16 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Grow as a Person

Personal Growth is something that's always important, but especially so in today's hyper-competitive world. Everyone wants to become smarter, faster, more skilled, and overall better at life. Personal growth leads to more success and happiness in your career, finances, knowledge, relationships, and personal accomplishments.

Today, we’re going to look at 16 simple yet powerful ways to grow as a person. Doing these things will expand your mind and life.

1. Try a new activity

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

When's the last time you tried a new activity?

If you think back to it, I bet that during those moments you experienced tremendous personal growth. You felt new emotions, thought about new ideas, and perhaps even discovered a new part of yourself.

Doing new activities triggers different areas of your brain, opening your mind to new possibilities. This leads to new experiences and opportunities for happiness and success.

So go dance, sing, join a sport's club, attend a cool event, ride a camel, play a new game, drive a racecar, or climb a mountain... just try something new!

2. Take action

“The world isn't in your books and maps, it's out there.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

If there's something you want to do, take action and do it immediately.

  • Don't theorize about starting a business; start it now
  • Don't daydream about asking that cute guy or girl out; walk up and ask them now
  • Don't postpone traveling to an exotic destination; book it now

Taking action gives you real-world experiences and learnings that you can't get through thinking alone. Action is what gets you tangible results and contributes to your growth in the real world. You need action to actually build a life.

3. Do something really hard

"It's easy to play pretty well if you play hard. Things start working in your favor."
– Terry Rozier

One of the most powerful ways to grow personally is to do something really hard. It forces you to focus intensely and to push yourself both physically and mentally. That push raises your performance to new heights as your mind and body adapt to handle whatever you throw at them.

Make it a point to do really hard things that are outside your comfort zone.

  • Start a new business
  • Run a marathon
  • Meditate for 15 minutes each day

Once you do a hard thing enough times, it eventually becomes easy. You've raised your base level of performance and expanded your comfort zone. Hard things are now easy for you–that's a big competitive advantage.

4. Walk or drive a different route

"Not all those who wander are lost"
– J.R.R. Tolkien

An easy and inexpensive way to grow is to take a different route to get to your destination.

Most of us are always taking the same route to work, school, or a family member's home. But by taking a different route, you get to see a lot of new scenery.

When you do, you'll immediately notice that the new look has a totally different vibe and puts you in a different mood. You get new ideas, emotions, and a lot of energy. You'll feel so much more alive just by making that small shift in your route.

5. Visit a new country

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world”
– Mary Anne Radmacher

Visiting a new country is one of the biggest eye-openers you can ever experience. The people in that new country will often have a totally different culture, lifestyle, and mindset. Those differences create a beautiful opportunity for learning.

Travel to somewhere new, preferably to a place that has a totally different environment or culture. Get off the beaten path; explore the local area and chat with some of the friendly residents. See what you can learn from them and what their perspectives are. It's like transporting yourself to a different version of the same world, one that gives you a new understanding of life.

I recommend some of Anthony Bourdain's work for inspiration.

6. Read an older book

"A good book gets better on the second reading. A great book on the third. Any book not worth rereading isn't worth reading."
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Books are an incredible source of learning. Just think of it: a smart person has taken the time to thoroughly study a subject, become an expert in it, and then summarize their learnings in a book for you to read. You can get all of their knowledge without the hard work just by reading their book!

Old books are the best kind of books to read because they've stood up against the hardest benchmark there is: the test of time. They've been around for years as different people have read them, tested their ideas, even scrutinized them; and yet they're still here.

Old books also have the most timeless ideas. They're not selling the latest trend or hack and they're not marketing anything flashy. They typically focus on the most fundamental subjects: philosophy, strategy, how to live well, how to think well, love, and others.

If you're looking for great old books to read, check this out: The Best Old Books.

7. Read a book in a new category

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
– George R.R. Martin

While we're on the idea of reading books, try to read a book in a new category every once in a while.

By exposing yourself to new categories, you get to explore totally new areas of knowledge and new perspectives on the world. Having those different frameworks and lenses with which to understand life will give you more wide-ranging wisdom.

Some great categories to read include:

  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Strategy
  • Mental Models
  • Mastery
  • History
  • Finance
  • Biography
  • Creativity
  • Mindset
  • Essays

8. Talk to an expert

“Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you only take what is worth having.”
― George Clason

The best way to quickly learn any new subject is by talking to an expert, ideally the top person that you can find.

  • If you want to learn how to make money, talk to people who have actually made a lot of money
  • If you want to learn a martial art, go to the top school you can find and afford
  • If you want to learn how to cook, take instructions from the best cook

Experts are aware of what's important and what's not, which details to ignore, and what you should focus on. Having that knowledge will accelerate your learning as you'll know where to focus your efforts and how to easily correct your mistakes.

9. Attack one (or more) of your fears

"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."
– Babe Ruth

When you feel fear for something, you tend to avoid it because it makes you uncomfortable. But feeling fear is just your mind reacting to an unknown. You haven't experienced the thing yet so you don't know if it's as bad as you're imagining it to be. In fact, it could end up being the greatest thing you ever do.

If you find something scary, you should move toward it as quickly and directly as possible because it's a sign that it's a great direction for growth. By moving in the direction of your fears, you conquer your emotions and improve your mental strength. After a little while, the thing you used to fear won't be so scary anymore.

