06/17/2014 02:29 pm ET Updated Aug 17, 2014

10 Ways I Remind Myself to Check In on My Personal Growth

So many of us look at success based on the materials we own, the jobs we have, and the amount of money that we make; but how often do we look at it for the people we are, the adversities we have overcome, and the lives that we have impacted? Over the past six years since my paralysis, I have spent a lot of time trying to define what success is to me and in all honesty, I think for years I had it all wrong. I have found that the only true gauge for success is our own personal growth and that income or materials don't measure that; however, it is measured by the people that we are and the choices we make.

We live in a society that tries to tell us what success should look like, but there isn't a cookie cutter image for success and I believe the moment we slow down, take a step back, and focus on our personal growth, is when we will find ourselves the most successful.

Success for everyone is going to look different, but for me it is about leaving a positive impact on the world around me. Growing up my father would tell my sisters and me every night before bed, "You are the best, you can make a difference, and you can change the world." To me those words embody success; being your best, believing in yourself, and doing your part to make a difference and change the world. I think so often we feel you have to be at the forefront of a movement, a politician, an executive at a company or someone in a place of power to make a difference and change the world. However, we all have that innate ability in the choices we make everyday and in our simple actions.

For me it has become simple, success is about being the best possible version of ourselves and doing our part to make a difference and change the world. Success is having the wisdom to know that everything happens for a reason and that it isn't the circumstances in life that define us, but how we react to them. Success is having the wonder of the curiosity of our futures and the curiosity of the challenges that lay before us; knowing every time we embark on a new challenge it pushes us one step further to become the full version of ourselves. That to me is success.

No matter how successful we are, no matter what stage of our lives we are in, no matter what path we are on, we all face adversities everyday. Below are my reminders and my pointers for how to ensure we are continuing to grow personally because until we take the time to focus on our personal growth, we cannot expect ourselves to grow in the other aspects of our lives.

  1. Let the past be the past, cherish the memories, learn from the adversities, but in no way live in it. Move toward the future and allow yourself to simply let go.
  2. Don't allow yourself to get so caught up in the future that you lose sight of the present. Allow yourself to have dreams, goals and ambition, but don't let them keep you from enjoying the here and now. The journey along the way is what makes the end goal so special, so enjoy it!
  3. When you get overwhelmed remember, baby steps. Life is a series of baby steps. Just like you cannot recite the alphabet without everything in between A-Z, life is the same, and each baby step is a part of the journey so embrace them.
  4. Remember in any situation, it isn't the circumstances that define us; it is how we react to them that defines us.
  5. No matter how hard it gets remember that it can always be worse. Take the time you need to grieve, but then move forward and remember to be thankful for what you do have.
  6. Love. Love yourself, find love in the things that you are passionate about, and love another. The accomplishments in life are gratifying, but what do they mean if you don't have anyone to share them with? Don't allow life to wedge itself between you and your loved ones.
  7. Believe in yourself and allow yourself to hold onto the innocence of your childhood. Remember that time that we all believed we could be anything and do everything? Don't let life wear that away, hold onto it and allow yourself to believe anything is possible.
  8. Give back, as a citizen of the world it is a duty we all have to give back, it is not only a good deed, but it also teaches you a lot about yourself and life in general.
  9. Allow yourself to continue to learn. Whether it is a new hobby, learning something new at work, or simply learning something new about a loved one. Always continue to learn more about yourself, the people around you, and the world you live in.
  10. Most of all ... live your life with passion, heart, free of fear, hate and judgment. Be courageous, and know that in any given moment you can make a difference and you can change the world.