When I mention the idea of personal development to some people, you can almost see them cringe. They think that it entails reading yourself to a better person and, of course, that is not the way to develop. This is a misconception. Personal development is not that. In a nutshell, it is a lifetime process. A lifetime process of finding (increasing the awareness of) and improving your qualities, values, skills. You could say that it is a process of recognising your potential and then taking steps to acquire that potential. Boiled down to its most basic form, anything that you do to improve yourself is part of your personal development journey.
Fortunately, I found out about this stuff at around 18, however I did not know that what I was doing was part of personal development. That, I realized maybe at 21. I encountered it when I was studying for Business Studies at A Level. Every week, or mostly twice a week, our teacher would make us present a topic to the entire class. The very first topic that we had been given was marketing in China. Out of the group, I had been chosen to “speak to everyone about the stuff.” It was quite funny now that I look back. I had no structure to my presentation, my voice cracked a few times, and oh yeah, that was if you could hear me. I mean, the content was great. That was when I realised that you could have the best things to say, but if you can’t get those things across effectively, they will lose their force. I actually began to practice presenting by picking any topic, whether it be about the latest football match or a political matter or just how my day went, and would video myself speaking about it. I spotted all of the things that I did BOTH well and not so well, and worked on them. Eventually, our presenting group became the only group that the class would ever clap at.
Looking back now, what I did was realise that certain soft-skills of mine required work, and worked on them. That, right there, is personal development.
Now, being able to give a good presentation in front of twenty 18 year olds is not the only thing that personal development will allow you to do. However, if you’re still unconvinced, then here are my reasons for focusing on personal development!
“Stuck” with yourself
In all reality, you are with yourself forever. You can be married, with children, have a lovely house, however, when you can’t sleep until 2am on a Tuesday morning, you are “stuck” there by yourself. What I mean by “stuck” is that, unless someone snores really loudly, you have to lay there alone, in silence. This, in itself, is not inherently a bad thing. However, if you have not learnt to reflect positively, if you have not attempted to maximize your potential, you will regret it. You will have to admit to yourself that you have not attempted to work on yourself. Of course, it is never too late to start, but why not start as soon as you can?
In addition to this, imagine that you achieve your goals, your dreams or whatever you have called them. However, you have hardly developed as a person. You are your longest commitment and you have not actually committed to yourself. You may live on from everyone else around you, and if you have spent no time on yourself, you have literally neglected yourself. That means that you lack a connection with your inner-self and this is literally a form of self-sabotage.
Some say why should I develop? I say why shouldn’t you?
Also, a couple of people have told me that the idea of personal development is just too time consuming for them. However, it may take less than 5/10 minutes per day to just focus on one aspect of yourself. If you do not have that, then you have a problem. Additionally, you can incorporate the things that allow personal development into your daily activities. For example, if you find that you don’t smile enough, choose to smile at three people a day and eventually increase it. Eventually, smiling will be natural, and smiling is not something you have to really go out of your way to do.
Self-awareness = Self-love?
One of the main tenets of personal development is reflection. I only knew that my first business studies presentation was not great because of the responses that the class gave and how seriously that they were taking me. However, at first, I took no notice of it. I only realized that the problem was my presentation skills when I went home and thought about my day.
So, reflection leads to self-awareness. However, like I said above, personal development is about learning about your weak points AND your strong points. So, by learning about your strong points, you can, in turn, increase the amount of self-love and self-esteem that you have. Self-love is key to feeling happy. Period.
Moving onwards, the connection between personal development and self-love goes deeper. If you take time out to work on yourself, chances are that you are doing it because you love yourself and want yourself to become better. Parents often push their child as they want what is best for them as they love them. The same applies with yourself. Additionally, by consistently working on yourself, your self-love will increase.
Development = Progression in life?
You need to develop to get anywhere in life. In turn, a lot of things that you will do, even going to university or college, will develop you. But, it is important to know that, in order to achieve your goals, personal development is imperative. You will need to work on things. Anything from self-discipline and time management to improving your psychometric skills. It is good to ask yourself whether the person that you are now will allow you to achieve your goals
Also, if you have a developed character, you will stand out as a person. For example, you can work on your networking skills and this will increase your likelihood of success in interviews and in the workplace.
Would you settle with the idea that you did not achieve your goals, not because you lacked the intellect, but because your character wasn’t right?
Moving slightly away from the “goals” department, if you have a well-developed character, you will not only achieve more success whilst pursuing and throughout your career, but you will have more satisfying relationships. Who likes someone who is lazy, negative and doesn’t make much of an effort with themselves?
Difficulty = A good thing?
This one is hard to realise. Mostly, when we go through intense difficulty, whatever it be, we hate it. In fact, we don’t just hate it, we absolutely detest it.
When you get into personal development, sometimes, you will have to wrestle with yourself. However, through persistence, you learn a valuable transferable lesson. You learn that most difficulty will lead to strengthening your character and improving your skills. This teaches you that most difficult situations represent a challenge which, if you persevere, will lead to strong development. You learn to take the good from the bad. Additionally, this allows you to persevere through more challenging things. You will learn that the more challenging that something is, the more that you will develop. You will face them with confidence.
What to do next?
I hope that this has provided you with some compelling reasons for personal development.
However, some of you guys may be unsure on what to do next. A great way to start is to make a personal development plan. Here is how I do it:
Grab a piece of paper and consider your strong and weak points. Then, make a three-column table and write down your weak points in one column. Then, in the next column, give yourself a deadline. The purpose of this “deadline” is to have time where you can stop researching, thinking about how to improve on that area and actually then start putting it into practice. Remember, you can think about things all day long but without action you will not change. Additionally, some areas take longer to work on than others. Finally, in the other column, give yourself a time period where you will put these things into practice!
So, for example, if you find that you would like to become a better speaker. Put that in one of the columns. Then, in the next column, give yourself 4 weeks (however long you feel that you need – you may also need longer than you first expected) to research and understand the hallmarks of good speech. Then, spend a period of time practicing these things and incorporating them into your daily life.
Of course, this is only one way of planning your development and there are other ways that may better suit the area that you are working on.
Also, just a final point. When I refer to personal development, I mean ANYTHING that contributes to your betterment. I don’t necessarily mean taking weekend-long seminars on finding your passion, although they are fantastic to develop. These aren’t the only ways/things that you can develop on. The example of smiling more is a very small example of development.
I hope that you have found my insight useful.
With best wishes,