What is Personal Growth and Why Should I Care?

Welcome to Week 5 (the final week!) of the ‘March is for Me’ series. A series that has brought you a new blog post on each Wednesday of the month. The aim of this was to spend an entire month focusing on ourselves with self-love, self-care and positivity. Today’s post is brought to you by Paige Eades, with What is personal growth and Why Should I Care?

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

 

Personal growth is such an individualist activity, wouldn’t you say? From endlessly discussing life plans with career consultants at school into talks and gossips with friends detailing our ‘five year plans’ (does anyone else still live in the hope that our lives will turn out to be a perfect fairy-tale?); the theme of self-development has been imminent throughout our whole lives. 

When Emily called out for writers to pull together a series on ‘March is for Me’, I knew that it would be a great opportunity to discuss and delve more into our own personal connections with ourselves and take the time to consider if we are happy with the way in which we are treating ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane swing of things; the 9 to 5 work routine and the catch up weekend but looking after we is an essential step that many people argue they don’t have time for. 

Something to consider; how many of us have actually sat down to consider our own personal growth? Putting the ever ingrained career chats and life objectives aside; what happened to developing the person we are inside and our desire to constantly better ourselves? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably been too long since you have had that real, open chat with yourself about how things are going? Why is that?

Photo by sickk vibes on Unsplash

 

It almost seems rather taboo to consider yourself and put yourself first in the modern world; the idea of doing something to please others comes way before pleasing yourself. The feeling of wasted time is a familiar concept to many of you I’m sure, with the inkling of ‘I’d really rather be doing something else; but I’m not, because I’m here supporting you’. And that’s okay – there aren’t going to be moments where everything is about what you want; but to me a major element of personal growth is about taking the time to consider what your needs are and being brave enough to create boundaries if need be. Contrary to popular belief; creating personal boundaries isn’t selfish – it’s establishing how far you can go without damaging yourself.  

Creating personal growth journeys is encouraged in ways that you probably won’t even link to in your life; and it’s easier than you might think. I remember my first insight into striving to better myself was the infamous gold star chart on the primary school classroom wall; which celebrated including others into games or sharing our snacks with those who didn’t have any (oh, to live in a COVID free world again). The sense of achievement and satisfaction after adding a little gold star sticker to my name and knowing that I had made another’s day a little better was a feeling that can’t quite be replicated in adult life. Although I’d love it – where are the star chart boards now eh? 

I can almost hear the sighs of imagining an obsession with gold stars – but hear me out.  The celebration of working towards becoming better and the small accomplishments along the way should be celebrated. Each step to learning and developing is a great one, and without sounding too soppy – it’s those kind of achievements that make the world go around.

You are in connection with your goals

Personal growth is all about taking the time to reflect on your current circumstance and establish new and realistic goals that you would like to achieve. It is evident that the goals that you set at 12 are going to be different now; and the personal growth journey is all about embracing that! The beauty of life is that it is constantly evolving; and things aren’t going to be smooth sailing throughout – to put it bluntly shit happens and circumstances change, and the subsequent effect is that goals do too. Through remaining aware that goals are, and can be, adjustable to changes is a key to personal development – and understanding that a temporary setback isn’t failure or that the goal should be given up on; it’s just that – a temporary setback. 

You align yourself to new values

As previously discussed, personal growth is an everchanging event – it snakes and swivels and whirls around your life. Through adopting a persistent desire to continuously better ourselves; we therefore align better with new and improved values. Think about it; do you have and believe in the exact same values that you held 5 years ago? No? You’re not alone; many people shift and alter their values in accordance with new information learnt or experiences shared – so it should only make sense that we configure our new morals and values in line with what we currently associate with.

You experience a greater peace of mind

What could be better than being so ‘in tune’ with yourself than defining exactly what your goals and aspirations are? I can’t count all the times where I’ve had what feels like a mid-life crisis surrounding what I want to do in pivotal points in time – starting college, heading off to university, first relationships – but if I had taken the time to re-evaluate what my personal goals were then I would have been reassured that these new changes were the right thing to do and were to help me on my journey, not hinder. Through establishing your personal development plan and continually monitoring it, it is only expected that you will experience a sense of ‘togetherness’ that is hard to achieve otherwise. 

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

You experience healthier relationships

I’m a big believer in that you attract the people that share the vibes you put out into the world. If you are negative and refuse to accept new developments – you will attract and share values with similar minded people. However, if you strive to better yourself, base your aspirations on inspirational people and be proactive in your personal development journey; like-minded people will flock to join you. Relationships age and evolve as you make your way through life; and they can inevitably become outgrown. You deserve to be able to surround yourself with healthy relationships that inspire, satisfy and progress your personal development journey; so, strive to get them! 

