The three stages of personal growth.

Personal growth can be boiled down to just three stages, no matter the context, and by being aware of them, you make life a lot easier.

The three stages of personal growth.
Photo by Gaelle Marcel / Unsplash

There are, of course, many versions of the process of personal growth.

In our experience, though, all kinds of personal growth can be boiled down to the following three stages,

  1. The zigzag.
  2. The circle.
  3. The straight line.

The zigzag stage is the process of exploring. You are not yet clear about your needs, but you feel the need to do something that challenges your perception of yourself.

So you check out the territory by trying a bit of this and a bit of that. It becomes a zigzagging pattern through the field of personal growth, and it gives you a lot of experience.

The circle stage is the process of reflection. After having tried different things, you look at them and what they have given you.

Where did you learn the most, and what made your heart tick a little extra? In which part of personal growth do you think you belong – at least for now?

You are simply drawing a circle around the territory you have been zigzagging through.

The straight line stage is the process of action. You have made yourself aware of what works for you, and what doesn't.

As a result, you are ready to give yourself a clear direction and follow it up with action, and in doing so, you cut straight through the territory you have been exploring.

A concept for maturing

As said, these three stages are solely based on my personal experience, but they encompass the process of understanding yourself really well.

In addition, most other frameworks for personal growth fit nicely into them. Even if there are as much as ten phases, such as in transformative learning, they can be boiled down to these three.

In essence, they are a universal concept for how we mature as human beings, and by being aware of them it becomes a lot easier to navigate life.

The wet sand test

Graphically, the three stages can be illustrated by drawing a Z, a circle, and a straight line. And, due to their simplicity, they can be drawn in wet sand using only your finger.

To me, that's always the test of a great graphical symbol, and its underlying meaning. If you can't draw it in wet sand with your finger, it's too complicated.

The three stages of personal growth pass that test, and in case you haven't figured it out, it's where our logo comes from. It represents that process.

However, note that in our logo, the straight line ends up going beyond the circle. That's to remind you that personal growth always takes you further than you expected. It's a natural part of the process.

A constant process

In other words, whatever your angle to personal growth is, you can expect to go through these three stages, and as such the process never ends.

Just when you think you have nailed it, you discover a new layer of understanding, or a new method worth spending some time on, and the three stages start over.

It can sound exhausting to some, and yes, most people are probably more interested in finding a definite answer and sticking to it.

It's understandable, but at the end of the day it's not how life works. On the contrary, it keeps challenging you with new ways of looking at it.

Meaning, that we have to embrace life as a constant process of learning, and the three stages of personal growth is a great way to do it.

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