Personal growth has always been extremely important to me. A few years ago, I defined my growth as being able to accomplish things that were tangible: a college degree, a job, a car, etc. While I’m extremely grateful for all of that I’ve earned and accomplished, my definition of what it means to truly grow as a person has changed significantly.
I want to reach my full potential in life. I think as humans, most of us do. For a while, I had no idea how to even go about starting to reach my full potential. Over time, I began to reflect on each area of my life and assess where I was and where I’d like to be. I started identifying steps I could take to grow and improve in some sort of fashion, and so far it’s been an extremely fulfilling journey. I like to document my progress, so it only feels right to share what I’ve done so far, and where I plan to go next.
Growing up, my mom played gospel music around the house and during most of our car rides anywhere around town. My grandfather was a preacher, so my family consistently attended church almost every week. Once I got to college, I stopped doing both. My faith was still present, but I was significantly less active in the church. I tried attending a few churches, but I couldn’t find one that was fitting for me. Finally, when I was living in Washington, D.C. a few years ago, I found a new church home and felt my relationship with God was getting back on track. I then moved back to my home state of North Carolina and found myself back at square one. I still want to be intentional with improving my relationship with God, so after I moved, I took some time to think about what I can be doing until I find a new church home.
Recently, in the past few months or so, I’ve started to listen to gospel music on my way into work. I feel much more positive before I begin to manage the hours of chaos and craziness to come. I don’t know very many new gospel songs, so I started by listening to a few albums my mom had when I was growing up.
I also fell off pretty bad with reading the Bible every night since moving. Since starting to be more intentional with listening to gospel music in the morning, I’ve made sure that I am also ending my day spending time with God. However, I’m not quite where I’d like to be spiritually, as I still have much more work to do.
And so, I have a few of my next steps ready to go:
- Something I’ve tried with friends in the past is a blessing jar. At the end of each day, I would write at least one blessing I received on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and then stick it in the jar. Not only would this end my day on a positive note, but I would also get to read about at least 365 blessings at the end of the year. With 2019 approaching, this is the perfect time for me to get started back up.
- I’m desperate to find another church home, but it may take more time and patience until I find another that fits me just right. I’ve been doing research and watching sermons online, and I’m very hopeful that I’ll find one soon.
I’m a pretty big slacker when it comes to exercising. I have had many moments where I’m not actively exercising at all and very few moments where I’ve worked out for a couple of months before falling off again.
A former friend of mine introduced me to the Nike Training Club back when I lived in Washington, D.C. When looking for ways to slowly get back into working out more consistently, I discovered that Nike Training Club has an app. The app is amazing! It gives me a list of workouts on a schedule. I can edit that schedule as needed, as well as change the intensity and length of the workout based on what I need/want on any given day. So far, working out consistently is going so much better than expected, and I’m really proud of myself.
I also tend to treat myself with eating whatever I want whenever I want, without thinking about any of the consequences certain foods have on my health. While I still believe in occasionally satisfying my food cravings, I’ve limited how many times I do this each week. I love to cook and I love to eat, so personally, part of my happiness is eating something satisfying. I’ve learned to become creative with what I’m eating, and am currently allowing myself to give in to any unhealthy cravings for two meals out of each week. My other meals are pre-planned so that they are more balanced. Meal planning/prepping has been my new go-to for a little over a year now!
- I get bored pretty easily, so I’ve been exploring exercise classes near my home. I’m working on setting a goal for how often I’ll try a new exercise or type of workout class that I haven’t before. It will also give me a chance to show off TYC Yogi pants to the world :) !
- I believe accountability partners are helpful in all areas of life, especially in this one, for me! I have a couple of people in mind that I’m hoping will work out with me sometimes and/or follow up with me regularly so I don’t slack off. Keeping my fingers crossed to solidify someone as my partner soon!
I’m a therapist, specifically in substance abuse at this moment. I enjoy being a therapist! I know there’s no other career path out there for me, at least right now. Being a therapist isn’t easy, however. I feel like I’ve learned how to disconnect from work and separate my work like from my home life. Some days, though, it’s really challenging to disconnect. Sometimes things happen at work or with my clients that take an emotional toll. In addition to my work, I also feel strongly about helping the people I care about in my personal life to the point where I overextend myself and don’t even realize it. On top of that, life happens, and I have my own emotional distress to cope with. Improving my emotional health has probably been the most challenging for me because I’m more focused on helping others.
Prayer has always been a good start for me when I’m going through emotional distress. I have to admit I don’t always start there, but I’m working on more quickly recognizing when I’m in distress so that I can get in the habit of making sure I begin with prayer. Whenever I get a small break in the day, I assess how I’m feeling in that moment, and say a quick prayer. One of my coworker friends sets an alarm at different times in the day to remind her to do this. I think this is great, and definitely something I’ll start doing to keep me on track throughout the day.
When I leave work, I’m working on using my drive home to breathe and start processing my day. Once I get home, I walk my dog. If I’m still struggling with processing the day, I’ll do one of the activities I enjoy the most: journaling, cooking, playing video games, binge-watching a new TV series, and sleeping. Most of the time, following this routine does the trick, but sometimes I need a little more. Figuring out what “more” is or means is what I’m currently working on.
No hard feelings to anyone I’ve lost, and I’m most certainly not saying that I’ve not been toxic to others, but a lot of the stress I was taking on was unnecessary because I was holding on to seasonal relationships as if they were supposed to last forever. As soon as I realized how unhappy I was around certain people, it made sense to me that letting go would only be more beneficial. I’ve eliminated toxic relationships, established relationships with positive people, and continue to build on new healthy relationships. I notice a significant difference in my life and overall satisfaction when I’m surrounded by positive people.
- I’ve tried therapy in the past, and it was extremely helpful in many ways. As a therapist myself, I know just how beneficial it can be to share your thoughts and feelings with someone who isn’t judgmental and gives healthy, but neutral feedback. Being vulnerable with someone you don’t know is never easy, so I’m working on finding someone I can trust and vibe with.
- Sometimes, doing nothing and taking a break from thoughts may also be helpful because sometimes we just need a break from everything. I haven’t quite learned how to completely stop my negative thoughts or just live in the present when I’ve been moving around and thinking nonstop all day. I plan to begin allowing 15 minutes of quiet time to myself daily to meditate and allow myself to just be.
Outside of working on my spiritual, physical, and emotional health, I am also constantly working on improving financially, professionally, socially, and mentally (more to come soon). This is mostly because I thrive and am the happiest when I feel like I am making progress. I plan to continue setting new objective goals for myself so that I can see my progress. I also plan to find new ways to celebrate my progress.
The most important thing I’ve learned while on my journey to self-improvement is to not set too many goals on myself at one time. I start with one or two goals at a time and focus on making those a good habit before I add any new goals. I’ve tried to improve in every area of my life all at the same time in the past and found that I became so overwhelmed with all I was trying to do, that it actually backfired and resulted in me giving up on all of it.
I think it’s okay to not have it all together in all areas. Slow progress is still progress, so I always strive to remember that as long as I’m working on myself in some way. Self-improvement is a process and a lifelong journey. It takes time to find things that are actually effective, and over time, the effectiveness may change.
I’d love to hear feedback about how some of you have worked to improve yourselves in these areas, as well as your experience if you’ve tried any of the activities I’ve mentioned. If you have any, please share and let me know your thoughts!