Personal growth is a large concept that can seem overwhelming – so overwhelming, that people who want to improve themselves often don't know where to begin. But have you thought that, like with most large-scale endeavors, personal growth can be broken down into smaller, more manageable components?
If you’re interested in working on your personal growth but don’t know where to start, you might want to consider focusing on a specific area of personal growth. This article outlines the five main areas where people typically want to see improvements, as well as the best personality tools to help you in your quest.
#1: Understanding and accepting yourself
The first step to any kind of personal growth is knowing where you’re starting from. That means getting a really good understanding of what makes you tick, your strengths and potential blind spots, how you make decisions, how you interact with others and the world around you, and what motivates you. There's no value in trying to change your behaviors until you know exactly why you're exhibiting them in the first place.
It’s a good idea to start the journey towards self-understanding with a personality system that is both broad and deep. This will give you a detailed understanding of yourself as you are and as you can be, once you are making progress toward your unique potential.
The best test to take: TypeFinder
TypeFinder is based on the Myers and Briggs personality system. It measures your personality style in four categories: Introversion/Extraversion; Sensing/Intuition; Thinking / Feeling and Judging/Perceiving.
Your scores in each category give you a four-letter code that represents your personality type. Read up on your type, and you will have just about everything you need to start your journey of self-understanding, self-acceptance and personal growth. For example, you will discover why you act a certain way, why you have particular habits (and why those habits are so hard to break!), the kind of environment you need to create in order to work and focus better, and how you go about setting and meeting goals. All of this will help you make the necessary changes towards personal growth.
If you've ever picked up a self-help book and thought, "This doesn't really feel like something I can ever use," the chances are it was written by someone with a completely different personality type to you. TypeFinder is the kind of tool that will help you see how you operate as an individual, so you can create action plans that work for you.
#2: Improving your relationships
Good relationships are an important and completely unavoidable part of a fulfilling life, so you need to give them some attention. It doesn't matter if you're focused on becoming a better – and happier – partner, parent, sibling or friend. Understanding how you relate to loved ones, and how you feel loved and valued, is the first essential step for making sure you're getting what you need in your relationships and that you are giving the best of yourself too.
The best test to take: 7 Love Styles
If you think you’re giving the relationship your all but the other person doesn’t see it that way, the chances are you are communicating through different Love Styles. We all have different ways of giving and receiving love – some people show they care by spending quality time with their loved one, while others do acts of service to ease their loved one’s load, for example. Once you know what you need from a relationship, and what you’re good at giving, you’ll have some helpful tools for improving your relationships instead of feeling dissatisfied or unappreciated and not knowing why.
Love Styles are not just for romantic or family relationships, either. They can also be used in your professional life to help you communicate and collaborate with coworkers and give the right type of support to people who need it.
#3: Professional growth
While you are a lot more than what you do for a living, your career does have a role in defining who you are and how you live your life. Most of us derive a sense of pride and satisfaction from doing well at our careers, so professional excellence definitely belongs as one of the major personal growth areas. Plus, the happier and more fulfilled you are at work, the happier you’re likely to be in the rest of your life, since so many of your waking hours are spent working.
DISC assesses your primary one or two work styles, which opens up a lot of insight into why you do what you do at work. For example, you’ll be able to see what your strengths are, identify your blind spots, understand how you work on teams, see what you bring to leadership roles, and articulate why some things are hard for you to do and others easy, which is the first step to leveraging those skills properly. It’s an essential tool for empowering yourself to reach your highest professional potential.
The Career Personality Profiler, on the other hand, helps you see what kinds of tasks and careers you’ll likely feel drawn to, do well in and enjoy. This test is better suited to those who are at the beginning of their job search journey. So, if your personal growth goal involves a new career or a career transition, this is the tool you’ll want to use.
#4: Emotional growth
Emotional growth is the act of improving the way you recognize and understand your emotions and those of others. It also involves keeping those emotions under control, without repressing or denying them, so they don’t become harmful or limiting.
Few people write the words "emotional growth" on their self-help to-do list. But if you've ever resolved to reduce the number of arguments you're having with your partner, or get more resilient when faced with a challenge, then this is the area you should be focusing on.
The best test to take: Emotional Intelligence
The EQ test will show you not only how well you’re doing with your overall emotional intelligence, but which categories within emotional intelligence you’re excelling at and which areas you could use more work on. This will help you zoom in on the actions that will have the biggest impact, such as improving your empathy or controlling the way you react to situations.
#5: Overcoming specific fears and weaknesses
We all have fears and insecurities that stand in the way of us living a happier, more fulfilling life. Part of personal growth is learning what these inner demons are and overcoming whatever may be holding you back.
The good news about fears and insecurities is they often are a two-sided coin. So, what starts as a weakness can become a strength as we learn what it tells us about ourselves and our potential.
The best test to take: Enneagram
The Enneagram is unique among personality systems as it contains an undercurrent of insight into the fears and perceived failings that motivate us. For example, the deepest fear of an Enneagram One is being morally flawed and being seen as a “bad person” or imperfect. Type Ones respond to this fear by being rigidly disciplined and very hard on themselves. Each type has a different core fear that influences them to act in certain ways.
When you understand this, it becomes much easier to select the right tools for working through your individual fears and turn them into deeper self-knowledge. Instead of following one-size-fits-all personal development advice – which let's face it, usually turns out to be one-size-fits-none – you'll be able to create a personalized plan that will help you become a stronger, more confident you.
The more you know about yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to chart your personal growth journey. So, the more different kinds of tests you take, the more tools you'll have to help you meet your goals. Though certain tests may focus on specific areas of personal growth, there's also quite a bit of overlap.
If, for instance, you're interested in improving your relationships, in addition to the Love Styles test you might want to take the TypeFinder test, and suggest your significant other does the same so you can understand each other better.
All the other tests will likely also help you in your career growth, since the better you understand – and know how to bring out the best in – yourself and your co-workers, the more likely you’ll be to find work that fits you, optimize professional relationships, and just be happier and more successful in your work. This concept can be applied to all the growth areas.
So, select an area of personal growth you want to begin with. Choose one of the recommended personality tools to help you get started, then keep adding more layers when you’re ready.