“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu, the 2,600-year-old Chinese philosopher, still plays an important role in Chinese thought.
But his quote about letting go crosses many borders, as we all can recognize the wisdom in his ancient message.
We all want to become more than we are and be the best we can be in all facets of life. Even when we're not trying to improve ourselves, personal development happens naturally and spontaneously.
We are here to change and grow. Even though we often resist change, it is the only constant in our lives.
Who you were ten years ago is not who you are now. Not only do you change physically, you change mentally, spiritually and emotionally, thanks to your choices and experiences.
Not everyone has personal development goals in mind as they grow through changes in life. Sometimes life imposes painful change on us, like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or a job loss.
Massive growth is why we are here experiencing all the challenges and dualities of being human, and these painful changes provide valuable opportunities for growth when we pay attention.
The best way to achieve massive personal growth is to recognize you have a “higher self” that trumps ego-centric thoughts and desires and to tune into that self.
As you focus on this higher self or inner wisdom, you can achieve a profound sense of clarity and peace about the direction of your life, during a peaceful or tumultuous change. This is how you evolve and develop as a person.
So What Exactly is Personal Development?
If you are reading this post, chances are you're interested in your own self-development. You want to keep expanding your mental, physical, spiritual, and social self.
And that's exactly what personal development is — the continuous expansion of these various parts of yourself.
Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist best known for creating Maslow's “hierarchy of needs,” suggests that we all have an inbuilt need for personal development which happens through a process he calls self-actualization.
Self-actualization refers to our desire to become our best selves and reach our full potential as a unique human beings. Maslow believes every person has room for unlimited growth.
The journey of self-actualization and growth isn't a one-stop destination. It's a process that will last your entire life.
The process can be fun, fulfilling, and enlightening, especially if you create some personal development goals to guide and support you along the way.
Let’s Discuss Personal and Professional Goals
We do a lot of things every day that help with personal growth, but we don’t consider them steps to achieving any goal.
The little things we do to help other people and the ideas we have that result in some positive impact on your life or the lives of others are all part of your evolution.
But we ignore their importance because we do them mindlessly. There’s no structure or “why” behind them. That doesn't mean they don't count toward your growth — they certainly do.
However, being intentional about your personal development goals gives you the motivation to practice them daily and make a profound difference in your experience of life's inevitable changes.
As you read the goals below, make notes about those that resonate with you. Write down specific actions you want to take to implement the goals.
You want these actions to become habits that you practice automatically so that you evolve into a new way of being and doing that is seamless.
Here are 25 personal development goals for massive growth
1. Listen more, speak less.
Listening is an art form. You’ll learn more about what goals you need to work on when you listen empathically to what the people around you are saying.
You'll also develop closer and more authentic relationships, as others will see you as someone who cares and can connect on a deeper level.
2. Do a little volunteer work.
There are plenty of worthwhile causes and organizations near you and countless world organizations that need physical and financial support. Pick one or two and offer your time.
You’ll be helping yourself as much as those organizations, as you learn the value and fulfillment of service.
When you meditate, you bring your inner self to the forefront. Find a quiet place and make it your place where you can shut off the noise and reflect on nothing but the silence within you.
Meditation allows you to access your deeper emotions and desires and removes you from the distractions and stressors that disconnect you from yourself.
4. Pay attention to your thoughts.
That may sound strange, but we don’t always focus on what we think about. We just allow our thoughts to run rampant in our brains.
Your thoughts create your reality, and once you become mindful of them, you can make better choices about where you focus your mental attention.
You can catch yourself in negative thinking that leads to negative emotions. Refocus your attention on thoughts or actions that are productive and positive.
5. Share what you know.
Teaching someone who needs guidance and direction is a selfless and fulfilling act.
Mentoring or teaching packs some healthy rewards for your well-being and allows you to pass on knowledge and awareness that can impact many others.