You experience greater happiness

Can you imagine anything better than knowing that you are actively achieving your dreams and aspirations? Knowing that despite everything, even on a day where you don’t want to do anything (relatable, amirite), you are striving to be the best person you can be – and making a positive impact on your time on Earth. We all can’t claim to become the next Greta Thunberg or the genius behind the cure for cancer, but we can all claim ourselves to becoming the best person that we are capable of.

Without sounding too cliché; in a world filled with increasing negativity, you have the choice to be that ray of sunshine – both for yourself and others. Take that opportunity. I’ll raise a glass to that!


What an AMAZING post to end the March is For Me series on – thank you Paige for your beautiful words and to each creator that has contributed to March is For Me this month and made it so special. It’s a series I know I will definitely be referring back to! Click here to be taken to each post.

I hope you are all doing well and keeping safe

Until next time,

Emily x

 

Positive Affirmations and Tips for Anxiety

Welcome to Week 3 of the ‘March is for Me’ series. A series bringing you 5 blog posts across each Wednesday of the month. The aim is to spend an entire month focusing on ourselves with self-love, self-care and positivity. Today’s post is brought to you by Jessie Mills from Wanderer and Traveller, with her tips for coping with anxiety and her list of favourite positive affirmations. Click here for Part 2 with Kimberly Redway and her experience with meditation.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Firstly I’d like to thank Emily for the opportunity to write a post for her March is for Me series! If there is anything I’ve learnt since leaving university is that self-care and self-love are so important when you are on your journey that is life. In the words of Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell can you love somebody else, can I get an Amen?”

So I wanted to share something I do daily that really sets me up for the day ahead. I’ve done this for a while now and I really feel it helps! Every morning without fail I look at positive affirmations. I also share my favourites on my Instagram story for other people to read and enjoy as well. So I’ve decided to share my favourite positive affirmations with you in this post to remind you just how important you are and that your journey is your own, you can take it as fast or as slow as you like because you are in charge. Zayn Maliks twitter bio once said “Enjoy the roller-coaster that is life” and he wasn’t wrong. You just have to remember that at the end of it all, you are the biggest love of your life. 

I also really suffer with anxiety and with the pandemic and lockdown I wanted to share some motives that I use to either calm myself down in the moment of a panic attack or when I can feel it building.

This is something I’m so proud of as I’ve really tackled some hurdles this lockdown within myself and my anxiety. I set out pretty early on in lockdown 1 not to put myself in the same situation I did previously and focus on getting my anxiety on lock. The previous situation was when I moved to Watford. I had no friends, no money and I couldn’t go out and meet people or do anything until I started working. I was home 24/7 and really fell into a pit, so I vowed this wouldn’t happen again as I saw lockdown as very much the same circumstance as the government started discussing it. Unable to go out and socialise or explore, feeling isolated.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Coping Mechanisms

Some of these are really simple and I know not everything on this list will help or work for everyone, I also understand that not everyone works in the same way I do. We all have our own coping mechanisms, but if I can maybe enlighten people to some possible new methods then why not?

  1. Shift your focus and take some deep breaths. This one is always recommended (and as a smoker I was always pretty apprehensive). But if you can keep your heart rate and your breathing down, you’re already on your way to feeling calmer.
  2. Go for a run, do some yoga, go for a walk or do some physical exercise. It releases happiness endorphins into the body to lift you up, not bring you down. Plus you’ll feel better for it afterwards.
  3. Identify how you’re feeling and give yourself more emotional awareness. I have to give full credits to a close friend for this one. Don’t identify it as being anxious. Separate your feelings. Am I feeling excited? Am I feeling angry? Am I feeling awkward? Am I feeling lonely?
  4. Something I feel goes hand in hand with the point above, learn what triggers your anxiety, Why do I feel this way? Identify why you’re feeling the way you are. Is the circumstance making you feel uncomfortable? Are you around someone who is being unpleasant? Take a step back and take a look at where you are at and how its making you feel.
  5. Talk about it. Say it out loud, “I’m feeling anxious”. Don’t sit and let it consume you if you feel capable of doing so.
  6. Do whatever you feel you need to do to start your day off right. In the morning and put those anxious feelings at bay straight away. Don’t let it consume you right from the start.
  7. Throw yourself into and focus on something you love. Grab a book, work on your WIP, sit and binge watch TikTok’s, play your favourite gaming consoles, watch your favourite TV show, relax with a cuppa, have a nap, call a friend or see a friend.
  8. Set small daily goals and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to live the life you love and want to live. You are in charge.
  9. Write down how you’re feeling in a journal. Getting these thoughts out of your head can make it less daunting for you and help you to reflect later on.
  10. Practice acceptance. Your anxiety does not define who you are. You do not have anxiety because there is something wrong with you. Try and embrace the journey you’re going on, it won’t be with you forever and you can overcome this.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Positive Affirmations

And now for some of my favourite positive affirmations, because you need to remember your worth;

“You are so wonderfully beautiful. So extraordinarily wonderful. So wildly unforgettable. So Incomparably and lovely you”.

