Personal development is an ongoing effort in assessing your qualities, identifying your strengths, and perfecting your skills. Your personal development can take you in all sorts of directions, serving as a lifelong process to realize your dreams, set goals, and determine which way you want to take your life.
As broad as personal development is, it’s super important to each and every one of us. Personal development starts at our earliest stages of life and follows us to the end. We are constantly changing, evolving, learning, and growing.
Because it’s so broad, sometimes it can be hard to feel like we really have a grasp on our personal development. We’re here to help. Let’s take a look at what personal develop entails and how we can develop ourselves in a way that’s positive and productive.
Is Personal Development Important?
Since personal development refers to personal improvement, it’s easy to answer the question of its importance with a simple “yes.” However, by exploring the key benefits of personal development, we can give a more in-depth answer.
Our lives are shaped by our personal development, and more so, the various aspects of our family, job, emotional health, and general consciousness are improved by it.
That being said, we’re going to go into further detail on the invaluable benefits of personal development.
Clarity in Personal Vision
When you really hone in on developing personally, you give yourself a clearer vision of your own future – your wants, your needs, your strengths, your weaknesses. Ask yourself this: do you know the answer to all of those four areas? If not, working towards developing yourself can help you determine the answers.
By learning and growing in all areas of your life, you can sharpen the skills you already have while discovering ones you didn’t know you were capable of. This growth highlights your weaknesses and strengths, allowing you to either avoid or improve your weaknesses and further develop your strengths.
Personal development often forces you to take a look at your past and learn from your experiences. The process promotes a reflecting of self and the opportunity to take your mistakes head-on and grow from them.
All of these components of personal development give you a clearer vision of what you were, where you are, and what you want to be – in all areas of your life.
Improve Your Effectiveness
Without personal growth, self-awareness, and general improvement, you cannot improve the results of your actions. Personal development leads to effectiveness. This area is especially important in business and the career portion of your life, but it applies to the other areas as well.
In fact, personal development is often an area that many human resource departments and researchers will focus on when they note a lack of performance and business success. You may have heard that organizational growth begins with the individual. This is true on many levels, and its truth holds even firmer when you note that personal development leads to better effectiveness.
One of the best ways to succeed in your career is to focus on improving yourself, further developing your skills, image, and performance. You can also use this technique to improve upon your relationships, parenting, housekeeping, and emotional health.
A man named Abraham Maslow created what he called a hierarchy of needs, which revolves around the idea that all humans have a built-in need for personal development. His process of development centers around the process of self-actualization.
According to Maslow, in order to achieve self-actualization, an individual must develop from the most basic of human needs to more complex needs. His hierarchy goes as follows:
- Physiological Needs: good, water, sex, sleep, exercise, etc.
- Safety Needs: health, worth, money, routine, familiarity
- Love and Belongingness: Affirmation, family, acceptance, affection
- Esteem Needs: Competency, self-esteem, self-respect, respect of others
- Cognitive Needs: understanding, knowledge, curiosity, search for meaning and purpose
- Aesthetic Needs: beauty, order, symmetry
In terms of this developmental hierarchy, once you have developed from the bottom up, starting with your physiological needs and ending with your aesthetic needs, you can achieve self-actualization, or becoming what you are capable of becoming.
Personal development helps you obtain a better picture of what you want and who you want to be. Therefore, it also makes it easier to achieve those things. The possibility of great achievement, especially within yourself, is an excellent motivator.
People with no direction and very little idea of what they want in this world are not likely to be very motivated. However, once you get more of this clarity that tends to come with personal development, you are more likely to gain motivation to grab holds of those goals and objectives that come with your idea of what your life should look like.
Those who know what they want to go after it, and those who don’t know what they want to figure it out. Both of these can be achieved through personal development.
Resilience and Confidence
Personal development can sometimes be a bit of a bumpy road. Discovering who you often take trials and tribulation. Learning your abilities often comes with failures along with successes. Attaining your idea of a quality existence can require a lot of figuring things out and navigating new areas.
While all of these aspects of personal development can be difficult and sometimes even scary, we come out stronger in the end. Working through our own development makes us more resilient and confident in ourselves.
We know what we have been through and we learn how much we can handle. In fact, through your development, you will probably discover that you can handle a lot more than you originally thought. This boosts confidence in ourselves and helps us get through even more difficult parts of our lives with grace and determination, rather than trepidation and uncertainty.
Depending on what stage of your life you are currently in, you may have already noticed that growing up and developing your personality, your morals, and your standards have lost you some relationships along the way.
While moving on from a friend or a significant other or even a family member can come as a heartbreaking loss, sometimes personal development shines a light on which relationships are meant to last forever in your life.
Because we are constantly growing and changing in a way that helps us realize our true potential, our relationships change and improve along the way. We have a better sense of which friendships are meaningful and mutually beneficial. We also learn the ways we need to be loved and how to identify those who are capable of delivering that love.
