Why do I care about personal development?
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,
Some ways to increase self-confidence
Put succinctly, self-confidence is your belief in yourself to do something successfully. It is emphasized by several personal development gurus that confidence is one of the most important things ever. I agree. My reason for agreeing is because, often, you only do things that you believe that you can succeed in. So, if you have low confidence, i.e. you do not believe that you can succeed, then you won’t try certain things. With that said, if you do not try to do some things, you will not achieve all that you are capable and worthy of.
Inevitably, everyone goes through a period in life where they feel like they lack confidence. This does not have to be in all areas. You may be confident in your academic ability, but not confident in approaching women.
Evidently, as confidence important, I will post one of the following three every other day that can be used to help your confidence grow:
- Activities to carry out that will boost confidence
- New ways of thinking to develop confidence
- Books that I have read and why they’re good
Nothing happens quickly
It is important to know that confidence is not built instantly. Of course, you can slightly increase your confidence on a daily basis, but you will not instantly have a really high level. Essentially, confidence is built as a result of thought patterns which build your perception of your own ability. It takes time to train yourself to see your ability, particularly if you are too harsh on yourself, or if you have had a difficult past or are having a difficult present. Remember, as children, we are totally innocent and our minds are not polluted through negative experiences and what some may call “reality.” This explains why young children are often very confident and not afraid of much at all.
Track your progress
It is particularly helpful to keep a diary with your progress in. The best way to do this is to rate your confidence out of 10 every single day (10 being high and 0 being non-existent.)
Why is this helpful? One of the key motivators to do anything is progress. Although I am still along my journey to building unbreakable confidence, there are times when you feel like stopping. This is because it is not always an easy process. However, if you look back and see how much progress you have made, you will find it easier to keep going. This is because you see that it is possible.
Quick disclaimer: You cannot read yourself to self-confidence. You have to act on the principles.
So, now we begin!
- Three things per day activity
This one is highly effective. At the end of every day, in your daily diary, write 3 positive features of yours that you have noticed. Until you get to 100 features (roughly just under 5 weeks), do not repeat a feature that you have noted before. This is a time period where you want to learn about yourself. Once you exceed 100 features, you can then repeat previous ones, but still, do not try to repeat them!
How does this work? Well, if you can write 100 unique features of yours that are positive, you will realise that you have many features that make you capable of many things. Also, if you have written 100 unique features, you will not have anywhere as near that many features that are negative. So, you will realise that you are not as “bad” or “incompetent” as you thought you were.
You can write anything positive about yourself. Below is an example:
- Smile a lot
Of course, this will require some reflection on your part. You will have to sit down and think. It may be best to do it at the end of the day before bed. This way, you can think about your day and pick where you exercised those features throughout your day. It simply makes them easier to be noticed. It will also allow you to go to sleep with a positive mindset!
Anyhow, that’s today’s activity. See you on Sunday!
2. The terms that you use and confidence
Hi guys. This is another idea to think about and to incorporate into your daily activities.
When it comes to confidence, the terms that you use are crucial. Your subconscious mind will soak up the words that you use. Additionally, if you use certain words, you change your ways of thinking.
Avoid using terms such as: I cannot, I wish and I hope so etc.
Replace these terms, and similar terms, with more positive (confident) terms such as: I will, definitely and of course.
Best of luck,
3. Preparation, preparation and more preparation
Whether you’re going to give a speech to your managers or whether you are looking to approach someone that you like, preparation is one of the foundations of confidence. It almost seems logical that a failure to adequately prepare will result in a lack of confidence.
With that said, prepare for the area that you want to be confident in. If you want to give a great speech or successfully approach that person that you like, you have to prepare. Watch videos on public speaking and pay attention to the foundations of successful speech. This way, you have less of a chance of “messing up” as you have practiced and incorporated these methods into your speech. There are a plethora of videos on Youtube on how to deliver speeches!
An example of the confidence that preparation rewards is visible in boxers. If Manny Pacquiao does not prepare for a fight, he will be unconfident and also be likely to lose.
Also, bear in mind that preparation also means being able to prepare and recover from the worst. E.g. if you stutter in a speech, have methods of “styling it out” or turning it into something funny.
Finally, remember that nothing happens overnight. There is no key concept that you can read in a book that will allow you to develop confidence.
The next activity that I post will look at the idea of self-love and its relation to self-confidence.
Best of luck,
4. How you speak to yourself about yourself
This one is important. Many of us have developed a habit of down talking OURSELVES. This is not necessarily to others, but TO OURSELVES. The impact of this can be catastrophic.
Imagine you have a friend that constantly down talks himself. What happens? Eventually, you do not want to spend much time with that friend as they become quite toxic, you generally start thinking negatively and you run a risk of falling into the trap of pitying that friend.