“Make space for the magic you deserve”.

“You are stronger than your anxious thoughts”.

“I choose to let go of what doesn’t serve me”. 

“The highs and lows can still make for beautiful things”.

“There are things in life that are not in your hands and you are not supposed to have all the answers to all. But even here in the shades of your doubts and the unknown, know that you are meant to be here, you belong”.

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path”.

“You made it to another new day. That means you beat all the pains, worries & troubles of yesterday & all the yesterdays before. You are a fighter”. 

“Be soft with yourself, being human is a fragile thing”

And my all-time favourite;

“You may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you don’t have to be. Tea has never apologised for not being coffee”.  

So here is to YOU. Embracing your wants and needs in life and following your path to feeling good, your achievements and how far you’ve come in life. Never forget;

You are the biggest love of your life. No one can tell you otherwise.

Jessie x


With HUGE thanks to Jessie for this wonderful guest post that I personally found so refreshing and helpful, I hope you enjoyed this week’s instalment of March is For Me. Stay tuned for week 4 next Wednesday.

Until next time,

Emily x

Why We Compare Ourselves

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, comparison, by definition is ‘the act of comparing two or more people or things’ or ‘an examination of the differences between persons or things’. Today we’re going to explore deeper into the depths of comparison and the impact it can have on our daily lives.

Comparison is the thief of joy, yet it is just so easy to do.

We commonly compare our education, intelligence, homes, relationship status, fashion sense, employment status, and even what we read and eat. It doesn’t always have to come from a place of malintent, but does it truly do us any good to pit ourselves against one another – either publicly or in secret?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Does comparison achieve anything?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Personally, I find comparing myself to others quite detrimental to my own self-esteem. It can send my self-worth and motivation spiraling, so I do my best to avoid it.

I decided to research why we compare ourselves in the first place and here is what I found. A social psychologist named Leon Festinger explored the act of comparison and said that ‘people evaluate their opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to other people for two reasons: First, to reduce uncertainty in the areas in which they’re comparing themselves. And second, to learn how to define themselves.’ (The Jordan Harbinger Show). This concept is called the social comparison theory.

People can engage in upward or downward comparisons. Upward being with people we think are better than us, and downward being with people we think are worse off. The latter can make us feel better about ourselves, but what a toxic way that is to live. There is also the concept of self-evaluation and self-enhancement.

‘Self-evaluation occurs when someone looks for positive traits in himself based on the best person he compares himself with. Self-enhancement, on the other hand, occurs when someone questions which aspects of himself need to be improved in order to reach the level of goodness of the person he is comparing himself to.’ – (Psychology Notes HQ).

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

How can comparison make us feel?

Comparison could be beneficial in that it may motivate you to develop yourself further or strive for that goal you’ve been putting off. For example with blogging, if I’m looking to improve my engagement and statistics, I may compare what I’m doing to a better-performing blog. This allows me to learn and improve my methods.  On the contrary, I don’t believe comparison as a whole is particularly healthy.  It can cause a judgemental attitude and may lead to destructive behaviours.

Personally, it can make me feel “behind” in my accomplishments, not intelligent enough and perhaps look at areas of my life negatively that I hadn’t worried about before.

I also asked on Instagram how comparing yourselves to others makes you feel, and here were the responses:

  • “Usually I’m not comparing myself in a good way which I’d love to know how to change!”
  • “Sometimes motivated to improve myself. Other times, my self-esteem plummets!”
  • “Usually pretty crap, even though I’m grateful for all I have, I still end up feeling rubbish”
  • “Inadequate”
  • “Inadequate, then again social media is as much a platform for user content as it is for advertising”

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

What can we do instead of comparing ourselves?

