Monday, January 19, 2009

The BridgeMaker

The BridgeMaker

Three Ways to Jumpstart Your Personal Growth

Posted: 18 Jan 2009 11:23 PM CST

The most important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” - Charles DuBois

One definition of insanity goes something like this: Insanity - Continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This explanation of insanity can be also be used when you become frustrated with the quality and state of your life.

In order for growth to occur, you must first acknowledge what's not working and then be open to change. The acknowledgement can be the hardest to do because it forces you to admit you are unfulfilled, stuck, or just plain struggling.

This conscious recognition can bruise your ego and cause your confidence to wane a bit, but it is necessary to begin moving in the direction of what you want most. In order to move forward; to get jumpstarted, you must first have a solid foundation to step from in life. The following three personal growth strategies provide this foundation:

  • Stop doing what you've been doing that doesn't work.
  • Start doing more of what you know does work.
  • Try on things you've never done before to see if they work.

Stop doing what you've been doing that doesn't work.

Comfort can be your biggest obstacle to growth. When you get nestled down deep into your comfort zone you may become reluctant to break away because the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. Sometimes your own unhappiness is not even enough to inspire you to take the leap of faith and step into the fear that surrounds your comfort zone.

Take an honest look at your own life. Are you doing things you know don't work; but you keep doing them nonetheless because either you are too scared to try something new or you don't know any other way?

In my life, what keeps from growing into the person I really want to become is my constant need to please others. On a cognitive level, I know this is an impossible task. But on a visceral level, I just can't quite seem to help myself. It's impossible to make everyone happy. My attempts to do so only leave me frustrated and unfulfilled.

Review your relationships, health and career. Become centered and balanced with what you believe to be true and what you know you can't change. Put more energy into the things you can change and be willing to walk away from the things you cannot.

This will take courage and a deliberate choice to stop empowering the parts of your life which only suck the power from you and give nothing back in return. Keep some of the power for yourself. You will need it to sustain you in the growth period you are about to enter.


Start doing more of what you know does work.

When you stop and pay attention to what your inner wisdom is saying, you are seldom wrong. Just as you take an inventory of what isn't working in your life, pay attention to what is working, too.

Success is usually the result of doing some uncomfortable things at times. In order to grow, you must first learn how to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

In other words, taking the first step away from your comfort zone can be pretty unsettling. But, the more you do it, the more confident you will become. You will discover you will not die. Your confidence will grow as you build momentum with focusing on what is working – this will be the catalyst for future growth.

For me, I am learning when I set specific boundaries and clarify expectations then the less I feel obligated to have to please everybody. For example, I let my co-workers know what I have time to do and I tell my wife which of the household chores I feel I can get done on the weekends. This has been working for me; it's beginning to feel more comfortable, so I will continue to do more of the same.

Try on things you've never done before to see if they work.

In order to find the success and happiness you are looking for in life, you must be willing to take risks. Perhaps the most challenging oxymoron in life is in order to build self-confidence, you must first take risks. This is the "chicken or egg" theory applied to the science of personal development.

Similarly, you will only take a risk when you feel good; but the more you risk, the better you will feel. If adopted, this pattern becomes an upward spiraling cycle of success.

The road to learning how to become more self-confident and feeling comfortable with risk-taking is not meant to be travelled alone. In fact, it is virtually impossible to have self-confidence by yourself. You need to surround yourself with others who can be a positive influence in your life.

Learn to identify the nourishing people from the toxic people. Remove yourself from the people who steal your energy and cast doubt in your mind. Seek other people who know more than you do and ask them to mentor and coach you.

Give yourself permission to reach out and get involved with more people. It's OK is to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of growth.

Next Steps

The next steps involve making the choice to take the first step out of your comfort zone and toward the growth that is waiting for you. Give yourself plenty of grace and patience. Understand you may retreat back at times. But there is an incredible amount of value in your effort for trying.

Remember to move forward in life, you need a solid foundation underneath you. These three strategies for personal growth provide this structure; this roadmap. You're the pilot, though. Take charge, plot your course and breakthrough the fear and doubt that have holding you back for far too long. We are here to cheer for you and to help you whenever you ask.

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