How To Start Your Personal Growth Journey

It’s a lot like playing Super Mario

If you're a 90s kid, you'll remember Super Mario.

I was 9 years old when I first tried the video game. Back then, we had these game cartridges that you'd hook up to the TV. We'd use these contraptions called 'joysticks' to control Mario's movements on screen.

Man, I loved that game!

I'd play for hours and never get tired of it.

At the end of each level, there was some kind of dragon to fight and a princess to save. Though to be fair, I simply wanted to outsmart those evil floaty enemy thingies (don't judge me)

All I wanted was to level up every time I played.

That was the appeal of the game for me. Plain and simple.

It was never about saving the princess from the evil villain.

(Part of this might be because the princess was always in another castle, but that's a story for another day)

Levelling up. That's the name of the game

Personal growth, like Super Mario, is about getting better and enjoying the process of becoming something more than you were yesterday. It's never about the end result, it's never about the princess in the castle, it's not even about the dragon you have to defeat at the end of each level.

When we think about self improvement and personal growth, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Everyone seems to be at the top of their game, crushing their goals and 'winning’. And here we are not fully understanding where we’re supposed to start.

Having been on a personal growth journey since 2016, I'd like to offer you a 5 step process to help you get started with your own personal growth journey.

Step 1: Take inventory

Look at your life, as objectively as you can. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? What did you wish you had more of? What do you wish you could eliminate? Maybe you're really good at your job, but you struggle with looking after your health. Maybe you want better personal relationships. Maybe you're good at one aspect of your job but want to learn a new skill. List it all out without judgement.

Step 2: Pick one thing you want to level up on.

Use the items you've listed out in Step 1 to pick out one thing that you've put off for far too long even though you've wanted it for a while. It could be, working out regularly, quitting a bad habit, making new friends that inspire you or even just getting out of a situation you don't want to be in. The one thing that scares you but is also something you know is good for you. Chances are you already know what it is as you're reading this. Write that down now!

Step 3: Make it personal

Too often we end up chasing goals because we want to look good to other people. If you're chasing that six pack to get attention, it's about vanity not personal growth. If you're exercising to build strength and improve your health, you're doing it for yourself, and this is what personal growth is meant for.

From Step 2, for the one goal you've picked out, write down why levelling up on this goal is good for you. Be as selfish as possible when you do this. No one else needs to know about this but you. It helps to think about what you could gain on a personal level from leveling up or even what you're losing if you don't level up.

Write down what is at stake for you and you alone - not even your family, just you.

Step 4: Get specific about what you're going to do every single day to level up

For the goal in step 3, write down something that's 'difficult but doable' that you can do every day. For example, working out for 20 mins every day when you've been sedentary for a few years sounds difficult, but it's still doable.

Cutting down on a certain number of cigarettes each day is also difficult if you're habituated, but it's doable. It's not impossible.

Write down numerically where possible what you're going to do each day to level up. Write it down where you can see it often - make it the wallpaper of your phone, stick it on a post-it note on your desk or even on your mirror.

Step 5: Play the game

When you've defined your levelling up game, you automatically become a player. Every waking moment is an opportunity to do your best.

And every day you follow the steps you've laid out in step 4, you're leveling up. You're winning on your own terms. And you're doing things you didn't think we're possible for you. Every day you 'play the game', put a nice little tick or a star on your calendar. Or write 'I Leveled up today' in a notebook to record your progress.

Pretty soon you'll be thinking of new aspects of your life to level up on. And before you know it, this becomes a way of life.

Just the way, Super Mario became something you enjoyed a little to a game you'll always love, personal growth becomes a part of who you are.

Personal growth has never been about putting on a show and posting happy pictures on social media.

It has always been about putting your faith in yourself so you can create a life that brings you the most joy and makes the most sense to you.

It only works when you look deep within yourself, even when it's uncomfortable. But the upside is, once you do, you'll put yourself on a path where the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.

Your journey awaits. What are you waiting for?

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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