6. Learn a new skill.
Expand yourself and do something you've always wanted to do. Learn to speak another language, or create something that is completely foreign to your normal way of creating.
When you take a step beyond your comfort zone, you become more confident and self-reliant. You recognize that you are capable of far more than you might give yourself credit for.
7. Write a book.
You don’t have to be J. K. Rowling or Steven King to write a book.
Writing is an excellent form of meditation and self-expression. It helps improve your awareness and reveals that you are a creator with a huge mental reservoir.
That reservoir is overflowing with ideas once you sit down and push through the initial fear of putting your words on paper.
8. Keep your finances in order.
Nothing can derail personal growth more than a budget disaster.
Focus on saving money instead of spending it. When you pull yourself out of the consumer mentality, you make your life less complicated.
You also learn to prioritize relationships and experiences over material things, which is a critical part of your personal evolution.
9. Accept time for what it is.
Let time be your friend. When you have realistic goals, time will always co-operate.
Time gets in the way when you don’t have a cohesive plan or you try to do too much.
As much as we all fear time for the effects it has on us, it can also be a tool to keep us on track, so we accomplish what we want when we want.
10. Be spontaneous.
Being spontaneous has its benefits especially if you challenge yourself by doing something you think you can’t do.
Spontaneity opens the door for new opportunities and experiences. It allows us to challenge our preconceived ideas and beliefs about the ways things “should” be so that we can experience another perspective.
11. Be a doer.
Procrastination is a growth inhibitor. We all put off things for one reason or another. Then we expend unnecessary energy fretting about putting them off.
The things we put off often have the most personal growth potential, especially when we ask ourselves why we're procrastinating.
Don’t let fear, anger, or laziness stop you from acting. The energy of just one small action can create the momentum you need to get things done and feel positive about yourself and your abilities.
12. Start a wellness routine.
Wellness is the state of mental and physical normalcy. You don’t have to be vegan to keep your body in top shape, and you don’t have to pump iron until your muscles bulge.
Find the foods that complement your body’s metabolism, and exercise in order to keep your mental energy flowing to every cell in your body. Find the right exercise that tones, stretches, and activates your body consciousness.
Paying attention to your body consciousness helps you achieve your personal goals. Your body does have its own consciousness, and every cell in your body knows its job. Support your body's efforts by treating it right.
13. Read as much as you can.
Thanks to the Internet and mobile devices, reading is a lot easier for those who aren't bibliophiles.
Reading is an excellent way to expand your personal world, especially if you are reading books on personal growth and self-improvement.
Reading also improves your vocabulary, makes you more compassionate, and expands your creativity.
14. Be present for each moment.
That sounds a little weird since you are always present when a moment presents itself.
But even though you appear to be present your mind is often somewhere else. It might be in the past ruminating over regrets, or it might be in the future, worrying and wondering about bad things might happen.
Those mental voyages don’t help your personal growth. The only true reality is the present moment, and it's the present moment where all experience and opportunity rests.
It's not easy to stay present for every moment but stay vigilant and try to keep your mind focused on the task at hand.
15. Declutter your life.
We live in a consumer-driven economy. That means companies will do virtually anything to get you to buy stuff.
Most of these things don’t have lasting meaning or usefulness, especially when they sit on the top shelf of a closet or jammed in a storage unit that is costing you money.
Physical stuff hampers personal growth because it requires time to maintain and clean, and it takes energy away from your goals. Begin the process of letting go of things that no longer serve you.
16. Give things away and pay it forward.
Nothing is more rewarding than making someone happy when you offer an act of random kindness or when you give people things they don’t expect to get.
Making people feel good is a personal goal we all should cultivate. It improves the happiness of others as well as our own.
17. Communicate with your inner self.
That might sound silly, but it’s a worthwhile conversation.
Listen to the voice of your inner wisdom when you feel stuck or have a big decision to make. Pay attention to the emotions and triggers you experience, and ask your inner self where these are coming from.
