The Best Way to Guarantee Personal Growth

A famous book suggests that we can think and grow. Merely thinking will not get you far. Realistically, the best way to guarantee personal growth is to think, imagine, plan, prepare, act.

personal growth

Think What and What?

The self-help gurus all think we should all read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” so I did. The message I gather from the book and the self-help gurus is “think about rich, become rich.” Think about anything and become it.

That is not what Napolean Hill meant. We have to read between the lines, though, between the panels as we comic book nerds might say. Otherwise, the book leads us to believe we can simply think our way to success.

Thinking is just the first step, though. It won’t generate any progress. Progress towards personal growth requires 5 steps:

  1. Think
  2. Imagine
  3. Plan and prepare
  4. Act

Intentional, deliberate actions are what get us what we want.

[special]Disclaimer: The above link to Think and Grow Rich is an affiliate link to purchase the same edition I own and read. That second one is too! I will get a commission if you use that link to make purchases on Amazon. Okay, back to the post. Enjoy! [/special]

“Don’t just think. Think, imagine, plan, prepare, and act.”

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personal growth

Thinking is Not Enough for Personal Growth

Thinking about being rich won’t make us rich. Likewise, thinking about being thin won’t make us thin.

Furthermore, thinking about being happy won’t make us happy. On the contrary, overthinking happiness will probably make us unhappy. If it doesn’t make you miserable.

What we think will influence our actions–and if we act–but only our actions will cause our results. Just thinking won’t do it.

Focus on healthy and act healthy.

I don’t know which causes which. Are healthy people healthy because they think about being healthy? Or do healthy people think about being healthy because they’re healthy?

It is probably safe to assume that thinking unhealthy won’t make us healthy. The Beast loves for you to think unhealthy, though. It feeds off it.

Let’s go ahead and think healthy. It’s our little way of ignoring the Beast. Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away. Hint: It won’t. The Beast never gives up, and it never goes away.

Thinking is just the first step. Don’t stop at thinking. Move on to the next step, and…

“Intentional, deliberate actions are what get us what we want.”

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Next let’s imagine having what we want, being what we want or being where we want. I think throughout the book, Napoleon Hill described Imagining more than thinking. He wrote it in 1937. Let’s give him a little latitude.


Let’s imagine being healthy and fit.

Imagine how it would feel:

  • having plenty of energy all day
  • being more productive
  • accomplishing more tasks and making progress on goals.
  • excitingly scheduling and attending all our routine medical checkups
  • spending no money on prescriptions and not having to remember to take them
  • not feeling ashamed at the beach or pool
  • trying new adventures and activities we used to feel too old or out-of-shape to try

Wouldn’t all that be great? In addition to generally feeling better all the time, we could add so many new pleasurable experiences to replace tiredness, boredom, and regret.

I was going to suggest that we also imagine the alternative, but I daresay we either spend too much time imaging–or living–the alternative already.

So let’s just imagine the good.


Worrying about money sucks. It’s one of the biggest causes of stress. Not being able to afford experiences sucks.

Let’s imagine being wealthier

Imagine how it would feel:

  • having money left at the end of the month
  • being able to attend concerts and events
  • booking those trips to Disney and Europe

We’ve probably already done this with big houses, name brand clothes, and nice cars. I will always argue that a wealth of experiences or a wealth of choices is better than stuff, but let’s each imagine our own wealth.

Someplace Awesome

I’m lucky enough that I get to replace imagining with remembering, so here’s a partial list of mine:

  • walking through the entrance of Magic Kingdom
  • having a butterbeer Diagon Alley.
  • playing in the waves in the Mediterranean
  • eating tapas and drinking wine in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor

It wasn’t that long that I had to imagine, but I did imagine all those things. (Okay, not Plaza Mayor. Although I had seen it in movies, I never actually dreamed of eating and drinking there. That was just a bonus!)

We imagined, though, and then we made a plan and prepared.

Plan, Prepare

Next, we find out what we need to do. Plan out the steps. Make a list. Stick it on the fridge, so we’re reminded every time we grab an apple.


We have to find out what foods to eat, print some recipes, and make a shopping list. Let’s plan out what we’re going to eat each day of the week. Then when Thursday gets here, we don’t have to make a decision. By Thursday, we’ll be tired and all out of willpower. We’ll give in and pick up some junk food.

We have to decide on a few exercises to try.

Each night, set out the exercise clothes and set the alarm a little early. Make exercising in the morning convenient and easy.


We have to ponder the B-word.


Budgets seem awful, but I promise they’re not. It is lovely knowing where the money is going instead of figuring out where it went.

Then we need to work on increasing income so that we can live a bigger life.

We were so excited about Disney and Spain that we were happy to give up the extra spending.

Someplace Awesome

Planning a trip is part of the fun!

  • Where do we want to go?
  • Do we have to fly?
  • Can we drive?
  • Do we need a hotel or tickets?

Booking a trip is when you know it’s real. Ensure the success of your vacation by working with a travel advisor!

We had so much fun and got so much happiness and excitement planning our Disney trip.

Preparing for trips to Spain and New Orleans, I was constantly on Pinterest, looking for fun and exciting things to do.

The research and the anticipation are an enjoyable part of going someplace awesome!

Here is my Pinterest board for our next trip to Spain.

Here is my board from our trip to New Orleans.

Act to Attain Personal Growth

The best action is immediate action.

Action is what makes it happen. It won’t happen unless it happens. It’s simple math.

“Action is what makes it happen. It won’t happen unless it happens.”

– Shayne Seymour


Let’s eat an apple on the way home from buying groceries. That’s right. We’re not waiting for Monday. We’re starting right now because that’s the best time to start.


What’s the second-best time to start?

Well, we missed yesterday. We missed last year and last week. That would have been the best time to start. Now we have to settle for the second-best time to start.

The second, third, and fourth-best time to start is…

Right now!



Let’s clean out the pantry. Throw out the candy and cookies. Don’t save it or donate it. Trash it. Don’t feel bad about wasting it. Then we can avoid feeling bad about wasting junk food by not buying any more junk food.

Let’s go buy the groceries. We only buy what’s on the list. We stay out of the middle of the store.

Then we cook our meals and eat.

Since we’ve set our alarm and set out our clothes the night before, all we have to do in the morning is:

  1. Wake
  2. Walk
  3. Done

While walking, let’s imagine all those things in the Imagine section again.


When we’ve got the budget, then we stick to it. Hopefully, in the budget, we’ve included saving money to go.

Someplace awesome

  • Save the money.
  • Open a special account or buy a special jar.
  • Explore the destination on Pinterest.
  • Plan what activities we’re going to do each day–just highlights. Let’s allow the game to come to us and not ruin all the fun by micromanaging and overplan the whole trip.

Don’t just think. Think, imagine, plan, prepare, and act.


What is an action you can take right now on what you want to achieve?

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