“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” -Bo Bennett

The desire for growth is found everywhere in our universe. Trees grow towards the sky, ants strive to expand their colonies, and man strives for… What does man strive for? At what point do we define what it is that we’re growing towards?

The fact is, after leaving school and graduating college, our growth is stagnant unless we choose to continue pursuing our own development.

Unlike childhood and puberty, your adult life isn’t set out for you with any sort of educational criteria that forces you to grow in a certain direction. If you want to expand beyond the growth of your childhood, you have to do it on your own. Sure, your career can shape you through day-to-day experiences, but what about conscious growth?

In order to live a self-directed life, you first have to decide that you want to be in charge of yourself.

In order to grow and live to our true potential, we have to start setting certain standards for ourselves. What are these standards? First, we have to admit that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we know about the world. There are a vast amount of subjects we could teach ourselves. A lot of people aren’t used to the idea of teaching themselves anything. We’re brought up to believe that if there is something to learn, someone from the outside is likely to teach it to us. We sign up for classes to learn new concepts, we study textbooks assigned to us under formal syllabi, but how often do we take the time to study what we want to study?

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Studying because we want to study? Its rare in our society, but it is a differentiating factor between living a life of purpose and living a life defined by someone else’s standards.

What do you want to study in your free time? How much time have you spent considering this question? Yes, it’s okay to listen to music, play video games, and do all of that when you have down time after work. There comes a moment, though, when you have to consciously set aside time to decide what it is that you want to teach yourself. If you never take this space out from your schedule, the years will slip by and before you know it- your life path will have been decided by your external circumstances. This life path would not have been a conscious decision, and what’s worse than a life in which we had no input in the decision making process?

It is my belief that our life path should be as much of a conscious decision as we can make it. We should read the books, shape our attitudes, and take the action necessary to bring ourselves in line with the life we want to live.

All other necessary activities aside (work, school, child-raising), there is nothing more important that deciding what it is that we want our future selves to have. This is where the personal development field’s love of goal-setting gets its popularity from. Without goals, targets, or guideposts in our lives, we tend to make everyday just the same as the one that has passed. There are many different, and sometimes contradicting, ways to go about goal-setting, but my advice is simple. Pick something tangible, something you can see yourself accomplishing, and write it on a piece of paper.

Make your goal physically known, through your written word, that this is something you are aiming your bow and arrow towards. This is your target.

If you miss it, you re-calibrate. You adjust your aim, learn the techniques or mindsets that will help you better achieve your future goals, and you grow. Ryan Holiday has an incredible book, who’s main message is perfectly reflected in the title, The Obstacle Is The Way. In this book, Holiday talks about the Stoic idea that while many people see obstacles as something to be avoided, the obstacle can actually be a gateway to new and expanded growth in our lives. If we view the obstacle as an opportunity to think in a new and expanded way (Gasp!) we may find that this obstacle becomes a pivotal moment in which we learn to expand who we are as individuals.

Growth is the result of thinking in new and different ways. Obstacles are the walls that we are to smash through, expanding ourselves in ways that we would have never had the opportunity to expand otherwise. Obstacles lead to Evolution.

A growth-mindset is essential for the further development of our psyches and our potential as individuals. There is a distinct advantage in life for someone who has graduated from high school. The same goes for someone with a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree and beyond. And still, the same holds even more so for the man who has decidedly chosen to make personal growth a permanent part of his life. He continues his expansion where others have left off. The end of four years of schooling is a signal not to end his education, but to begin learning that which he has yearned to experience more of in his life.

The Growth-minded individual looks at human potential and decides to achieve it as others go the routes chosen for them. The Growth-minded individual is graduating from his own school, with a degree earned through dedicated commitment to an unknown, undefined, and ever-expanding curriculum.

Owning and living life with a Growth-mindset will make all of the difference towards fulfilling your life purpose. The Growth-mindset is the mark of an individual who strives to reach his or her full potential. You will conquer obstacles that others around you shudder to face. You will see opportunities that others overlook because their world-view is confined to what they were taught early in life. Your view, however, is limited only by the time you have to invest on expanding your perception of life.

Additional tools for expanding your Conscious Growth:

What are you going to learn? What conscious decision are you making today to expand on the previous concepts you’ve held of yourself? Start here, start now.

-Anthony from AuthenticGrowth.com