Why is Personal Growth Important?

Personal Development and Growth: the what, why and how of bettering the self and how to start a personal growth plan today

Personal growth is the process of an individual becoming aware of the ‘self’ in its entirety, followed by taking steps to address the behaviour, attitudes, values, actions and habits that they wish to change. This process starts first with ‘self-awareness’ –  which allows one to see themselves honestly –  and culminates in targeted changes to the self that deliver positive outcomes to the life of the individual in question. Here at Transcend Health we are dedicated to becoming a supportive, positive part of your personal growth journey.

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What is personal growth and development made up of?

Changes to the self and growing as a person is a process that can be simple or complex, depending on the needs and wants of the individual. The pursuit of personal growth is for many a lifelong project of self-betterment, but for some could be targeted only at a specific thing they wish to improve.

Personal growth or development is often guided or complimented by a teacher of sorts. They could be your counsellor, physical therapist, dietician, doctor, work mentor, business connection, lecturer, personal trainer, parent, friend – or anyone whose opinion you value enough to act on.  It can be made up of many focus areas, with equally as many actions attached. Put simply – it’s a unique process for each person and could be made up of an endless variety of things.

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Why pursue personal growth?

Pursuing personal development and growth has been shown to successfully help people lead lives that are happier, successful and more content. Though the process of improving oneself is often not easy or comfortable, the rewards of doing so have been well documented and as such supports an entire industry dedicated to helping the individual improve themselves

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Who should care about personal growth and development?

The short answer is everyone. Everyone should care about personal growth, and everyone can benefit from becoming a better person. But there are some individuals who can benefit more than the average person, and these can include those with difficulties that cause them any degree of pain or daily conflict.

These could include but are certainly not limited to: physical injuries, pain management, behavioural difficulties, mental health challenges, injury rehabilitation, disabilities, or PTSD and trauma-related issues.

Anyone can decide that they would like to improve themselves as a person, but those who are already struggling are most in need of a stronger way to view themselves and the world around them.

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Why personal growth can be painful

Oftentimes, the occurrence of a painful or tragic life event can be what triggers the desire for personal growth and self-improvement. This is especially true if the individual becomes aware that the event in question may have been avoided and they behaved or reacted in a different way. It can also be when a person becomes aware of a negative pattern of events or feelings and makes the connection that these are a direct result of their actions or inactions; the ultimate control and blame rests with them.

This can be a very painful moment for most people, particularly when they have attributed the source of the negativity to something external or to another person. This is something all human beings are guilty of, and pain caused by the shame or guilt generated by our actions is often the reason we falsely assign blame to others.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes people feel inspired and motivated to pursue personal growth by something they encounter in another person, book or life event.

The process of looking inward and making these honest assessments can be uncomfortable, painful and sometimes quite confronting.

Depending on the severity of the issue that is being addressed, getting the help and services of a professional to help navigate these feelings and issues is highly recommended and will better ensure a positive outcome for the individual.

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The benefits of personal growth

Despite the discomfort and pain that the pursuit of personal growth can cause – there is a reason people are doing it.

Theodore Roosevelt said it well: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well”

Going through difficult things, traversing them with dignity and improving upon oneself is one strong definition of personal growth and achieving just small doses of it can bring a myriad of benefits which include, but are not limited to:

  • Learning to better control your emotions and negative thoughts
  • Overcoming procrastination or laziness
  • Being open to learning new things and skills – having a ‘growth mindset’
  • Finding peace and contentment with things you cannot change
  • Better work and relationship outcomes
  • Making better progress on your personal goals
  • A sense of personal pride, achievement and hope
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How to start your personal growth journey

Once you have decided that you would like to grow as a person and make positive changes to yourself, how to start and what to do can be easily overwhelming. A quick internet search can turn up so much information that it might be tempting to put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. To make things easier, it is useful to first identify what you want to work on before setting personal growth goals, looking for resources or making a plan.

