This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links (at no extra cost to you). Please see my disclosure for more information.
Parenting is tough. Expending all of your energy nurturing, loving, and cleaning up after those littles takes up all of your time and mental space. Because of the mental drain, it’s so important to work on yourself while raising your kids.
Personal growth is not just for people with fancy careers and high heels – it’s also for YOU. Personal growth is about learning, building better habits, and improving actions and reactions. (It’s those reactions that are particularly important for moms, right?) It’s about enriching yourself. Every mom should be actively pursuing self-improvement.
Nothing can prepare you for the crash of self-identity that comes after giving birth. There isn’t a mother out there who loses a bit of herself, at least for a little while. It can be a challenge to remember who YOU are when 100% of your time is spent caring for someone else. Unfortunately, this loss of self can stay with us for a long time, leading to feelings of unhappiness and even depression, unless we actively work to do something about it. This is where personal development comes in.
Somewhere along my own motherhood journey, I realized that I needed to figure some things out for myself. I wasn’t exactly miserable, but I wasn’t overjoyed with my life either. I had lost myself as an individual, which was impacting my own life and the lives of those around me. I needed to remember who I was beyond “just a mom,” while at the same time figure out and grow to become the kind of parent I wanted to be. I needed my own re-birth.
I knew that I needed to make a change and that this change needed to go beyond trying to manage my time and cram more into my days. I started absorbing anything I could find on personal development – websites, books, podcasts…
The results have been nothing short of amazing.
Are you ready to make some changes in your own life? Keep reading!
What is Personal Growth?
Personal growth is an ongoing process of learning throughout your life, actively growing and improving, in order to become a better person on all levels. It means that you’re interested in activities that will help you grow, learn, and increase your quality of life. These activities can include anything from forming new habits to developing and improving relationship skills.
Most of us grow and change as we go through life, of course. In fact, motherhood is, in and of itself, personal growth. You can’t possibly care for an infant, then a toddler, and so on, unless you are growing and stretching and learning new things yourself. For the purposes of this post, however, personal development is the process of intentionally causing that growth. It’s like a personal quest to become happier and more successful in any area of life.
There’s more to personal growth than reading self-help books and saving inspirational quotes to Pinterest. It’s easy to consume all of the self-improvement books and resources out there, but you also need to turn what you learn into action. If we don’t implement what we learn in order to improve our habits, behaviors, attitude, and actions, we’re not really growing.
To keep it short and sweet, personal development is the journey that you take toward improving your life and growing on purpose – both learning and taking action.
Why Should Moms Spend Time on Personal Growth?
- Personal development can make your life more productive, fulfilling, and meaningful.
It allows us to reach our goals and live our lives to the fullest potential. It helps us develop emotionally, physically, and mentally into the best possible version of ourselves. Personal growth helps us create healthier relationships, love ourselves more, enjoy the little things in life, and become more self aware.
The benefits are truly endless!
- Love and patience are skills that can be learned.
And so are many of the other traits that are necessary to parenting well. We have to put in the work if we want to have a larger capacity to love, be patient, be confident in who we are, and be generous. All of these things (and more!) can and should be learned and improved upon. If we don’t exercise these types of skills, they won’t get any stronger.
I have an idea in my head of what kind of mom I want to be and how I show up for my husband and kids every day. I know that I won’t get there unless I make some changes – personal development is what it’s going to take to get where I want to be.
- Self-improvement can prepare you for life’s difficulties.
Life can be hard. It presents us with challenges every day. However, we do have the ability to meet these challenges with strength rather than shutting down when they show up.
It’s the little things that you do every day, those tiny habits that you build now, that will keep you strong when life gets tough.
- We want to set a great example for our kids.
Our kids are watching us. They soak everything in like little sponges, observing how we react and respond to situations. They watch us prioritize ourselves through creative outlets. They learn from our habits.
When you spend time on personal development and self-awareness, you’re less likely to pass along negative patterns and behaviors to your children. You may not fall into common parenting pitfalls such as negative reinforcement, anger, bullying, enabling, micromanaging, and the like. You’re demonstrating to them that, even though you aren’t perfect, you’re always trying to be better.
