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Personal growth isn’t always fun, enjoyable, or easy.
Which is why it’s easy to misinterpret the signs.
For instance, you might be going through some tough times right now, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t growing.
Or if things are going great for your right now, that’s not necessarily indicative of growth.
So, it’s good to acquaint yourself with the signs you’re growing. If you do, you will be better able to cope, deal, and work with them.
1. You Feel Inadequate
Growth isn’t all comfortable, and because it often begins with a personal realization about one’s blind spots, it’s easy to compare yourself to others who seem to have it all figured out.
Many people say writer Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People is commonsense. After reading it.
But you could read a book like that and think to yourself, “wow, I didn’t realize people’s names were so important to them – I can’t believe I haven’t been using their names in conversation more often.”
And so, by staring into the mirror, you begin to see areas where you could improve.
But it’s also easy to get caught up in the realm of what could have been if only you had access to this information sooner. And that, combined with comparison, can easily lead to a feeling of inadequacy.
Inadequacy isn’t inevitable, but so-called negative feelings are often an unavoidable part of the personal growth journey.
People often shirk personal growth simply because they don’t want to experience those kinds of feelings, but the instinct to protect yourself can end up hindering growth.
If you want to keep growing, you must be willing to face negative emotions.
2. You Feel Challenged
As your eyes open to new possibilities, you may begin to see where you have been playing it small.
Again, one could read a book like The Magic of Thinking Big by writer David J. Schwartz and think to themselves, “wow, that was so basic.”
But that’s the test of thinking big. If you can only see what’s written, and not the possibilities it's hinting at, you’re not thinking big enough.
An acorn doesn’t just turn into a tree. Eventually, it turns into a forest. That’s called depth of vision.
Either way, you could read The Magic of Thinking Big and think to yourself, “gosh, I didn’t realize that buying one expensive suit would be better than buying several cheap ones.”
Your thinking is being challenged. And that’s where growth happens.
You used to do things a certain way. And now you’re exploring the possibilities of doing those same things a different way.
If you feel challenged, that’s a solid sign that you are growing personally.
3. You Feel Dissatisfied
Dissatisfaction is another tell-tale sign that you’re growing personally.
As I’ve already shared, when you’re growing, there’s a good chance you’re becoming present to possibilities you’ve never been aware of before.
And, even though those possibilities can be exciting (more on this later), it’s also easy to feel discouraged. Especially if you end up comparing yourself to someone else who’s further down the road.
For once, you’re seeing the distance between where you are and where you want to be. And that distance might be much greater than originally anticipated.
But now that you know where you want to go, and where you know you can ultimately get to, feelings of dissatisfaction can easily set in.
And to get to where you want to go is going to require some work on your part. That can further exacerbate feelings of dissatisfaction.
I have often experienced feelings of dissatisfaction on my journey because my business was not where I wanted it to be.
As I looked to others who’d succeeded, I could see that more was available.
But just like that, comparison can end up spoiling the journey.
It’s okay to be dissatisfied with yourself. Just be sure to compare apples to apples – your current self to your past self.
4. You’re Starting to Think Differently
You may not immediately notice all the subtle shifts you’re making in your thinking, mindset, and even actions. But your friends and family will.
You may find yourself creating new routines, getting to bed and waking up earlier, engaging in meditation and exercise, making better use of your productive hours, and so forth.
Inevitably, there will be people around you who will say:
“What are you doing that for? Why are you putting so much effort into everything? There’s always more time.”
Even your significant other might begin to show signs of concern – “I feel like I don’t see you anymore.”
What’s important to realize is that you can’t unsee the possibilities you’ve already seen.
You’re thinking and living differently because there’s a gap you’re looking to close (the distance between where you are and where you want to be), and you want to be more intentional about everything you do in life.
Those around you will have to make their own choice about whether to grow with you, tolerate your growth, or fall away.
But if you stay with it, regardless of whatever discomfort you might experience, eventually the naysayers will leave you alone.
If others notice that you don’t think the way they think anymore, it’s a sure sign you’re growing.
5. You’re Excited About the Possibilities
It’s possible I’ve painted kind of a bleak picture of personal growth, but the reality is that it can be quite exciting.
Certainly, knowing the distance between where you are and where you want to be can be discouraging. But it can also be exciting.
Creating new routines, developing new habits, adopting new disciplines… Although rarely easy, approaching life in a new way can often be thrilling and rewarding.
When I started getting into personal development in 2007, I was so excited about following in the footsteps of the authors whose work I was reading, that in 2008, I started getting up at 6 AM daily.
Now, ultimately, I did not find this routine sustainable. I kept having to work on it.
I am the kind of guy that needs at least eight hours of sleep per night, so I accept that as fact and try to work everything else around it.
I also know that working all day long just isn’t in my blood, and my best work tends to happen in the first four to six hours of the day. If I’m still working after that, I’m probably nowhere near as effective.
But personal growth is a journey of self-discovery, and that is one of the rewards.
If you’re excited about the possibilities, there is an opportunity to grow, and it’s a good sign you’re embracing that opportunity too.
In summary, the five signs that you’re growing are:
- You feel inadequate
- You feel challenged
- You feel dissatisfied
- You’re starting to think differently
- You’re excited about the possibilities
Remember – growth often happens in the tough times, because it gives you a reason to grow.
When things are easy, you might not be growing as much. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the flow though.