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You are different today than you were 5 years ago. And 5 years ago, you were different than you were 5 years before that. Change is inevitable.

You can encourage your own personal growth and change, though chances are you’ll grow in ways you didn’t expect.

When considering how to better yourself, the answers might be simpler than you think. Much of who you are comes down to the intentional decisions you make every day.

You can change, grow, and improve (whatever word rings true and motivates you) by consciously choosing your daily, weekly, or even monthly choices and directing your habits toward a future of your choosing.

Bettering yourself can be called many things, from personal development and self-improvement to personal growth — all of which describe how you grow and change internally.

Growth isn’t necessarily linear. It can expand in all directions.

You can grow physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually as you cultivate your activities, habits, and choices toward the person you want to be.

Whatever personal growth means to you, there are small changes you can make every day that can have a big impact.

Here are some you can try.

1. Identify your personal values.

Consider exploring what matters to you — what gives you meaning and purpose.

Knowing your values can help when you’re choosing a career, a degree, or even whether to accept that promotion you’ve been offered. It can also help you know how to set and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships.

2. Practice daily gratitude.

Daily gratitude is a positive psychology method that can help you find ways to be grateful for the experiences you’ve had in your life.

Positive psychology was developed on the belief that embracing your personal strengths and focusing on concepts such as gratitude and purpose can help you lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

You can start a gratitude journal or simply write down a couple of things you’re grateful for each day in a planner or notebook.

3. Adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Eating a more balanced meal and exercising regularly can improve your mental and physical performance and boost your productivity during the day.

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and keeps your muscles strong. If you already exercise regularly, try a new sport or activity.

You can also stretch yourself physically by searching for new exercise challenges, such as strength training or signing up for a race.

4. Meditate.

Adding a 5- to 10-minute meditation session into your day is easy and has many physical and mental health benefits. But it can also promote personal growth.

Meditation is designed to help you learn to stay focused on the moment and redirect your thoughts when they begin to wander.

When your mind wanders, you might have trouble focusing on a task, whether that’s a special project at school or a big presentation at work.

Meditation can help improve your attention and concentration and reduce mind wandering, according to a 2013 study.

Improving your focus and concentration may open the door for new opportunities for growth at work, at school, and in your personal relationships.

5. Get quality rest.

Rest is a crucial part of your self-care.

The World Health Organization notes that the fundamental principles of self-care include personal factors such as empowerment, self-efficacy, and self-reliance — all qualities that can help improve your personal growth and development.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your body needs about 7 or more hours of sleep each day to fully recuperate from the busyness of your day.

Quality sleep not only rejuvenates you for the next day but can also help you stay focused on your goals during the day.

6. Set short- and long-term goals.

Your growth may not be as static as you think. Sometimes you can’t see how much you’ve grown without the help of goals.

Try to set one or two long-term goals, then create the short-term goals you’ll need to reach them. Tracking your progress to see your growth can help you see how far you’ve come.

7. Be kind to yourself.

Making mistakes is a part of life. Instead of criticizing yourself for those mistakes, try to practice self-compassion.

Consider giving yourself the same empathy and understanding that you give to others.

Additionally, remember that self-compassion isn’t the same as self-pity.

Self-pity says “Why is this happening to me?” while self-compassion says “These things happen.”

8. Embrace setbacks.

Setbacks give you an opportunity to learn, grow, and try again.

Remember that any type of growth or change comes with some discomfort. A setback can also make your success that much sweeter.

9. Explore new activities.

Taking the time to explore new activities can open you up to new opportunities and new ways to help promote personal development.

Some new activities you can try include:

  • Learn a new language. Learning a new language has never been easier. Apps such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone let you learn languages on your daily commute or while on a daily run.
  • Try a new podcast. Are you curious about true crime, marketing, or genealogy? There’s a podcast for almost everything.
  • Learn to play an instrument. If you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument, consider signing up for music lessons. If in-person lessons aren’t your jam, there are plenty of places to take lessons online, including free videos on YouTube. If you’re a musician already, consider trying a new instrument or a new type of music.
  • Develop and feed your creativity. Creativity comes in many forms. Your creativity may come in the form of developing a new pantry organization method, building a new storage rack for your garage, or redecorating your bedroom. If you like to draw or paint, try to find a class near you. Cooking can also offer a creative outlet to boost self-esteem and encourage connection.
  • Read a book. You can read a book on just about anything, exposing you to new ideas. Try a book on personal development or growth from your local library. A biography or historical novel may also be helpful in motivating and encouraging you to take a new step or make a change.

Personal growth can come in many forms.

Knowing your personal values and making choices that align with that is a great first start. Growing as a person may also look like showing self-compassion, learning to set boundaries, or exploring a new activity.

Whatever change you attempt, remember that growth comes slowly and can expand in all directions.