Introducing the Personal Growth Map

by Haider on March 16, 2009 · 17 comments

in Personal Growth Map

I’ve been putting off introducing the Personal Growth Map for some time now, mainly because I haven’t figured out a comprehensive way of presenting both the theory and the practice in a way that allows you to apply it fully into your life.

But from personal experience, a handful of the principles behind the Personal Growth Map can lead to very positive changes in your life. This post will not cover everything there is to cover about the Personal Growth Map. It will simply clarify what the Personal Growth Map is about and what to expect out of it.

Before I introduce the Personal Growth Map, it’s important to first be clear on what the purpose of the Personal Growth Map is and what problems it’s intended to address.

The Purpose

It’s very easy to experience disappointment in a personal growth approach (or anything for that matter) when it doesn’t live up to our expectations. However, it is possible that we apply a solution to a problem it’s not designed to address. If we’re thirsty, eating the most delicious food will only add to the problem. No amount of food can do what a glass of water can do. If we’re hungry, no amount of water in the world can compensate for a loaf of bread.

Therefore, it’s important that the purpose of the Personal Growth Map is clear in your mind before you develop expectations that it’s not designed to satisfy.

The Personal Growth Map has two ultimate aims:

1) To make life balance achievable

2) To make personal growth much easier and less overwhelming

With these two aims in mind, we can now look at the Personal Growth Map and see how it can help you experience life balance and greater personal growth!

The Personal Growth Map

Many personal growth enthusiasts struggle to achieve life balance. In fact, the growing interest surrounding productivity literature stems from the need to get work done in order to make room for other areas of our lives, such as our families and our hobbies. And while people are concerned about achieving life balance, most of them struggle to identify what they’re trying to balance! The common opinion is that they are trying to balance between work and family time.

The Personal Growth Map recognizes SEVEN life areas that we need to balance! Sounds complicated? It’s actually quite simple. And that’s the beauty of the Personal Growth Map: It’s simple, not simplistic.

It doesn’t try to reduce the complexity of life to the point where we gloss over the important details. It identifies our needs as human beings more accurately, so that we can better satisfy those needs.

The seven life areas are:

(1) Spiritual

(2) Intellectual

(3) Psychological

(4) Social

(5) Professional

(6) Recreational

(7) Physical

When we speak of life balance, it’s important to recognize our needs in these seven life areas, and to give each life area some care and attention. You can now see that trying to balance work and family life only covers two out of the seven life areas. That’s not real balance, is it? In fact, our social needs extend beyond family life, so we’re not even fully acknowledging that need!

And this is why life balance is such a pain: when we do not acknowledge and satisfy all our needs, we cannot perform at our best.

Therefore, it’s essential that we consider all the seven life areas, without neglecting any one of them.

And if you think that you cannot achieve life balance today, think again! The truth is, you cannot live without life balance!

How is that?

Suppose you are concentrating on advancing your career at the moment. However, most of the time you feel sluggish and unable to focus on your work. You might conclude that you need to familiarize yourself with productivity techniques and a new work approach. But that usually isn’t the case. The problem could very well stem from health issues. In other words, the limitations you are experiencing at work are caused by you neglecting your health! By eating the right foods and doing moderate exercise you will be able to advance your professional life!

Not only can life areas set limitations on each other, but they can also offer opportunities. How many people advanced their professional lives because of social relations they fostered? If you don’t make time for a social life, you could be shunning many, many opportunities to catapulting your career to a new level! How many people have experienced a complete transformation in their entire lives simply by changing some of their spiritual beliefs?

Life is meant to be lived in balance. Every life area is important, and if we neglect any one of them, we will be experiencing a deficiency that can impact our entire lives. This is why life balance should never be postponed or neglected.

If you’re now thinking: “I don’t have time for two life areas, let alone seven!” then you’re in for a treat :D

Life balance isn’t about balancing time: In fact, time is a minor factor in the equation. What’s important is doing something – anything – to advance each life area, even if it doesn’t take much time to do! If you work eight-hour days, it doesn’t mean you have to exercise for eight hours a day! Small adjustments to your diet and routine can help you advance your health and allow you to experience the benefits you need to move your life forward. The simplest example I can think of is smiling more often. This will make it easier to develop better social relations, because it makes you more pleasant and approachable.