  • Be grateful for what we have and have achieved so far
  • If we’re going to compare, be reasonable about it. We don’t live any life other than our own, so how can we expect to be like other people when we have different incomes, responsibilities, opportunities etc that is often out of our control.
  • Instead of thinking the grass is greener on the other side, water the grass we’re currently on
  • Detox aspects of your life that are causing your comparisons
  • Channel your thoughts into motivation and drive

Becoming Minimalist have an excellent article which lists why we shouldn’t compare ourselves, and what we can do instead if you’d like to read more.

Social media can be a big culprit in kickstarting our comparisons. It can be a dark hole of engagements, baby announcements, new homes and new jobs, the list is endless. It is so key to remember that not everything is at it seems online. We see just snippets of people’s actual lives; their highlight reels.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to develop ourselves, but it does not have to be a competition in the meantime, or an internal battle about who is “better” and who is “worse”.

I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments below. Thank you for reading!

Until next time,

Emily x

 

What is the ‘5 year plan’ and should you have one?

The notorious ‘five-year plan‘ question may send you into a cold sweat or be the easiest question you could answer. You may have first been asked this question during your final years in education or at a job interview. This is the question that would fill me with instant dread and pressure; are you really meant to know? Are you meant to be aiming for something in particular in 5 years? Do I just fall victim to societal pressures and say “job, house, kids”?

I’d like to disclaim that I am not totally against a 2/5/10 year plan – I am sure it holds importance for many people that actually find it useful and motivating. However, what about those that don’t have a 5-year plan? Do you not hire those that don’t have a suitable enough timeline planned out? What is the significance of 5 years? Theoretically, it is not a long time in the grand scheme of things.

What is there to plan?

  • A change in mentality and perspective
  • Career progression, or even career break
  • Housing situation
  • Relationship status
  • Travel destinations
  • Personal achievements i.e. skydive or learning a language
  • Business adventure
  • Children

The list truly is endless. Personally, I view my life as being one complicated stencil I’ve drawn around on a piece of paper. There will be lines that I will want to perfect and make them as neat as possible, but there will be lines where my hand is shaky and I accidentally go outside of the lines. However, at the end of it, I will be mostly content with what I have created.

Life is renowned for being unpredictable. There are days when it may feel like a huge boulder has crashed down in the middle of your path, making it difficult to work around, but not impossible. Acknowledging that life will always have its curveballs, should help a life plan seem less intimidating. Things go wrong, but there will always be a way to get back on track and dust yourself off again. It is almost guaranteed, that if you were to ask anyone who is 5 years older than you, if they have got to where they are by sailing their way through life – they will most likely say no.

What are some pros and cons to having a 5-year plan?

Pros:

  • Gives you goals to work towards, no matter how big or small
  • Allows you to prioritise your goals in terms of when you want to achieve them
  • Can keep you disciplined and on track
  • Hand in hand with the above; can force you to start something you have been putting off
  • It can be comforting

Cons:

  • You may feel pressured and rushed
  • Your plan may adhere more to stereotypical achievements by default
  • May cause a feeling of disappointment if you don’t hit certain milestones within a certain period
  • It can make room for comparisons with other people’s success
  • You may become too attached to the plan and opposed to change

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

The logistics of a 5-year plan are so personal to each individual. What might be a mountain to one person, is a molehill for another. It can be exciting to share your plans with others – I don’t believe the intention of a plan is negative. If you are surrounded by decent people, you should hopefully never feel belittled by what you have set yourself, you should have nothing but support and encouragement.

Personally, I choose to live life day-by-day. I will happily write a to-do list in the morning and can stick to it pretty well. Stretch it further than a weekly plan, and I will probably struggle to stay on track. My interests and motivation levels fluctuate too regularly for a long-term plan to sit comfortably in my head. Knowing what I want out of life is important, but the route to get there can be as sporadic and spontaneous as possible.

So in terms of being asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” in a job interview, the intention behind the question is probably to cover their own backs. Is this person looking to be in a completely different position in a few years to what they’ve applied for? Can we afford to train someone who sounds like they are going to leave soon? I understand why the question is asked, but it can be a tough cookie to crack if you are not a natural planner.

To conclude

A 5-year plan is exactly what you make of it. It can be as intense or as mild as you like. There is no obligation to know the answer to this question, but I do feel like it crops up quite often. It offers food for thought in many different ways. Planning what I think is my ideal plan, can allow me to spot pitfalls and genuinely think carefully about the routes I wish to take.

Avid organisers may thrive by setting their goals long into the future, and to that, I say hats off. There is not a right or wrong answer. It is admirable to see how we all cope and work our way through this journey. If you are keen to know how to create your own 5-year plan, there are many resources available to help.

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal”

What are your thoughts on the concept of a 5-year plan?

Until next time,

Emily x