“There is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock.”
I remember this quote by Bukowksi so well because it’s exactly what I felt when I was in a rut.
I was literally watching the clock in my room—listening to its every tick— feeling sorry for myself because life was passing me by.
It was the darkest chapter of my life and I promised myself that I’ll never go back to that place again.
That’s why I constantly assess my self-growth to know if I’m in the right direction.
If you want to know if you’ve stopped growing, let’s turn to psychology.
Here are 8 warning signs that you’ve stopped growing as a person.
1) You feel stuck
You don’t have to look for 100 signs that you’ve stopped growing as a person.
Simply ask yourself if you’re feeling stuck right now.
And be very honest.
Do you feel like you have to be doing something more interesting and yet you’re stuck at your job?
Do you feel like you have to be in a better relationship and yet you’re stuck with a partner you don’t really like anymore?
According to psychology, stuckness happens because we fear change.
It’s our amygdala actively protecting us because we’re uncertain of what will happen next.
So yes, if you do feel stuck and if you fear change, you’ve probably stopped growing.
Now, don’t beat yourself up for being “such a coward” or for “being lazy” because it’s actually not simply lack of willpower, it’s our brain’s fault!
Research shows that our brains are hardwired with a negativity bias, so this makes getting out of a rut even harder.
To get unstuck, you have to learn how to tell your paranoid brain to f*ck off.
Sounds easy, but it’s one of the hardest things to do…and the reason many people have stopped growing.
2) You’re not “failing” at a lot of things
It’s so easy not to fail—don’t do anything!
How can you fail if you won’t even try, right?
Wrong! If you don’t try at all, you’re already failing—100%.
And that’s a sign that you’re not growing.
How many rejections did you receive last year?
In the last five years? In the last ten?
How many projects did you start that didn’t push through?
How many of your endeavors failed so miserable that you just want to curse the heavens?
If your answer is zero, then you’re probably not growing as a person!
Los Angeles-based psychologist Crystal I. Lee says “Failure is an opportunity to be embraced, analyzed, and picked apart, rather than something to run away from.”
In other words, failure = growth.
Failure teaches us to:
- Come up with better solutions
- Learn more about life
- Learn more about ourselves
- Grow as a person!
If you’re not failing enough, it’s a sign you’re not growing enough.
I remember my mentor once told me, the sign you’re getting closer to success is that you’re getting at least one rejection a day.
If you haven’t failed in a while, it’s time to start trying things again.
3) You’re bored
Do you feel restless?
Do you feel like your life is too safe?
Do your days blend together so that they start to look like one big blur?
Erin Westgate, a social psychologist who studies boredom says boredom is a warning signal.
She says, “Boredom is sort of an emotional dashboard light that goes off saying, like, ‘Hey, you’re not on track”.
It doesn’t mean you simply have a low attention span or you’re the type of person who can’t commit.
It’s just your brain telling you “It’s time to grow!”
Trust me, once you’ve grown into the person you really want to be, your boredom will significantly diminish.
4) You’ve become more and more bitter and envious
Do you get a bit envious when you see your friends getting successful at the things they do—whether it’s business or a career in acting?
Do you roll your eyes when you see couples being lovey-dovey and secretly think “bah, they’ll break up anyway”?
According to psychology, envy serves as a guide to our true desires.
So if you consider yourself too bitter and envious, it’s probably a sign that you’re not growing into the person you want to be.
What do you envy in others? I don’t mean the superficial stuff like their curly hair or nice smile.
Go a little deeper.
Is it their freedom? Their fulfilling jobs? Their loving relationships?
Maybe those are the areas in your life where you are stagnating…and you owe it to yourself to work on those things.
5) You cringe when you think about your younger self
There’s a study that says that if you don’t like your younger self, it’s likely because you’re unhappy with who you are now.
And once you start to become more self-actualized, you start to become more accepting of your younger self.
So…think of your 10-year-old self….your 20-year-old self…your 25-year-old self.
Did you just go “Ugh! So embarrassing.” or “I don’t like that person at all!”?
Then you probably have a lot of growing to do.
6) You’ve stopped seeking out new experiences
When was the last time you did something new?
It doesn’t have to be big things like climbing Mt. Everest. It can be as simple as taking a new path on your way to work.
If your answer is “a long, long time ago”, then you’re probably not growing as a person.
A study done by Bagheri and Milyavskaya (2020) shows that novelty is essential for psychological growth, well-being, and optimal functioning…which could all lead to life satisfaction and fulfillment.
If you’re not trying new experiences, then you’re probably not achieving all of that growth.
It’s actually quite easy.
Think of the many simple things you want to try.
For me, personally, each year, I make it a point to explore a city I haven’t been to.
Each month, I try a new restaurant or cook a new dish.
While they don’t seem much, they can certainly make us grow as a person.
7) Your views about the world haven’t changed much
Your views on life five to ten years ago remain the same today.
In fact, if you’re to be honest, you think you’ve become a bit close-minded.
You’ve probably stopped being curious.
You’ve probably stopped questioning your beliefs.
You’ve probably stopped learning from others.
Here’s the thing: Being 100% sure about things is a sign you’re not growing.
Even the smartest and most enlightened person in the world doesn’t stop learning and evolving and challenging their beliefs.
They achieve this by experiencing life, talking with others, deepening their knowledge, and doing some self-reflection.
Have you stopped doing all of these things?
Then you’ve definitely stopped growing as a person.
8) Your relationship with yourself hasn’t gotten any better
When we think of growth, most of the time we think it’s external—career, relationships, material things.
But the most important growth is actually inward.
So what if we achieved material success if we don’t even know who we are? If we don’t LIKE who we are? If we don’t have peace of mind? If we don’t have a deep connection with ourselves?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you discovered who you truly are?
- Have you learned to enjoy being alone?
- Have you become your own best friend?
- Have you learned to embrace your flaws?
- Are you now much gentler with yourself?
If you answer “yes” to all of the questions, then you’re definitely growing as a person. Congratulations!
If you answer “no”, then you’re not growing holistically.
It’s probably time to start a good relationship with yourself because that’s the most important growth of all.
These days, I no longer feel sad when I look at the clock.
I feel like I’m exactly who I want to be, in a place where I want to be.
But this will not last. I know that one day, I will feel restless again…
And, you know what? I no longer see it as a bad thing.
We’re supposed to keep growing and evolving a little bit each day. It doesn’t mean we’re the type of people who can’t be content.
It means we’re the ones who truly care about our happiness.
So if you’re feeling stuck right now, don’t take it negatively.
Simply say “I see you, I hear you. Thank you for reminding me to keep growing.”
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.