Personal development involves discovering those talents, abilities and potential that lie within us. It involves valorising them by ongoing study and work activities, by making efforts to improve and develop. It involves working with our mind, emotions and body. It implies physical, mental and emotional health, setting goals, creating strategies for optimizing the quality of our life.
In the following lines, I want to tell you what personal development should do for you and why it’s important to each of us. First of all, I want you to remember that personal development is not necessarily about quantity (more) but about quality (better).
Acquiring new skills and knowledge is the best guarantee for an uncertain future, and for those who learn, grow, are adaptable and embrace change, success is not a possibility, but a fact. Many people don’t accept their limits, they find justification and excuses or blame others. Others are defensive and don’t tolerate any feedback. And others are simply reluctant to do anything to solve their problems. Some of us want a quick solution because "we don’t have time" for personal development or we just don’t know what to do. But personal development is an ongoing process that helps us become aware of the way we live now, of our dysfunctional or toxic cognitions, and helps us restructure our mind and emotions to have a more fulfilling and a more beautiful life.
We all have a past, more or less difficult, we had a certain history in our family and we internalized certain patterns from those around us. Many of our thoughts don’t belong to us, but we let them control our life. Personal development help us to identify and to give up on everything that isn’t helpful anymore, to rewrite our beliefs and to add to our thinking new perceptions.
Personal development brings you understanding, acceptance and healing. It serves us great in interpersonal relationships - we change our attitude and behaviour.
Personal development means to get out of the autopilot, to give up “recipes” we took from others and to live in accordance with our authenticity.
You can’t set goals or allow yourself to dream if you don’t trust yourself and you personal power. Personal development gives you the tools to create a life as you dream.
Generally, people who are open to personal development are curious, eager to learn and oriented towards knowledge. They know their limits, qualities and weaknesses; they engage in continuous activities for improving themselves and are constantly working to compensate or overcome their weaknesses. They aren’t content with little, they want to learn and evolve permanently.
But there are also reluctant people who don’t make any effort to change or evolve, making it difficult for them to recognize their weaknesses or to adapt to new or different situations. They don’t take into account the feedback they receive, they can overestimate themselves, they can become arrogant or defensive. They may not know what they have to improve about themselves or how to do it, or they may realize that they should make some changes, but not act in any way. They think people can change but they can never find the time for changing themselves, or they think that people don’t really change, so there's no point in making any effort either.
What can you do to facilitate this process of personal development?
First of all, get to know yourself. The human being has within themselves so many aspects and they have to become aware of those aspects. Make a list and divide these aspects into the following categories:
- Strengths - what you’re great at;
- Overused skills - for example, extreme self-confidence can be seen as arrogance;
- Hidden qualities - what you know about yourself but others don’t know;
- Blind spots - things about you that others see, but which you don’t consider to be true. These are the strengths you have, but you underestimate them and the weaknesses that you have, but which you deny or refuse to see;
- Your values;
- Your goals;
- Obstacles you face;
- Your beliefs.
Set your goals and prioritize them. Whether it's about a job you want, a promotion, a relationship, a car or making new friends, to get all these, you need to know what you need in order to get them and how you can do that. What things are up to you? What skills do you need? What attitude should you have? What resources do you need? Then make an effort so that, step by step, by your own strengths to become the person who can get everything they wish for.
Create a vision of your ideal self. Determine what thoughts, attitudes and behaviors characterize it and act in accordance with them. Determine what skills and abilities it has and find solutions to develop those abilities and skills.
Make a minor change every day. If there is something you would like to improve about yourself, set a goal and make a priority of it. Then, everyday, make a step towards your goal - at first small and repetitive actions so that along the way to transform them into habits.
Improve your weaknesses. Develop abilities in the most problematic areas of your life.
Do new things, find new hobbies, get involved in different social interactions, take initiative.
Read personal development books, subscribe to specialized websites and magazines, participate in workshops and conferences, or attend individual life-coaching / personal development sessions.
Make a personal development plan and stick to it. Set what changes you want to make, what skills you want to develop, what activities you should do for that, where you can do them, what other people could be involved, who can help you. Set specific and measurable goals.Keep a journal of this process and write down your goals, action plan, resources, achievements, difficulties and results. Ask others for feedback and at the same time monitor yourself.
Dr. Ursula Sandner