4 Big Steps to Personal Growth

I got curious about personal growth when I was 14 years old. Our relatives in the US regularly send old books to me. So I learned lessons from Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Wallace Wattles, William Zinsser, and Napoleon Hill.

Are you here because you value personal growth?

If you are looking for actionable ideas and tools to get started or to accelerate personal development, you are in the right place.

I will share with you what I have learned through experiences. You will get insights, tools, and guides on how to get started.

Personal Development

The best way to get started in personal development is to start. Let me share simple and easy ways to help you progress. Even if you are not yet ready to sit down and craft your development plan, reading these tips can help you immediately.

I wrote down 50 self-improvement ideas for those who want to find mini-steps for personal development. Elsewhere, you will find many steps to personal development.

But if you want to start now, I will offer you this mini-workshop for personal development. Get a notebook and a pen. Let’s do some serious stuff.

I am going to guide you on how to create breakthroughs in personal development.

A breakthrough is a great success that takes you to a different level. The direct translation of the word breakthrough in Tagalog is “pambihirang tagumpay”.

I want to offer you this opportunity. Later, we will talk about how you can embrace a growth mindset. A growth mindset is crucial in creating breakthroughs.

Let’s get started, shall we?

What do you want to create?

1. Define Your Vision

Your vision is the future you care about. Most people have dreams but have no vision. So when the future comes, they won’t notice it. That’s because they can only afford to live for today.

I will explain.

When I was younger, I knew that many people in the slums were also like us. They worry about whether they have food to eat for the day. They wished they had extra money for the next day to keep their soul and body together.

We pity ourselves because we were victims of our circumstances. Or so we thought. We were called so many names: dukha, hampas-lupa, and anak-pawis. And through time, we embraced these words to describe us. 

When I was young, there was a popular song that goes:

“Isang kahig, isang tuka, ganyan kaming mga dukha”.

Dukha is a pejorative word that means poorer than a rat.

Unsurprisingly, those who belong to the poorest of the poor felt helpless and hopeless. But it doesn’t mean that the poor cannot dream. 

Our lives will transform when we start embracing an inspiring vision

Since you are reading this today, you likely don’t use dukha, hampas-lupa, or anak-pawis to describe yourself. You must have gotten a better education than most.

But an educated person without a vision is lost. So, don’t take this lesson for granted.  

A vision defines the endpoint of our direction.

Once you have a clear sense of the life you intend to live, you will know your next move. You can answer each question or write a letter describing your vision of your future.

  1. How do I see myself ten years from now?
  2. What have I achieved?
  3. Where do I live?
  4. Who do I work with?
  5. What are the things that I do every day?
  6. What do I feel?
  7. What do family, my friends, and others say about me?

You can work on your vision for a week.

2. Clarify Your Mission

Your mission is what you ought to do every day to achieve your vision. If your vision is your destination, the person you want to become ten or twenty years from now, your mission is how you live your life daily.

Your daily activities may help you achieve your vision. Or it might not.

I have mentioned that most people live one day at a time for them to survive. We do not want to die. We cannot blame them too.

But we can move from surviving to thriving.

And if you were to ask me whether your vision is more important than your mission, I would say no.

Your mission is more tangible. It is what you choose to do now.

If your vision is to be on the other side of the river, your mission requires you to get wet, then keep on swimming until you reach the other side of the river.

Crossing the river is an excellent metaphor for a mission. But even this metaphor does not justify the importance of your mission.

I will tell you why.

We assumed we had control over time and space by linking our mission to our vision.

So, one says: I will be a senior manager five years from now. You will deem it your mission to do whatever will get you promoted to senior manager.

But here’s the catch.

God did not promise that we’ll be alive tomorrow. We are not sure we’ll be here five, ten, or twenty years from now.

With our mortality in mind, I encourage you to return to your answer about your vision. It is okay if you want to change it. Or if you want to add something.

This page can wait for you. Then, when you come back, I will tell you a simple formula you can use to write a clear and coherent mission statement.

How can you make your dreams fly?

Here’s a simple formula for your mission statement. I thought about it while waiting for my flight from Legazpi to Cebu. The previous day, I presented the first part of the formula to a group of leaders. I thought that the second part would make it more powerful.

So, I am sharing this with you.

Write down your answer.

You don’t need to do it in one sitting.

I exist to ___________________ and because of this, I will __________________.

People will know your mission with how you live. Your mission is what you do every day because of who you are.

You will become who you choose to become someday because of what you choose to become today.

Does that make sense?

Your third move will give you more clarity about your vision and confidence in your mission.

