You’re blessed to see another year – don’t take it for granted! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with riding in the “New Year, New Beginnings” bandwagon and letting the crispness of the New Year provide the momentum needed to make adjustments to your life.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be the same girl I was last year. Sure I made strides and tried new things, but as Robert Sharma cautions, “Don’t live the same life 75 times and call it a life.”
It’s time to turn the growth knob of my life a few notches up.
If you’re like me and are ready to make strides in your personal development journey, here are some suggested ways to accomplish that this year:
As the African saying goes “He who does not travel thinks his mother’s cooking is the best.” Being stuck in one place narrows your view point and stunts growth. Get out there and see for yourself how different yet similar human beings are. Have conversations with new people and see the world from their vantage point. Venture into new environments, indulge your palette in new cuisine and dance without a care to a song whose words you don’t understand.
This kind of experience stimulates your brain and makes you feel ALIVE.
You’ll also find that travelling reveals new traits about you – are you as courageous as you think you are? Mhhh…perhaps if you visit a remote village in Jamaica and try to cross a river barefooted on a rope bridge you’ll discover that you’re not that courageous after all.
Travelling does not have to be exotic or expensive. Look for deals online or with travel agents, schedule your trips during low seasons and plan ahead if you need to put some money away. Of course you can always do the spontaneous thing and simply load up the kids, friends or family members in a car then drive to the next State or town. You’re guaranteed to find something new to do there, even if just a stroll down unfamiliar streets or hiking a new forest.
Being outside of your normal environment compels you to try new things – and that’s where growth happens because as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Read.. or Read MORE
Did you hear the latest News? Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s Resolution is to start a Book Club. He will read a new book every other week.
There’s no doubt that reading books makes you smarter and more knowledgeable as Zuckerberg himself points out, “I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.” But let’s be honest – most of us are so over-stimulated by Social Media, Online Gaming and sensationalized Entertainment News that it has become virtually impossible to focus long enough to read a book in its entirety. Challenge your mind this year to find your Dopamine Fix in books instead. It’s possible! Shift your media diet towards reading and inside those books you’ll find new vocabulary, new knowledge and even an increased, more robust imagination.
Don’t have enough money to plan a trip? Travel through books! Set your mind loose and allow a book to transport you through the social history of the medieval era, let is reward your patience with an imaginary stroll around the countryside castles of Scotland and be a window into exotic adventures in Belize. And you can accomplish all of that for less than $20
And don’t forget – reading can help you grow professionally as well.
Reading helps you reduce stress. Reading helps you escape. Reading can even help you heal from a personal tragedy. And when these things happen, you GROW.
Self development is a journey of self-discovery, and various aspects of spirituality or religion can help you along that journey. My co-host, Rachel, pointed out in our first episode of Let’s Talk that the teachings of the Bible often help her discover new ways of dealing with life’s challenges, dealing with friends and with her kids. The Scripture also encourages people to strive for improvement and aim for greater accomplishment, in other words it challenges you to GROW.
An aspect of spirituality that’s been helping me tremendously is self-reflection – having some quiet time everyday to practice gratitude, relaxation and listen to my inner voice. I love these moments because it is then that I get the ‘Aha!” moments of inspirations. And we all know that an “Aha!” moment means you’re on your way to some serious growth. It’s true that getting your mind to stop racing is hard, especially when you have a family or dependents to provide for. If you’re struggling to relax, mediation can help you learn how to keep your mind quiet and at peace, if only for a moment.
By allowing yourself to be distracted all the time, you’re taking away from your own creative potential.
Network & Forge Good Friendships:
What kind of friends and acquaintances do you currently keep in your circle? Networking with people who have the same mindset as you do can be inspiring especially someone who has already succeeded in doing what you’re seeking to accomplish yourself. It’s a visual confirmation that your goal is achievable. People who understand your journey, your goals and your vision will make everything seem possible and within reach. You know they are valuable when they are not threatened by the possibility of your success and the size of your dream.
A word of caution here though – having a mentor and comparing yourself to other people are two totally different concepts. A mentor encourages & inspires positive energy while comparing yourself to others only leaves you feeling inadequate. Seek mentorship not comparison and you’ll grow.
Volunteerism / Community Service:
There was a time when I believed that you had to be rich to give back. Of course this is not true as there are so many ways to contribute to your community other than monetary donations. Nowadays I focus more on doing small things that can make a difference for someone. When my Gas Company asks if I want to “round up my bill for the homeless” I say yes! When the grocery store clerk asks if I want to give 2, 3 or 5 dollars for March of Dimes I say yes. I try to put whatever I can in jars set up at cash registers and give some to the Salvation Army folks who stand by the door and ring bells during the holidays. I also try to focus on charitable organizations when I register for my 5K and 10K Races.
One thing I haven’t been able to do thus far is volunteer work which is still in my bucket list. I would love to get involved in feeding the homeless with organizations such as Hosea Feed The Hungry. I did some volunteer work years ago in college at the Cotollengo Sisters Orphanage home in Nairobi and also at Kibera Slums. The experience of serving people who are less fortunate gives you a sense of purpose for a long time and helps you grow tremendously as a person.
Psychologists sometimes recommend doing charity or volunteering as a remedy for depression and stress relief, because it helps you shift your focus from yourself to others.
Volunteering will also introduce you to new challenges that you may not encounter in your daily life. Having to come up with solutions for those challenges will send you on a new path of development. How fulfilling is it to have a chance to make a long-time impact on your community?
Do you hate feeling like you’re just “sitting around doing nothing?” I do, sometimes. We don’t have to occupy all of our leisure time with activity, but exploring an interest you have outside of your normal work can help you grow. For me it’s writing. For some it’s knitting, fixing cars, scrapbooking, exercising, archery, gardening, golfing, photography, hunting, antiquing, bird watching et cetera.
We often vilify the internet but when used correctly it’s full of invaluable information. There are new DIY websites sprouting almost daily that can help you enhance your God-given talent or interest. Doesn’t Pinterest make you feel like you could create anything? And aren’t there thousands of video tutorials on just about any subject on YouTube? Nothing gives you more pride than admiring something you’ve built from scratch using your creativity. The process can truly be a source of personal enrichment.
Pursuing a recreational hobby forces you to stretch your imagination. Sometimes it forces you to learn a new technique. You may be amazed at what your mind is capable of conjuring up when nudged. Test your brain and see where it’ll take you. Some people have pursued their hobbies so intensely they turn them into a way to make a living.
Self improvement is a journey with no end. The idea is to live the journey passionately, allowing yourself to be fully engaged and open to new ideas. And of course, don’t forget to make it fun!
“If you’re not growing you’re dying” So stop mark timing and have a growth spout this year!