Now, imagine that you were constantly down talking people. People would not want to spend much time with you as you most likely come across as quite toxic, you generally start thinking negatively and people run a risk of falling into the trap of pitying you.
Pretty bad huh?
Now, imagine that you were constantly down talking yourself to other people. Again, people would not want to spend much time with you as you most likely come across as quite toxic, you start disliking yourself and people run a risk of falling into the trap of pitying you.
What could possibly be worse? Does it even get worse than this?
Now, imagine that you were constantly down talking yourself TO YOURSELF. You would not want to spend much time with yourself, you start disliking yourself and run a risk of falling in the trap of self-pity.
How hazardous could this be?
If you down talk yourself at every single, or almost every single, opportunity that you get, your confidence, self-love and self-respect disappear.
I guess that your next question would be “but how can I stop this?”
Well, there is really only one way. It is to replaced the negative self-talk with more objective and realistic self-talk. Sometimes we forget that our negative self-talk is often subjective, and the absolute opposite of what people see/how you come across to others.
Lets say that you are preparing a meal for your family and the cooking takes a little longer than anticipated. An example of down talk would be “I’m so bad, the meal will be late now.”, “the meal will be late! I’m useless” or “I can’t do anything” etc.
The best way to stop this is to learn to recognise down talk. At first, it can be quite hard to recognise as it may have become a habit.It does get easier, and you may even realise that you down talk yourself pretty much all of the time!
Activity 1, 2 and 3 can all be used to replace negative self talk with positive self talk. Going back to the meal example:
Instead of saying that “the meal will be late! I’m useless”, replace this with “you are still preparing the meal, it may take a little longer, I have all of the ingredients that I need and my recipe and I will get this cooked.”
As you can see, by stating that you have all of the ingredients and the recipe, you are suggesting that you are well prepared (see activity 3.) Also, by stating that you “will” get it cooked, you are using positive, confident language (see activity 2.) Also, in stating that you are still preparing the meal, you are implying that you are actually a good person! This is because you are still trying! ( see activity 1.)
There are countless examples that can be used to demonstrate this.
Also, if you follow activity 1, you will find that you will automatically down talk less. This is because you are aware of the great qualities that you have and that one little delay in something does not dictate your true self.
This evening, I will be posting a video on self-love. I will also post my notes on the video for those who feel like they want to write some stuff down.
Have a lovely day,
Act, act and act some more!
As you may recall from activity 2:
“When it comes to confidence, the terms that you use are crucial. Your subconscious mind will soak up the words that you use. Additionally, if you use certain words, you change your ways of thinking.”
In my opinion, the same happens with actions.
You may have heard of the phrases “act as if” and “fake it until you make it.” Well, if you haven’t, they basically imply that you should act as something, and eventually you WILL BECOME that “something.” So, why not apply this to confidence?
When you are next walking down the street, ask yourself how you can walk more confidently? Are you standing upright, are you looking forwards? Are you smiling at people? Are your shoulders relaxed and sitting back?
This does not only apply to walking down the street, it applies to everything. When you are talking to people, are you maintaining eye contact? Or are you looking away from them?
Right, I’m sure that those that are unconvinced are thinking “but how can acting confidently change your beliefs in yourself?”
Well, firstly, I would say that it is an imperative that you work on your beliefs. Activity 1 should help with this. However, reflection is just as crucial. Look at yourself and your achievements and consider what you’ve done!
However, just to add strength to the “acting” idea, whenever you have a thought, your subconscious will search for evidence for and against this thought. So, let us imagine that you look downwards whilst walking. Now, let us imagine that you have a thought as to whether you are confident or not. Your subconscious will say “Ah, you must be unconfident, you look downwards whilst walking!”
See how your actions can also help your beliefs?
Posting over the next two weeks
Due to the busyness of life, I will not be able to post until the 9th of December.
But, I do wish to have 10 activities for this segment on confidence. So, 5 more to go!
In the meanwhile, try these activities out! You have more time now as I won’t be posting for some time!
Have a nice evening and a nice weekendJ,
6. Act, act and act some more: Eye contact
Bearing in mind the content in activity 5, I think that we all know that eye contact is fundamental in showing self-confidence. Eye contact suggests that a person is honest and genuine.
Imagine talking to somebody who is looking everywhere but towards your face or your eyes? You get a strange vibe from the person and most likely feel as if they’re hiding something. Have you ever spoken to somebody and you can tell that, as opposed to looking at your face, they are looking at your shirt or hair? Doesn’t it give the impression that the person is not listening to you and not taking the conversation seriously? Some people even see it as a sign of arrogance.