When you have an inspiring vision and a clear mission, you will discover that it is easy to live on purpose.

2. Set Your Standards

Your standards are your values and beliefs you say yes to every time. You will do with enthusiasm those activities that reflect your values in life.

I have dedicated an article to help you identify your values. Please read them. But you can work on a simple exercise to help you identify your deeply held values.

Get your pen and paper. Then, write your answer to this prompt.

Think of a time when you felt alive, most enthusiastic, and most valuable. Where were you, and what were you doing? Who were the people you worked with?

Consider many occasions.

These occasions will give you clues about your values.

You won’t have to pick a set of values from a list of 300. Instead, you will know who you are.

I have written my set of standards on my values page.

Before you move on to the following steps, please remember that our values change over time. We caught some values from others. And we can choose to pick other values too. Doing so are steps we make that will change our stories.

Personal development isn’t about reaching your highest potential. Of course, reaching our highest potential is an attractive idea. But that thinking was based on a fixed mindset.

Personal development is transformation. You can design your life and the person you want to become.

4. Create Your Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan is your roadmap; it is how you intend to accomplish your development intention based on what you know today. You can change your PDP by learning new things from your experience and study.

You can create a personal development plan based on SMARTER, GROW, 4DX, or a good project management tool. A PDP is a project plan.

I wrote a piece on creating a bold personal development plan using the 4 Disciplines of Execution. Though the framework is typically used for high-impact projects, the process is simple.

The Make It Happen Workshop teaches how to do your PDPs using 4DX.

Five Benefits of Personal Development

There are many benefits of personal development. You can start with these five benefits. May this encourage you to start your journey to personal success today.

  • When you develop skills in personal development, you will be committed to and actively work toward lifelong improvement. Even small steps can bring you far when you move consistently.
  • You will be agile and adaptive. You can understand different situations and act accordingly. You take ownership of problems and find ways to solve them.
  • You will focus on the positives. You are aware of your personal best; you operate around your strengths.
  • You know your limits and allow your assets to compensate for them.
  • You live according to your passion or calling. You know where you can be the best in the world. And you position yourself for success.

Aspects of Personal Development

Personal development is a holistic approach. Though most training programs focus on developing a singular skill, I found it more impactful when you consider growth in every area: physical, social, financial, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Learn more about the six aspects of personal development.

75 Articles on Personal Development

Continue your journey on personal development. I recommend the following articles.