One of the main reasons I homeschool my kids is that I want them to be lifelong learners. I want them to recognize that they don’t get to stop being students just because they’ve graduated from high school and/or college and that continuous improvement is something worth working on. In order to create this environment and mindset for my kids, I need to be diligent about making time for personal growth in myself.
Do we want our children to learn from a mom who snaps at her kids while she watches the world through the screen of a smartphone? (I’m not perfect – I’m guilty of this sometimes!) Or do we want them to learn from a mom who is reading good books and practicing love and kindness?
Be an inspiration to them – let your life be an example of how you want them to live.
- It leads to better relationships.
Relationships are the foundation of life, whether with your family, children, co-workers, spouse, and even yourself. You simply can’t avoid relationships with others, even if you want to.
When your relationships are low-quality, your life is low-quality. On the other hand, when your relationships are healthy and fulfilling, your life will be as well.
- Personal growth can make you happier.
Seriously, it can! What more do you need?
If happiness is the journey (and not the destination), spending the time in your daily life to develop yourself will make that journey much more pleasant.
By investing the time to work on your personal growth, you decrease the negative impacts of stress and increase your ability to handle your life and relationships. Through purposeful self-improvement, you learn to identify, heal, and transform underlying beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors and habits.
What Personal Development Resources Are Best for Moms?
It all starts with a commitment to yourself. You need self-awareness – knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. You also need a growth mindset that encourages you to improve as a person, knowing that you are changeable.
Once you’ve got those things in place, here are some ideas to get you going:
Books are my favorite way to work on my own personal growth. I love to read! And it’s totally free if you use your library. I like to put books on hold and just pick them up once I get that “ready” notification. I do still buy books, but I usually read them for free first, then decide if it’s something I’ll want to read over and over again – in which case, I’ll buy it.
Now, if you can’t seem to find the time to actually sit down and read a physical book, you can always listen to an audiobook while you drive, work out, do the dishes, etc. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of audiobooks because I end up zoning out and missing pieces of the book. When I’m reading a self-development book that is going to require me to understand the message enough to apply it to my life, I like to be able to re-read and fully absorb everything. But if you have no problem listening to audiobooks, that may be a great solution for you!
Check out my list of favorites (including my upcoming to-read choices)!
Pro tip: Start a book challenge – for yourself! It might sound crazy, but it’s a great motivator. It’s super important to me that my kids see me reading, so reading challenges give me the kick in the butt that I need to make reading a priority. This year, my goal is to read 75 books, which is about 3 books every 2 weeks. I’m a little behind so far this year, but any progress is better than NO progress!
Podcasts are an exceptionally good choice for busy moms because you can listen while you’re driving, cleaning your house, or working out – they don’t take any additional time from your day. I don’t generally recommend multitasking, but podcasts are an exception to that rule because you can tune in while you’re working your way through that never-ending pile of laundry 😉
Try these favorites of mine to get started:
3. TED Talks
TED is an organization that defines itself as “a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks.” It’s basically a video library that you can filter by topic, length of talk, or speaker. And it’s totally free!
I love TED talks. I love that you can watch speakers of all ages and from all different backgrounds. You’ll find so many inspirational speakers that will give you the motivation you need to do whatever it is that you want. There’s literally something for everyone.
Here is a great round-up of personal development TED talks.
4. Online Groups
You can search Google or Facebook for whatever topic you’re interested in – it can be a broad topic, like “personal growth,” or it can be more specific, like “parenting homeschooled tweens.”
With social media being such a large part of many people’s lives these days, it’s easy to find an online community for all aspects of life.
5. Blogs / Newsletters
There are a plethora of great personal growth blogs out there. The easy format of the posts makes reading quick, so they’re a tremendous help when it comes to growing and learning. Following the blogs themselves is great on its own, but by subscribing to e-mail newsletters, I know I won’t miss any of the information and encouragement that’s offered.
Some of my favorites:
What Can You Do in Your Daily Life to Improve Your Personal Development?
1. Practice Gratitude
Nothing stretches your brain more than actively seeking things to appreciate and be grateful for on the rougher days of parenting – am I right?
