A Lifelong Process
Personal development is the process of conscious self-improvement through learning and performing other activities that moves one towards set goals. It is a lifelong process that has no end date. One of the factors that encourage growth in a person is personal development and like it has been said numerous times, “if you are not growing you are dying”.
The term “personal development” is used often enough that one may assume they understand what it entails without looking further into it. A quick look at its importance is bound to help create a better understanding of the requirements and benefits of personal development.
Personal development helps you be self-aware because it is built on knowing what you need to grow. Personal development encourages an increased level of self-awareness borne out of the fact that you need to establish where you are before knowing where to go. You become tuned in to your own goals and you can find fulfilment in just working towards them. Being self-aware also opens you up to a lot of opportunities you may have missed if you didn’t know to pay attention to them.
Another benefit of personal development is a better sense of direction. It follows, logically, that when you know what you want, finding it becomes easier. When you become self-aware through personal development, your sense of direction is greatly improved. You can design your Dream Life then build the path that leads to it. If there needs to be a diversion, or circumstances force a change in your plan, the destination is still known and you just need to find another path. As they say, “many roads lead to the market”. A bonus is that setting goals tells you what to do as much as it tells you what not to do and knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.
You will develop improved prioritization skills when you work on your personal development. This plays out as improved focus and effectiveness when completing tasks. Understanding prioritization helps important tasks stand out and distractions stand out too. It helps you evaluate the values of tasks and creates a sense of fulfilment when completing tasks since the big picture and the progress that task brings becomes evident.
Once you commit to the journey of personal development, you find that you develop large stores of motivation. This grows out of the understanding that the end goal can only be reached through the process of reaching the milestones set along the way, so always, the most important goal, is the next one you need to accomplish. The perhaps overwhelming weight of your vision is reduced and you are motivated to complete your next task, and the next one because you know that is all you really need to worry about; accomplishing the right goal to move you closer to your Dream Life.
In life, there are bound to be unpleasant occurrences. That’s just the way it is, but when you are invested in personal development, you develop greater levels of resilience. You understand that the circumstances can be changed, or if not, the situation can be handled. This helps you remain calm in crises and focus on a way out of them. It also reduces the negative effect such stressful situations will have on you.
Improved personal development means that you can create more fulfilling relationships. You can distinguish between uplifting and depleting relationships. You understand the importance of being intentional with friendships and learn to choose your friends because your relationship is mutually beneficial and not as a result of your proximity to the individual(s). You better understand the difference between being friends with someone and being friendly with them. Being friendly means you hang out when you happen to bump into each other and being friends means you make time for them, they are important to you, and you would likely go out of your way for them. With improved personal development, you learn to create meaningful relationships with your friends and family and can identify and either right or end relationships that are detrimental to your well-being and growth.
Why it’s your Responsibility
Honestly, the first question I want to ask is “how could you think it isn’t?” If it isn’t your responsibility to develop your own self, then whose responsibility is it? Personal development is clearly an encompassing subject that touches all aspects of your life so even in situations where you can receive external assistance, like your workplace, you should still take the lead.
When you have established a goal for yourself, it becomes your ultimate responsibility to provide yourself with the tools required to achieve that goal. For example, if you have decided to become the best accountant in the universe, then it is up to you to either acquire or ask for the necessary training you would require to start working towards that dream.
So why is personal development your responsibility? It’s simple; because you owe it to yourself to achieve your dreams and there are a ton of benefits.
How to Begin on the Path to Achieving Personal Development
Now that you’ve seen what personal development can do for you and why you should invest in it, let’s look at ways to start out on the path to achieving personal development because like I said, it is a lifelong process.
Create a mission and vision
Your vision is your ultimate goal. It essentially sums up the biggest things you hope to achieve in your lifetime. Your mission, on the other hand, entails the values you will live by on your way to achieving your vision. Creating a mission and vision for yourself is an important step in personal development. It provides a goal/goals that you need to work towards and keeps your values in mind as you go to achieve that goal/goals.
Design the path to your vision
Designing the path to your vision is another step to take. This path is filled with the smaller goals or processes you need to go through to get to your vision.
Create a personal development plan
When you know where you’re going and have a rough idea of how to get there, you need to create a personal development plan by assessing your current skills and researching the skills required to get where you are going.
Cut out time to work on your personal development and stick religiously to those blocks of personal development time.
Get an accountability partner
Invest in a relationship with someone whose values align with yours and who will help you stay on track to achieving your goals
Make sure to revise your path and plans
Your plans are only as certain as your last revision of them. Constantly revise your plans to make sure they are on par with current developments in yourself and the world at large.
Ways to Continue Improving Personal Development
If you have already begun on the personal development journey, here are a few things to do in your daily life to improve your personal development:
Read about it
There are books on all topics. Any skill or behavioural change you want to learn or adopt, you can read about. You can also always refresh your memory or learn more.
Find a mentor/role model
Find someone more knowledgeable than you are in an area you wish to improve in (mentor) and have them take you under their wing. Also find someone whose life and values closely resemble what you envision for yourself (role model) and study their journey.
One of the benefits of personal development is self-awareness and that can hardly be achieved without reflection. Set time aside each day to reflect.
Be completely honest with yourself. Do not go into personal development for the sake of saying that you are going into personal development. Instead of carrying a book around so people can ask about it, take some time to actually read it.
Routines and habits will make or mar a man. Put in place solid routines that will help you change what you want to change and move closer to your Dream Life.
Measure your progress
Find a way to measure your progress. If you do not know how far you’ve come or how well you’ve done, you won’t know when you start doing less or falling back and what to change to get back on track.
Personal development is not an instantaneous process. It happens slowly, but steadily. Hence, it requires consistency and the willingness to accept it as a lifestyle change instead of a one-time occurrence.