  • 79 Examples of Values Statements. Being clear about your values will help shape your behaviors.
  • Personal Development Plan in 4 Easy Steps (with Examples). A bold personal development plan encourages you to achieve what you have not achieved before. It also inspires you to do what you have not done before. 
  • 3 Reasons Why I Am Writing 1500 Words Daily. The fastest way to write is to write freely. And I free-write because I do not have to publish them. There is joy in writing. It is the closest thing to thinking.
  • 4 Percent Rule. The 4 Percent Optimization will help you thrive. I will tell you why and how you can use it. You may work on 100 things each day. 
  • 4 Ways to Develop a Sense of Urgency. Good leaders work with a sense of urgency. Their words are their vows. They work on the most important and stick to it until it gets done.
  • 50 Awesome Self-Improvement Tips for Professionals. To get what we want, you and I need to upgrade our mindset, explore strategies, improve our skills, and make baby steps to improve each day. 
  • 6 Important Aspects of Personal Development. Holistic growth happens when we pay attention to all aspects of personal development. Without balance, we stunt our growth.
  • Accomplish something today! Every day, make sure, no matter how small the effort, that you do something to make your dreams come true. 
  • Appreciative Leaders Bring Out the Best in People. Appreciative leaders inspire hope. Without hope, there will be no enthusiasm, energy, commitment, or persistence. An appreciative leader is a dealer of hope.
  • Are you trying to get things done? I found many productivity apps counter-productive. They are designed for factory workers, not knowledge creators. 
  • Be a go-giver! Being a go-giver works better than being a go-getter. It is good to be a go-getter. Go-getters take action. They look for opportunities. They create opportunities. They make things happen. 
  • Be cheerful and fill your life with power. Instead of worrying too much about the misfortunes you anticipate, be happy about the blessings that are about to come. Count every blessing that comes, and you’ll be happy.
  • Be interested in people. Be interested in people. That’s your first assignment as a leader. 
  • Begin now; start with good enough. Begin now. You don’t have to wait until Everything is perfect. You have a big project to accomplish. Maybe, a project worth a million pesos. Don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Behavior and Vision. Make your vision statement specific and inspiring so that it can guide your people’s behavior. Your vision is a pitch for the future. 
  • Character Development vs. Personal Development. Character development started at home. Our parents taught us that there are traits and values which are good and acceptable in our society. 
  • Choose Your Attitude & Take Positive Action. Choose your attitude and take positive action. Your attitude will direct you in any direction. It can bring you up; it can bring you down. 
  • The classroom is a theater. When I was young, most teachers made us students memorize trivial information. I topped quiz bees because I could remember most information we were asked to memorize. 
  • Cram Early: 5 Simple Steps that Cure Procrastination. Cram Early is my best time management tip. Cramming early is also one of my best stress reduction strategies and procrastination cure. Most people worry about big tasks with deadlines. 
  • Do it now. Do it now is a call to action. Do it now turn theories into truths, dreams into realities. Whatever you want to do, do it now. 
  • Do one important thing. A to-do list is a good thing. However, a to-do list with ten, twenty, or thirty items is overwhelming. It is a sure template for daily failures and frustrations.
  • Everything is figurable. Everything is figurable. You can start before you are ready. I don’t debate with people who say they are waiting for the right time. 
  • Focus on Results and Value. Speakers who focus on purpose, result, and action are more likely to become successful in professional speaking than those who get themselves busy with tasks and tricks. 
  • Good People Ask for Help. You can always ask for help from friends. But when you do, don’t ask them to do the work for free just because they are your friends. 
  • Be the First Follower & Start a Movement. Always remember the first follower principle. Professionals understand this principle. Teachers, trainers, speakers, and anyone intending to change will benefit from following the first-follower principle. 
  • Become Indispensable and Irreplaceable. I thanked him for his courage to ask that question which almost everyone wanted but never did.
  • Invest in Your Biggest Dreams. Malcolm Gladwell talked about the 10,000-Hour Rule. He did not argue for it. Instead, he gave many examples of successful people who devoted their lives to doing one thing.
  • Jump Start Your Leadership Journey. Maximize your website experiences. Here are 15 tips on how you can make the most of jefmenguin.com
  • Keep a record of almost Everything to think clearly. Keep your eyes on the future. And keep your hands recording what you see. Because you’ll need them to make sense of the world you are in. 
  • Keep yourself sold. Be sold on your vision. Or people will sell on you their “objections” to your offer. You must deepen your knowledge about the change you want to create.
  • Kickstart yourself. When I think I must work on something and I am not in the mood to work yet, I tell myself to DO IT NOW until I stand and do something.
  • Leadership and Personal Development. Effective leaders do not pursue personal excellence because they are effective leaders. Instead, they are effective leaders because they seek personal development.
  • Learn Like a Child. The best leaders aren’t those with ready answers for Everything. No, not the know-it-all type. The best leaders are those who learn like a child.
  • Make every minute count! A minute for a dying man is a lifetime. Gladwell said we need to work 10,000 solid hours to become an expert. 
  • Make your dreams come true. Poverty is painful and often dulls the mind. I was eleven. We were living in slums.
  • Make your good luck! An excellent professional makes his good luck. Look around and ahead to the unexpected things you can do without waiting to be told. Opportunity sometimes walks in mini-skirts. 
  • More is not always better. We measure ourselves better with the outcome we create, our impact, and the value we produce. We do not become productive because we do more. People who are caught in a whirlwind do more every day. But they don’t get the most important goals done. 
  • Persistence: Build Stick-to-itiveness. You must be stickier as you get older. Stick with your dreams when others tell you to forget them. Stick with your dreams when facing tough times and you aren’t sure you can make it.
  • Personal Branding vs. Personal Development. Personal branding and personal development are not the same, even if some gurus insist. Personal branding can be part of personal development.
