From career development and management skills to emotional intelligence and self-awareness, personal development can help advance your personal goals, increase student success, or simply give your CV skills a boost. Here’s everything you need to know about the field and how to get started in it.
Why is Personal Growth so Important
While terms like mindfulness and hard skills may sound very distant from your everyday jargon, they’re part of a skill and concept that can help improve yourself individually and professionally: personal development.
While many have heard about personal development goals and skills under its many different aliases, such as self-help or self-improvement, the basic ideas behind each is the same. All of these self-growth schemes involve setting and accomplishing development goals and skills such as nonverbal communication or learning a new language.
The foundation of personal development has been, for the most part, influenced by the work of psychologist Abraham Maslow and his “hierarchy of needs.” Without going into too much detail of what each step of this pyramid of needs means, the general theory behind it is that self-knowledge and actualization is not achievable, or less effective, without meeting other needs first.
These needs involve things basic necessities like safety, food, shelter – but also extend to cover things like respect in your personal and work life. If you’d like to understand why personal development is an important field, it’s because of its ability to change your life.
Within the field of self-improvement, life is something you have complete control over. Using the ideas formed by Maslow’s pyramid, you will be able to perform a more honest self-assessment about what you have and the goals you should aim to accomplish. Practicing this new habit in self-assessing before setting any goal can also enhance your ability to achieve your goals.
Personal and Professional Development Skills
Before getting started on developing any growth and development strategies, you should get acquainted with the skills that will allow you to execute your development plan with more precision and passion.
The field of personal development as well as development programs themselves have undergone some changes over the past two decades. With the proliferation of technology and online tools, it is now easier than ever to try many different methods to tap into your human potential.
Before you get to working on your personal or transferable job skills, start by understanding the basics of what development skills actually are. One of the most important development skills to refine over the course of your journey is goal setting.
While many people think they’re great at goals setting, many of us let our bad habits get in the way of accomplishing our personal targets. This is because many people don’t set goals the right way. Psychological studies over the years have proven that, regardless of whether you’re working on professional skills and career goals or are simply trying to accomplish new life skills, setting achievable and difficult goals leads to better results.
Whether you’re getting into personal development for career purposes or simply want to build a better rapport with your neighbours, you don’t need a mentor or a life coach to start fine tuning your goal setting skills.
Another important skills that will help give your personal and career exploration projects better results is learning to define personal development in a way that is tailored to your personal goals. This can be accomplished by looking at the broad categories self-improvement normally falls under:
- Career goals
- Individual or personal goals
- Self-knowledge goals
Developing yourself is often a lifelong pursuit involving many different aspects of your life. Allowing yourself to practice building definitions around one of these three categories will not only help give your plan focus but also give it an adaptability for life’s changing priorities. While career goals tend to involve things like PowerPoint presentation skills, individual goals fall under elements such as exercise and mental health.
Self-knowledge, on the other hand, is a category that deals with the skill set involved in learning new skills such as writing skills, language skills, or academic skills. One example of this type of goal can be trying to learn programming for fun.
Managing Your Personal Development Plans with Self-Confidence
Developing a personal development plant involves three simple steps. While the steps themselves are simple to learn, they will require varying degrees of work depending on what exactly you’re looking to improve.
The first step in your self-improvement plan involves an idea we’ve already discussed: set goals. However, if you need any more persuasion that this step is extremely vital to your development plans, look no further than the studies performed by Locke and Latham.
Setting goals that you think may be too difficult might be the perfect recipe for success. In their study, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham found that setting hard, clear goals helped the participants work harder and for longer to achieve them.
The second step in your plan should involve time management. Whether you’re working on your employability skills or people skills, it will be necessary that you plan out what each stage of accomplishing your goal will entail and how long it will take to complete each of those tasks.
The third step involves drawing up a list of what materials you will need to accomplish your goals. With these three steps in mind, you will be able to draft a personal development plan tailor made to your specific needs and budget.
A couple of things you can keep in mind while you start your journey is to identify bad habits and maintain a positivity work ethic. While having a positive attitude will help you in your assertiveness to tackle any obstacle productively and effectively, identifying bad habits like procrastination will allow you to stop these obstacles from hindering your progress.
Personal Development Resources, Books and Exercises
Whether you need help crafting your development plans, want to work on personality development or simply need direction in career planning, using self-help resources can give your skills list and determination a boost.
There are many traditional resources which not only walk you through building a personal development plan but also help you work on things like professional and people skills. One example of this kind of resource can be found through the hundreds of novels written every year dealing with transferable skills, exercise and more.
Over the past decades, however, self-development materials have gotten a 21st-century update. While social media has revolutionized the way people understand things like conflict management and connect over health issues, podcasts have paved the way for a greater number of creators to help the masses.
One great example of this is the “Beyond the To Do List” podcast hosted by Erik Fisher. If you have trouble with stress management or anxiety caused by personal and professional workloads, this podcast can teach you a lot about how to be a bit more productive.
Self-help resources don’t just have to do with novels and podcasts, but can also come in the form of online webinars. Whether these webinars are created by professionals in the industry or are simply the work of average people wanting to give advice, this type of resource is often most helpful for people who feel like they do best with some sort of guidance.
Another resource to tap into for goal setting, employability or leadership skills is your community. Becoming more involved in lessons, workshops and volunteer opportunities that interest you in your own community can provide you with local support for any of your personal projects or professional endeavours.
10 Tips for Your Development Process
Now that you know about the origins of personal development and how to get started with implementing it in your own life, here are some tips to make the process a bit easier. Whether you’re working on non-verbal and verbal communication, conflict resolution or interpersonal skills – these tips can make your journey a bit easier.
If you need help solving problems related to your personal skills plans, taking the step of practicing mindfulness in the face of any obstacle will often give you the clarity you need to resolve many issues effectively. Mindfulness is similar to meditation and can take on many forms, where the most useful of which for the development process is its most basic form.
Mindfulness is a combination of breathing and mental exercises whose goal is to clear your mind of everything but the thoughts of your breathing pattern. Thinking of anything else while practicing mindfulness meditation isn’t considered a failure. In fact, pinpointing the most persistant thoughts can often lead you to learn new things about why you may be feeling stressed or anxious.
Another tip is to practice development on a daily basis. Whether you’re taking development courses on public speaking or are learning to play a new instrument, taking simple steps everyday to focus on your self-improvement can facilitate in reaching your goals. Keeping in constant touch with your progress by journaling or by getting advice from a career center are some examples of how to implement this.