It’s perfectly normal to let a friendship go or break up with your high school sweetheart. This is a part of our personal development, and it happens because we are learning to invest our time in the right people.
Personal Development Activities to Try
After learning more about personal development and the positive impacts it can have on our life, we need to talk about what specific activities we can focus on to achieve that growth. There are a lot of things you can intentionally do to work towards progressing your own development while another growth happens naturally.
The simple act of learning a few organization skills can go a long way when it comes to your personal development. Everything in life gets easier when you’re organized, whether you are physically organizing the items on your work desk or sorting out the thoughts in your head.
If you think about it, staying organized is a basic form of personal responsibility. Someone who truly wants to grow personally could use some responsibility in their life, and becoming a more organized person can help you get there.
In addition, being organized gives you the simple benefit of removing mindless distractions that take away from other areas of personal growth and development. It’s much easier to focus on the bigger tasks at hand when you know where everything is.
Avoid Negative People and Situations
As we mentioned earlier, your personal development will automatically result in changes in your personal relationships. However, something you can practice in the meantime is focusing on which relationships in your life are positive, and which are negative.
Those who are positive will serve to benefit you and your growth. Negative people and situations have a way of holding us back and preventing growth – even sometimes taking away growth we have already experienced.
Positive people and situations will make you a more positive person, keeping you pushing to achieve more, develop yourself, and focus on the good.
For this reason, something you can practice is making an effort to stay in touch with those relationships that you feel are mutually beneficial and good. Simply saying that you have a good relationship with someone isn’t enough. You both have to participate. Reach out, give them a call, plan a lunch date; do whatever you can to keep the relationship alive and thriving, and you will both continue to grow together.
Read Self-Development Books
Some people don’t believe in self-help books, but others find much encouragement and strength in them. If you never try, you will never truly know.
There are tons of titles out there for someone to pick. Many of them focus on specific areas of growth, while others are geared towards personal development in general. Reading them can spark motivation, give you new ideas, and deliver novel tactics that you have yet to try.
Learning is a part of personal development, and there’s nothing wrong with learning from a book – especially one that was designed to help people grow.
If you’re looking for something to read but don’t know where to start, take a look at this list of self-development books.
In the same way, reading pretty much anything at all can help your self-development. Reading is a form of learning and stretching your mind. Do your best to branch out. If you usually read romantic novels, try something from the history or mystery section from a change. You never know what you might grow to love, and trying new genres will certainly impact your personal development.
One area of personal development that we have yet to touch on is physical development. Just as your body has mental and emotional needs, it also has physical needs. Those needs are just as important as the others and should not be pushed to the side.
Aside from the obvious growth that happens in our bodies naturally, exercise is a form of personal development that can help us grow in other ways.
Physical exercise is not only good for our health, but it’s good for the mind. There are several benefits to exercising, such as a lower risk for heart problems and disease, lower obesity rates, less stress, and general strength. It also lets you focus on something positive and blow off steam. It’s an excellent solution for someone looking for a new hobby or a positive activity to fill their time.
Exercise develops muscle, agility, flexibility, and endurance. All of these can certainly be attributed to personal development. To those who are dedicated to their workouts, it can even be a major area of development.
If you never considered physical activity as an area of personal development, perhaps it’s time you take a closer look. You may discover a hidden passion that you never knew you had, and you can reap both the mental and physical rewards.
Purposefully Leave Your Comfort Zone
You never grow if you stay in the same safe place for every moment of every day. That isn’t growth; it’s remaining stagnant. Staying in one place will never serve to further develop your abilities, your goals, your dreams, or your mind.
Every time you try something new, you are stepping out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a huge leap of faith. You shouldn’t feel the need to go from one extreme to another. But if you take little steps here and there on a regular basis, you will soon be able to turn around and see just how far you’ve come.
For example, maybe you’d like to personally develop your social skills. You’re a very shy, quiet individual who keeps to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you want to grow into a more outgoing person – even though the thought of social situations terrifies you.
There is absolutely no reason for you to have to throw yourself into the most stressful social activity you can think of. Take it slow. Say hi to a stranger. Reach out to an old friend and invite them out for a cup of coffee. Join a new group – but take someone you know along with you.
While all of these actions may require you to step out of your comfort zone a little bit, they also don’t force you to jump in with both feet and make a splash. Test the waters and go at your own pace. Part of personal development is learning your limits but doing it in the way that’s going to best suit you.
Eat Healthier – But Try New Things
Some people believe in the notion that you should live in the moment, and that means eating anything and everything you want, regardless of what the scale (or your doctor) says. While I’m all for seizing the day and grabbing opportunities to do what you love, eating your way through life is not the same thing.
In fact, eating healthier has so many benefits. When you maintain a well-balanced diet containing necessary vitamins and nutrients, it’s not just about weight. A good diet boosts your mood and can quite literally make you happier. It also gives you more, long-lasting energy – as opposed to energy drinks and sugar that give you a quick boost followed by a crash.