I must admit, it was challenging to develop strong eye contact with people. But that’s cool. Remember, confidence is a muscle, you must work it to make it grow.
Try the following activity every single day for the next 3 weeks:
- Ask somebody to sit opposite you for 3 minutes.
- For the entire duration of those 3 minutes, maintain eye contact with them
- Don’t speak whilst doing this
- If it feels “awkward”, push through that barrier
- Add a minute per week to this activity. So, the timing will be as follows:
Week 1: 3 minutes
Week 2: 4 minutes
Week 3: 5 minutes
Eventually, it will become habitual.
Posting for the rest of the “confidence” segment
I apologise for being unable to post for the past 2 weeks. I have been unwell and also had an emergency and had to travel to another country.
I will continue to post for this segment as usual – every other day. Once it is finished, I will move onto the area of mental health.
I hope that you guys have been able to practice 🙂
Have a lovely Friday,
See you on Sunday!
7. Imagination and confidence!
When focusing on a goal, we often imagine ourselves succeeding in achieving that goal. We usually think that this motivates us. The good news is that it does! However, as it is as no obvious, we often miss the idea that it can also give us confidence. It shows that it is possible. It is even more helpful to imagine someone who has have achieved it (!), has achieved something similar, or have achieved massive success in something else!
This does not only apply when pursuing a career goal. It can apply to pretty much everything. I’m sure that we all know that one weight lifting dude who sits down for literally 5 minutes before his set just imagining him finishing his reps to hit his new PR! People are often under the misconception that confidence is the ability to talk to others. This is only one small, nonetheless important, area where confidence can be gained. However, we forget that confidence applies to almost every single activity that we carry out. That’s why I created this segment – a lack of confidence can literally ruin your ability to chase after things, or even do the things, that you want or need to do.
So, all I ask is this: next time you have something to do, let’s say you’re playing badminton, prior to the game, just imagine yourself winning.
But how can just imagining cause me to succeed?
I guess that the next question be: “but just imagining and feeling confident is useless if you fail and fall smack bang on your face?”
To a large extent, I would answer this in the affirmative. However, feeling confident in itself is great, BUT confidence by itself is pretty useless if you’re not competent or trying to become more competent.
However, that’s the beauty of imagination. Alongside confidence, imagining success also gives you motivation AND if you are motivated, you will take the necessary steps to achieve whatever you wish to achieve. Of course, you must act. It would be pretty pointless if you imagined yourself beating your opponent at badminton and then making little effort when playing or insufficiently training prior to the game!
As Kent Sayre said “there are numerous examples of confidence without competence and why it’s dangerous.“
Hope this helps!
8. Book: Kent Sayre – Unstoppable Confidence
This is by far one of the most useful books that I have used when it comes to confidence. It’s called “Unstoppable Confidence” by a guy called Kent Sayre.
It’s relatively cheap (roughly £10/$12) and it is the most valuable of all investments – an investment in yourself!
If you purchase books from amazon, here is the link:
Why do I recommend this book?
In a nutshell, Sayre’s idea behind confidence is pretty simple and highly effective. He propagates the “act as if” idea. Many parts of the book are based on this. Of course, you may think that just because it is mostly based on the “act as if” notion it does not make it any more worthy of purchasing than any other book. I agree. However, there are a quite few positive features of the book. Amongst them, here are the ones that I found valuable:
- Sayre highlights the importance of confident body language. More importantly he shows specifically what body language is the body language of confidence.
- The same is done with words – He highlights the important WORDS that are to be used
- He speaks of the importance of competence combined WITH confidence
- He explains the language to be used to fire up self-motivation
- He explains how to use affirmations the right way in order to maximize their effectiveness
Should I purchase this book?
If you are seriously considering purchasing this book, then I would say to view the preview pages of the book on Amazon or take a flick through it if you’re at a book store!
By all means, it is up to you! I am not paid to promote the book, rather it is a book that I found helpful and believe that it may help some others!
9. Confidence and past achievements
As previously said, one of the main sources of confidence is preparation. However, another source is knowing about your past achievements.
Activity 1 (three things per day activity) required you to look at the strengths of your character. This activity is similar, but it requires you to look at your past achievements. I say that they’re similar as they both require internal reflection, which can be challenging.
When I usually mention this to somebody, they say that they have hardly any achievements. That is clearly incorrect. Unless you are under the age of about 10, you will have achieved something. The issue is that people only look at their academic merit or career success. Of course, achievements in those areas are fabulous! However, people forget about other achievements of theirs, such as being great at badminton, volunteering for a charity or persevering through illness! Yes, these are achievements.
So, what I would like you to do for this activity is to create a timeline that goes back as many years as you can remember you first achievement. So, if you are 25, and can remember your achievements as far back as 15, then that’s cool.