Don't allow the noise of the world or the loud voices of others to drown out the voice of your inner intelligence.
18. Prioritize kindness.
It’s the little things we do that have the biggest impact — especially when we do them without expectation of reward.
. Offer to help your spouse or neighbor without being asked. Be patient and kind, even when others are irritating or angry.
A little bit of kindness can diffuse tension, brighten someone's day, and boost your own mood.
19. Look for the good in everyone.
Looking for the good in some people is challenging because they are so far-removed from their inner selves.
They function in ego mode all the time and can be reactionary, critical, or aggressive. They may have low emotional intelligence.
You don’t have to try to change them to find the good in these people. Just recognize where they are in their personal development and understand that their behavior doesn't define the entirety of who they are.
A nod of acceptance and compassion is better than building a wall or writing someone off.
20. Understand the energy of your emotions.
Nothing is more powerful than thoughts that are emotionally charged. The energy within emotional thoughts has tremendous potential for good or ill.
When you recognize that you are emotionally triggered in a negative way, use that awareness to manage your words and behaviors so you don't hurt others or say something you later regret. Find an outlet for this negative energy that is productive and healing.
Positive emotional energy can be funneled into many creative, loving, and fulfilling endeavors. Take advantage of this positive energy to focus on a goal or passion.
21. Practice humility.
Humility is one of the most underrated qualities we can possess, but it is distinctly powerful. It doesn't mean you are weak or lacking in some way.
Instead, it reflects a strength of character and the willingness to have a learner's mindset. It shows you don't have an inflated sense of self-importance. You have a balanced sense of your achievements and failures.
Being humble means you understand and respect where you are in your personal growth journey. You accept who you are now and appreciate the opportunity to learn from all your choices and experiences.
22. Know you aren't alone in your personal growth journey.
We tend to think we are alone when we get serious about changing the direction of our lives, but the journey of change is part of the human condition.
You will find fellow travelers who are equally committed to their goals for inner growth is you become more vulnerable and share your own experiences.
If you are looking for a tribe of these seekers, you can find plenty of like-minded people in Facebook groups, Meetups, and forums.
23. Love yourself right now.
Most of us wait to really love ourselves until we reach some self-improvement goal. I'll love myself once I lose twenty pounds. I'll love myself once I get promoted. I'll love myself once I find my soulmate.
If you wait for the perfect conditions, you'll never love yourself. We are all perfectly imperfect, and it's our imperfect selves that most need our own compassion, acceptance, and love.
Loving yourself involves accepting your perceived flaws and recognizing your value and worth as a unique human being.
24. Be a creator.
Do you give your power away by living as a reactor to life? Many of us do this because we're afraid of taking full responsibility for our lives.
We let others make decisions. We procrastinate until we're forced into a position. We take the path of least resistance, rather than forging our own paths.
Give up the title of the reactor, and become a creator of your life instead. Define your own personal operating system for life, find out what you feel passionate about, know what you want to achieve — and then go for it!
Take charge of your life, and you'll feel so much more empowered and inspired to achieve great things.
25. Be your authentic self.
We all become actors when we interact socially, or when we're in the business world. Your business self is different from your friend self and your family self.
But sometimes we adopt a persona in our personal and professional lives that is a mask, hiding our true selves.
Trying to maintain this mask is debilitating and soul-sucking. You have nothing to prove to anyone, and you should never have to pretend in order to win the respect, love, and acceptance of those around you.
If you so, then it's time to find a new tribe of people who see the value of you, just the way you are.
But being proactive and mindful of your own personal development goals can help you in two ways.
- First, it can reduce the potential suffering we experience during times of change — especially unexpected change.
- Also, it gives us better insight into ourselves and what we want for our lives so we can prepare for change.
We have dual citizenship in our personal worlds of the ego and inner self. And it's our sacred responsibility to nurture both of these worlds so we can unlock massive growth.
What personal development goals do you want to work on this year? Please share them in the comments below.