People who practice gratefulness tend to be well-adjusted, have higher self-esteem, and simply feel good every day. Gratitude serves as a way to look at the bright side, converting negative emotions into happier ones. When you feel good, you’re more driven to continue growing as a person.
Take the time to be thankful every day – there’s a vital connection between gratitude and well-being, and it needs to be nurtured. Consciously look for things that you appreciate in yourself and others. Be thankful for your relationships.
2. Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are a self-help strategy used to build self-confidence and belief in your own abilities. These statements can help you to overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, you’ll start to believe in them and see positive changes in yourself.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- I can only do what I can do.
- I will not compare myself to other moms – these are my children for a reason.
- Done is better than perfect.
- I am enough.
3. Aim for Progress, Not Perfection
Personal growth is a lifelong process. It’s not something that you ever truly achieve – you just keep working at it and improving incrementally. It’s best to shift your focus to the progress that you’ve made, rather than perfection, in order to avoid feeling discouraged.
Don’t aim for perfection, aim for better than yesterday!
4. Wake Up Early
Y’all know by now how much I love this one 🙂
Waking up early has been acknowledged by many to improve your productivity and your quality of life.
When you wake up early (before the kids!), you’ll have time to dedicate to self-improvement before everyone else is up. You’ll add extra time to your day, soak up the morning tranquility, and absorb the early-morning sunlight that will help your brain switch into its active mode.
5. Unplug / Stop Watching TV
Take time out of every day to unplug. Remove all electronic stimuli – no phone, no laptop, and no TV. If you’re alone, this is a great time to reflect, pray, meditate, and discover things about yourself. If you’re with family or friends, you’ll be able to give them your undivided attention through conversation or play.
Many programs and advertisements on TV and social media are meant to distract you instead of empowering or educating you. Screen time is better spent elsewhere, such as with close friends, doing a hobby you enjoy, exercising, or working on your personal growth 😉
6. Focus on the Moment
When you focus on what you’re doing, where you are, and how you’re feeling, you’re able to stay in the “now,” rather than having one foot in the past and one foot in the future.
This type of mindfulness allows you to enjoy your children, significant other, family, and friends more, which is an amazing benefit. However, it also drives personal growth because it takes deliberate practice to stay present without running through your to-do list in your head or thinking back to things in the past that you wish you could have done differently.
7. Take Care of Yourself
No, not like the new “self-care” of today, where you pamper yourself with a new purse or a pedicure. Believe it or not, that’s not even what self-care is.
Self-care is about being disciplined in nourishing your body and your mind. It includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and moving your body daily. A healthy body and an alert brain will help you tremendously in your personal growth.
How Do You Create A Personal Growth Plan?
The purpose of a personal growth plan is to help you expand your knowledge, develop new skills, or improve important areas of life over the course of a dedicated period of time. If you truly want to grow and make a change, you have to take action. A personal growth plan will give you a road map, and then it’s up to you to be disciplined and implement the steps. Creating a plan is just like setting any other goal – figure out what you want, set the goals, do the work, reflect, and repeat. Easy peasy!
Step 1: Assess / evaluate your current situation.
The first step in developing a personal growth plan is thinking about where you are now and where you want to be. What do you want to change or improve upon and why? What are the results you crave? What is your desired outcome for this journey? You need to clarify what your personal growth and development is for. This self-awareness is a key aspect of personal growth.
Focus on the key areas of your life:
- Physical health – the way that you take care of your body
- Mental health – the quality of your thoughts and attitude
- Spirituality – discovering your purpose and living a meaningful life, prayer and/or meditation, connecting with yourself
- Learning – determining what new skills you want to have and how to learn them
- Relationships – the quality of interactions with your significant other, children, family, friends, colleagues
- Recreation – hobbies and relaxation
- Finances – how you handle money and savings for the future
- Career – your productivity levels, attitude toward work, and sense of purpose (yes, stay-at-home mom counts as your career!)
- Home – your level of comfort with your living space and the people you share it with
Once you have an overview of where you’ve been and where you’d like to go, it will be easier to make a plan.
