Personal development, also referred to as personal growth, personal potential, or self-improvement is the idea that you always have room to improve. Usually, this concept refers to things such as:
- Understanding what you value in yourself and others
- Learning to act with integrity
- Learning to control anger
- Skills and strategies to overcome trauma, obstacles, fear, laziness, etc.
- Setting goals and making a plan to achieve them
- Investing your energy in positivity
- Changing your mindset
The list could go on and on. Personal development is the idea that you are committed to continual growth, an open mind, and curiosity for a better future for yourself and for others. Choosing to prioritize your personal development means understanding what you are currently focusing your time, energy, and attention on and how you want that to change. This includes your decision, actions, and who you surround yourself with.
How to Focus on Personal Development
If you break it down, personal development is the sum of the following aspects of each one of us:
Together, these eight aspects of ourselves aggregate our personal potential and help us understand where to focus our goals for personal development. Sometimes, you may want to focus on one of these eight things that is in particular need of some help. For example, if you get injured playing a sport or doing an activity, you might need to prioritize your personal development in the physical aspect.
This might look like making sure you are making time for physical therapy, researching ways to help your body heal, listening to your doctors and medical professionals,following their recommendations and taking your medications responsibly and as prescribed, etc.
Sometimes you may want to focus on more generalized self-improvement. Maybe you just feel like you are in a slump and are unhappy with your path or just need a jumpstart and some inspiration injected into your life. Regardless of the ‘why’, focusing on generalized personal development is a great place to start.
5 Things to Start to See Personal Growth
Whatever made you decide to focus on growth and development, we all are after the same thing: fulfillment. Personal growth is exciting, difficult, inspiring, tiring – all the emotions. Knowing where to start can often be the most difficult step, so let’s cover 5 ways you can get started on your personal development journey.
1. Personal development never stops
This may sound daunting, but it’s actually really exciting! You will never be exactly the same as you were a week ago, a year ago, a decade ago. You can fully appreciate the person you were while still excitedly jumping into who you want to be in the present and in the future. One of the best and most exciting parts of life is how we change and grow over time through our experiences, thoughts, and interactions.
2. Look at the list of the eight areas for personal growth above. Ask some of these questions:
a. Do any of these specifically speak to you?
b. Do you think you are particularly good in any of these areas?
c. Do you know you struggle in any of these areas?
d. Do any of these areas scare you?
e. Do any of these areas excite you?
Consider spending some time with the list of each personal development area and think through these questions. It could give you some clarity and direction for how to focus your energy and time and help you set realistic goals for improvement.
3. Focus on long-term growth.
If you’ve ever put a dollar in an investment account, you know that if you look at it every day, it can be exhausting seeing how slowly it grows, or even terrifying when the total dips below the original amount you invested. This is the same for personal development. Although it can be difficult, focus on how far you’ve come overall instead of focusing on the granular day-to-day ups and downs. When you can focus your time and energy on the small victories over time, you learn to not get discouraged when something doesn’t go the way you expect it to.
4. Find a mentor
Working with a mentor is one of the best ways to push yourself to grow and develop personally. A mentor will gently push you to set and achieve your goals. They are there to help you celebrate the victories, stay grounded in your successes, and to remind you to hold your head up during difficult times. A mentor is someone who has likely gone through similar difficulties and challenges in their life and can provide thoughtful, experience-driven advice and insight throughout your personal development journey.
Positive Presence offers mentorship to young adults between 12 and 25 that uniquely matches a mentor with a mentee based on shared life experiences, goals, and interests. You get to build a relationship with a person who is 100% invested in YOU, your success and your personal improvement.
5. Set goals and stay consistent
The best advice available is to set a goal and then stay consistent with your plan to achieve that goal. It certainly helps to have people in your corner helping you stay accountable and encouraging you to obtain your goals. However, at the end of the day, you are doing this for you. Only you can decide how to spend your time and energy and what you want to work towards. Remember to set small attainable goals as opposed to massive sweeping declarations that are impossible to achieve. Here are some examples of personal growth driven goals you can use for inspiration:
- I want to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet. Goal: eat one serving of both fruit and vegetable at least 3 times a week with dinner.
- I want to save $xxx for a _____. Goal: I will put x% of each pay check into a savings account and not touch it unless absolutely necessary.
- I want to find ways to be less angry. Goal: I will figure out at least one strategy that helps me calm down when I get angry and I will write down each time I am successful using this strategy in a note on my phone.
- I want to graduate high school with a 3.0GPA. Goal 1: I will set aside 1 hour each night to study for any upcoming tests so I am more prepared for the next one. Goal 2: I will make sure to finish my next essay with enough time to have a tutor review it before it is due.
- I want to be more in tune with my emotions instead of feeling empty or numb to my surroundings. Goal: each night before bed, I will plug my phone in across the room and spend 20 minutes focusing on my breath.
- I want to be a better friend. Goal: I will respond to my friends when they text me within 24 hours (even if the response is that I need more time to respond).
An attainable goal is a smaller part of what you want to accomplish overall. If you just set the goal to “be a better friend”, you might struggle to figure out how to do that or to find victories when you realize you are in alignment with that goal.
Everyone struggles with self development and everyone falters on our personal growth journeys. It’s not about how many times you falter, but about how many times you stand back up and keep going. Personal development is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give to yourself and those around you. To learn more about how a Positive Presence Mentor-Coach can help you or someone you love, email firstname.lastname@example.org.