We live in a culture that is both incredibly selfish and effortlessly selfless.

All too often we are caught at odds with acting selfishly or selflessly, begging the complicated question: Is it better to act selflessly by thinking of others or is it in our best interest to think selfishly of only ourselves? Our society encourages selfless acts. Volunteer programs such as community service, town suppers, animal shelters, nursing homes, and educational groups invite people to donate their time, money, and resources in an effort to aid community groups. Schools implement community service projects to encourage students to make a positive impact by giving back to the community. Towns and cities host open dinners to the hungry. Our culture influences us to give back to those in need because it’s the right thing to do.

While this train of thought appears harmless and generous on the surface, sometimes we forget to think of our own growth and neglect to put ourselves first. As selfish as taking a hiatus from being selfless sounds, it could be the very best thing. By acting selfishly and focusing on your own personal growth you are making yourself your first priority. You hold yourself accountable for making good decisions, pursuing your goals, and making your own growth the core component of your life. Bettering yourself first is a selfless act for you! Changing our perception is key when making yourself your first priority. As opposed to thinking you’re being selfish by putting yourself first, use this time to care for your own personal growth as you would for others. That’s a selfless act all on its own!

Bettering yourself first requires you to define the areas you would like to see yourself grow in. Do you want to become a better writer? A more voracious reader? An aggressive team member gifted with leadership qualities? Would you like to become more daring, positive, or confident? Identifying the answers to these types of questions will help you understand how to better yourself and why your personal growth should be your first priority!

Implement these practical ways to improve your personal growth in your own life and you are sure to succeed:

Overcome your fears.
Sometimes fear holds us back from taking risks. We tend to get so caught up in our uncertainties and the unknown that it prevents us from taking a chance at personal growth. Overcome your fears by recognizing the barriers in front of you and finding ways to overcome them. Fears are the compass for growth. Fears represent an obstacle that you need to address in order to move forward. Don’t hide from your fears. Face them, defeat them, and achieve personal growth in the process.

Write your own bucket list.
It’s scary to think we are all ticking time bombs with a finite about of time to achieve all of the wonderful things we want to accomplish in life, but in a really flattering way, it’s true. We won’t live forever and grasping that the time we have here on Earth needs to be well spent can actually make you appreciate everyday. Write down the things you want to achieve during your lifetime because when those goals are staring right back at you they’ll feel real. Written goals with realistic time frames will help you grow and work toward something that can only better you in the long run.

Identify your blind spots.
Blind spots are areas of our surroundings that our vision is incapable of seeing. In terms of personal growth and development, blind spots refer to areas of life we are unaware of. Discovering and understanding our blind spots can help us grow and improve. Think about the people in the background, the things that affect your mood during the day, the way you interact with others. These blind spots, when identified, can help you look at the bigger picture. Address your blind spots and utilize them in a way that helps you grow.

Encourage feedback.
We all need a little feedback now and then. It is essential that in order for us to grow, we need to be able to identify the aspects of our lives that aren’t working. Encouraging others to reflect on your talents, work ethic, behavior, and attitude can really put things in perspective. Use feedback as positive constructive criticism in a way that helps you grow personally and betters you long term.

Stay focused.
We all encounter distractions. Sometimes it’s a life event, relationship, new interest, or obstacle that comes out of left field and kicks our routine off kilter. Distractions are completely normal and also entirely unavoidable. We can never allude them, so accepting that you’re bound to get distracted now and then can certainly make the process easier for you. Just remember to regain your focus. You’re working toward something: a goal, a life milestone, right? Stay focused as much as you can to continue growing and bettering yourself in all the ways that matter to you most. Never allow distractions to consume your attention. Acknowledge them, address them, and move on! Keeping focused is essential to personal growth.

With these five practical ways, it is possible to put yourself first and better your personal growth track record. You are important and your efforts on yourself  are the foundation of your life. This defining decade requires you to be a bit selfish from time to time. Focus on you first. Personal growth is a critical part of life because if we aren’t growing, we aren’t moving forward, reaching our goals, or pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Better yourself first so you can then be selfless with your success later. It’s a cyclic motion that gives and takes. Really, it’s possible!

Peace and Love, Jim

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