Answer these questions (and write them down!):
- Which areas do I want to work on first? Choose only one or two to start – more than that can be extremely overwhelming, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid!
- What is your life (physical, mental, relationship, etc.) like now? What areas are you happy with? What areas would you like to improve?
- Why do I want to work on these specific areas right now? Take some time with this one – it’s your “why” that will help you stick with your plan when it gets tough!
Step 2: Set your goals, prioritize them, and develop a plan.
Now that you’ve identified one or two categories to focus on, it’s time to brainstorm ways that you can improve and choose actual, achievable goals to accomplish. How will you accomplish the changes you’d like to make, and what do you need to do so? What knowledge and experiences will aid in your personal development? Spend time seeking out resources to help you along your journey.
Once you’ve written down 5 or 10 goals, it’s time to prioritize. Which one or two are the most important? Again, you only want to focus on a couple of goals at a time. After you’ve outlined all your goals, prioritize them in order of importance and timeliness. You might already have several skills that are needed to achieve the goals you listed out, or you might need to develop some skills before you can hit your goals.
Next, develop a plan. This starts with setting a realistic timeframe for your goals and then breaking them down into smaller steps, each with its own deadline. It can be helpful to include a bit of buffer time as well. For a goal to be achieved, you have to know how and when it will happen.
Remember to write it all down – keeping track of your personal growth plan in your head is difficult and makes it too easy to make little changes and adjustments that keep you from achieving your goals. When you write it down, you have visual proof of your original plan and you can re-read it. Writing down your plan and tracking your progress also helps you increase focus, limit distractions, and prevent overwhelm.
Repeat this process for all of the goals that you’ve chosen to work on.
Answer these questions to help you get started (and write them down!):
- What would you like this aspect of your life to be like? How do you hope to improve yourself?
- Is this important to ME? Or is it something that I think other people want me to change?
- What am I looking to accomplish from this? Are there new skills that I want to gain? Do I have any unfulfilled dreams that I’m ready to accomplish now? Will it make me feel more fulfilled?
- What are some actionable steps that I can take to get me where I want to be?
Step 3: Do the work!
Yay! You’re ready to get started on those self-improvement goals!
Here are some tips to help you stay accountable:
- Map out dates in your calendar to keep you on track with your plan.
- Add reminders to your phone for the daily habits you want to stick to.
- Keep your personal growth plan somewhere you’ll see it every day.
- If you have a hard time sticking to your own plans, seek out someone who will hold you accountable. Tell your significant other or a close friend about your goals. You could even have them go through this exercise too so you’re in it together and can provide each other with support and encouragement.
Remember that goals don’t need to be accomplished alone. We all need cheerleaders in our corner, both for motivation and for accountability. If you set a goal (for example, “I want to do full-body yoga 3 times a week”), but you don’t tell anyone about it, it’s really easy to drop the goal like nothing ever happened. When you vocalize a goal, you’re not only putting it out there into the universe, but you’re creating accountability. Your friends and family only want to see you grow, so lean on them!
Step 4: Reflect, reward, and repeat.
The best way to stay motivated is to see progress. Even little bits of progress add up over time. Put a date in your calendar to reflect on and evaluate your progress.
It’s crucial for personal growth to recognize when you’re making strides toward your goals. Momentum is a beautiful thing. And if something isn’t working, wouldn’t you rather see that ahead of time than get to the end of of your designated timeframe without accomplishing your goal? Tracking your progress allows you to evaluate how things are working and make a change if needed. Also, looking back and seeing how far you’ve come can be a powerful motivator.
Reward yourself as you reach milestones. Don’t wait until you accomplish all your goals to celebrate. When you make progress on any part of your personal growth plan, do something special to recognize it. It doesn’t have to be outrageous or cost a lot of money – I like to treat myself to some extra relaxation time, usually involving a glass of wine or a piece of fancy chocolate – both taste soooo much better when I’ve been looking forward to them! Increase your enjoyment of the celebration by sharing it with someone else who is aware of your personal growth journey. This increases connection and makes your progress that much more rewarding.
