The most beautiful and most unifying thing about life is that we are all on this earth with the same (but individually unique) purpose – to grow and become the best version of ourselves. But in this rat race of an age we live in, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “self-growth” means “career-growth”.

The truth is, your career doesn’t necessarily dictate how much you’ve grown as a person. Often, we find the most self-growth outside of work and school. I know I certainly have. I truly believe that if we reframe our minds to focus on our own self-growth over career-growth, the world would be a very different place.

These are my five favourite strategies for fueling my own self-growth, and trust me, none of them require meeting strict deadlines at work or finishing any school assignments!

Travel somewhere new – ideally for longer than a month

If you’ve ever travelled anywhere for an extended period of time, you’re no stranger to the serious amount of growth that comes with it. Travelling forces you to start from zero in a completely new environment – whether that’s a new city, province, or country. And with that comes a ton of life lessons.

When I moved to Scotland, every single day brought new opportunities to expand, develop, and just learn about myself in ways that I never would have if I stayed back home in Ontario.

We’re extremely fortunate to be living in an era where travel has become so accessible. Taking a gap year (let’s be honest – gap years) is becoming the norm among our generation.

But if travelling for an extended period of time just isn’t financially possible for you (trust me, I get it), short-term is your next best option. Go on a week-long Contiki trip to Brazil…or Greece…or Vietnam! The world – and an undiscovered part of yourself – awaits!

 

Get outside of your comfort zone (and stop being self-conscious about it!)

If you love belly dancing, but you’re way too nervous to sign up for classes, sign up for them anyway. The fear of having people judge you is holding you back from being your authentic self.

My life opened up in so many extraordinary ways when I finally realized that strangers do not care.

I guarantee that when you’re on the dancefloor shimmying your stuff, everyone else is too busy worrying about how they look to care at all about you!

There are so many daily practices you can do to get your comfort zone walls tumbling down.

Go to a bar alone. Go to the movies alone. Strike up a conversation with that cute Italian barista. Get lost in a new (and perhaps a bit eclectic) neighbourhood. Go to a palm reader. Send a message to that boyfriend who broke your heart in grade 10.

When you start doing things that push you outside of your comfort zone, over time you’ll get more comfortable with it. And once you’re comfortable feeling a bit uncomfortable, a world of possibilities opens up to you!

Re-awaken your inner child

Many of us who have passed the threshold from childhood to adulthood are in a constant state of mourning for our inner child.

We may not realize it consciously, but deep down we all yearn for a missing part of ourselves – the part that was more free, more creative, more imaginative, more playful, and more open to life.

As we age, we often lose touch with our inner child. This may manifest in a number of ways, including (but not limited to):

  • Having a pessimistic outlook on life; never really feeling excited about things
  • Conforming to what everyone else is doing even when you really don’t want to (a wardrobe full of grey and black when your favourite colours are pink and green)
  • Feeling overly anxious and self-conscious around people (“What are they saying about me? What do they think of me?”)
  • A paintbox full of untouched paints
  • A bookshelf full of unread books
  • A forgotten hobby
  • A forgotten passion
  • A forgotten backyard

If any of this sounds like you, don’t worry. You can re-awaken your inner child by doing a bit of mental time-travelling and getting back in touch with the things that made you light up when you were young.

And once you do, you’ll discover a beautiful, long-forgotten side of yourself you didn’t realize how much you were missing.

Journal every day

When it comes to self-growth, journaling is the equivalent to breathing.

Every morning when you wake up, write as many pages as you can of stream of consciousness style writing.

When we write without thinking too much about it, what we’re really doing is getting in contact with our higher self (our soul).

The magical thing about stream of consciousness journaling is that all you have to do is show up on the page and your soul will do the rest. It may sound a little bit cheesy, but before you mock it, try it.

I promise you that through the physical act of writing, insights will begin to bubble up inside of you and flood out onto the page – insights into what you’re truly thinking and feeling.

After a few months, it’s amazing to look back at older entries to see how much you’ve grown through the pages.

Listen, listen, listen – to everyone and everything

Make a deal with yourself. Instead of thinking “I already know this”, instead ask “what can I learn from this?”.

This simple way of reframing your mind can have a radical impact on your personal growth.

Once you approach the world with an open mind and an open ear, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of learning something new every day and exposing yourself to new perspectives that may change the way you think about life.

Listening to podcasts and reading books are two of my favourite tools for learning something new, so I always have a book in my bag and a couple good podcasts downloaded on my phone.

Ted Talks are another fantastic resource for expanding yourself and exploring new ways of thinking.

But sometimes, even just talking to a stranger at a bar, or a party, or even a bus stop can expose you to eye-opening new perspectives.

Everyone has their own story to share, and we can all learn from a good story. Try treating everyone you meet like your guru and see what unexpected insights you discover.

***

I continue to use these five strategies to grow and expand myself each and every day. I hope that you too will benefit from them as much as I do!

I wish you good luck on your journey – remember I’m right there with you.

Natalie Burns-Holland

Natalie Burns-Holland

Content Creator at Mindaya

Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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