Life areas can be combined through a single activity: Life areas aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because you are spending time with your family doesn’t mean that all other life areas are on stand by. Some activities can offer benefits that span several life areas and, therefore, can help you satisfy your needs in those areas, without having to schedule different activities. For example, instead of going to the gym to exercise, you can play football with your friends. That activity, alone, can help you advance your social, recreational and physical life areas! The possible combinations are endless! And you can use them to achieve life balance without having to worry about not having enough time!

And how will the Personal Growth Map make personal growth less overwhelming?

The Personal Growth Map acts as a super-structure to personal growth. I’m sure you noticed that there are 101 subjects (if not more!) that are categorized under personal growth. Trying to read up on all of them is tedious and overwhelming. But by grouping them under the seven life areas on the Personal Growth Map, we can focus on only one subject from each life area in order to advance in that life area. Using the simple layout of the Personal Growth Map will help to better manage our personal growth and avoid taking on more than we can handle (which usually compromises our life balance as well).

What Now?

There’s obviously a lot more to mention about the Personal Growth Map, life balance and personal growth. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t start using the Personal Growth Map today!

Follow these simple steps to begin experiencing more balance and control in your life!

1) Come up with ways you can advance each life area: For each life area (and starting with Spiritual), list all the possible ways you know of on how to advance that life area. Look around your house for things you can use, find websites that can provide you with information in that area, consider the people you can get in touch with and any activity that can help move that life area forward.

2) Come up with activities you enjoy that combine life areas: Think of ways you can combine life areas with a single activity. You can organize an informal book club (combines intellectual – social – recreational), arrange football matches (social – recreational – physical), play Frisbee with your family in the park (social – recreational – physical) instead of watching TV together (social – recreational). The possibilities are endless, so get creative!

3) Select a list of activities you can start doing today that cover all life areas: The options available are many, and you can’t possibly fit them all in your schedule. So select the options you would like to go for starting today. Make sure that you cover all the life areas!

I will be providing you with many more details, resources and suggestions on how to use the Personal Growth Map to move your life forward! If you’re not already subscribed to the mailing list, I suggest you subscribe now either by RSS or Email!

Tell everyone you know about the Personal Growth Map, so they can start experiencing more balance and greater growth in their lives!

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March 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 um mohammed March 17, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Allah yewafgik sayed 7aidar for the useful posts you put here..it is very motivational and well put ! I hope to see it one day published in a book !
salaam

2 PennySue March 19, 2009 at 12:00 am

Personal growth & life balance are vital for our daily existence having the control of our minds giving balance and direction as well as determination to overcome all the stumbling blocks that we come across on a daily basis. To be able to make the right decisions and lifestyle changes that gives positive feedback for self growth.

3 Haider March 19, 2009 at 12:09 am

@um mohammed: Thank you for your encouraging words :)

@PennySue: Very true. But, sadly, the default approach to life balance is postponing it until we have control of our lives, without realizing that it’s a key factor for control!

4 PennySue March 19, 2009 at 3:12 am

Very true in some cases, but I have found in my life if I can establish balance and routine, then I have more control of my life and decisions I make. If I am out of balance, then making decisions and having control seem to get fuzzy and unclear. I am one that needs balance and stability in my life to be able to get the control over my life.

5 diane March 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm

I must be dense ;) When I read this I am looking for an actual map/template/form and I can’t find one.

“The Personal Growth Map acts as a super-structure to personal growth. I’m sure you noticed that there are 101 subjects (if not more!) that are categorized under personal growth.”

Is there a download I am missing?

6 Haider March 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Diane, you’re certainly not dense and you’re not missing a download. :)

The Personal Growth Map is like a mind map and not a road map (the graphic at the top of the blog page). Personal growth subjects can be categorized under the seven life areas, but I don’t have a graphic to illustrate that! That would be too overwhelming, especially when introducing the Personal Growth Map.. :D

Apologies for the confusion I caused, and I hope future posts will make it more clear on what the Personal Growth Map is and how it can be used.. ;)

Thanks for passing by!

7 diane March 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Thanks – that is what I thought – this is what made me think that I was mistaken – I’m sure you noticed that there are 101 subjects (if not more!) that are categorized under personal growth.”

I may be too literal – do you mean you have identified 101 specific subjects or that there are 101 in a generic way?