One of the key things in this process is to attack the fear quickly and aggressively. Hesitating allows the fear to creep back up and the longer you wait, the harder it gets to move. As soon as you feel the fear, get moving. Momentum will take you forward from there.

10. Break one of your records

"Don't worry about getting perfect, just keep getting better."
― Frank Peretti

Sometimes it's hard to accomplish a big goal because it's too abstract. Saying that you'll "start a business" or "get six-pack abs" sounds really nice, but those aren't concrete goals that you can accurately work towards. It helps to know precisely what you're aiming at. A great way to do that is by breaking one of your records.

Think about something you currently have a personal record in and try to beat it. It could be anything really:

  • Lift 5 pounds more in your next workout
  • Read in a book for 32 minutes instead of 30 tonight
  • Finish that work project in 3 days instead of 4

Having a quantifiable goal in the form of a personal record gives you a clear target to aim at. You don't have to beat around the bush trying to figure out your definition of success; you can get to work right away.

It doesn't have to be made overly difficult either. If you push yourself to beat your record by just a little bit on each attempt, then over time your growth will stack up tremendously.

11. Do something you've always wanted to do

"Life is long if you know how to use it."
– Seneca

We all have that one thing (or many things) on our bucket list that we've always wanted to do. It could be something fun like traveling to an exotic location or something more serious like writing a book. You know that it'll feel great once you finally check those things off your bucket list.

But life isn't going to wait until you're married or retired or have money or for everything to be totally perfect. The clock keeps on ticking and none of us are getting any younger. Even if you think that you'll have time later, why would you want to postpone such wonderful experiences?

Push yourself to do something you've always wanted to do on a regular basis. Write out a bucket list and set a goal to accomplish one item per month. That way, you're constantly having those fulfilling experiences that make like worth living.

12. Do a challenge

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
– T. S. Eliot

We often have our own self-limiting beliefs about how quickly something can be accomplished. People will that you that that "writing a book takes years" or "lifting 300 pounds will take you at least 6 months".

But you can accomplish your goals a lot faster. The limitations people speak of are just mental; there's no law or rule that says anything has to take long. In reality, you can finish something as fast as you want to.

Set challenges for yourself that have a fixed time limit:

  • Master holding a handstand for 30 seconds in 30 days
  • Read 25 books in one year
  • Write and publish a book in 90 days

Setting a time limit pushes your mind to figure out a way to accomplish the goal faster. Eventually, you'll grow accustomed to breaking through mental barriers and accomplishing what seems impossible to others.

13. Say hi to 50 random people

“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

It feels comfortable to stick with the same circle of friends throughout life. But we all know that meeting new people is the only way to make new friends. It's also one of the best ways to get new perspectives on life, be exposed to new experiences, and build your network.

Expand your life by saying hi to 50 random people. It can be anyone that you meet on your commute to work, in line at the grocery store, or between the shelves of your favorite book store. You don't need a goal for the conversation, just let it flow naturally and talk about whatever you feel like.

All you have to do to have a chance for a new lifelong friend is open up a conversation. Even if the encounter doesn't end up going that far, you'll have had a much more exciting day chatting people up than if you had just kept to yourself.

14. Say you're sorry to someone who deserves it

"The ability of a person to atone has always been the most remarkable of human features."
Leon Uris

Admitting when you're wrong or when you've hurt someone takes a lot of courage. You are voluntarily opening yourself up to judgment and scrutiny.

But saying that you're sorry is one of the most freeing and healing things you can do. It takes the weight off your shoulders and the stress out of your mind. You don't have to feel that pressure on yourself or the tension between you and the other person anymore.

The other person will also understand how much courage it took for you to say sorry; we're all human after all. You're both being brave going through this and you'll grow closer together as a result.

15. Say "I love you" to those closest to you

"What's wrong with sentimental? Sentimental means you like stuff."
Paul McCartney

Expressing your emotions is often seen as a sign of weakness by society... but it shouldn't be. It's really a sign of strength.

We're all humans and we all feel emotions. It's not something we should fear, but rather something we should cherish. And who better to cherish those feelings with than the ones you love?

When you say "I love you" to someone you will feel truly alive. It gives you energy and reminds you that love, and the happiness that comes from it, is really the only important thing in life.

16. Say "I don't know"

"If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed."
— Marcus Aurelius

Before you can gain any new knowledge in life, you must first admit that you don't know some things. There are two parts to this.

First, you must admit verbally to others that you don't know. That's the only way that the people you interact with will know that they should share their knowledge with you. Second, you must mentally admit to yourself that you don't know. That's the only way your mind will be genuinely open to learning new knowledge.

You have a limited time in your life, it's only natural that you'll have some knowledge gaps. The way to grow is to make a conscious effort to fill in those gaps and that starts with saying "I don't know."

Summary

  1. Try a new activity
  2. Take action
  3. Do something really hard
  4. Walk or drive a different route
  5. Visit a new country
  6. Read an older book
  7. Read a book in a new category
  8. Talk to an expert
  9. Attack one (or more) of your fears
  10. Break one of your records
  11. Do something you've always wanted to do
  12. Do a challenge
  13. Say hi to 50 random people
  14. Say you're sorry to someone who deserves it
  15. Say "I love you" to those closest to you
  16. Say "I don't know"

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