it.
It’s different from physical growth (remember when your mom made marks on the doorpost to show how tall you were growing?).
Personal growth is intangible. And to make it even harder to detect, you’re the one right in the middle of it! It’s a little hard to step back and see yourself from another person’s eyes, isn’t it?
So, to make it easier, I’m here to share 10 signs you’ve been quietly growing as a person. If you recognize these in yourself, fantastic – keep doing what you’re doing!
1) You’re becoming more choosy about what to spend your time and energy on
Time and energy are two resources that the young don’t really think about conserving. They’ve got lots of it, so why would they?
Wait, let me add to that – the young and the immature.
Because unfortunately, growing older isn’t a guarantee that you’ll learn to conserve your time and energy. I know people in their 50s who still spend so much time chasing the wrong things.
So, what is a better measure then? Maturity.
No matter how young you are, if you’ve figured out that time and energy aren’t limitless resources and so you spend them wisely now, then that’s a good sign of personal growth.
What exactly does that look like?
- Learning to say no to things that no longer serve you
- Setting your boundaries and being firm on them
- Knowing what your values are and acting based on those
- Actively seeking growth and learning opportunities
- Practicing mindfulness to be present in the moment
- Identifying your distractions and avoiding them proactively
2) You’re handling conflict better
This is closely connected to my previous point. Because you’re now more mindful of where your energy goes, you handle conflict better now.
For instance, just a year ago, any sort of disagreement would either make me super defensive or worse, offensive.
I’d never back down. And if the argument wasn’t going my way, I’d go on the offensive and, I hate to say it, but I wasn’t above throwing in a below-the-belt jab.
But now, I approach conflict more constructively. I’ve worked on identifying my triggers and having an internal script beforehand to calm me down when those triggers get, well, triggered.
And I guess I’ve realized that so much of my energy was going into trying to “win”. Not realizing that yeah, I might be winning, but my relationship was ultimately losing because of my stubbornness.
So think about how you handle conflicts these days. If you detect a difference – a good one – then you’ve obviously gained a lot in the way of emotional intelligence.
3) You’re setting goals and achieving them
If, instead of getting bogged down by drama and feelings, you’re now focused on achieving your goals, that’s another good sign.
You know why? Because it shows you now have discipline. Resilience. Focus. All the traits one needs to keep moving forward.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you look back at yourself from last year or two years ago, you’d see just how far you’ve come.
That’s something we often forget to do – we focus on how far we have yet to go without seeing all the progress we’ve made.
If you’re still doubtful, think about this next point…
4) You take responsibility
The old you might have been part of the blame-wagon. Whatever went wrong, it wasn’t your fault. It was your boss’s unrealistic expectations. Your coworker’s stupidity. Your partner’s lack of support.
And when there was nobody else to blame – just plain and simple bad luck.
There was always something else to point the finger at and absolve you from any form of responsibility.
But the YOU right now? A far cry from that mess.
You now take the time to check yourself before lashing out. You now analyze what role you might have played in the situation. And what’s more, you think of how you can make it better.
Simply put, you’ve learned how to be accountable – an undeniable sign of personal growth.
A huge part of that is because…
5) You’re becoming more empathetic
How does empathy figure into the accountability equation?
Well, because you now have more capacity to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes, you can see more clearly the consequences of your actions.
This is something I’ve noticed in myself as well. I admit that I have a temper, so when I’m not mindful of managing it, I could let out a lot of hurtful words.
Then when the other person (usually my sister) would call me out on it, I’d just get defensive, like I mentioned earlier.
But as I grew older and gathered more life experiences, I found myself on the receiving end of pain, too. And instead of making me hard, it made me softer.
I came to understand how we’re all just dealing with life in our own ways. And that if we could just be kinder to one another, the journey could be much, much easier.
If you’ve arrived at that conclusion yourself, then there’s no doubt that you’ve been quietly growing.
6) You’re learning to let go
In the same breath, you’re showing your compassion by letting go of grudges.
Like I said, growing as a person means realizing that we’re all just dealing with life in the best way we can. And of course, being human, we’re bound to make mistakes.
That expansiveness in you, the one that gives people – and yourself – room to make mistakes, is a real sign you’re growing.
Plus, you now know that holding a grudge is, again, just a drain on your energy.
So, on to freedom. On to the power of letting go.
And you walk so much lighter for it!
7) You’re less concerned about what others think
Strangely, while you’ve become more concerned with how people feel, you’ve also become less concerned about what others think.
Where you used to worry or make choices based on other people’s expectations, you’re now listening more to your inner compass. To what truly makes you happy, the world’s opinions be damned.
The result? You’re more self-assured!
This was one of my personal markers that I was quietly growing. I just found myself growing less and less interested in people’s opinions about me or my life choices.
I hope you see it in your own life, too.
8) Your circle is all about quality instead of quantity
When you’re quietly growing, one thing you might notice is that your circle of friends is shrinking.
And you might even see it as a sign that you’re going backwards. You might think, we’re supposed to make more friends, not less!
Well, not quite. While it’s important to be friendly, it’s even more important to have a solid, positive circle, even if it’s made up of only a few people.
And that means weeding out toxic relationships and negative influences.
This shows real growth. How so? Because it means you’re prioritizing quality over quantity.
As with anything else in life, that’s always the wiser choice!
9) You’re taking better care of yourself
Speaking of wise choices, personal growth also means knowing how to take care of yourself.
I used to think of self-care as a selfish or unproductive move. As a mom, I’d feel tons of guilt for even wanting a massage or a quiet afternoon to myself.
But I’ve realized that all the roles I juggle don’t have to mean I should forget who I am as a person. As my own person. Not just someone’s wife, mom, daughter, sister, employee, etc.
So, these days, I’m all about balance. I take time off when I need it, I make my boundaries known, I pay better attention to what I eat and how late I sleep.
If you’ve been quietly growing as a person, then that’s going to sound familiar to you.
10) You’re reading this article
Finally, this. Your presence right here.
Seriously? Yes, seriously. The fact that you’re reading an article about personal growth is a green, green flag that:
You are self-aware. (Not many people can say that!)
And you feel a desire to improve. (Yep, not many can say that, too!)
No matter where you are in life, wanting to be a better person is always a mark of progress.
And so I salute you, you wonderful creature quietly plodding along in life. I won’t be surprised if you go far – that’s always the case with proactive people who constantly seek to be the best version of themselves!