Happy New Year, Flourishing Fiercely readers! I hope you all had a chance to take some time off to relax and recharge as 2023 drew to a close. After taking stock of 2023 in my last post and spending a few posts prior to that focused on gratitude, I’m excited to turn attention to the topic of positive mindset and self-growth as we kick off 2024. Starting a new year often calls to mind one of my personal mottos: Never stop learning and never stop growing as a person.
But how do we put this into practice? How do we keep on our path of learning and growth as the year goes on, especially when it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of work, family, or other life responsibilities.
Making a commitment to personal development isn’t always easy or doesn’t always come naturally–but it’s definitely a worthwhile investment of your time and resources. Growing as a person doesn’t require a formal education or spending a lot of money on workshops by well-known experts. There are tons of ways to expand your mind and to become a more fulfilled person, the benefits of which are immense.
- Avoid Boredom. Boredom is one of the biggest contributors to the feeling of being stuck in a rut. Being bored is a symptom of a mind that is not fully engaged, and it can lead to complacency. The longer you remain unexcited about the life you’re living, the harder it can become to motivate yourself to look for ways to change. Instead, look for ways to stretch your comfort zone. Make a list of ways to do this. It can include new topics or skills you’d like to learn, types of people you’d be interested to meet, experiences that would delight you or something as simple as a different kind of food you want to try. Your list should include baby steps and large leaps. Start with the small stuff and work your way to bigger things or mix it up as the mood strikes.
- Expand Your Life. By remaining stuck in a rut, you’re limiting yourself. You’re missing out on new experiences, satisfying relationships and career fulfillment. Taking time to learn something about a topic of interest or about yourself expands your life through knowledge and opportunity. Each item you place on the list of steps you take toward self-growth adds a little more to your world. Perhaps it’s a new skill that can open up exciting job prospects or maybe it’s an encounter with a person who may become a trusted friend. It could also be an idea or concept that was previously unknown to you, but which could transform your entire belief system. You never know what wonderful things are out there if you choose to remain where you are. For me, connecting with other solopreneurs this year presents an exciting opportunity to learn from their experiences and explore potential collaborations that could open up new possibilities.
- Increase Creativity. Your creativity can become stagnant, even if you’re a person who likes to create, like an artist, singer, crafter or writer. Sometimes we simply find our creative outlets take a back burner while we are focused on other aspects of life. That’s fine, but it can be incredibly difficult to find your way back to creativity again when it’s been absent for a while. Even if creating has never been at the top of your list, you can benefit from adding a spark of imagination to your life. Setting aside specific time to read books or take classes on some form of artistry can inspire renewed interest in you. Simply deciding to add some new recipes to your usual menu choices can be enough to inspire a change in your outlook.
- Make Priorities. As you begin to explore various topics of personal development, you may start to notice that your priorities shift. Something in your exploration is likely to strike a chord and excite you enough that you want to dedicate more of your time to learning about it. This means you will be forced to step out of your current routine in order to make time for your new interest. This simple action can be the catalyst for additional changes to come.
- Gain Happiness. Through your exposure to novel ideas and information, you are bound to come across experiences, people and, hopefully, passions that may shift your worldview. You may begin to appreciate nonmaterial things more and begin to focus on the joy that comes from such riches.
These are all some good basic principles to guide our thinking, but let’s drill down a bit more into how to apply some of these elements to your self-growth plans more concretely.
Map out Your Self Growth Goals for the Coming Year
It’s amazing how many of us go through life on autopilot. When you don’t know what you specifically want from your life or which direction to go, you are probably just spinning your wheels and remaining stationary. If you want to progress and move forward, making a plan is crucial. A map known as a personal development plan can help you to organize your thoughts, view your strengths, clarify your desires and set goals to achieve them. Putting your thoughts and wishes into a formal plan and writing them out is an amazingly effective way of getting what you want. Use the following strategies to map out your self-growth goals for the coming year and watch your life begin to move on track. (Goal-setting is, of course, always a favorite topic of mine and if you’re looking for a quick refresher on how to help define and stay on track with your self-help goals, you can check out my blog series from last year covering the basics of getting started with goal-setting, maintaining motivation, creating accountability, and sticking with the work toward your goals as the year goes on.)
- Reasons for a Personal Development Plan. Writing a personal development plan just works. It’s definitely worth a try, even if you’re skeptical. Mapping out your goals and desires for life puts things into perspective. It gives you clarity regarding where you want to go within the next year. Starting with a year at a time is a good way to practice this mapping concept. You can later make a five or ten-year plan. As you’re developing your plan, you will begin to focus on the “why” of your goals. Keeping your motivation regularly in mind will push you further when you think about quitting or settling in life. Your personal development plan provides some structure in an uncertain world. You have a map for approaching each day, and you can mark your progress as you go along.
- About a Personal Development Plan. There are lots of different formats out there when it comes to setting up a personal development plan. Your plan should be unique to your lifestyle, needs and goals. You can include whatever you think is most important to focus on for the upcoming year. The goal is to develop a document that you can refer to for guidance as you traverse through your days. Your plan will serve to keep you on track and give you focus.
- What to Include in Your Plan. You can begin by creating a vision or an overview of what you’d like to achieve. This is more like a general mission statement, rather than one that includes specifics. Next, you’ll hone in on the details by writing down your areas of focus. Which parts of your life are most in need of change or do you want to see the greatest change? Write them down, along with what you hope to gain in each segment. List goals in each section. These are the things you wish to attain by year’s end. You can then lay out a tentative schedule for reaching each goal. This may require modification or tweaking as you go along, and that’s okay. You just need a rough guide to start. Basically, your personal development plan should include what you want to gain, why you want to attain these goals and how you plan to make them a reality. The way you structure your plan is entirely up to you.
Now’s the time you get to be creative. Set up your plan in any form you wish. It can be in a digital document or you can grab a journal or notebook to use. The important thing is that your plan resonates with you and is easily accessible for review and progress monitoring. Have fun with it, and enjoy seeing your dreams unfold.
If you need a little support and inspiration to get started on your goal-setting and personal development plan for 2024, I still have a few spots left in my Chart Your Course workshop in-person for my Chicagoland readers on Sunday, January 21st or coming up on January 25th or January 31st via Zoom. (And if you’re interested, but catching this blog post after those January dates have passed, don’t worry–I’ve got more workshops planned throughout the coming year, so stay tuned here or sign up to be notified by e-mail by downloading my free resource here to join my subscriber list.) In the meantime, I’m wishing you all a healthy, productive, and prosperous–however you define “prosperity,” whether it be financial, emotional, spiritual, or some combination of all those things–year ahead in 2024!