Why You Could Be Thwarting Your Personal Growth Without Realising It


It takes more than just procrastination and fear to derail you from your achieving your goals. While these are common reasons why people avoid seeking out opportunities for success, they’re also often indicative of a more underlying, flawed approach to personal growth.

What you think growth means, how to achieve it, and what sabotages it: these are all critical elements that determine how you choose to move towards growth. Procrastination and fear, in this context, are only surface symptoms of this.


If you’re serious about achieving your goals and constantly outdoing yourself, it’s imperative that reflect on your own perspectives of personal growth. To that end, here are four ways you could be thwarting your personal growth without even realising it.

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1. Starting with a scarcity mindset

In corporate contexts, the “growth mindset” and its fixed-minded counterpart often get most of the limelight. There is, however, an equally important mindset to achieving personal progress that’s less talked about: the scarcity mindset.

People who harbour such perspectives tend to believe that since resources are limited, there’s not enough room for everyone to be successful. Worse, they often perceive that each person only gets a certain number of tries at success, after which there’s little to no hope.


Consequently, their life choices and behaviour towards those around them are motivated primarily by the need for self-preservation; they tend to be just failure-avoidant instead of success-seeking. After all, when you think you have limited resources, risk is not something you’d want to toy with, even if it means giving up the chance for growth.

Needless to say, starting with a scarcity mindset is self-defeating. For one thing, you’ll be more prone to negative self-talk, rumination, and being weak-willed. Additionally, you’ll tend to get so preoccupied how far others have gotten at work and in life compared to you.

In other words, your successes will always seem to small to matter, and your failures will always seem too catastrophic to recover from.



2. Aiming for too many things at once


Having ambition isn’t something to be ashamed of, neither is it something you need to hide. That doesn’t mean, however, that aiming to achieve as many things as possible is necessarily the best strategy to adopt in goal-setting. Indeed, the path towards slow growth and stagnation is often paved with ambitious but easily distracted minds.


To achieve real, sustainable personal growth, it’s much better to focus on just a few things that you want to achieve. The more time, energy, and money you invest in one or two pursuits, the further you’ll go. On the other hand, spreading your resources across multiple interests and ambitions will (at best) make you a jack of all trades, but a master of none.



3. Trying to leave bad habits without replacing with them


One of the most critical cornerstones of growth is successfully changing your bad habits. Most people, though, approach this in the wrong way. The easy part is identifying which bad habits are holding you back from what you want to achieve. Then comes the need to thoroughly eliminate those habits from your life. This is where most people stop.


The hard part is the habit change itself. According to New York Times bestselling author Charles Duhigg, every habit has three components: a cue, a routine, and a reward. The reason we get so used to our habits is that we can’t get enough of the rewards; it’s what causes cravings and even addictions. Trying to change only the routine part of your habits is difficult because you’re working against yourself, more so than necessary.

Instead, scrutinise yourself and identify the particular reward that makes you keep coming back to your bad habits. Redirecting this reward towards other, more constructive habits can prove to be highly rewarding, and much more effective than simply telling yourself “stop! don’t do it” all the time.



4. Failing to factor enjoyment into the self-control equation


As much as we’d love for there to be a magic pill for instant, always-on motivation, there isn’t. The reality is that to achieve your goals, self-discipline is just as critical as motivation. So often, though, people regard self-discipline and enjoyment as mutually exclusive. The former invokes images of hardened military rigour, while the latter tends to be associated with castle-in-the-clouds thinking.


Research, however, has shown that people who are more self-disciplined aren’t predisposed towards it by genetics or disposition. Instead, they derive joy from practicing self-discipline because enjoy it. This implies that it’s crucial for you to inject enjoyment into the process as you exercise your self-discipline. It could mean, for example, that you should constantly find creative ways to engage with your work anew.

Alternatively, changing the way you view self-discipline is also essential. Instead of saying “I must do this”, you could tie it to your identity and leverage the power of self-direction. For example, you could say, “I’m going to do this because I’m in charge of my life and I’m creating a better future for myself.”


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