Why striving for personal growth is wearing you down

Is your pursuit of personal growth and development making you happier?

Or is striving to become a better, more all-rounded, more spiritual, more balanced person actually stressing you out?

Our society doesn’t encourage us to be happy. While we’re struggling to get our hands on the next best thing, we’re rarely content.

And unfortunately personal development can sometimes lead us into this trap as well.

All this striving to be better, to get to the next level. Do you ever feel it wearing you down?


Sometimes I think we’re just on the latest trendy hamster wheel of working to become our “best selves”.

It’s exhausting. Frustrating. Overwhelming. We’re afraid we’re never going to get there.

Who is your “best self” anyway?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to improve your lot in life through self-help techniques or (even more crucially) deep spiritual inner work. Of course we should follow that path if it’s our soul’s calling. And if we are not here on this planet to grow our souls then I ask why are we here?

The question rather is how are we going about it?

Personal Growth is a Spiritual Journey

Stating the obvious, I know, but personal work is just that – it’s a journey and a spiritual one. It is beneath the surface, beyond our expectations. It reveals new ways of thinking, seeing and being.

It doesn’t progress well when we apply our worldly (masculine) cultural approach of determined striving to achieve it in the most time-efficient way possible.

My goodness, growth doesn’t work like that! And yet how easily we forget.

We forget that growth is a natural, beautiful and organic process. It is individual and personal to each of us. It is to be pondered, wondered at, explored. It is slow and gradual for the most part, although sometimes there are epiphanic bursts of insight that propel us to a new level. But we can’t predict these; we can’t hurry them along.

If you want to find happiness in your personal development, stop striving for an outcome. You’ll find joy in the journey only when you slow down and appreciate each step along the way. You don’t know how far you’ll travel in this lifetime so stop worrying about the destination. Happiness is in knowing each step is uniquely and preciously yours to experience and savour.

If you want to be happy ask yourself this question of this moment, any moment:

“Right here, right now, my life – is this enough?”

If it is, breathe that truth into your being and be content.

You can still seek personal growth, but from a healthy place of self-acceptance and contentment that allows for a natural evolution, not a frenzied desperate yearning to keep up with the spiritual Joneses.

If this moment, right here, right now is not enough, genuinely not enough, actually quite unacceptable to you (like a bad relationship, or a dead end job or an addiction or an insistent anxiety), then may I suggest you start a careful plan to extract yourself from anything you need to leave and create anything you long to create, so that, still without that desperate striving you can begin the process of building more and more moments of “enoughness” in your life.

Because it is in this succession of present moments of contentedness that we will truly find our happiness. And that is all the personal growth we’ll ever need.