What Is Personal Growth & Why Is It Important?
By Danielle Boland, LCSW on November 3rd, 2021
Personal growth is the desire to become an improved version of oneself. This process occurs over time and aims to enhance personal performance using a combination of techniques to reach an individual goal. Personal growth is a solo journey that measures success differently for everyone. It has no set end date: many people continue their improvement indefinitely.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. People have an instinctual need to evolve, driving them to improve their individual skills to keep up. Continued growth throughout life is important for healthy functioning. This is where working towards personal growth comes into play.
At a Glance
- People may focus on different areas for personal growth, including their health, relationships, careers or lifestyle.
- Creating a personal growth plan involves deciding where you want to improve, developing strategies to address that area, considering barriers to improvement and setting a length of time to reach the goal.
- Setbacks are a normal part of the journey to personal growth, so consider how you’ll cope with them and keep going.
What Are the Areas of Personal Growth?
Personal growth can occur in many different aspects of life. The most commonly looked at areas of personal growth and development are:
- Professional: improving in the workplace or working towards career goals
- Spiritual: increasing a personal faith-based, religious or spiritual practice
- Interpersonal: improving professional, romantic or friend relationships
- Communication: increasing the understanding and delivery of verbal or written communication
- Emotional and Mental Health: creating boundaries that support a healthier mental and emotional health
- Physical Health: improving habits surrounding diet, exercise, sleep, etc.
- Education: working towards a higher degree of education or improving a skill set
- Lifestyle/Habits: working on positive and negative habits for overall improved well-being (drinking less alcohol, stopping drug use or smoking, taking more walks, reading more books)
This list is not all-inclusive as personal growth goals are different for everyone.
How To Create a Personal Growth Plan
Creating a personalized growth plan should begin by evaluating the main areas of life. During this step, decide which aspects you’d like to improve. For example, if you have been feeling tired when you wake up and want to have more energy throughout the day, you’d want to create a plan to improve sleep habits. Once the area or areas of improvement have been identified, a plan can be created to reach your personal goals.
A sample of steps to achieve better sleep:
- Going to sleep earlier
- Less screen time before bed
- Meditation before bed
- Exercising to help promote fatigue at night
It is also important to identify any barriers that may impact reaching your goal. Working overnight for a job or having a young child who wakes up often during the night could be barriers to reaching improved sleep. Barriers do not mean it is impossible to reach a goal, but they are areas to keep in mind when creating a personal growth plan.
After identifying your next steps, set a length of time to reach the goal. For improved sleep, track sleep habits for 30 days and keep a record of any fatigue throughout the day. This will show which tactics are helpful in reaching your goal.
Use these steps to create a personal growth plan:
- Evaluate areas to improve.
- Identify barriers to reaching the goal.
- Create a plan of actionable items to reach the goal.
- Set a length of time to reach the goal.
- Repeat steps one to four until the goal is achieved.
The process of creating a personal growth plan is not set in stone. It’s meant to be changed as goals change. The important part of creating a personal growth plan is to constantly evaluate if the steps being taken align with the bigger picture of your personal growth and success.
30-Day Personal Development Challenge
Over the next 30 days, use these recommendations and aim to complete one task per day during the journey of personal growth:
- Set small, obtainable goals
- Get an accountability buddy
- Reward yourself
- Focus on the big picture
- Be patient
- Take breaks
- Re-evaluate the plan when needed
- Ask for help
- Keep a journal
- Reflect on progress
- Expand your comfort zone
- Read more
- Create a daily to-do list
- Set blocks of time dedicated to tasks
- Reduce screen time
- Find a mentor
- Join a group related to the goal
- Organize your workspace
- Create a daily routine
- Practice time management
- Remember your “why”
- Plan for setbacks
- Listen to motivational podcasts
- Set up a calendar to support the timeline
- Find others with a mutual goal
- Practice positive affirmations
- Reduce negative self-talk
- Keep setting new goals
- Be flexible
- Celebrate successes
Setbacks on the path to a personal goal can be an unpleasant but inevitable part of the process. The goal is to not become discouraged by the occasional setback in progress. Ways to help cope with a setback are:
- Expecting setbacks will happen
- Practicing patience, not perfection
- Maintaining a positive attitude
- Setting up a strong support system
- Focusing on overall progress
- Using setbacks as learning opportunities
What Resources Are Available to Me?
If you’re looking for an easy way to access tools that can help support a personal growth journey, the Nobu app can be a good place to start. This free-to-use app has plenty of resources, including mindfulness tools, mental health lessons, journaling and goal-tracking. For an added fee, you can also use the app to connect with a licensed therapist to further enhance your personal growth journey.
Edited by – Melissa Carmona
As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Melissa is a Florida State University graduate… Read more.
Written by – Danielle Boland, LCSW
Danielle is a licensed clinical social worker, currently living and practicing in central Connecticut. Danielle graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a Masters of Social Work, and always had the goal of opening her own private practice. She specializes in women’s issues, maternal health and postpartum mental health.
Medically Reviewed by – Dr. Angela Phillips
Angela is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, and has worked in public, private, government, and not-for-profit organizations, across clinical and research-oriented roles. Angela’s clinical and research experience has included suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral… Read more.
- Apple, K. Daniel, Ellis, Wade Jr., Jain, Chaya R. “What is Self-Growth?” International Journal of Process Education, June 2015. Accessed October 12, 2021.
- Borowa, D., Kossakowska, M.M., Harmon, K.A. et al. “Personal growth initiative’s relation to life meaning and satisfaction in a polish sample.” Current Psychology, May 9, 2018. Accessed October 12, 2021.
- McLeod, S. A . “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” Simply Psychology, March 20, 2020. Accessed October 12, 2021.