Eating healthier also helps you sleep better, and we all know how much of a positive impact a good night’s sleep can give you.
Maintaining a balanced diet can be your saving grace from certain illnesses and diseases. Your diet directly affects your immune system (hello, vitamin C) as well as your heart health, your brain and focus, your vision, and your muscle growth.
At the same time, remember that having a healthy diet is very different from putting yourself on a diet. It’s not about cutting out all of the carbs and fat; it’s about balance and moderation. No, you don’t have to skip the bowl of ice cream if you’re craving it, but you probably shouldn’t eat that for dinner every night of the week.
Don’t skip out on eating at a restaurant or choosing the side salad instead of the steak dinner. Just be aware of what you’re putting into your body because that will affect the positive things that you’re able to put out into the world. Developing better health habits will help develop a better you.
Learn to be Alone
A vital component of personal development is learning to listen to yourself. The best way to really delve into your own thoughts and take the time to sort through them is by spending time alone.
Being alone is a venture that many people fear, but the common misconception is interchanging the words alone and lonely.
In truth, these are two very different words. Being lonely can be sad and scary. Being alone can be empowering and relaxing. If you’re still not convinced, take a second to picture your life without a single moment of alone time. What would that look like?
When you don’t have time for yourself, you don’t have time to decompress and think. Spending a designated amount of alone time with yourself is what allows you to truly come to know yourself. This is the time when you sort out your dreams and ideas. It’s what lets you make decisions and reflect on your choices.
In your alone time, you can think, meditate, and pray. There’s no pressure to entertain or come up with an interesting topic to talk about. No one is watching your every move or expecting anything from you. You’re free to feel and learn how to love yourself.
It’s important to develop in the midst of the outside world, but don’t forget to spend time focusing on your innermost developing during those moments when no one else is around.
Contribute to Something Bigger
Many people find self-growth and fulfillment in being a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s why so many people delve into volunteer work or community involvement. It’s also why individuals thrive as a part of a group or a team.
It’s perfectly fine to focus on yourself and your individual growth, but when you do something that also helps others, you can find a lot of growth there as well.
Consider a situation where you’ve been a part of a team. This could be within the workplace, on a sports team, or as a part of a volunteer group. There is something empowering about joining forces with people who have the same goal as you. The opportunity of working with others lets you learn so much about teamwork, skill sets, diverse backgrounds, and much more.
These are the kinds of things that will help you grow and develop as an individual. They also help you form connections and build new relationships that you may have never had the opportunity to do otherwise. You can grow from the encouragement and support that comes from being apart of something that extends farther than just yourself.
Creativity is an excellent way to stretch the mind. Think outside of the box and do something different. Creative thinking allows you to look at all situations from different angles and fresh perspectives. Bosses love creative thinkers in the office, but it doesn’t have to stop there.
You can express your creativity is so many ways. Some people do it by designing their own clothes. Other express it through music, whether it’s writing songs or playing an instrument. Someone else may be creative through their artwork like painting or drawing.
The best thing about creativity is that there is no right or wrong. You may not be a concert pianist, but if you love to play the piano, that’s all that matters.
Develop your creativity by learning and asking a lot of questions. Never stop striving for knowledge, and don’t be afraid to solve a problem on your own. That is the best way to expand your mind. From painting to writing and everything in between, you will surely develop personally through creative actions.
Write Things Down
Your personal development journey is so important, and important things should be written down. Growing and learning are huge parts of your life. There’s almost nothing better than looking back and where you once were and realizing how far you’ve come.
One of the best ways to track your personal development is by writing everything down. Detail your struggles and what you’re going through and write about how you overcame them or the steps you have been taking along the way.
Someday, you will pick up that journal and read about a difficulty you had a year ago. At that moment, you’ll be able to smile at how you have grown since then. Or you can relate that past situation to something you’re going through now, pulling from your past experience to get you through your current obstacle.
While it’s not always healthy to dwell on the past, it’s certainly beneficial to learn and grow through it. Writing things down will help you remember how you felt, how you got through it, and what you learned. A written record of your life showcases your development in a way that helps you understand it.
Even if you’re not a writer and don’t have the best grammatical or creative skills in the world, you can still write your thoughts. These accounts are just for you, so don’t be afraid to spell them out.
Personal development can be a difficult topic to conquer, mainly because it looks different for every individual. Your personal development journey will certainly not match that of your best friend, your siblings, or your co-workers. Your growth will come in different stages, experiences, and timelines. You will experience joys and successes, but you will also go through crushing failures.
The important thing to remember that everything you go through and every step along the way is a part of your personal development. When you achieve something great, you can count it towards your progress. And when you feel defeated by something terrible, you can focus on how it will help you grow and make you stronger.
Use the activities we talked about here today to help you with your personal development. It’s a lifelong trip, so use the tools at your disposal to positively impact the direction your heading – no matter where you end up.