In a world that is clogged up with advice on time management, self-confidence and self-awareness – it can be difficult to know what strategy will be best to implement in your life. Personal development is a concept that spans human history, which can make it even harder to sift through all the books, podcasts and data about management skills, communication skills, or emotional intelligence.
Whether you’re looking to boost the soft skills on your CV or simply want to enhance your life, personal development is a great starting point. This guide will walk you through some of the most important aspects of sharpening your development skills, from tips and advice to resources you can check out.
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What is Personal Development?
Self-development is a subject that has, in the last couple of years, gained a lot of traction both in society and in economics. While the shift towards developing more complex indices of wealth and well-being has been in the process for a while now, many of us are still confused on how to emphasize personal growth in our own lives. The biggest reason for this can be found in the fact that much of society still struggles to define what exactly skills development is.
The idea of developing yourself can be easily understood, actually, by looking at the first rule of investing: invest in yourself first. This can take on a wide range of different “investment” ideas, such as:
- Skills training in subjects you have a passion for
- Practicing your leadership skills by taking on a personal project
- Developing an exercise routine
- Learning a new language
The basic idea underlying all of these examples is that in actively goal setting for activities that make you happy, you will not only improve your personal skills but also, simply, be happier and healthier.
Another great benefit in starting to take some time to develop scientific, theatrical or technical skills is the upgrade you will give to your career development. While personal development can increase your employability by heightening your interpersonal skills as well as non-verbal skills, it can also lead you to discover different career options.
If you’re still a bit confused on what exactly personal development skills and plans are, you’re not alone. While the traditional vision of personal development seems to only include improving your abilities in effective communication, conflict resolution or verbal communication – this subject also has a lot to do with physical health as well.
While it may not be as explicit in a job interview or CV, working on your physical and mental health can have many benefits on your career as well. There are two main routes this can take on: fitness or meditation. Many experts believe that sports combine both fitness and meditation. Included in these are:
- Martial arts
- Long distance running
How to Start Practicing Self-Development
While there are many theories on personal development, one of the most popular bodies of thought was established by psychologist Abraham Maslow. What became to be known as the hierarchy of needs was originally established by Maslow as a simple representation of how humans develop life skills. While many have responded to Maslow, even delving into more experimental methods, this hierarchy of needs is a helpful starting point in understanding how you can implement self-assessment skills to improve your development progress.
Starting at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid of needs, any development goals should be met after basic physiological and safety needs have been met. These cover necessities like food, shelter, exercise, security, routine.
The next rung on the pyramid deals with love and belongingness. While these two concepts might not seem as concrete as hard skills like programming or fluency in a language, it can actually be an important stepping stone towards accomplishing your personal goals. Feeling a sense of belonging to a group, whether that be social, work-related or family, is a vital form a psychological standpoint.
This step goes hand-in-hand with the next component of Maslow’s pyramid: esteem needs. Self-improvement cannot be defined without confidence and self-respect. For example, something as simple as working on your presentation skills can be majorly improved by, simultaneously, building up confidence in yourself.
Cognitive needs is the third to last element on Maslow’s hierarchy. People crave knowledge, which is why personal development should not be a short-term but long-term commitment. This can include taking development courses, which can be anything related to acquiring new skills. Having a mentor can also be extremely important in developing personal or professional skills. While many do find satisfaction in self-knowledge, or self-teaching, the majority of people enjoy learning from those that are masters in their field.
The penultimate step is labeled aesthetic needs, meaning the need for order, symmetry and beauty. While accomplishing any of your development goals, such as running a marathon or learning excel, it is also important to develop the environment around you. Actions such as living in a city you enjoy or organizing your home into an personal space can be a major part of your development plan.
The last step involves self-actualization, which basically translates into someone accomplishing everything they set out to be. Contrary to popular belief, however, undertaking personal development is something you should implement every day of your life and shouldn’t be viewed as a final destination.
Pick a Personal Development Plan That's Right for You
Learning about personal development can often inspire you to start implementing it into your own life. While this is a great way to kick-start you into achieving your goals, relying on this feeling alone will not bring you any closer to improving your personal or employability skills. What will help you, on the other hand, is goal setting.
Many of us have been taught from an early age to set goals that are achievable. The problem with this is bit of advice is the fact that many people don’t exactly know how to define what is achievable and what isn’t. While whole swaths of the population simply want to achieve not-binge watching series every weekend, or set vague goals like starting to exercise more – these may not be the best ways to expand your skill set.
According to studies conducted by professors Locke and Latham, the more difficult and specific your goals are, the more likely you are to work with more determination and for more time. To give one example that can apply from your transferable kills to your stress management, setting a goal with the “do your best” or “try your hardest” mentality isn’t as effective as more concrete challenges like “beat your best score” or “work for two hours more than yesterday.”
While this isn’t an exhaustive guide on how to plan your growth and development, here are some tips on how to get started on formulating a personal development plan.
Develop a Goal
Every successful personal and professional development journey begins with those who set goals. Personal development goals should be difficult but achievable targets is an effective way of determining what aspect of your life you’d like to work on.
Plan Your Development
Whether you’re taking part in development programs, career planning or personality development – development plans should begin by defining each step you will have to take to achieve your goals. This process should involve outlining what resources you will need and how much time it will take for you to accomplish each step.
Start the Process
You don’t need a life coach to reach your human potential. Whether you’re turning to personal development for career exploration or simply want to learn new skills, don’t wait until tomorrow to start implementing your personal development plans.
How to Tap Into Your Human Potential
Implementing the new habit of practicing self-help everyday is not an easy one. While you may have the passion to achieve your goals, procrastination caused by a lack of direction can often lead to an indefinite delay of your development process. While this is definitely not an exhaustive list of the advice you can implement during your journey, here are some tips and materials to keep in mind.
Develop Self-Care Rituals
It’s not as complicated, nor as pseudo-scientific as it sounds. Personal development can be as simple as prioritizing some time every day to taking care of your fitness, mental health and career. Practicing mindfulness, which is the act of meditation, can take on many different forms throughout your week. Here are some examples on how you can develop yourself personally and professionally with the aim to relieve overall stress.
- Create a to do list for every day of the week
- Partake in job shadowing for other areas of professional life you’re interested in
- Try journaling every morning before starting your day
Self-improvement resources come in a number of different guises, all depending on what kind of development you seek. While the sheer volume of self-help books and courses can be startling, narrowing a couple of materials down can be made easier by picking which aspect of your life you’re looking to improve: professional skills, personal goals or self knowledge.