Personal development revolves around activities to help individuals improve various aspects of their lives. It involves improvement of self by developing identity, awareness, talents, and potential and therefore enhancing the overall quality of life. Personal development is not an event that an individual can focus on and achieve an optimal position.
It is a process that takes place over the individual’s entire life. You may also seek personal development not only on your life in general but in various areas. For example, a person may seek personal development to improve how effective they are as a parent. Personal development can be assisted by various techniques, methods programs, tools and assessment aimed at improving various parts of an individual’s life.
Personal development goals
The goal of personal development is to improve various areas of our lives. The objectives of personal development, therefore, can be;
To improve Self-awareness and self-knowledge
This is whereby an individual seeks to fully understand their inner self, their thoughts, and feelings and why they behave the way they do. Self-awareness is a major component of self-development since for an individual to work on developing and improving themselves, they first must gain awareness and knowledge of who they are and what drives them. I have done a detailed description of self-awareness as well as some self-awareness exercises to help in this step of personal development.
Learning new skills and improving skills
To work towards achieving your potential, you need to possess certain skills relevant to your area. Personal development helps individuals learn new skills and improve the skills they already possess. Even with the highest levels of education, some skills are not taught in schools that one has to learn through self-education. Such include life skills, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, soft skills among others.
Various angles of personal development teach different skills. It is up to an individual to identify which skills are relevant to the area they want to improve and this realization is achieved through personal development. Once you identify the skills you need, you seek them out and work on self-improvement in your area.
Our identity is such an important part of who you are. Your identity is based on your childhood and upbringing, your personality as well as your self-concept. Learning your identity is a crucial part of personal development as it helps in self-awareness.
A significant part of developing self-identity is taking a personality test to develop an understanding of your temperaments. You get to understand why you behave the way you do. A clear understanding of your personality can help you in career selection making and maintaining healthy relationships and shed light on why you need to pursue some life achievements and how to go about it.
Building self-esteem and self-confidence
I cannot emphasize enough how high self-esteem and self-confident are important in your life. One basic goal of personal development is to improve self-concept such that you think highly of yourself and improve self-worth. Before you get to the part of improving, you come from a point of understanding your self-worth which is developed as you explore your self-awareness. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you learn what you can’t change and what you can change. With this information, you work on improving what you can change through personal development.
You also learn to accept and embrace what you can’t change. This form of self-understanding and taking control of your life helps you boost your self-confidence and esteem. According to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-confidence contributes to success because it increases our expectation of success, allows us to take risks and pursue challenges, helps us bounce back when we fail and also helps us control emotions and fear when things are not going right.
Developing strengths and talents
The self-awareness exercises help you learn about your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know where your strengths lie, you work on them to become better as a person and at what you do. Another way of learning about your strengths is by understanding your personality which sheds light to the kind of abilities and talents you have. With this information, you use various aspects of personal development to develop strengths and talents and becoming better at what you do and live a more fulfilling life.
Career improvement and advancement
First, as I aforementioned, understanding your personality can help you make relevant career choices. Further, self-awareness and understanding your interests can help you choose a career in areas where your interests lie, and therefore be more involved and engaged in your career in such a way that it bears positive results.
Using personal development, you can also work on advancing your career by learning additional skills that are good for your career, working on your strengths, being more confident to take on roles and push for more responsibilities and even utilizing your talent to get ahead in your career. Personal development’s section of productivity can also help you develop the right kind of self-discipline you need to achieve your career goals.
Identifying your potential and working to achieve it
“What a man can be, he must be”- Abraham Maslow
According to Maslow, the apex of the hierarchy of our needs is self-actualization. Part of us as human beings are feeling compelled to achieve our potential once we have met all the other needs. Personal development helps an individual realize their potential. Through self-realization, you develop an understanding of your inner self and what you are capable of. You also recognize what gives you happiness and for most of us, being this productive and useful person is what gives us happiness. Knowing our potential, we therefore work and strive to achieve what we are destined to be.
Enhancing the quality of life
As aforementioned, personal development touches on different areas, all intended to improve the quality of life. Self-improvement involves working in different aspects be it a career, relationships, mental health, physical health all of which contribute to achieving a fulfilling and satisfying life. Personal development, therefore, helps us enhance the quality of life.
In his book, The 7 habits of highly effective people, habit number 7 is sharpening the saw. Stephen Covey says that to achieve all that we have planned, we have to sharpen the saw. This involves sharpening our body, mind, heart, and soul. It is focusing on improving the four main dimensions of our being which are the physical dimensions, mental dimensions, emotional dimension, and spiritual dimension. Personal development helps us develop health in these areas.
Physical health is achieved by exercise, eating right, having sufficient rest. Mental health is achieved by educating ourselves, learning new skills, exercising the brain and practicing ways to get the mental balance so that we don’t sink into irrational thoughts and depression. Emotional health is achieved by building healthy relationships all around us since relationships are important for our sustainability. The spiritual dimension is achieved by meditation, prayer, journaling for some affirmations and ensure we consume the right kind of information.
Personal development helps us fulfill aspirations
We all have a form of aspirations. Whether it is to be the best parent, the best student, the best author, or the best employees, there are steps we can take to help us improve in these areas. This is where personal development comes in. it helps us first realize what our aspirations are and what they mean to us. We realize what motivates us. Upon this realization, we work towards achieving what’s important to us and bettering ourselves little by little to achieve what’s important to us.
Personal development and healthy relationships
“Good social relationships are like food and thermoregulation, universally important to human mood”- Martin Seligman
Relationships are important to us. We are social beings. To gain a good balance in our lives, we need good relationships. Personal development helps us develop emotional maturity and emotional intelligence needed in relationships. We develop empathy so that we can sense the needs of others and create authentic bonds with them.
