Personal Growth For Women Requires a Different Approach

Woman with outstretched hands in nature representing personal growth

I have been teaching personal growth and development to women for the last 23 years and one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that growth, especially for women, is actually a removal process.

We often think of personal growth and development in terms of addition. We think of adding on more skills. We look at becoming “more”. We add more tasks, behavior changes, and routines to our to-do list.

It doesn’t help that women have been conditioned from birth to be more, do more, and give more. In so many ways, the patriarchal system tells us we are not good enough and leads us to become more.

I have watched so many women look at personal growth & development as another thing to prove their worthiness. But real growth is about letting go of what no longer serves you. It is about removing burdens, obligations, and misperceptions of your worth.

When you remove what is no longer needed, you create space to manifest what you want, focus on the things that matter, and fully enjoy your life and work.

And there are a lot of things we carry around that we no longer need: beliefs, behaviors, unworthy thinking, relationships, unhelpful habits, burdens, and more. Personal growth & development for women is about “doing” and “being” less, not more.

What you will learn about personal growth & development for women:

Inside this article, I will share with you:

  • How we can redefine personal growth for women
  • Why so many women are trying to achieve personal growth in the wrong way
  • How personal growth often requires a shift in mindset
  • The importance of personal growth for women in positions of leadership
  • 5 powerful steps to achieving personal growth & removing what no longer serves you
  • A few personal growth journal prompts
  • A guide for your own personal growth challenge

First things first…

Let’s redefine personal growth & development for women

Most people define personal growth as the steps you make towards personal improvement or the behaviors and habits you change to be a “better” person.

The problem with this definition is that it is rooted in the idea that you need to be “improved”. It assumes you are already not enough and to be “better” you need to do something or be something more.

For women, it re-enforces the ways we have been conditioned to not be enough. In all of the years, I have worked with women, the core issue in the way of freedom, fulfillment, success, or joy was the feeling of not being good enough. All of our struggles are rooted in unworthy thinking.

Picture that says redefine your mind as one step towards personal growth

I have seen a lot of women striving for personal growth to fix the unworthy feelings inside of them. No amount of achieving can shift that!

The other problem I have with the traditional definition of personal growth is that often it is still measured by someone else’s yardstick. Who decides what “improved” looks like? Who determines the end goal?

The way I define personal growth is being more of your true self.

And the only person who can determine that yardstick is you!

You are already worthy just by breathing. Personal growth shouldn’t be about proving your worth, becoming more, or living up to someone else’s definition of “improved”. So personal growth & development for women starts with redefining personal growth.

Why so many women are trying to achieve personal growth the wrong way

It is easy to get caught up in “doing” more. In our world of hustle culture and getting sh*t done, we automatically work hard at everything we do. If something isn’t working, we just apply more effort.

No wonder so many people are exhausted, burnt out, and over-capacity.

Corporate women and men climbing ladders representing the wrong way to go after personal growth

I see women applying these same ideas to their personal development as well. They work hard at it. They do more. They go to more self-development courses, they do more therapy, they spend more time looking at themselves.

And nothing is wrong with doing things to achieve growth, but it matters where we are coming from. When we are coming from unworthy thinking, the choices we make to “add” more to ourselves are like adding another coat of paint to something that is peeling and cracking.

Getting caught up in the hustle of self-improvement because we are trying to prove something or cover our feelings of inadequacy doesn’t work. It doesn’t create the space, awareness, and insight that comes from real growth and transformation.

And this is the shift we have to make in order to achieve real personal growth: we have to remove what is in the way of our innate greatness.

This way, personal growth & development happen in the removal process.

Let me explain. You are born with your innate gifts, wisdom, and genius. Even if you watch children develop, each has specific personality traits, impulses, and innate strengths.

What we should be doing from birth is cultivating these innate uniquenesses instead of trying to move everyone to one yardstick and standard. You see, your greatness is already inside of you.

What happens over the course of our lives is that we add on things we think we should have in order to achieve success, happiness, belonging, or feelings of worthiness. We add on skills and identities. We add on behaviors and habits.

We become less of our real selves and more of the self we feel we should be for others.

Often personal growth & development just perpetuate this process. We are still going after “improving” ourselves where others believe we should be improved. And often we don’t even know our own greatness.

The removal process is one of the core things I teach and work with in my personal development programs.

Personal growth for women often requires a shift in mindset

Looking at personal growth as a removal process is a big mindset shift. It isn’t enough to think about it or try to practice it, you have to shift the thinking you have around growth and around who you are.

If you have a belief that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t stack up to others, that you are somehow missing some important skill or trait to achieve success, you are operating from a mindset that requires you to be or do more to have personal growth.

But when you truly believe that you are already enough, that you were born with unique strengths, gifts & wisdom, and that you can embrace all of who you are, then personal growth becomes about staying in alignment with your greatness, not in trying to “be” greater.