  • Personal Development vs. Personality Development. I daresay you pay attention to personal development to achieve clarity and confidence about who you want to be. Then, you invest time in personality development to relate better with others.
  • Personal Excellence: How to Become Your Super-Duper Best. Personal excellence is a core value, a strong belief of an individual to live an extraordinary life each day. 
  • Professional Development vs. Personal Development. Professional development refers to the process and activities professionals undertake to increase their value in the corporate world. 
  • Push Gently: The Sales Technique That Works. If you have the advantage of company-sponsored salesmanship training, you’ve probably learned the importance of closing. Unfortunately, most salesmanship training programs allocate 90 percent of training to product knowledge and less than 10 percent to closing sales.
  • Questions That Will Help You Get Started. I ask lots of questions. I choose to begin with you, and I empty my cup. I avoid giving you 120 slides of presentations to showcase how great our company is.
  • Resist the urge to criticize. When you become aware that you spend more than 15 minutes criticizing co-employees, organizations, or the government, snap out of it. Give more attention to creating more value. 
  • Say Goodbye to excuses! People who do not take accountability for their results have excuses. The mistakes are often not theirs. Someone else made a mistake. Or something is lacking. Or that the stars were misaligned.
  • Seek Progress & Pursue Excellence. I have heard people say that we must seek progress, not perfection. They say we cannot attain perfection as no one is perfect. 
  • Sell your confidence. Your customers buy your confidence first. Your customers won’t buy from you if you are not sold on your offer. Watch your attitude about your product or service. 
  • Spread Enthusiasm to Grow Your Business. To make your customers enthusiastic about your product, you must be 101% excited about your product. When presenting before your customer, forget about Everything else.
  • Stand out, don’t just fit in. Everyone wants you to fit in. Everyone wants you to mold yourself into the desired image. 
  • Start before you are ready. The best step to writing a book is not trying to write but writing. Daily. In the number of hours you want. Until you get done.
  • Start Something Today. I do not know you. But you can start one small action today to help you build yourself. 
  • Start with Your Big Goals. Gurus will tell you to start the day with easy tasks. I think this works when your best time of the day is in the afternoon or the evening.
  • Steam Up to Succeed. I will not venture into a speaking performance before a hungry audience cold. Athletes spend an hour or two getting warmed up before the game begins. 
  • Stop Wishing and Start Doing. Motivation and ability fail people. Not only that they need to develop skills of achievement, but they must also develop achievement habits. Stop wishing and start winning.
  • Seek Personal Development. Spending three hours each day on Facebook will provide volumes of information. But spending time on Facebook or Netflix, or Twitter won’t make us improve ourselves. We do not need much input. We need inspiration to grow.
  • Take Breaks. For some people, life is a sprint. They give all their energy to some causes because they want to achieve them fast. But they don’t know when to stop. 
  • Take the Initiative. Do you have initiative? You should have. Elbert Hubbard told us why. “The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing. 
  • Think Big and Play Bigger. Choose experiences that will make you think of new possibilities and immediately create changes in your leadership, business, and life. 
  • To Lead By Example. To lead by example means that you have to walk the talk. You tell people what to do and get yourself dirty too. Align your actions with your words.
  • To Succeed, Know What You Want. A crisis like Covid-19 hits all of us. Most stumbled, and many fell. But some are thriving even in the worst of times. Find out.
  • Uncover Your Passion & Find Ways to Be Successful. Passion originally meant suffering. Recently, the meaning expanded to an intense feeling that moves us to action, and that feeling is usually seen as love. So, do not be surprised when I tell you to do what you love. I believe all leaders will tell you the same. I cannot claim any originality. Passion is doing what you love.
  • Urgent dreams. A journey to a thousand miles begins in a single step. That’s according to a dead but wise Chinese philosopher.
  • Vital Behaviors: Actions That Bring Extraordinary Results. Vital behaviors are the smallest actions that lead to the desired results. They are the few high-leverage actions that, if you keep doing them, produce the outcomes you’re after.
  • Want to change the world? Pay the price. If you were to change the world, would you be willing to live in that world? Would you still push for it if you were the follower, not the leader?
  • What is more effective than a to-do list to manage your time? I started using a to-do list more than two decades ago. I was still a seminarian. We practiced listing everything we had to do because people expected us to serve them all. 
  • What to Do When You Are Bored at Work. Being bored with work is a real thing. However, even if you are a driven individual, you are very productive and one of your company’s most valuable players.
  • What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed. Meetings and webinars are driving people crazy. Well, not all kinds of meetings and not all kinds of webinars. But you know what I meant.
  • What You Have Is Now: Don’t Waste It! Please understand that long life is not promised to anyone. Some people live for a hundred. And they are very few—some for fifty, forty, thirty, twenty. You get the point. Don’t delay.
  • Why do Filipinos procrastinate? And how to cure it. People procrastinate not because they don’t want to do anything. Procrastinators are busy people. They do many things to find justifications for not doing what must be done.
  • Why I Choose Family First, I will begin by introducing to you my family because they are Everything to me. Meet my wife, Romelyn. 
  • Why Make a Difference? I believe you and I deserve the best in the world. We do not have to wait for others. We do not have to wait until we are ready. Waiting wastes time. I am not happy with the status quo — and I believe most of us are not happy too.
  • Why should I care? That’s the one question that matters the most to your customer. Your presentation must be able to answer that question concisely and convincingly.
  • Why Today Is the Best Time to Write Your Book Today is the best time to write your book because today is what we have. Yesterday has passed, and we cannot do anything about it. 
  • Write Your Next Steps to Save Yourself from Chaos. Before leaving work, set aside 15 minutes to write your plan for the next day. Consider the amount of time you can use for work. 

