Most of us at some point in our lives have thought about our Personal Development. At the time, this thought may have been within the context of some recent development, a change in our career, relationship or other ‘trigger event’ in our life.
We may have even jotted down a plan and decided to plot a new course of action. However in my experience, few people take the time to deliberately step back from their lives and ask the broader question:
“Why is my Personal Development important?”
The truth I believe is that Personal Development is an evolutionary process more than it is revolutionary. It’s a lifelong process of learning how to grow, embrace change and manage life’s challenges while always aiming for a positive outcome.
The alternative is that we can (as most do) simply let our lives develop randomly. It is about managing who you are becoming in the long term, rather than what you are getting in the short term.
Let me assure you. I did not always think this way.
My early years were not too different from those of my circle of friends. Single, with a focus on building my career. Professional success and personal success where indistinguishable.
I could not see at that time, that my drive in professional development was at the cost of neglecting my personal development in a whole range of areas. Physically, emotionally and socially.
Stress? I accepted it as part of the landscape of my career-driven life. My self talk would go something like this.
“Hey, I’m highly productive. That’s what really matters, right?”
What didn’t register with me at the time was the flow-on effect across other equally important areas of my life. There was no balance. I was trading one for the other.
Luckily, I have always been an avid reader and as I looked for solutions to my exhaustion and my sense of life missing its spark, my self-awareness finally started to grow and mature.
All lasting Personal Development starts with self-awareness.
We need to understand who we really are. What are the values and beliefs that make us a unique human and what life journey has real meaning for us.
“As self-awareness takes root in our being, then empowerment and motivation can start to flourish.”
Feeling empowered, we can start to fight against the different forms of self-denial and the negative habits and beliefs that often afflict us. Some of these habits have been with us since childhood and we can tend to treat them as a ‘normal’ part of our character.
Denial and Anger are both stress coping mechanisms.
We may be in denial about a poor decision we have made, and rather than own the problem we make excuses or worse ‘play the victim’ to deflect the blame onto someone else.
What seems like a clever plan will always end up being self-defeating. When you blame others, you remove your own power to change circumstances. We expect others to change first.
As we get better at deciding who we are and what we believe, then wonderful things start to happen.
As we give up the old habits of denial and blame and we start to accept responsibility for our actions and our lives. We empower ourselves to own our successes and our mistakes.
We can now focus our energies in more positive ways.
We feel motivated to take action in other areas of our lives and to take the necessary action. The will to act has been freed from the irrational fears that kept it imprisoned.
There is an old saying that goes,
“tough times don’t last, tough people do”.
There will always be tough times in life, and working on your personal development helps to equip you with a greater degree of ‘Resilience’ so that you can deal with tough times when they occur.
Resilience is that capacity which helps us to respond well to life’s challenges and setbacks. We can now choose how we respond to the challenge rather than react with our old ‘auto response’ mechanism. Resilient people have a deeper understanding of themselves. They are confident in their ability to deal with adversity. And (importantly) they take Action.
We began this article with a very important question. “Why is my Personal Development important”?
- In taking the journey we discovered that we could achieve more self-awareness, personal empowerment and motivation.
- We could accept greater responsibility for our actions and our lives.
- This in turn would build up our personal resilience and ability to deal effectively with whatever life threw at us!
But there is another often overlooked aspect of personal development. Something equally important and enduring…
We are developing our ability to be more ‘Other focused’.
As we grow in self-awareness we start to recognize where others are on their journey to Personal Development. We grow in our ability to be compassionate and empathetic by being conscious of the need to be other-focused.
This in turn builds more positive self-esteem and our connection to others will continue to transform our lives.
To have more in life, you need to become more than you are now.