Mindset is a tricky beast. We have unconscious beliefs and wiring that keep us in a loop of beliefs about ourselves.

It isn’t enough to do some affirmations or tell yourself you are good enough, you have to go through the transformational process of believing it!

This is why mindset is such an important part of the work I do with women and one of the main topics I cover on my podcasts.

Shifting mindset is about rewiring our brains, minds, and bodies. It is completely doable, but it takes a different process than what we are used to. And it definitely helps to have a guide in your corner.

What I always tell my clients is that shifting your mindset does start with awareness of where your mindset is now. It is catching yourself in the act of unworthy thinking or in thinking that personal growth is about improving yourself instead of recognizing that you are already enough just as you are.

When we are operating from worthy thinking, we can look at personal growth & development as an enrichment process. We aren’t inherently “not enough”, but instead we are just enriching the greatness already inside of us and aligning our life and work with this greatness.

See how amazing this mindset shift really is? And it transforms every aspect of our lives so we can step into more joy and aliveness.

The importance of personal growth for women in positions of leadership

Whether you are leading a team, your clients, or your community, personal growth (being more of your true self) is key.

In working with thousands of women in leadership & business, I found that so many women were hitting burnout & exhaustion because they were trying to be something other than themselves.

It took me through a journey to understand how we could be better leaders without sacrificing so much.

Black woman in leadership position in front of a line of men

Let’s be honest, we don’t have great examples of a different way to lead. In leadership, women are taught to focus on others and completely sacrifice themselves. We are taught that how you are perceived is more important than who you are.

We strive to hit the current yardstick of leadership which is rooted in patriarchal ideas and designed for men. It isn’t built for women with families, other responsibilities, or strengths in compassion, intuition, and wisdom.

But there is a new model of leadership that allows women to be themselves and thrive as leaders! I call this form of leadership, embodied or intrinsic leadership.

Being an embodied leader is about being your true self. The more aligned you are with your innate greatness, the more influence and impact you have with others. Not because you have power over others, but because you being you inspires others.

This is where personal growth & development comes in. As we remove the extraneous things in ourselves & our lives that don’t serve us, we become more embodied leaders. Are you ready to step into this kind of leadership?

How can you achieve personal growth & remove what no longer serves you?

Here are 5 powerful steps to get you started:

Step 1: Acknowledge that you are enough.

This is a transformational process, but not an instantaneous one. It is so important to acknowledge that your essential self is worthy and valid. Like I tell many of my clients, you are worthy just by breathing. There is nothing more you need to “do” or “be” to be worthy.

It starts with conscious and consistent acknowledgment. You can journal about it, tell yourself you are worthy, meditate on it or write I am enough over and over again. It is about the re-wiring!

A note with You are Enough on it

And let me share with you a secret. It isn’t enough to say it or write it, you have to FEEL it.

When some of my clients have trouble with this practice, I give them an assignment: Take 10 minutes a day and find a quiet place to do this exercise. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and notice your body.

You want to start with noticing your breath or the way your chest moves out and in or any sensations you feel inside of you. Eventually, you will feel more present and “in” your body.

From there I have them try on “being worthy”. Not the concept, but the feeling. How does it feel to be worthy? How does it feel to not have to do anything else or be anything else? Imagine you are already enough and perfect right now in this moment. (Because you actually are ;D).

This may sound really simple, but doing this exercise every day for a few weeks will re-wire your mindset around your worthiness.

When you can acknowledge you are enough, you can more easily remove what isn’t serving you. It is about reclaiming yourself & your worth. I have a great podcast episode on this here.

Step 2: Commit to doing less

Because of the way we have been taught to view growth, this seems counterintuitive, but making a conscious decision to do less is a powerful step towards real growth.

This is really about being more mindful and doing what really matters.

It is about being more deliberate in what you focus on instead of running after what the world tells you is the measure of success, goodness, or growth.

It is choosing to stop the hustle and step out of the rat race, and it starts with just a decision.

It also goes back to the first step. When you acknowledge that you are enough, you can stop chasing after all the things that you have been doing to prove it.

Some of the ways trying to prove your worth can show up in your life:

  • You go after another degree, another certification, or another course to feel confident you have validity and value
  • You work longer hours at work and over-deliver your services in business
  • You are over-responsible for other people’s emotions, feelings and reactions
  • You over-commit because you are afraid to say no
  • You let go of boundaries and give in to other people’s desires

Making a decision to STOP is a game-changer. Recognizing that you can do only what matters to you, allows you to slow down and live more mindfully. This is real personal growth.

I have a great podcast episode on this here.

Step 3: Sort what isn’t serving you from what is serving you

Before we can remove what no longer serves us or do less, we need to discern what matters from what doesn’t.

This can be as simple as getting out a clean piece of paper and making two columns: what serves you and what doesn’t. You can start scanning your life and work and get a feel for what is enlivening you and what is depleting you.

I spend a lot of time working with clients on what I call the body compass.

