Now that we’re a few weeks into the New Year, it’s a great time to reflect on what is/is not working in your life. If you’re feeling stuck, stagnant, and in a season where there’s no progress, I would invite you to read this blog. There are many reasons why you may not be succeeding, and you have the power to make some change. Here are some suggestions to help you achieve personal growth and success this year:
1.You’re the smartest person in the room
The smartest and most successful people in the world know that they have to surround themselves with people who challenge them. Presidents have staff members, business owners have board members, and celebrities have teams of people. When you are the smartest person in the room, you aren’t being challenged.
When you don’t surround yourself with gifted people or have a mentor in your life, you don’t have accountability. It’s important to have smart people around you who can point out your blind spots. John Maxwell describes blind spots as “An area in someone’s life in which he continually fails to see himself or his situation realistically. This unawareness often causes great damage to the person and those around him”. We all have blind spots in our own lives, and they can be detrimental to our growth as human beings. Blind spots can allow us to be selfish, have tunnel vision, and have a lack of integrity.
2.You’re not reading
What was the last book or article that you read? When you don’t read, you’re not learning or challenging yourself to see different perspectives. It’s important throughout your life to always be growing and educating yourself. When you read, you slow down your memory decline and increase your brain function. In short, you are making yourself smarter!
I once heard an analogy that some people go through life and their growth chart just looks like a straight, horizontal line. These people just maintain the status quo for most of their life, with little change. The other way to live your life is to have a sharp incline on your growth chart. This shows someone who is always bettering themselves and learning. What do you want your chart to look like?
3.You’re not humble
Do you ever struggle with pride? When you are a prideful person, it comes across to others. Pride makes it difficult for others to approach or work with/for you. Humility is such an important piece to self-growth. When you recognize that you are human, imperfect, and that you have limits, you become more approachable.
Some ways to humble yourself include admitting when you’re wrong, apologizing to others, giving credit to others for their achievements, and having realistic expectations of yourself and others. Humility is very attractive to other people, and when you practice it, others are sure to notice. Rick Warren writes in “A Purpose Driven Life” that “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
4.You have an over-inflated view of yourself
Speaking of humility, do you think that you are the best and most important person in every area of life? While it’s important to have confidence, there can be a fine line between being confident and having narcissistic traits. Again, when you view yourself as too important, it may be difficult for others to approach you. Make sure that you don’t look down on others or communicate an imbalance in power (ex. “I’m in charge and you are not”).
5.You’re not perceptive
Are you aware of how others perceive you? Do you come across as a know-it-all, or as someone who has humility? Do you have good Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Emotional Intelligence is your ability to have empathy for others, put yourself in others’ shoes, pick up on social cues, and be emotionally available. When you don’t have good Emotional Intelligence, your relationships are surface-level and others may not feel comfortable being vulnerable with you. To read more about Emotional Intelligence, check out the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Dr. Travis Bradberry.
It’s important to know how you come across to others. This starts by increasing your own self-awareness. Do you know what drives you? Do you know how you feel at any given moment, and why? Are you introspective? Increasing your own self-awareness will help you be able to identify others emotions and needs as well.
6.You don’t actively listen
Do you listen to others to respond, or do you listen to them to actually hear them? When you actively listen to others, you actually hear their point of view and perspective instead of just waiting for them to finish so you can talk. It’s important to ask others questions to gain more information and to show them you are listening. Other active listening techniques that are important are parroting (“So what I hear you saying is”), validating, and providing feedback.
Stephen Covey says in the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that “The habit to “seek first to understand” involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.” Learn to listen with the intent of actively listening, and not just to speak back.
7.You’re too serious
Do you take time to play and enjoy life? I really believe that we as adults take life too seriously. We forget to have fun, and often lose our gift of imagination and being creative. When we are children, we don’t restrict our thinking like we do as adults.
As adults we are often boxed in by too many “rules”. There are driving rules, workplace rules, social rules, etc. We forget to let loose and have fun, and to throw some of the rules out the window. We become too rigid in our thinking and loose opportunities to be innovative and unique.
8.Your priorities are messed up
Where do you spend the majority of your time? Do you live to work or work to live? How you prioritize your time is indicative to what your priorities are. If you are missing out on family time, self-care time, or downtime because of work duties, you may need to re-evaluate your priorities.
It’s always sad to me when I see a family out to eat at a restaurant and the parents are on their phones. Maybe they’re working, maybe they’re scrolling social media. Who knows? What they aren’t doing is engaging their children or investing into their family. When you won’t put the phone down, you miss out on the opportunity to see the world through your kids’ eyes.
You won’t succeed in life if you can’t prioritize. This isn’t just applicable to family. This is also applicable to taking care of yourself. Self-care is incredibly important to your well-being as a human. If you don’t carve out time for yourself to breathe, it’s hard to find joy in life.
If you’re reading this, and you feel stuck, please reach out. Therapy is not just to help people who are depressed or having marital problems. Therapy can help you uncover what’s holding you back from being the best version of you, and how to be more successful.
Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.
Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.