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When you consider all the areas that make up your life — your relationships, health, career, finances, and more — you may notice that each of these areas is built upon skills that you bring to the various spheres of life. It seems that the quality of your life is dependent upon your proficiency in a large variety of skills.
And because the overall quality of your life is the sum of many discrete skills, there are many far-reaching benefits of continuous personal development.
Imagine how much your personal and professional relationships depend on your skills of communication, and how different the outcomes could be if you have very high versus undeveloped interpersonal skills. That might make the difference between getting a promotion or being passed up at the least.
When it comes to making money, your income is largely dependent on the market value you bring to your company, organization, and the world. Your financial value depends on skills like communication, problem-solving, time-management, and consistent learning. Upgrading your skills means upgrading the value you provide to the world.
If you approach your life — and your skills — as static and unchangeable, you limit yourself to being the same tomorrow as you are today.
But when you view yourself and your skills as dynamic and malleable, and you accept that you can improve — even incrementally — through introspection, awareness, and focused effort, you can put yourself into the driver’s seat and take responsibility for the circumstances of your life.
Personal development has the potential to positively impact all parts of your life.
What is Personal Development?
Stated simply, personal development is making the effort to upgrade your thought processes, your habits, and your skills.
It starts with self-awareness and perhaps a realization that something in your life isn’t working as well as you believe it could be or should be. This can include skills in any sphere of life, whether they feed into your work, your hobbies, or your interpersonal relationships.
You might realize that you’re doing great in your career development, but that your personal relationships are somehow lacking. This may point to relationship skills that you, for your own satisfaction, need to develop. By thinking of all areas of your life as being skill-based, you can use continuous personal development to work towards a well-rounded, satisfying life.
A big step in personal development is knowing and understanding yourself and the way your mind works. How do you best process information? What interests you? What motivates you? What kind of projects make you feel alive? And, just as importantly, which projects sap your energy and leave you feeling drained?
Once you know what drives you and what makes you feel alive, you can focus on developing the skills and habits that allow you to do more of those things with increasing proficiency.
Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, says that personal development isn’t about trying to directly change your circumstances, it’s about changing your actions and the habits which lead to your circumstances.
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom. The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become. Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” – Jim Rohn
To achieve more for yourself and to produce better outcomes, you must develop new habits and take new actions.
By doing something new and different in the next 90 days from the previous 90 days — starting a new project, learning a new skill, choosing new books to read, starting a new exercise program, or starting a side hustle — you will change your circumstances because you have changed yourself.
Get Unstuck and Stay Unstuck
Do you know anyone that seems to be stuck in a situation that makes them unhappy? It might be a friend or a family member, but we all know people like that.
Maybe they’re in the same job they’ve been at for years without a significant increase in salary. Maybe they’ve reached a plateau in life and are just feeling bored.
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever been stuck?
Personal development is about getting you unstuck and keeping you from becoming stuck.
It’s about recognizing the forces, both internal and external, that are keeping you from growing in areas that are important to you.
What areas of life, or what skills, do you believe would be fulfilling to have more proficiency? In which areas of life have you been coasting but know you can do better? What skills have you been ignoring? What skills would you just like to develop for your own joy?
Choosing continuous development means choosing consistent, daily improvement. In this way, your success — or lack of success — is the result of your habits.
“In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.”
-Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World
You can make a habit of personal development. You can make a habit of increasing the quality of the many skills you bring to your life.
By making your development a daily habit, you ensure consistent progress. And you keep yourself from getting stuck.
The Benefits of Continuous Personal Development
When you choose to be aware of your current situation and consciously decide to improve your skills in order to change your outcome, you put yourself into the driver’s seat.
Personal development enables you to go from where you are now towards a potential future that provides you greater benefits.
This isn’t to say that you aren’t grateful for the person you are now and your current life situation. In fact, I believe self-development of any kind works better when you practice gratitude as part of the process.
I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing my current life negatively against some idealized future. Personally, that mentality makes it very hard for me to appreciate my current situation and just gives me excuses to complain.
I’ve found that by showing gratitude for my current situation while I work towards a better future, I develop two good habits. One is the habit of showing appreciation for the things I already have. The second is the habit of working consistently towards a better situation. I think this is a powerful combination for making improvements.
And when I say “improvement”, I don’t mean someone else’s idea of improvement. I mean things that you consider to be an improvement. What adds value to your life? If you’re like most people, it’s a combination of personal relationships, work that matters to you, and a good income.
Your improvement could be as simple as waking up earlier and having some quiet time for self-reflection and planning before the day begins. Or it might be creating your own business and producing value for customers and jobs for employees.
The best part is that you get to decide. The result of continuous personal development is that you become more skillful and valuable in whatever areas of your life you choose: your relationships, your work, and your physical and mental health.
When you develop a more valuable mindset — one of optimism and gratitude — and build good habits which help you develop more valuable skills, your potential outcome in all spheres of life will only improve.
If you’d like some tips for getting started with your self-growth, check out these 3 simple steps for creating an effective personal development plan.