As humans we all have the capacity to be exceptional. We have limitless potential and there’s nothing stopping us except… us.
So many people move through life waiting for their world to change without realizing they could change it for themselves.
The answer for so many can lie in personal development and yet, it’s a topic that people often veer away from. Whether it’s the stigma of asking for help, believing self-help is wanky, cheesy or embarrassing, it is a topic that is simply not discussed enough.
We should be discussing it, because personal development opens up the opportunity to go on the journey to becoming the person you wish to be. You might not even know who that person is, but the journey leads you to someone who will be happier and more satisfied with life.
SO WHAT IS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT?
Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity. It develops talents and potential, builds human capital and facilitates employability. It enhances the quality of life and contributes to the realization of dreams and aspirations. Personal development takes place over the course of a person’s entire life.
From Freud to Erikson and Kohlberg, we’ve been taught so much about the stages of personality development. The kicker is that we don’t actually have a say in it, because what builds you are the experiences and those things that happen to you when you’re younger; through childhood, education and early life lessons.
With personal development or self-help, you have the opportunity to control what you’re looking at, what you’re working on and you can begin to reframe and remould your experiences, beliefs, reactions, thought processes and so on.
These large scale changes come about by working on individual facets of your make-up; those intangible characteristics that some people seem to have in spades and others have to work on. Though they may seem in-built, these aspects of your personality can be improved, changed or moulded with personal development.
Those elements that can be improved include:
This is a really great part of personal development to be working on. Self awareness is key to so many aspects of life and will make you a better communicator, better partner, better friend, business owner etc. It will help you be kinder to yourself and others. Self-awareness is everything and a hugely important aspect of personal development.
Direction and a Sense of Purpose
Without a sense of direction and purpose for life, you’ll just cruise along, ticking boxes. You then may find yourself toward the end or even half way, realizing that you haven’t done the things you wanted to, or even feeling that your life was out of your hands. We don’t want that. We don’t want any frustration or resentment to build for what could have been. Self-help will enable you to identify the things you want and will help you to get on the path to getting them.
Motivation & Willpower
Motivation tends to come alongside a sense of purpose and direction, because once you have identified what you really want, it will light a fire in your belly to get yourself there. It’s working on willpower that keeps that fire lit, which is why personal development is ongoing, to keep you from getting sidetracked or demotivated.
Focus and efficiency
Who doesn’t want to be able to focus better and be more efficient! These are great aspects of personal development and come naturally by being a bit more self-aware, having more of a direction and sense of purpose and being more motivated. By being self aware, you’ll identify your weak points (eg procrastination) and work on them. Couple this with a drive to achieve and the motivation and willpower to keep working and you’ll naturally find yourself to be more focused on your tasks and your efficiency will improve.
I hope you can start to see how making a small change in one area can snowball into positive changes across many other aspects in your life.
This is a hugely valuable aspect of personal development work. You can all the motivation, focus and drive in the world, but if you don’t have the ability to get back up after being knocked off your feet then you won’t get anywhere. It’s not only the major setbacks that you’ll bounce back from either. You’ll no longer be sidetracked by someone challenging your idea, a friend not calling you back or even, losing your job. You can’t put a price on resilience and it’s one of the best outcomes from working on personal development.
When you’ve done a lot of work on personal development you’ll feed those internal needs and values that are important to you and this will lead to more fulfillment. This in turn leads to a happier and more satisfied sense of wellbeing.
Speaking of values, personal development allows you to not only work on your values, but to also identify what your values are and when they change. They will change, which is why ongoing personal development is so important. You want to always be working towards something that is important to the person you are at that time.
It’s also important to acknowledge that we can become sidetracked by what we think our values should be and doing this type of work will help you discover and be comfortable with what your values actually are.
MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS
A lot of my coaching accreditation is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a motivational theory in psychology that proposes that people need to fulfill basic life requirements before moving on to the next level of needs. This is often depicted as a pyramid with the bottom being the most basic requirements for survival.
These basic requirements include physiological needs such as food, shelter, rest and warmth. These lower-level conditions have to be fulfilled before moving up the pyramid, but once they’re met, the next steps, which include safety, love and a sense of belonging, become more important.
Many of us are incredibly lucky to have the lower levels of our needs pyramid filled and personal development allows us to work on those higher levels. That being said, personal development can help us work on the lower levels. For example, those with financial instability (which can impact physiological and safety needs) can be aided with the self-awareness, goal setting, resilience and other aspects of personal development.
Learning to love and be loved alongside a sense of belonging are worked on a lot in personal development because we often have incredibly f’d up ideas of what love and belonging area.
The top of the pyramid includes self-esteem and self-actualization. Self-esteem isn’t about having a big ego and walking around like you’re the queen of the world. Self-esteem is really important and is core to confidence, charisma and courage. It needs to be well developed and nurtured like it’s your baby.
Self-actualization is at the top and it’s the top for a reason. It encompasses everything that we’ve discussed today. It’s being the best version of yourself that you can be. It’s becoming a person you’re internally proud of and fulfilling your potential. It’s everything that you can achieve with personal development.
Who wouldn’t want to be the best possible version of themselves! So let me know if you have questions, if you need a place to start because there’s no time like the present to begin being your best self.