What I would like you to do is write down one achievement per day.
But how does this work?
Well, this trains your mind that you have achieved things in the past and any other endeavour that you make will just be another task or challenge for you to persevere through and achieve highly in! In order words, you’ve done it before, why can’t you do it again? Pretty simple eh!
What if I find this activity and activity 1 hard?
As I said earlier, this requires internal reflection. It can be quite hard to recognise your past achievements and positive characteristics, particularly if you’re quite harsh on yourself or do not give yourself much credit.
The best thing to do is start small. Also, one thing that I reccommend to people is writing an apology letter to yourself. It helps with this. Apologise for failing to recognise your positive characteristics and achievements. You may have to do one every evening for a few days.
Just remember, the literature suggests that it takes anywhere between 3 to 24 weeks to form a habit. Stick to these activities and your confidence will sky rocket!
Hope this helps and that everyones’ Friday goes well!
10. A role model, principles and confidence
So, this is the final activity/idea in the confidence segment. What I am about to say is pretty deep and also fundamental so I hope that you are finding your evening suitably relaxing. I will split this part into 3 headings…
A role model
Regardless of what people say about Tai Lopez being a scam artist or what not, it does not invalidate all of the information that he is put out. One of the most fundamental things that underpins his idea that a mentor is crucial (see his TedX Talk on YouTube) is the idea that we should look for pre-made solutions to issues. What I mean is, for example, if you are feeling depressed, then go and look up what people have said about dealing with those feelings. In other words, you must seek for information that will come to your aid. Essentially, he stresses that we spend so long looking for a solution that others have already found… so why go and make the same mistakes that previous people have made for you to just learn the same thing that they could have told you without you from making those mistakes? This idea at first made me smirk. It made me smirk as it is brutally true.
So, I believe that it is key to find a role model or someone that has been through the experience or the experiences that you may encounter. This way, the person can give you effective advice and wisdom for you to approach these experiences with. What is even more beautiful is when these wise people have written books! Some see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a role model, whilst others sees Zyzz as a role model and some even seeing Will Smith as a role model. What I mean by that person being a role model to you is that you can pick out their characteristics that you see as beneficial to you and apply/mirror them.
But how does this relate to confidence? Well, look at Zyzz for example. He was a skinny teen, he disliked his appearance and he worked on improving this. Irrespective of however much steroids he may or may not have used, the idea remains the same that he made an effort to improve. You must make an effort to improve your confidence. So, as crazy as this may sound, how can you learn about confidence from Zyzz? The guy was dancing topless! If that isn’t being comfortable and confident in yourself, then I don’t know what is!
Also, when you see that someone has done it before, you will realise that we are all humans, we all smile, we all get down and we are all capable of achieving great things. Just remember, Eric Thomas was homeless. He now is doing what he loves and has touched MILLIONS if not BILLIONS of souls and got a lot of people out of slumps! Knowing that someone else has done it will give you the confidence to know that you can do it too.
It’s pretty normal for you to think “but HUH how can principles have anything to do with confidence?”
Well, the answer is pretty simple. You must make confident behaviour for example the confident speech (see activity 2 regarding the terms that you use and confidence) a principle. What do I mean by principle then?
Laws are examples of principles. These are rules that only have exceptions if they are logical. More importantly they are not to be broken (of course people do break them and we could have a several hour conversation on that matter – BUT the idea is that we are expected to make our greatest endeavours to not break them – So we must not break our own persona principles! That’s almost a violation of our soul.) So, when you make it a principle to not use terms such as “can’t”, you must NOT use that word! The same goes for confidence actions e.g. walking. You must make it a principle that no matter the weather, your mood, your hair condition on that day, that you will walk with your shoulders relaxed, with your head held high and smiling.
Remember, a structure of principles create integrity. Eventually, the confident behaviour will become habitual and so will your thoughts (remember, your body influences the mind.)
Anyway guys, I hope that this segment will be beneficial to you. Even if these activities/ideas help a few people, that is fabulous!
Just another thing… you must stick to these activities. That is why I explained the importance of principles. See your confidence as a muscle i.e. the more you work it, the more it grows.
I will be posting as often as I can which is around 1-2 times per week. I hope to cover some more interesting things in some depth. However, I will also post anything interesting that comes to mind!
Here’s one for today:
Did you know that we are only born with two fears? The fear of height and the fear of loud noises. Anything outside of that is learnt.
Of course, we do have some rational fears. I mean if I saw a giant spider I would panic with pride. But, fears of social situations, fears of those who you see as “better” than you etc. are all learnt and just with anything that we learn, we can forget them too.
Good night J