And then repeat – do it all over again 🙂
Although the road to change may feel long at the onset, as you keep track of your personal growth over time, you’ll feel inspired to continue. Celebrate small milestones in your personal growth journey, and don’t let yourself become discouraged if you reach a hiccup in your plan. Appreciate the work you’ve already put in as you continue on your personal growth journey.
Personal Growth Dos and Don’ts
- DO experiment with different methods and focus on what you enjoy.
You’re going to get plenty of advice from all over about who you should follow, or what books to read, or what techniques to try. There will be raving fans of each and that’s awesome. Be glad they found what works for them, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work for you.
Just like all productivity techniques aren’t for everyone, not all personal development methods are good for everyone. Maybe you don’t like to read. That doesn’t need to stop you – just don’t do it. There are audio books, podcasts, YouTube videos, TED talks. All valid methods to work on yourself. Do what works for you!
- DON’T let setbacks derail you.
Personal development isn’t a straight line. Some of our habits and mindsets are deeply ingrained and we won’t have persistent and constant progress changing them. But if the overall trend in your growth is up then you’re headed in the right direction. If you are stuck, however, you might need to examine your plan.
- DO start small.
I know from personal experience that over-committing to something can can lead to being discouraged.
It used to happen to me almost every time I tried to start a workout plan. I have never been a physical person. PE was always my worst subject in school. However, I’ve always known that I needed some type of physical activity, especially now that I’m in my 40s. My problem was that I tried to do too much too often. Apparently 3 times a week wasn’t good enough for me – I MUST work out 6 days a week! ::rolling eyes at myself::
Once it finally clicked that I needed to start gradually (twice a week for 20 minutes), I was able to keep it going. I started small with yoga videos on YouTube in the comfort of my own living room. I also started counting hikes with my kids as my physical activity for my activity for the day, which we do every other week or so – on weeks with hikes, I only had to find 20 minutes ONE TIME to work out for the second time in a week. Easy peasy!
Whatever you choose to do, start small and work your way up.
- DON’T compare yourself to others.
Don’t look outside of yourself to find personal growth. Learning and being open to new ideas from others is great, but be mindful of staying true to your personal path. Self-improvement doesn’t look the same for all of us.
Don’t expect to get the exact results that a friend did, whether from an experience, a course, or a personal growth book. Be inspired by others, and get excited to develop a new skill that they have and you want, but give it your own unique touch.
Avoid playing the comparison game. You don’t have to be like anyone else. Your main objective is to be better than YOU were yesterday, last week, and last year.
- DO recognize that habits can be changed.
Bad habits can be broken. New ones can be made.
Pick one habit and start there. Whether it is a habit you want to break or a habit you want to take on, just start with one. Make it part of your routine. Choose something to start that doesn’t feel too challenging – listen to an inspiring podcast every day, drink more water, etc. Once you get settled into one new habit, the next one will feel much easier to take on.
- DON’T get so focused that you get stuck.
Yes, there is such thing as too much focus. It drains your brain of energy, causes you to care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what’s going on around you. It can take away your mental flexibility, causing you to feel overwhelmed because you’re unable to back up and look at the bigger picture. It’s okay to look at tangential or related concepts while you’re working on your main goal. This helps you to keep things fresh, come up with more unique ideas, and keep moving forward.
If you do get stuck, try shifting your focus to your values instead of your goals.
Our values are like our guidelines and principles for how we want to live our lives, how we want to show up, and how we want to be remembered. They act as our moral compass, help us make decisions, and enable us to choose how, where, and with whom we spend our time.
- DO love yourself.
Believe that whatever you put into yourself will come back doubled, no matter how long it takes. You ARE worth all of this time and effort that you’re investing. Let go of the fears of challenge and not being enough.
You ARE enough. You CAN do this.
Personal growth doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s simply learning, building better habits, and improving actions and reactions. For me and for my family, it’s a non-negotiable. It should be a part of everyday life. You simply cannot improve your life without investing in your personal growth and development. For your life to get better, you have to get better.
Start making changes in your life today, and you’ll soon start seeing the results you’ve always wanted.
Everyone has the power to change their lives for the better.
What’s your favorite way to incorporate personal growth into your day? Leave a comment!