Sorry again, for my literal translation. This is a subject I am very interested in and like your spin on it (breaking it down into 7 areas) for instance :)

8 Haider March 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Dear Diane,

No need to apologize :)

101 is a number commonly used to mean “a lot.” The theory goes that instead of saying 100, you say 101, to make room for additions.

9 saraw1 May 12, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Help! I can’t find the map!! In naming the site, did you mean map literally or figuratively? Forgive my ignorance if I should already know the answer to this question, but I actually thought I’d find some little mapping widget here. Since I find maps to be a) a personal fixation, and b) incredibly helpful, I was hoping to find one. Could you please let me know if there is a literal map anywhere here, and if so where I can find it? Thanks Much! S

saraw1’s last blog post..Words of wisdom, from Omar Little

10 Haider May 12, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Hi Sara,

Thanks for stopping by. I’m afraid I’m not offering a mapping widget yet. My focus now is on explaining the principles behind the Personal Growth Map and am leaving a great deal of room for flexibility when it comes to applying these principles. The significance of the map is in identifying the 7 Life Areas that our lives are based on.

Please let me know if you face any difficulty in making use of the PGM and where the difficulties arise so I can know what sort of resources I should add to this site!

Thanks again! :D

11 kirwin @ Graceful Creative May 19, 2009 at 12:24 am

This is wonderful! My blog is centered around me becoming my best version of myself, and I use a Lifestyle Map to map out my goals. My areas of interest are very similar, but they are:
1. Body & Wellness
2. Creativity & Celebration
3. Fashion & Sensuality
4. Home & Stuff
5. Nature & Rest/Relaxation
6. Relationships & Communication
7. Service & Wealth
8. Spirit & Learning

I look forward to reading more and keeping up with this!

kirwin @ Graceful Creative’s last blog post..Edit, Add, Appreciate – May 17

12 Haider May 19, 2009 at 8:11 am

Dear Kirwin,

Thank you for your feedback and sharing your own life categories.

I like how you have associations in your categories. When I was first coming up with the Personal Growth Map, I thought Relationships and Communication were separate things, but then realized that they’re connected.

13 MackRN May 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

this is exciting stuff! I am about to finish the first phase of a leadership development course cebtered around my work. We have been introduced to a lot of good information, but I found this while searching for personal growth material. I am sharing this with my guitar instructor, whose interest was piqued by my enthusiatic description. And, I’ve used MindApp to do an actual map based on the seven core values. This will lead to fine developments. Thank you.

14 Haider May 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Dear MackRN,

I’m happy to hear that you’re excited to use the Personal Growth Map, and I hope you’ll gain more rewards than you anticipated! ;)

15 keane
Twitter: keaneangle
December 8, 2009 at 5:46 am

hi haider, im always interested in new ways of looking at life and trying different things. this growth map seems to be useful and i’d like to give it a try, however, i cannot seem to find an example of a growth map from an illustration standpoint. how does it look when completed? i have a giant whiteboard on my wall that’s begging to be used right now. any help or direction would be appreciated.
keane´s last blog ..Care to know what the best thing ever is? My ComLuv Profile

16 Haider December 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Dear Keane,

Thanks for stopping by.

I personally don’t use a diagram or actual “map” for my own PGM. My preference is for lists.

But the basic principle behind the PGM is this: “We are human beings with needs that can be loosely categorized under 7 life areas (for simplicity and clarity).” The point is to know how well you’re taking care of each life area and what can be done to advance each area.

You can draw vertical lines down your whiteboard to split it up into 7 columns. Put the Life Area headings above each column: Spiritual – Intellectual – Psychological – Social – Professional – Recreational – Physical.

Think of ways/activities you can advance each life area, and list them under the column they belong to. I would suggest (for starters) that you list only the activities that you can actually engage in and afford (you’ll be surprised by how many options you’ve got around you). Ask yourself the following question for each life area: “How can I enhance my spirituality? Intellect? Psychological well-being? … etc.”

Once you have a good list for each life area, circle only 1 to 3 items from each list that you can commit to. A good strategy would be to select the activities that fall under several life areas at one go. So, for example, if you can take your children to the cinema or to the park, you’d pick taking them to the park (because going to the park also enhances your Physical well-being). Having said that, go for what feels most comfortable and motivating to you.

You will realize that in a day to a week, you can advance all life areas in many different ways.

I hope that explains a practical use of PGM (and, of course, your whiteboard ;) )

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