If you’re like most people, chances are personal growth is not something that you will pay attention to, or even aware of.
Eventually, you’ll settle like the rest of the society, where the collective wisdom can only get you as far as a normal career, a few side gigs here and there, buy a house, raise a family, and retire – then teach the same cycle to your kids all over again.
That’s the ugly truth of this society.
And yet, the majority of the society feels that is perfectly normal and is a perfectly good way to live life.
Because life is supposed to be that way, right?
There are other ways to live life, and it isn’t necessarily a life of extreme luxury or abundance like what the media portrays.
But most people dreamed of a better life but if their only source of learning is from the collective wisdom of the society, they won’t get far.
Dreams will just become dreams, and they will just associate themselves with other dreamers who dreamed of a good life.
But surely there is a way to turn dreams into reality, and to live a quality, meaningful life right?
Sure, there is a way.
And the key to do that is to be aware of and invest in your personal growth.
So what exactly is personal growth?
If you looked up the word in your dictionary, like for example the Collins Dictionary, it defines personal growth as “development as an individual” which doesn’t really provide a clear picture to what personal growth really means.
Fortunately, we have Wikipedia, which provides a broader and more meaningful explanation that says :
“Personal growth covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.”
So if you look at the explanation above (which I agree as well), there’s one thing that is the bridge between your dream and the current you: activities.
You see, people who live an incredible life do different thing that the rest of the society.
Let’s take these few people as an example.
Do you know what people like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet all have in common?
They have 1 habit or activity that they commit to almost every single day: Reading books.
So why do they read books?
That’s because the book they read contains information that serves their growth in life and expands their views and potential as well, enabling them to solve bigger problems and tackle on a bigger opportunity in their life.
Gates says he reads about 50 books a year, which translates to about one per week.
He even shares his reading and opinions on the book he reads in his blog
Mark Zuckerberg also started a book club and dedicates to reading at least one book every 2 weeks.
Warren Buffet also quoted as saying that books enable him to generate his wealth today, and it started with him grabbing a book by a person he looked up to the most, Benjamin Graham.
So if the rich and successful people are doing it, why not the rest of us?
I believe that one of the biggest reason is a belief that people have, where learning only happens in school. And yet, since most people are forced into learning at school, they indirectly formed a belief inside of them that basically make them hate school and learning.
So when they finish school, the learning stops.
But that’s not entirely true.
Learning happens pretty much when we woke up till the time we sleep.
We learn from our parents since we are kids, be it good or bad wisdom.
We learn when our parents are having a quarrel, doing something fun together, financial management, the breakfast, lunch, dinner routine, and even their belief.
And pick that up as a normal part of life and we thought that it’s probably a normal way of living.
We learn from tv, cartoon and we pick up the belief of the character and internalize it as our own.
We learn from other people as well, how they behave, how they act, and we make a conscious or non-conscious decision to copy their behaviour.
So the fact is, we are constantly learning.
But if we learn from what is around us which is our environment, we will eventually settle as being equal to our environment.
So how can you overcome this to get to where you want to be in life?
First of all, you have to know what you want.
Now, there is a catch here.
A lot of people don’t know what they want in life.
They never make the decision to choose.
This is a fairly big topic by itself and I will talk about it in another blog post. But if I were to tell you an easy tip it’s this: the things that you want is usually the opposite of what you have today.
Some people say they are stuck in a job and they wanted freedom.
Some people say they are fat and they wanted to be fit and slim.
Some people are poor and they wanted to be rich.
Some people who are lonely wanted some friends.
So what you want is usually something that you are lacking today.
So give it a little thought, and write down what you want.
Another quick hack is to have a bucket list, and if you were to google it, there’s a ton of example online.
But be sure to at least think or write about what you want in at least these 7 areas of your life:
For example: I want to help end suffering among the poor people in my country, I want to lift them up, and help them achieve a better life.
For example: For me to achieve that vision of mine, what would my career or business be? What skill do I need to learn?
Health & Fitness
For example: I want to eat clean, have an active lifestyle so that I can be fit to take action on things that will. Or I can be fit to enjoy the goodness of life. Or I want to be fit or be muscular like Arnold so I can be famous.
Example: I want to be more thankful in life, and be more forgiving towards the people that wronged me.
Example: I want to be able to make friends easily.
Example: I want to read at least 1 book per month. Or listen to 1 podcast per week. Or learn something totally new each month.
Example: I want to learn how to invest and be able to generate a passive income that will enable me to travel the world without worrying about money. Or what would I have to do in order to achieve $2000/month in return from my investment?
Although this does not cover all categories of your life, it’s good enough to get you started.
Once you have decided what you want, the next step is simply to level up in each of the areas of life above.
And this is where personal growth came in.
Let’s take social life for example.
So the goal is to learn how to make friends easily right?
Then the solution is already in your nearest bookstore, in this amazing book called: How to Win Friends And Influence People.
You get more than you bargained for when you read this book. Trust me. I’ve read it many times already.
or you can choose some other book like Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
There are tons of books to choose from.
As for the big vision above, wanting to help a lot of people and contributing to the society, some of the books I recommend is
Creating a world without poverty or Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus
And as for the other areas of your life, there are books for that.
They’re all in your local bookstore, usually in the “self-help” section.
If you want to have a better relationship, there’s this famous book called Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray.
But what if you want all that improvement in your life yet you don’t read or learn?
Then you’re like most people in this world who “wished” for a better life but will never get it, unlike rich, hardworking people who believed they can achieve that better life by taking action and constantly improving themselves.
I’m sure you have come across some people who are super high in their ego, refuse to change no matter what, and they also don’t believe that they can change for the thought that they are born that way.
And these people are usually very selfish and stingy for they knew so little.
I have come across many such people in my life and they are the people who have all kinds of problems in their life.
Well, of course, they have any problem!
They try to fix the same problem with the same level of thinking that created it, that’s why they failed and the problems keep piling up. (Quoted from Einstein)
So if you want to have a real improvement in your life, pick up a book and read it.
Then you’ll overwrite your old way of thinking about that area of your life and pick up a new one that will serve you better.
So as you can see, the impact of personal growth goes beyond just career.
It affects every area of our life including our love life, financial, social life, creativity, parenting, and so on.
But if you’re wondering why personal growth isn’t in mainstream media?
Well, that’s because people are hardwired to pay 10x more attention to negative news and that’s what the media love.
The media company thrive because people gave away their attention easily when they are shown negative news, with tons of ads that come along with it.
Sadly enough, the majority of society watch news every day without realizing that the media is robbing them of their happiness.
But since you’re reading this, I’m sure you already have a least some sort of awareness of what’s really happening in our society.
So if you want to be different, and reach a higher level of life, you can’t rely on the collective knowledge of the society or your environment.
You have to acquire knowledge from the people who are successful and had done it, and these people will always share their wisdom in the form of book.
I’m sure one day when you are successful, you too will write a book so you can inspire and help more people to be better in their lives.
So make a commitment today to start reading.
Invest at least rm30-rm50 per month buying “self-help” books that will serve your growth.
And one day, you will look back at what you did today and everything will be worth it.