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3 Habits to Speed Up Your Personal Growth

The Not-So-Glamorous Secret to Self-Development


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Dan Marticio

3 years ago | 4 min read

There is a lot of new insight into personal growth, but people still want the same thing:

A one-way ticket to a new and improved you in six weeks.

You probably know what I mean. You dive headfirst into a new routine, whether it’s working out or pursuing a passion project, and when you don’t see the results you want, what happens?

You quit.

And you’re not alone. That’s why people bounce from one yo-yo diet to another. Or go through marketing tactics like a deck of cards.

But self-development isn’t like that. It’s not a quick-fix pill with a money-back guarantee.

It’s a long-term commitment and daily practice.

With that said, there are a few ways to quicken the process.

The Not-So-Glamorous Secret to Self-Development

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Are you ready to pull back the curtains to see who (or what) runs the machine, that is your personal development?

Here it goes.

Form better habits.

And this isn’t anything new. All the way back in ancient Greece, Aristotle said:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

I get it. It’s not as enticing as a magic pill or 7-day miracle program. It may even sound anticlimactic, but hear me out.

When you form a habit, you make the behavior automatic. Wouldn’t things be easier if exercising, or cooking, or writing was as automatic as brushing your teeth?

Doing things that improve your life aren’t challenges that test your discipline. They’re just something you do — no need to think about it.

It would make things a whole lot easier, wouldn’t it?

But just because the answer is so boringly obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy. To help you with that, here are a few ways to build strong habits that you actually stick with.

3 Habits to Speed Up Your Personal Growth

1. Track Your Habits

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

It’s hard to see where you’re improving and failing if you’re not measuring what you’re doing. Tracking your habits gives you data to work with.

That’s why people trying to lose weight track their exercise activity and calories. They need to measure how much calories they’re intaking versus expending. If they do not see the scale dip, it’s either because they’re not moving enough or overeating.

Start tracking your habits.

There are tons of habit tracking apps out there (Daylio is a personal favorite). But it doesn’t have to be digital. It can be a simple paper calendar with an X for each day you complete a habit.

A long chain of X is a visual reminder of the progress you’ve achieved. It creates a mission for you every day: don’t break the chain.

2. Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

There’s a saying that you’re the average of the five people who are always around you.

If you find that your five people are fumbling through life, they’re pessimistic and unmotivated, then you subconsciously register that behavior as “the norm.” The people always around you live their lives this way, so it’s okay.

Why is that?

Humans literally evolved because they formed communities and cared for each other. Being different from the group meant getting kicked out to fend for yourself.

Nowadays, individuality is celebrated — at least in most Western cultures. But we start to pick up the habits of the people around us. Sometimes it’s drinking. Or eating out more. Or worse … Settling for a life that falls short of your potential.

Be careful of settling.

If you can, start pushing your social circle outwards to motivated people who share your interests. If you’re a writer with few writer peers, seek a local or online community.

As you make more writer friends, you begin to pick up habits conducive to writing, staying productive, and putting yourself out there.

Here’s another thought.

If you’re the average of the five people you surround yourself and those people are all better than you in most aspects of life, guess what?

The only way for you to go is up.

3. Follow Your Natural Inclinations

Here’s what I mean.

Starting a new habit is hard (trust me, I’m still trying to make the whole exercise and diet habit stick).

So, the secret is to make the behavior more interesting. To do that, follow something you’re already interested in. Something you naturally lean towards.

If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, but hate running on a treadmill, here’s a suggestion: don’t run on the treadmill! Instead, find a cardio activity that excites you, like cycling, Zumba, or hiking.

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

As a freelance writer who works from home, I struggled with staying focused. I was trying to build the habit of writing a certain number of words at the same time every day. But I always wrote in the early morning when my energy levels still needed a jumpstart. As you can guess, I accomplished little.

Then I started tracking my energy levels throughout the day. After two weeks of tracking my energy, I learned that I am definitely not a morning person (even after years of faking it).

I noticed that my energy levels picked up around 10:30 am and peaked around 1:00 pm. Since I have the luxury of scheduling my days, I now plan my intense writing sessions in the early afternoon and save administrative work during low energy periods.

When forming a new habit — especially when starting out — listen to your body and natural inclinations.

It will serve you in the long run.

Bonus: Self-Care and Growth are Equally Important

I lied. I threw in a fourth habit (please forgive me).

We’re often our own worst critics. What we create is rarely enough, and we push ourselves to the limit.

And when we hit that limit, we burn out.

Remember to take it easy and to take regular breaks.

Self-development is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s okay to take your time.

I like to take Sundays to unwind and rewind. I rarely work on Sundays, and I like to treat myself to quality time with my dog and a walk in the park.

Personal growth isn’t meant to be a grueling, tedious process all the time. Don’t forget to enjoy your life too.

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