If you’ve been experiencing that nagging feeling that you could be doing much better – whether it’s your personal life, career, parenting, hobbies or life choices – it’s time to think “personal development”.
Most of us work hard in getting an education, even harder on our jobs, struggle with maintaining relationships and find that we’re still confused, unfocused and simply drifting through life.
What we need is mindful living, consciousness and awareness of ourselves, our strengths, challenges and opportunities.
It’s a highly competitive environment out there and only your own individual qualities and skills can place you exactly where you want to be. This means you need to transform yourself to match what you want and finally “Be the change you want to be!”
There are hundreds of gurus, management experts, motivational experts, personal and life coaches, and even more numbers of personal development programs and educational tools and resources.
But selecting the wrong program can be counter-productive. You may end up wasting time, money and effort. It can also set you back several steps. Choosing the one that’s right for you can be a challenge.
What’s It About?
Gaining more awareness about yourself and your identity, talents and potential, enhancing the quality of your life, increasing your employability, building human capital and realizing your dreams and aspirations are some of the goals of personal development.
You can either undertake a self-help program or you can enlist the services of a professional coach, counselor, teacher, guide or mentor.
Personal development goals range across a variety of qualities, skills and activities. They include:
- Boosting wealth
- Enhancing social status
- Improving/Learning new skills
- Discovering new talents/personal qualities
- Health improvement
- Being more socially connected
- Awareness of identity/self-esteem
- Building employability/career/human capital
- Achieving dreams/aspirations
- Helping others to develop their personalities
Today it’s a million-dollar industry, with eminent experts heading huge international organizations.
Stuff You Didn’t Know
Many personal development programs are hinged on certain key principles. Not all of them are right for you, or they may not be right for you at this particular point in your life. Let’s look at some of the things that experts may not reveal:
- There’s no such thing as Complete Honesty: Being utterly frank, completely candid and brutally honest is something that very few people do. Or should do, really. Full disclosure can expose you to manipulation, anger, frustration, sadness, violence, denial, relationship breakdown and worse.
- If you ask for Complete Honesty from others, Be prepared to return it: Genuine feedback, sans frills, is something that we say we want/crave. In real life, we’re able to give it, but rarely able to take it. But this is a path that enables growth so practice it, taking baby-steps first.
- People continue to grow and change: Personal development is not a static goal, it’s a process. The goal-posts are constantly changing. Unless your coach or your program allows you to acknowledge this, you’re not going to get much out of it.
- Stop Trying So Hard: Quit “should-ing” yourself! Life-skills trainers may tell you that work is the mantra to success. But don’t burden yourself with the need to be good at everything – whether it’s cooking/climbing mountains/art/music/wealth-creation etc. As you move up the skills ladder, you have to learn to delegate. Forget about getting 360-degree feedback – it’s not always reliable or authentic.
- Stop the Mind vs Body dialogue: Personal development experts sometimes teach you to “conquer” your mind or your body. Remember that you’re a whole person with a mind AND a body. Separating the two and treating them as different entities can create conflict within yourself.
- Pain is a Positive: As your doctor knows, pain is a symptom. So if you’re suffering, going through anguish, grief, depression, negative feelings, it’s a sign that you need to look deeper. Your life-skills coach may teach you ways of avoiding/handling pain – whether it’s spiritual, emotional, financial etc. What they don’t tell you is that you need to develop a relationship with pain, harness and leverage it to your advantage.
- Give yourself downtime: Buzzing around like a bee 24×7 is certainly not the goal in life. Personal development trainers may tell you that it’s important to stay busy but downtime is when your brain processes information, analyzes and plans. Get lots of rest and sleep!
Personality development is an evolutionary process. Your goals may change in depth, focus and dimension as you go along in life. Choosing the right program and coach can make all the difference!
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