Through self-awareness, we become good at intrapersonal relationships which are relationships within ourselves. Our relationships with ourselves influence every other relationship we form. After we are self-aware, we develop emotionally intelligent which helps us form healthy interpersonal relationships.
Our spirituality is important for our nourishment. Depending on where you receive your nourishment, personal development techniques can help us develop and improve our spirituality such as teaching how to meditate, journaling, how to make affirmations or pray.
Different areas of personal development
Personal development of Productivity
One of the major sections of personal development is productivity. Many of us set goals but can’t seem to achieve them. We are highly distracted or lack the discipline to achieve such levels of productivity. This section of personal development provides advice, tips, and techniques to help individuals and organizations develop the discipline they need to get things done and achieve their goals.
Personal development of Identity
In my opinion, you haven’t truly lived until you know your identity. Once you gain an understanding of who you are, why you behave the way you do, what your aspirations are and what you need to do to achieve them, then you start living. your life becomes more fulfilling as you have a clear picture of what you are working towards. This realization of an identity does not come to you one day as a dream or a vision, but it is a process.
Some significant moments towards realizing my identity were;
- When I learned and came to terms that I am an introvert
- When I learned how important freedom is to me and I started creating ways to ensure that I live and work freely
- When I realized what my aspirations are, what I need to do with my life became clear and I stopped doing all the different things I had my focus on and focused my attentions on these areas
- When I learned my value in relationships and stopped associating with people that didn’t appreciate my value but started relating with those who did, appreciated their value as well and fed positive things into our relationships
Personal development of Health
All the stuff that you read about fitness, dieting, weight loss, yoga, meditation, all channel from the healthy part of personal development. Sure, some of them have been blown out of proportion but living well, a result of personal development, involves being healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Personal development recognizes that you cannot be your best self and live your best life if you are not healthy in these areas. It, therefore, endorses on habits, discipline, and techniques you can adopt to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Sources of personal development
Where can you learn about personal development? Where can you get personal development advice, tips, and techniques that can help you improve your life in different areas?
Personal Development Books
My first source of personal development was in books. I have loved reading since I was young but my focus was mainly on fiction. I later learned to read self-development books and I was hooked! One of the most impactful books in my life was Quiet- The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. From Susan Cain’s Ted talk to her amazing and well-researched book, I learned my true identity, got answers for why I behave the way I do, why I feel the way I do, and for questions, I didn’t even know I had.
A few years later, I read Grit- The power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth and it came to me just when I needed it. I was at a point where I needed clarity and this book, shaped that for me. I also really appreciate Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence for its exploration in areas of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. I’ve read a lot of other amazing books and from each of them, I have learned some personal development lessons that I apply in my life each day.
Personal development training in courses and classes
I read some personal development books but I didn’t classify them as personal development until I took a class in psychology. Here, we had practical personal development exercises that made me realize how crucial this area of study was in life and also sparked my interest in psychology. There are classes available online on personal development as well as physical workshops, seminars and even school courses that you can take about personal development.
In this era of the internet, you don’t have to enroll in a school to access great materials. Online courses are available for free and for affordable costs which you can take and take at your own pace. You can also use courses not only for self-awareness but to build other skills such as leadership skills and communication skills, emotional intelligence among others which you can apply in your personal life and your career.
Therapy for personal development
When I took the short course in psychology, one of the requirements was that we attend 10 mandatory therapy sessions. I didn’t think I ever needed therapy. I thought therapy was for a certain kind of people, you know, people with problems! There I was in a therapy session, talking with my therapist as I busy explained how I didn’t have problems and the next thing I realized was that we were talking about the different areas in my life that I could improve.
One thing I remember that I got from these sessions was clarity over dilemmas I was facing at the time, relating to my career and personal life. talking brings clarity. If you can, I would recommend therapy as part of the personal development process. It may help you deal with some underlying issues that are standing in the way of your process of becoming a better version of you and living the life that you desire.
Personal development training in Videos, talks, and features
I will always remember the day I watched Susan Cain’s Ted Talk on Introverts. I still watch it today once in a while. She spoke to me, and it’s this talk that led me to purchase her book which I proudly declare as one of my favorite self-development books. YouTube has so much information that is available for you for free. For every talk you take, you learn a lesson or two. Not all the information available online is good for you, or even applicable to your life. you will have to learn to filter information, choose what to keep and what to discard after listening.
All the same, explore YouTube videos in your areas of interest. Beside Ted talks and videos in individuals’ websites, I also use YouTube for book summaries before I choose to read a book. The summaries help me filter out books that would not be relevant to the kind of personal development that I am pursuing.
Personal development Blogs and podcasts
Blogs and websites such as this one focus on personal development. Personal development and self-improvement are one of the areas that’s most written about. You can subscribe to some of these blogs so that you get new information to their email, or follow these content makers on social media to learn from the information they post on social media.
Podcasts and audiobooks are also a great way to learn about personal development. I like books and podcasts because I can listen as I perform other activities such as running errands, working out or commuting. Search for podcasts in your area of interest and listen to them you could learn a thing or two that is important for your personal development.
Psychology and personal development
As I mentioned earlier, I developed an interest in personal development after taking a psychology course. Psychology links to personal development with contexts from psychologists such as Carl Jung and Alfred Alder. Alder brought about the concepts of lifestyles and self-image as well as work-life balance. Jung developed individualization, focusing on how could work on themselves to gain wholeness and improvement of the self. Another psychologist, Albert Bandura brought about the term self-efficacy and how it contributes to self-confidence. Further, Martin Seligman encouraged positive psychology intended to develop healthy individuals.