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5 things that are slowing down your personal development journey

During your personal development growth journey, you will have seasons when you feel like you are not making as much progress as you want. How do you consistently stay motivated and power during those seasons? In this article, I’ll go through the top 5 reasons why your self-development growth might not be progressing as fast as you want.

1.Perfectionism

It’s understandable to want things to be perfect, where everything works according to plan. I am a big believer in doing everything you can and having high expectations of yourself. That said, there is a great difference between healthy striving and perfectionism.

According to Psychology Today, perfectionism is “a personality trait characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

So how is perfectionism slowing down your growth?

  1. You become overly judgmental and critical of others and this negatively affects your relationships
  2. It negatively impacts behaviour by making you defensive to suggestions from others rather than being open-minded.
  3. It affects your general well-being by causing you to worry about small mistakes and cause unnecessary stress.
  4. It causes you to unnecessarily waste time striving for an absolutely perfect result. You are constantly wrapped up in activities that do not truly matter or make a big difference in your long term goals.
  5. It’s the mother of procrastination, as you wait for just the right moment and conditions to start working on yourself.
  6. Your focus on an all-or-nothing mindset will paralyse from making any meaningful progress or completing what you started.
  7. It ties down your identity and self-worth to your accomplishments. As a human being, you are worthy regardless of your achievements and failures. You will increasingly develop self-hating by reinforcing a limiting belief of “not being good enough.”
  8. It ultimately derails you from your true path and purpose.

So, now that you see how perfectionism is stifling of your progress, what do you do about this? I’ll be sharing a detailed article on this topic but for now, here is a brief rundown of the key highlights.

  • Reevaluate your standards.
  • Create more realistic personal goals and expectations.
  • Pay attention to your self-talk aka your inner critic. You will have voices telling you the that “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” or “Don’t be lazy” etc
  • Learn and practise saying no more often.
  • Rather than having a fixed mind of how things should be done, adopt a mindset of experimentation. Try different things and see what works.

Here are your mantras to write on your wall and keep reminding yourself over and over: 

  • “Done is better than perfect”
  • “Execution beats perfection”

2. Not taking action

You can study as many books, blogs, podcasts and courses as you like but if you don’t take the time to implement what you are learning, you will never fully release the value of the learning or see real growth in your life. Unfortunately, our mind plays this silly trick on us where we can think we’ve acquired the skill just by being exposed to the knowledge. Here’s what I mean, have you ever completed a course only to go back a few months later and realise you can’t remember much of the stuff you learnt. Why is that? Rather than put your new skills into practice, you moved on to the next thing. I can’t blame you, we are living in the information age and there are more things to learn than we can consume in our lifetime.

So how do you become an action taker:

  • Make a clear plan of the skills you want to learn and areas you want to change. 
  • Engage with advice or learning content actively.
    • Make notes on what you are learning.
    • Completed the “homework” or exercises if any…please don’t skip this step
  • Make a list of what you are going to work on next and add that into your calendar.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Whether possible, add consequences for inaction or enlist accountability from someone your trust.

Here is a simple hack that is currently working for me:

  • For every area of personal growth, pick just one mentor, teacher or guru you want to learn from (just one a time).
  • Implement what you’ve learnt before picking the next resource/teacher.

3.Denial

I am all for positive thinking. It’s an essential part of your personal growth progress. That said just being positive does not mean that your fears, insecurities, limiting beliefs, bad habits and challenges will magically disappear. Just chanting “I’m happy, I am wealthy, I am rich” over and over doesn’t mean this is going to materialise. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about what is actually going on in your life. If you can’t face it, you cant change it.

Here are a few ways I see denial popping up.

  • Denial of the existence of a problem. You can choose to completely ignore a situation and hope it goes away.
  • You are minimising the significance or severity of a situation. E.g. The smoker who says “I smoke sometimes but I can quit if I want to”. The point is, you are a smoker.
  • You deny the possibility of change even if you acknowledge that there is a problem e.g. using statements like “I was born this way”, “that’s my culture” etc etc.

Confronting denial means going to some really dark places at times. It will stir up a lot of negative feelings that you don’t want to experience. Unless if you are willing to honestly see things as they really are, you do not have a chance of making real change. Remember the current state does not define you, you are only digging into it so you can establish a good baseline to build from.

4.Overanalysing and overcomplicating

There is nothing wrong with anticipating possible challenges and risks on your journey and putting plans in place. The dark side of this is overanalysing. Do you find yourself worrying and overanalysing things? You find your mind creating problems, scenarios, storylines, anxiety and other undesirable things out of thin air.  We tend to overthink and overanalyse because:

  • We are feeling anxious or stressed about the outcome.
  • We are listening to your inner voice aka the inner critical I alluded to earlier.

Here are some of the strategies I’ve found useful for dealing with overthinking

  • Constantly challenging your thoughts so that you can easily notice and eliminate negative thoughts before your mind goes on a frenzy.
  • Keep your focus on active problem solving rather than dwelling on the possible problems.
  • Have a sounding board who can provide unbiased feedback and perspective.
  • Writing your thoughts also helps.

The consequence of overthinking is overcomplicating. You are making things harder than they need to be. No wonder you are chasing your tail trying to get things done or create new changes but always feeling overwhelmed and under accomplished.  

Because of my technical background, I am very prone to overcomplicating things. Here are my go-to strategies for keeping overcomplicating at bay:

  • As yourself, “What is the Minimum Viable Commitment“?
    What is the least amount of commitment and effort I need to put in place to get to my goals faster? In some cases, you’ll realise that you don’t need all the extra effort.
  • Setting realistic goals and expectations.
  • Focusing on what is within your control and influence.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others. We all have different skills, resources, backgrounds, motivation, visions and goals.

5.Your health and fitness. 

While I am not an expert on health and fitness, I can tell you from personal experience focusing on your health has dramatic changes in your personal growth. The more effort I’ve put in improving my diet, exercise and general wellbeing, the more I have more physical energy, emotional and mental clarity to pursue my personal growth.

6.Bonus tip: You are trying to do too many things all at once

Here is what often happens, you read a great book, watch a video, attend a conference or go through a life-changing event that gives epiphany that you need to change. You now want to start dieting, exercising 2 hours a day, meditating 3 times a day and a whole bunch of other changes.  Before you realise it, you lose motivation and go back to your old self. 

Personal growth is not a project or one-off event, it’s a lifestyle.  Growth is not always linear, sometimes we take 5 steps forward and take 2 steps backwards but over time, we get to our goal.

Rolling out new habits take time. I strongly recommend reading the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear for a comprehensive understanding of how to approach habit change.

How to Stay Motivated When Personal Growth Is Slow

  1. Set realistic expectations.
    Growth takes time and might requires more of you that you think. Taking shortcuts is the quickest way to fail.
  2. Don’t do it alone.
    Having supportive, positive people to cheer you on is key to staying motivated and being able to push through obstacles
  3. Be kind and patient with yourself.
  4. Be honest and accountable 
  5. Celebrate the little milestones.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the key things that can slow down your growth are:

  • Perfectionism.
  • Not being an action taker.
  • Being in denial  
  • Over Analyzing and overcomplicating.
  • Your health and fitness 
  • Trying to do too many things at once.

I’m keen to know, which one resonates the most and what are some of the challenges you have faced with your personal growth. Please post in the comments below

John Kiama

On this site, I share everything I've learnt (and still learning) from my personal and business growth. Hopefully, my life lesson can help can get to your goals faster, without making the same mistakes I’ve made.

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