Your body is so wise and often even when your mind tries to cover up your feelings, your body provides you with the truth.

So using your body to sort through your life & work is more effective than using your thinking. Let me give you an example.

I have worked with many women whose lives and work appear successful. Everyone believes they are successful. They are being admired and congratulated all the time. They have accomplished many things on the worldly yardstick. And yet, they don’t FEEL it.

They feel heavy, weighed down, exhausted and they struggle to reconcile their mind and body.

Their mind is telling them that what they are doing matters, that their life and work is important. Their body tells another story.

Going through my transformational coaching programs pulls out the true story. For many of these women, their “successful” work was not serving them. They had lost joy, fulfillment, and freedom. It allowed us to re-direct their lives & work towards more aliveness. They were able to determine what would make them happy and then create it.

This sorting process is a very important step in personal growth & development, and listening to the body is the key.

If you want to explore a few podcasts on embodiment or how the body tells the truth, you can start here with Embodiment – The Path to Your Superpowers and Practice Truth-Telling.

Step 4: Determine your innate strengths, genius, and wisdom

Why is important to determine your innate strengths, genius & wisdom? Isn’t personal growth about improving your weaknesses?

No! When we view personal growth as being more and more of your true self, then you can forget your weaknesses and just align everything with your strengths & innate wisdom.

Rather than using the world’s yardstick, your innate greatness becomes the thing to attain.

What enhances your innate greatness?
What supports your unique strengths?
What work utilizes your genius & makes everything easy?
What aligns with the wisdom you already have inside of you?

Rather than working against who you are by trying to improve your weaknesses or operate outside of your strengths, you support your optimum potential.

Woman raising arms to show strength representing personal growth

For some people, this can be as simple as doing a list of your strengths! But for some people, this is a challenging process.

I know many of the clients I have worked with struggle to determine what really is a strength and even more so with what is their genius.

This is a great place to get a coach. This is an important aspect of the work I do with my clients and having someone support you to sort out your real strengths with perceived strengths is worth the investment.

One thing that is important to understand: your innate strengths are easy for you and give you energy.

They never deplete you, and this is a key factor in determining the difference between learned strengths & innate strengths. I did a great interview with a strengths coach here.

Here are a couple of personal growth journal prompts that can help with this process:

  • When you were a young child what did you love doing? Where would you get lost in time?
  • As a child, what were you innately really good at? These are things that were super easy for you to do.
  • In your work life, career, or business, what do you LOVE doing? These are things that are effortless for you to do. You could do them all day and never get exhausted.
  • What do you love learning more and more about? You just can’t get enough of it?

Step 5: Start a personal growth challenge & do a little bit at a time

A message to challenge yourself as a step towards personal growth

Sometimes you look at personal growth as a big project, and who has time for another big project right now.

In truth, it is about small, consistent changes, actions or behaviors. That is what makes all the difference.

For decades I have taught a process I call Minimal Momentum™. In working with women in business, I found that they really struggled with consistent action in places like sales. So I started teaching about how momentum works.

Momentum is this beautiful thing that builds and the more momentum you build, the more easy things are to accomplish. Momentum has an exponential impact on our actions.

The way most people do things is feast and famine. They apply a lot of effort for a short amount of time and then they drop off all attention and effort. This means that momentum is constantly started and stopped and it leads to way less return on effort.

But with minimal momentum, it is about deciding what you want to do or change and then taking consistent action every day for very short amounts of time.

I think 30 day challenges are really effective too. It means that you pick 1 or 2 things to focus on in that 30 days and apply minimal effort every day towards it.

This is a great way to start a personal growth challenge!

If you look at the suggestions above or your own list for personal growth, what is one thing you really want to shift right now? As an example, let’s say it is some of the worthy work I talked about in Step 1.

For 30 days, you can spend just 15-30 minutes a day dedicated to working on your worthiness. I usually always suggest my clients start with 15 minutes of journaling and feeling a day. Journal around where you are still trying to prove your worth or what is getting in the way of feeling worthy. Then spend a few minutes feeling worthiness.

Doing just this simple exercise every day will have a big impact on all areas of your life.

Personal growth & development for women doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be different!

Hopefully, this article will help you view personal growth & development differently. It has some great steps that I have seen work with thousands of women. I know they are effective.

Even just a small shift in mindset or practice can have a big impact in your life.

If you need a little more support, check out my coaching programs here.

About Sonya Stattmann

Sonya has spent the last 24 years working with thousands of individuals, leaders & organizations around personal development. She offers resilience-based tools for stress management, mental wellness, navigating change, and dealing with relationship challenges. She currently works 1:1 with founders, leaders & high achievers through her stress management coaching program. She also offers wellness & resilience workshops for teams. She also hosts both public and private podcasts. Her mission is to help individuals and teams build more resilience and navigate adversity, change & stress more effectively. She currently resides in the USA, but you can often find her and her family traveling the globe.