The day has come.
You’ve decided to change your life for the better. You’re determined to advance toward your goals and to build habits in the process.
In short, you’ve boarded the personal development train.
Boarding the train, however, is the easy part. The challenge resides in staying on track.
Changing our mentality is only the first step toward achieving perceptible growth in the long haul.
So, how do we ensure constant refueling on our journey?
The answer lies in questioning various aspects of our evolution.
Whatever your endeavors, consistent follow-ups will pave the way to long-term success.
On this basis, here are 6 personal development questions to ask yourself regularly.
1. Are my short-term actions aligned with my long-term goals?
Take today and make a list of some of your actions. A missed a gym session? A new home-cooked recipe? A book you finished?
Look at the list and check whether today’s actions coincide with tomorrow’s goals.
Your missed gym session doesn’t further your fitness objectives. Your home-cooked meal, on the other hand, represents a small step toward becoming a better chef.
In that same vein, the book you finished is a triumph on the road to reading 50 books this year.
Personal growth is not an abstract concept but an accumulation of seemingly minor, goal-furthering deeds.
Every small step counts, and every short-term action should be useful in the broader context of your long-term targets.
2. Am I taking care of my mental and physical health?
No matter how hard you’re pursuing your quests, you shouldn’t disregard your mental and physical health.
Set a physical well-being routine. Force yourself to stick to that drill until it automates itself.
Even if you only manage two gym sessions a week, you’ll reap the fruits in a couple of months.
Personally, this didn’t pose a major challenge because I was a gym rat long before knowing the meaning of “personal growth.”
Mental wellbeing, per contra, was a different story.
Over the years, I became more and more intrigued by the supposed benefits of meditation, especially in the context of stress alleviation.
Thanks to countless hours of failed mediation attempts, I eventually got the hang of it.
Meditation and daily acts of mindfulness don’t work for everyone, but most people need some kind of mental wellness activities.
Be it reading, board games, or even video games, try to find a way of keeping your thoughts clean. Empty your mind every time your world is about to crumble.
Physical and mental well-being often go hand in hand.
Notwithstanding the type of activities, both are indispensable for personal development.
3. Am I surrounded by the right people?
“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” — Mark Twain
There is nothing more powerful than a pack of wolves looking after one another.
Whichever road you’re on, you’ll need supportive people around you.
It can be your family, your social circle, or your partner, but there is no point in trying to do everything alone.
The fact that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates spend time together says a lot about their understanding of “networking.”
Both are giants in their respective fields, and both understand that greatness needs to be surrounded by greatness to grow.
In this context, you don’t have to be a billionaire to grasp the importance of mentorship, support, and criticism.
This is why you should ask yourself every so often whether your social circle pushes you forward or holds you back.
Filtering out fruitless relationships is a tough job, but also necessary.
Even if you genuinely like that drinking buddy from college, chances are his never-ending party lifestyle might hinder your projects if you fail to define your priorities.
4. Am I taking on enough challenges?
“Life begins at the end of the comfort zone.” — Neale Donald Walsh
Challenges are the backbone of personal development. If you want to grow as a person, you need to take on new missions and callings at regular intervals.
They range from relatively simple acts like researching a topic to larger endeavors like learning a language.
Even the smallest of challenges — like gathering the courage to talk to your crush — will foster your personal development.
Ask yourself once a week: how many challenges — big or small — did I take on this week? If the answer is none, there might be room for improvement.
5. What do I fear?
Fear is an essential part of the human condition.
We all have our anxieties and periods of unease. Many people are ashamed of these. However, instead of sweeping our fears under the carpet, we ought to embrace them.
By questioning what we fear, we obtain the courage to analyze those fears. This contemplation is ultimately the best way to overcome our fears and to turn them into assets.
In my teens, I was always afraid of public speaking. I declined an opportunity to speak at an embassy about a philanthropic project I had done in Mexico.
I am too nervous for this. I won’t be able to get three straight sentences out of my mouth. Or so I thought.
After countless mandatory presentations in school, I realized that I was actually pretty good at public speaking.
I also began to understand that it wasn’t the nervousness, the stuttering, or the content of my speech that I feared. It was a potential reaction.
My ability to speak publicly didn’t influence my fear. Its root lay in the negative feedback I might receive.
Once I had gotten to that conclusion, I decided to change my strategy.
I wouldn’t care about the reaction. I would solely focus on getting my speech right. I would concentrate my efforts on the part that I could actually influence.
A couple of years later, I was invited by a small think tank to talk about an NGO I had participated in.
There were around 50 people, most of them in their 60s. In the weeks leading up to the gig, I spent ages fine-tuning the presentation.
My apprehension hadn’t faded away, but once I got to the building, I knew that I had done my part.
If the audience doesn’t like my presentation, it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t have done any better.
Needless to say, the think tank loved my presentation. Cheers and claps went around the room, and I felt a combination of pride and relief.
I had overcome a specific fear by identifying its root.
6. Is there enough peace, fun, and love in my life?
“Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead.” ― Hans Christian Andersen
Most of us are chasing some kind of dream. We all want more freedom, more money, more power, and more satisfaction.
However, throughout all of our undertakings, we shouldn’t forget to slow down and enjoy the ride from time to time.
The destination isn’t worth the trouble if there’s no fun in the journey.
The same goes for love and peace.
I am sure you are staying up late and working like a madman to turn your dreams into reality.
Your fingers hurt from typing all day long. Your brain feels like it’s about to explode because you’ve consumed so much knowledge to feed your ambitions.
And I am all for it. There is nothing more satisfying than working hard toward a goal and getting measurable results.
Nevertheless, we sometimes need to take a step back and ask ourselves whether we spend enough time with our loved ones, whether we are at peace with the world and ourselves, and whether we’re having fun.
This might be the most critical personal growth question to ask yourself.
Personal development is about growing into the best version of yourself, not the most efficient machine.
On this basis, don’t forget to take days off. Don’t omit to spoil your significant other with romantic gestures. Especially in times of trouble, be sure to stay in touch with your family.
Personal growth is a fantastic roller coast ride.
The only thing left to say is that you should be the rider — the one who enjoys the journey, not the carriage — the one who simply keeps on moving without ever getting off.