Useful personal growth questions to ask yourself

There are a number of questions that are useful to ask yourself to help determine your personal development goals. These should include, but are not limited to:

  • What values are important to me? (honesty, temperance, courage, etc)
  • What do I want to start doing?
  • What do I want to stop doing?
  • How do I want this process to benefit others in my life?
  • What do I want to get out of this process personally?
  • What kind of person, or character traits would I like to have?

What are your personal growth goals?

The answers to the questions above should be the basis for setting your personal growth goals. Here is an example to help illustrate the exercise:

  • What values are important to me? (honesty, temperance, courage, etc)

A: I want to become more honest with myself, and a more moderate person in my reactions to negative events and people. I would like to have more courage and humility when dealing with my chronic back pain.

  • What do I want to start doing?

A: I want to accept and address my pain through injury management therapy and more positive thinking. I want to practice examining my negative emotions without casting judgement and consider a better way of acting on them before doing so.

  • What do I want to stop doing?

A: I want to stop complaining about pain that I know I should be addressing but am not. I want to stop being reactive to those around me. I want to stop being dishonest with myself about the motivations behind my actions.

  • How do I want this process to benefit others in my life?

A: I would like my personal relationships to benefit from me being in less pain, and therefore being in a much more positive mood. I would also like those in my life to feel emotionally safer in my presence because they can trust me not to overreact. I hope that my self-honesty will benefit others, by making me a more pleasant and honest person to be around.

How to make a personal growth plan

Plan based on your personal goals is how you will take thoughts and turn them into actions. In the case of the example given above, the personal growth plan could start simply by identifying the main goals and who could help support learning in those areas:

Planning a time and setting the frequency of addressing each goal is useful to achieving these goals, and it may be helpful to use a diary and calendar set aside for only this task. You can utilise several resources and methods to inform, plan and reflect on your progress – read through the suggestions at the end of this article!

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Unexpected side effects of positive personal growth

By far the most unexpected beneficiaries of a person pursuing personal growth are the other people around them. Friends, family, pets, co-workers and anyone else that person encounters are exposed to a braver, more hopeful and positive version of the person they know. Those that come into contact with one who is dedicated to becoming a better person often can’t help but be swept up in that energy and may be inspired enough to start their own journey. Because our health and wellbeing is so interconnected, a happier person will also likely be healthier physically, more successful career-wise and have a positive and memorable impact on those around them. This creates a positive feedback loop that continues for as long as the pursuit of personal growth does. And once the journey to improve the self-starts most people find it so rewarding that it becomes a lifelong passion that is obvious to those around them.

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Personal growth resources

Figuring out where to start can be hard, but if you have followed the above suggestions for getting started you will likely have a broad idea of what you want to work on. Below is a short list of tips and great places to start, depending on your needs.

Pain or injury management & Rehabilitation:

  • Transcend Health can provide all your injury rehabilitation or pain management services here in Newcastle and is happy to connect you to trusted services where our expertise or reach stops. We maintain connections to a wide network of practitioners and experts in all sorts of different fields.
  • Stories of Growth and Wisdom: A Mixed-Methods Study of People Living Well with Pain
  • Pain Relief from Personal Growth: A great article from painscience.com

Self-improvement & mental health support:

  • The Australian Psychological Society has a fantastic range of reading resources, as well as a directory for finding a member psychologist for counselling services in your area.
  • Top 50 selling Personal growth books on Goodreads.com

Making and recording a personal growth plan:

  • Buy a diary or notebook to record your hopes and goals, and to record self-reflections and progress reports
  • Use a calendar or your diary to set deadlines for your goals
  • You may find it useful to include photographs of inspiring images to help keep you on track, or to plan in rewards for meeting goals
  • Utilising apps on your phone, laptop or tablet that are relevant to the goal you are pursuing can be a great idea and setting calendar reminders to reduce your mental load can work as well.

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