My lifelong love for personal development inspired me to create this site. However, although it’s a subject we address frequently here, a question I’ve never posed directly is:
What is Personal Development?
Let’s explore the answer to that question so we can understand what personal development is and why it’s something that everyone should pay attention to.
Put simply, personal development refers to any activity you do to improve yourself, in areas that apply to your brain, mind, and heart.
Just stop and think about that for a moment. It’s quite a grand, encompassing idea, isn’t it?
However, not everything counts as personal development.
For example, activities such as getting a haircut or going to a doctor's appointment aren't usually considered to be personal development activities, because they're relatively surface-level.
However, ordinary activities can result in personal development.
Take another example: The act of doing intense exercise (i.e. push ups) in itself would not usually be refered to as personal development.
Yet, such exercise could result in a person developing mental fortitude and resilience, which is considered personal development.
On a large scale, what does this mean for me and you?
Well, it means that personal development is a process - a process that's involved in getting you closer to anything you want to achieve in life.
Rather than waiting for life to hand you knowledge, opportunity and success on a silver platter (which it won’t), you can put in the work to a point where those things simply become results of your personal development.
On this blog, I like to relate the concept of personal development to a growing plant.
In fact, another term for personal development is personal growth, and this is fitting because plants teach us a lot about growth.
Take the bamboo plant for example, which is the brand symbol of this website:
The growth of the Chinese bamboo plant is a natural phenomenon that holds significance to the topics of personal growth and development.
For the first four years of its life, the bamboo plant shows no sign of growth - it remains just a tiny leaf in the soil.
During this time you have to nurture it, constantly watering it, and then in the fifth year a miracle happens - the bamboo plant grows 90 FEET in just six weeks.
From experience I have found that the results of personal development do not always show up immediately. Even after you do your research, read, train your mind, work hard, fail and persevere - it might still take a while to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
But during all that time you’re growing into the person you need to become to achieve your goals.
Then, when you do finally see progress one day, you laugh a little - because the sweetness of success overshadows all the past moments of struggle and doubt - and you realize you wouldn’t change a thing.
That’s the beauty of personal development.
Personal development is important because, to quote Draymond Green, “if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse”.
But there’s a key motive behind personal development that’s even more inspiring than that - and it’s the idea that personal development puts you in control. When you are actively striving to improve your mindset, your skills, and your life overall, you don’t have to rely on talent or luck.
Instead you work hard and succeed and on purpose.
Personal development bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It’s the vehicle that leads you to your goals. When you commit to personal development, you enter a unique journey of self-discovery and high-impact realizations about life.
There are five key areas of personal development that most people’s goals fit into:
Of course, there are other variations of these categories for personal growth. Let’s look further into each of them.
Health is a key area of personal development because it provides the foundation for peak performance in every aspect of life. Within this area there are further categories such as physical health, mental health and emotional health. At a high level, most people aim to be fit, think clearly, eat well, and sleep well.
Finances are another area that people work towards improving. Developing financial literacy is an important part of personal development because you make better decisions when you are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to manage money effectively.
Close relationships are a source of happiness and fulfillment in life. Most people want to improve their relationships with others, whether it’s family, friends, acquaintances or a romantic relationship. Common topics in this area include improving communication, finding a partner, dealing with relationship anxiety, and maintaining strong friendships.
Spirituality is an area of personal development that focuses on a higher purpose. For people with faith this can include improving one’s relationship with God. This element of personal development can also involve helping others and becoming more at peace with the world.
Career development is often a key part of personal development for many people. It involves developing talent and potential in order to advance in a career. It can also involve carving out a career for oneself through entrepreneurship and self-employment.
One of the best ways to improve your personal development is to create a personal development plan. A personal development plan is a blueprint for what you want to achieve in the years to come.
Personal development planning is a process that takes a look at various aspects of life before narrowing down on the specifics of your goal.
It involves a sequence of self-analysis that helps provide direction and a sense of clarity on what you want out of life. The personal development plan template I’ve made available on this site can be used to define both personal and professional goals.
1. Don't compare yourself to others
As it says on the can, personal development is a very personal thing. Thus, try not to compare your progress to the progress of others. Stay in your own lane, and stay focused. Celebrate your victories and never give up, even when progress seems slow.
It matters not how slow you go so long as you do not stop.
2. Enjoy the journey
Always remember that personal development is a life-long process. Don’t expect perfection - instead learn to find joy in the continuous process of improving. Enjoy the journey. Smell the roses and all that jazz.
3. The grass grows where you water it
During your life and personal development journey, there will be times when setbacks cause you to doubt yourself and your abilities. Never give in to the inner voices that tell you you’re not good enough - or that people who have found success in an area that’s important to you are in some way superhuman.
Cynicism is toxic to self-improvement. Recognize the power of personal development, and know that the grass is greener where you water it.
So, we’ve uncovered what personal development actually is. Thanks for reading this article - and congratulations - by reading to the end you’ve already demonstrated that you’re serious about developing yourself.
As you go forward in life, continue to reject complacency. Always be looking for new ways to learn, grow and improve. The conscious attention you pay to personal development will reward you for a lifetime.
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