Whether you’re looking to start building your own personal development plans, get to know yourself, or want an extra boost in energy to complete your to do list – this guide will help you understand the skills set you need to get started.
Where Did Personal Development Come From?
Personal development can be a difficult field to navigate, made even harder by the fact that it covers everything from non-verbal communication and conflict resolution to yoga and meditation. While personal development is a subject that is as old as human history, technology has been redefining its role in 21st century society. While skills training and personal growth lessons were largely disseminated through development courses and inspirational books in the past, social media has made learning about skills development more easily accessible and affordable.
Together with this rise in accessibility has come the proliferation of personal skills or technical skills guides aimed at making self-development more practical and digestible. However, the sheer volume of resources and materials available in today’s current environment often leads to confusion as to what exactly development skills are and how one can start to practice them.
While the history behind personal development can aid in your self-improvement journey, understanding a simple definition can be enough to get you started. Personal development involves goal setting, planning how you will accomplish these goals, and executing your plan.
While it may sound overly-simplified, the surprising truth is that people are actually not great at setting goals. Before worrying about enhancing employability, improving verbal communication or upgrading your interpersonal skills, start by exercising your technique in setting goals. For many people, setting easy and ambiguous goals is the reason why they never truly accomplish what they set out to do. In fact, research shows that for the majority, setting achievable but difficult and well defined goals is the best way to progress in any situation.
Here are some examples to highlight the difference in difficulty level between vague goals and concrete goals:
- Instead of saying “I will start to exercise more,” say “I will stretch every day before work”
- Instead of “I will do better on my exams,” you can strive for “I will score ten points higher on my next exam”
- Instead of setting this goal, “I will improve my business,” set the goal “I will bring in ten percent more revenue than last year”
In this way, you will create a more effective communication with yourself as to what you would like to accomplish in the short and long term. Whether you want to advance in your career development, or want to make changes to your mental health, setting well defined goals should be the first step to any of your projects.
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Developing Personal and Professional Development
So, what exactly are personal development skills? Whether you’re into self-improvement for career growth or personal goals, it can be difficult to understand what constitutes as a personal development skill. Whether you’re taking development programs to work on your presentation skills, looking into career exploration, or just want to exploit your human potential – here are some tips to get you started.
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Define Personal Development for You
Personal development is a malleable term, whose sole, unchanging definition is that it involves setting and acting out goals. The problem with this term, however, is that many people can find it unapproachable or outdated. Applying personal development to your personal and career goals must involve building a definition of self-development that is tailored to your life.
Personal development can generally fall under three broad categories which, once you identify the ones under which you’d like to work under, can make attaining new skills easier. Progressing in one of these categories - career, personal, and knowledge – can and often do require growth in the other two. They are often distinct, however, and can be better understood by looking at the skills involved in them.
- Professional skills
- Job skills
- Leadership skills
- Fitness skills
- Mental health skills
- Reading and writing skills
- Study skills
While having any of these life skills is as likely to get land you a job interview as it is to simply make you happier, building a definition of personal development centred around one of these categories can make it easier to plan your development. For example, if you know you’d like to work on a personal skill such as fitness, you can make your self-improvement definition focused on setting fitness goals with a regular frequency.
Practicing this skill in building definitions around your ever-changing priorities will allow you an adaptability in your personal development journey.
Work Productively on Bad Habits
Bad habits can be very explicit as well as subtle. So subtle, in fact, many of us don’t realize we’re carrying them around with us every day. An example of an easily identifiable bad habit is procrastination, which is often much harder to dispel than it is to identify.
Some examples of bad habits that are harder to pinpoint is lacking a positive attitude in even the most casual of situations or lacking the assertiveness to say no to opportunities that will either hurt or overwhelm you.
Here are some tips to help you work more productively on your bad habits:
- Become better at identifying bad habits by keeping in constant touch with how you feel after accomplishing a task
- Work on a positivity work ethic by focusing on the lessons you’ve learned from difficult, confusing and stressful situations rather than dwelling on them
Research for Growth and Development
If you need any more persuasion to start implementing personal development skills in your life, it has been demonstrated time and again that the most successful people never stop learning. Whether you’re working on your transferable skills or simply want to build a better rapport with your neighbours, you don’t have to become a life coach to keep learning about how to better achieve your goals.
Continually updating your methods in personal development doesn’t have to be a task you perform alone. Whether you find a mentor in your community or through a podcast, having an experienced guide can make your progress more fun and effective.
Implement Self-Improvement Daily
Now that you understand what development goals are and how to apply self-assessment, self-knowledge and mindfulness towards your self-growth, you can start to develop a personal development plan custom fit to change your life.
Whether your personal development goals have to do with your work life, hard skills, or exercise plans, developing a plan to execute your goals doesn’t have to be difficult. In order to improve yourself and cultivate your new habit in goal setting, make sure to do your research on how to form a plan that you will actually stick to.
Some general rules to observe when you set goals and create your personal development plan are:
- Detail your goals and understand what abilities you will need to add to your skill set
- Better your development plans by identifying what steps will be necessary and in how much time you want to complete them
- Start your development plan and keep track of your progress
While these steps do not delve into all the characteristics of a great self-improvement plan, they do serve to give an idea as to where you should start. One of the ways in which you can take your personal and career planning is to check out the various books, articles and podcasts related to self-development.
One great example can be found in the popular podcast School of Greatness. Hosted by Lewis Howes, this podcast delves into the personality development and skills list of everyone from world-class athletes to famous celebrities. If you’re inspired by and learn best from an interview style format, podcasts like this and many others can be the perfect avenue to learn more about transferable skills or stress management.
If you’re interested in more ways in how you can apply personal development into your daily life other than listening to podcasts, you can try practicing moments of self-care once or multiple times a day. Some example can be:
- Practicing your people skills by talking to different colleagues at work or school
- Exercise your meditation and writing skills by journaling
- Devote some time out of your daily schedule towards practicing a new language
Personal development is often considered a life-long pursuit because of the fact that it can help add new meaning to your life, but also shifts the way in which you are able to view and solve problems.
Personal Development Plans
While crafting a development plant to increase self-confidence, emotional intelligence, or management skills can be difficult, it can help to dive into the planning stages with some self-awareness and time management skills. Whether you want to work on communication skills or other soft skills, start by identifying a personal development goal you’d like to work towards. Then, make sure to read this guide to tailor a plan to your needs and schedule.
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