The Personal Growth Model


List of Personal growth attributesBy my definition, personal growth describes the process after which higher personal life quality has been reached. In economic theory, we assume that individuals behave in such a way as to maximize their own utility. By this, society benefits as common wealth enhances. Common wealth is measured as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But the “World Happiness Index”, a survey measuring peoples happiness and its sources, clearly indicates that GDP is not the only factor that matters to people.

The freedom to take actions to evolve personally is one of those factors. You might have read my previous article “How I plan two full-time degrees at once”. The incentive for studying two degrees was personal development by knowledge and a rather unusual study experience. And it is also the reason for most of you, whether you want a new study experience, to broaden your horizons or advance your career while having a full-time commitment to your family. In the following, I will establish some underlying principles which affect personal growth.

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How exercise benefits cognitive ability


Woman running‘No pain, no gain’ a few of my friends at the gym tell me. Some people like to train with weights, others with gymnastic machines, while others are simply training with aerobic exercises. But they all want to feel healthier and definitely look better after some months of exercising. We all know some of the benefits exercise can provide us. One is the significant reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and so on. Exercise can also reduce insulin resistance and some researchers have shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Are You a Superhuman Studying for a Degree?


Image of a man dressed in a capeI felt like a superhuman. I could be in multiple places at one time, engaged in various activities, and converse with more than one person at the same time. I felt that I was invincible.

Wouldn’t this make me the smartest person? Getting distinctions for my exams shouldn’t be difficult, right? Well, not quite. Recently, I noticed some significant changes in me. I had difficulty sustaining attention. When being spoken to, I often found my mind drifting away. You could be telling me about an unpleasant episode you had at work, with your neighbour or with your family, all in the hope that I, the listener, could empathise with you. Alas, I had a problem even remembering your antagonist’s name, much less the way he had caused you to be so upset.

This, without a doubt, was utterly disappointing. I wasn’t a superhuman after all.

It is no big secret what this “thing” is. I am quite sure that every one of you owns at least one, two, probably more.

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A desk of one’s own


Desk with computer and books on topI am one of those people sensitive to the amount of chaos around. If things are tidy and clean I find myself in good humor, but if things get out of hand, I turn into a grumpy, muttering Grinch. I know life can be messy: clothes running around, wrestling my dear dog into taking a bath, guests coming to visit, the garden getting out of hand now that all the leaves are off the trees… You tell me. However, I try not to let Chaos desecrate my haven of mental peace: my desk.

Having my own desk with an organized system is one of my non-negotiable needs. This space allows me to switch on to “study time”. When I sit there, my goal is to get in a mindset of focused mental activity, and knowing myself, if there are things scattered around I will not be able to concentrate on the task. Even if I am not distracted by the mess itself, my mind wanders more easily to issues unrelated to my studies.

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Legal Reasoning: Learning to Think Like a Lawyer


Image showing blackboard with writing saying 'learn to think'Attending law school has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. Now that I am a law student, every time I sit down to study I tend to react like someone opening a surprise gift from a loved one. It is a wonderful feeling. It helps me keep track of my goals and how I want to use this education. One of my chief goals is learning to think like a lawyer.

I work in nonprofit management with an international NGO.  It’s a good match for me. After years of trying I caught on that I really don’t have a corporate soul, so to speak. But I do have a somewhat corporate way of thinking, meaning I like a methodical way of approaching issues and having a plan. It helps to approach things like a lawyer, to apply this particular structure to my critical thinking process.

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Returning to study at 24 and 7 tips that are helping me cope


booksI am excited. I have always wanted to learn creative writing. The English programme has a complete course on creative writing; I can learn how to write poetry, prose and stage plays. The reading list has Antigone, Waiting for Godot and The Odyssey (which I tried reading when I was younger, but gave up after a few pages). I have fellow students from China, Spain and Guyana. It was thrilling to meet them on the VLE and WhatsApp.

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Coping with stress


person buried beneath paperworkBy now, I guess many of you are already panicking about the workload of this year. For me, it is usually around this time of the year when the sheer reality of the task sinks in and so I feel myself doing reckless things, like waking up in the middle of the night and considering going to my desk to put a few hours in the books when I should be sleeping. The problem with stress, apart from the unpleasantness of feeling at the edge of the abyss, is that it clouds our judgement and it is easy to slip and make wrong choices (like extending our reading list unnecessarily, sleeping less or second-guessing our elections)

If this is your case, in this post I aim to give a few pointers on how to avoid feeling stressed or how to cope with the feeling if you ever get to feel this way.

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How I plan two full-time degrees at once


arnold-kinzelHello to all my fellow students!

Since I haven’t posted any articles yet, let me introduce myself first.  My name is Arnold Kinzel, I am 24 years old, from Germany and I am currently enrolled in the BSc Economics and Finance programme at the University of London International Programmes. But if that wasn’t enough I am also a full-time Engineering and Management student at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau (In German: Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau). As a son of an engineer, I followed the same path while privately reading books ranging from A. Kostolany over G. Soros to B. Graham. I always dreamt of studying Economics and Finance but never had the guts to apply for a programme until I found this programme which would allow me to continue my engineering studies.

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Literature and Legal Studies


Literature and legal studiesNext week I will tell you about how moving and starting a new job drove me to distraction. This week I would like to say a word about how studying law has already helped me quite a bit in personal and professional projects. One reason this course appealed to me is its application to my work managing nonprofit organizations. It helps me to be better informed and be a better advocate. It does that in a few ways from subject knowledge to critical thinking and reasoning skills. That is really wonderful. It is the reason I chose this course. But there is something even better and more satisfying that I didn’t expect. Legal studies made me take notice of a few things in my vocation moonlighting as a novelist.

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How I chose and studied for Economic Geography…


Map of world and moneyHaving been affiliated with an institution where we had lecturers to teach us the entire course and guide us until the day of the examination, studying an entire course on my own was a whole new experience. It was a risk, because I was used to being pampered by lecturers not only delivering the syllabus but dealing with every single problem I had. However, I had a few options to select my fourth course from, and after skimming through their respective subject guides, Economic Geography seemed like the best and the most interesting option to me. Unfortunately, Economic Geography was a course that was not being taught at my institution, so I decided to take the risk and go ahead with it alone. I was scared, I have to admit. I had no idea how I would make myself study for it without any classes, and how the result would turn out to be.

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