You can find more topics on Personal Growth.

Professional development
We ought to grow professionally.

My First Three Steps in Personal Development

My three big steps in personal development are (1) choosing a growth mindset, {2) finding your 1000x strategy, and (3) practicing disciplined execution.

There are many steps I took. But these three steps made the biggest difference. So, even though they are simple and easy to do, I call them big steps.

Personal development is a conscious effort to grow in various aspects of our lives. Of course, we can all grow old. We cannot help it. But to grow up, even when you are already 65, is a deliberate effort.

Elsewhere on this website, I will share how you can design holistic growth. This means that you will consciously grow in different areas or aspects of personal development.

In each aspect, there are tactical steps you can make. I’ve done some research, and I will show you steps backed up by science and other exciting techniques based on the achievers’ experiences.

My personal development could have been faster. I study a lot. But it was a long, almost flat line for many decades. And I know that many people feel the same about their personal growth.

The breakthrough – the hockey stick growth – happened when I discovered these three big steps in personal development. I will share this in detail later, but let me give you a quick summary.

After reading these three big steps, some people may think they know and have done them too. And these did not work for them. They may dismiss these steps, therefore.

I completely understand that. I was in that situation. I thought I understood what I read. But assuming that you understood what you read is different from understanding it from experience.

Related Terms

Some terms are often confused with personal development. May these definitions help you distinguish one from another.

Personal versus Personality Development

Personality development enhances and improves one’s personality through deliberate study and practice. Personality refers to our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. You can say that personality development is the outward appearance of personal development. When you pay attention to your personal development, personality development follows.

People differ in personality types, styles, and traits. For example, some people are introverts, others are extroverts, and a few are ambiverts.

Based on this definition, you can immediately see the difference between personal and personality development.

Personal development is often inward. Personality development is outward. However, we can also say that personality development is the outward appearance of personal development. They are not two sides of the same coin. Personal development is about the person, while personality development is how others see the person.

I explore this in a separate article.

Character development refers to the steps taken by our society to ensure that we grow to be good people. Even in the workplace, there are attempts to develop us into good workers through the WAVE (Work Attitude and Values Enhancement) program.

In literature, we expect heroes to go through character development, that is, character transformation.

Personality development refers to the process of enhancing and improving one’s personality through deliberate study and practice. Personality refers to our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  People differ in personality types, styles, and traits. For example, some people are introverts, others are extroverts, and a few are ambiverts. You can say that your personality is the mask you want others to see.

Personal branding refers to the steps you take to increase your perceived value in the marketplace. For example, a professional speaker may need to dress for success and fake it until he makes it. The speaker may need to call himself the “best motivational speaker in Asia” or the “best selling author” in his online store. If you were a commodity, your brand is how people distinguish you from others.

Personal leadership refers to your ability to take charge of your life and responsibilities. You hold yourself accountable for your actions and your results. It is also the first level of leadership, based on the belief that you can’t lead others unless you lead yourself. Personal leadership is leading by example.

Self-improvement is the deliberate effort of an individual to achieve speedy self-growth. Self-improvement requires a growth mindset, a proactive attitude, and the practice of vital behaviors. There are many tactics for self-improvement.

Personal growth refers to the changes in people through time. Personal growth can be a conscious effort. You can achieve personal growth through personal development activities. It can also be a change because of what happens to you. The challenge for every person is to grow up while growing old.

FAQs about Personal Development

Below are three of the most frequent questions I get from readers.

To set goals effectively, use this formula: From X to Y by When. You will start by describing your present situation. Then, find out what elements of your current situation are quantifiable. Doing so will help you define the difference between X and Y. Your Y is your desirable future.

You can adapt the framework of 4DX to set personal goals. Learn more about this in the Make It Happen webinar.

We need to develop different aspects of personal development, which are social, emotional, intellectual, physical, financial, and political. An example of a personal development goal is to lose 20 pounds in six months. Our goals differ. What’s important is to know why we want to achieve something. You need clear goals in creating your Personal Development Plan.

Yes. I have designed various personal development training programs for workplace professionals. The MVP (Most Valuable Professionals) series include self-improvement courses.


Unlock Strategic Success.

Discover simple ways to achieve what you want—get experiences crafted for deep learning. They're desirable, effective, engaging, and profitable, paving the way for 10x success for you and your team.

Scroll to Top