Personal growth is the improvement of our behaviour, habits, and actions. It refers to the techniques employed to advance as an individual. The act of pursuing personal growth not only enables us to improve as an individual, but it also uniquely sets us apart from the rest. Self-growth aligns with values as, only once we have a clear set of values, we can implement positive changes in the right direction. Without a clear map of our values, we aimlessly wonder. In fact, sometimes aimless wondering brings us closer to the realisation of our values. Nevertheless, there are some powerful techniques and tools to harness self-growth. If you possess the desire to build on self-awareness or work out what really matters to you, you’re in the right place.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
The Importance of Identifying Values
Making decisions, no matter how big or small, is easier with a clear set of values. Perhaps some instantly come to mind, such as the desire to be a good person or to be successful. However, each definition of ‘a good person’ and ‘successful’ subjectively varies depending on who you ask. Why? Because we each have different values. None are right or wrong or better or worse. It’s simply what matters or brings joy to each individual. So, our values must be crystal clear.
Identifying our values enables us to create clear goals in the short and long term. What’s more, they act as a compass of growth towards the person we truly want to be and the life we wish to build. Once we begin to act according to our values, we have a greater sense of control over our lives, while our self-esteem, positivity, and wellness greatly benefit too. Values guide us in the form of aspiration and clarity. The following exercise will assist you in pinpointing your values.
How to Identify your Values
First up, this task has to be done with your ideal self and life in mind. There’s no need to worry about if it’s realistic or attainable, you must write it as if it were an ideal world. It’s your ideal world, thus anything is possible. Secondly, it works best if you set aside some time to do this without any distractions.
The first three categories involve connection to others: Love Life; Family Relationships and Friendship and Social Connections. Describe your role in each relationship. What qualities do you desire, how will you treat these people, and describe the type of relationships you want.
The following three categories determine how we spend our time: Work and Career; Education and Free Time and Social Life. Describe the type of career you would like to pursue. What attracts you to that particular role, company, working environment, etc. What type of employee/employer/co-worker would you like to be? For education, how do you wish to improve your knowledge? Perhaps this is academically or more informally, quite literally, any way to deepen your knowledge that appeals to you. For free time and social life, what sports, hobbies, social situations, or leisure activities appeal to you?
The final three categories are equally as important: Health and Wellness; Citizenship and Society and Spirituality. For health and wellness, think about physical health in terms of diet, sleep, exercise, drinking, or smoking. For well-being, what habits or rituals would you like to implement for enhanced mental health. Regarding citizenship and society, what affairs or rights do you care about? How can you connect with your social and political beliefs via groups, unions, voluntary work, etc? Lastly, spirituality is about the beliefs you associate with this term from a religion to closeness to nature. If this is important to you, describe what you understand by it and how you’d like it to exist in your life.
How to Achieve Personal Growth
Once we have identified our values, we can determine our goals. Go through each category at a time and ask yourself what you already do and how. Then, work out what you haven’t achieved yet and break it down into attainable steps of how you can get there. From daily habits such as routines, social interactions, and diet, to long-term career or relationship goals, if you have an idea, get it down on paper. Don’t overwhelm yourself by creating too many goals. Instead, focus on the area in which your current life and ideal values least align, start there. You could even focus on a section that you consider particularly important right now.
Once you have put a goal into practice, you can ask yourself how realistic and sustainable it is. Of course, not everything we want is realistic, and not everything we think we want we actually desire once achieved. The point is, we can’t rule it out without trying first, especially not after the first attempt. If something truly matters to us, hard work and perseverance will pay off.
Overcoming obstacles is something to bear in mind when implementing goals towards a better future. Think about it, why haven’t you already achieved these things? Well, perhaps because you have only just worked out what is you actually want. In which case, great, now you know and the journey already begins here with a greater sense of self-awareness. Or, maybe you have known for a while but there’s this little voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough or something similar. Self-criticism happens to the best of us. Those hindering thoughts that come up telling us something that, half the time isn’t actually true, but we end up believing it anyway.
Firstly, thoughts are not truths. Secondly, there are techniques to deal with judgemental or self-criticising thoughts. One technique is writing down any recent thoughts that pertain to that group, then ask yourself what actually happened. What did you need or want that made you think that? Perhaps you just needed a break or you were acting on emotions like anger, sadness, or fear. Sound familiar? If so, try to have compassion for those feelings. Other techniques include trying to challenge self-criticism by keeping a daily reflection journal. Eventually, our mind will learn to do this in the moment of self-criticism and be more present.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Learning to rewire negative underlying beliefs coincides with the adoption of a growth mindset. A growth mindset sees the value in effort and persistence. In the face of challenge, we must embrace the power of ‘yet’. Though we are unable to do something now, we can invest the time to learn how to harness such skills to get where we want to be. Not only does a growth mindset promote a love for learning, but it also enhances the importance of accepting failure as a means to move forward. Check out this post for more in-depth knowledge on a growth mindset.
Personal Growth and Values in a Nutshell…
Our values form an integral part of personal growth as they provide us with direction and clarity. Treat your values as a compass towards building your ideal life, whilst aiming to be your best self. With a clear set of values, begin goal setting to work towards what you truly want. I recommend reading ‘The Habits of Highly Effective People’ for how to ace goal setting and effective habits to work towards values. Otherwise, I have a quick guide to productivity for anyone who needs a helping hand with putting goals into action. Work to overcome obstacles and embrace challenges as part of the learning process, after all, that’s what a growth mindset is all about.