What is personal development?
In a nutshell, personal development is any investment (of time, money or energy) that you make in yourself.
Personal development can take a number of different forms, including:
- Profile tests and quizzes which give you insight into your patterns of behaviour and help you understand your strengths and weaknesses
- Empowering books sharing processes or mindset shifts – you’ve probably come across a few of these
- Workshops and trainings in specific tools like leadership, time management, or managing conflict
- 1:1 work with a coach or trained professional
- Practices or rituals like journalling, meditating or mindfulness
Have you come across other forms of personal development?
Sharing what’s worked (and what hasn’t) with other women is a great way for us to all expand our resources. Let us know your experience in the comments at the end of this article.
How can personal development help me?
Whatever form of personal development you decide to do, first and foremost it’s important to understand how it can (and can’t) help you.
What personal development can’t help you with
Personal development has its limits. It can’t replace technical or industry-specific training and information. If your goal is to become a brain surgeon, getting to know yourself and learning how to adopt a more successful mindset will help you manage your work but won’t replace medical school when it comes to wielding a scalpel.
And there are times when the support you’re looking for will go beyond personal development. Therapy, counselling and mental health support might be more appropriate interventions when you’re in need of deeper support, and personal development doesn’t replace those.
But if you’re looking for practical changes to your everyday experience, and tired of feeling as though you’re stuck in any area of your life, here’s how personal development can help.
5 ways personal development can help you
1. Personal development can help you stand up for yourself
You might be really clear on what’s important to you, how you want to be treated, and the way you’d like to spend your time. And yet, people in your life just seem to walk all over your preferences and, because you’re not someone who enjoys conflict, you’re not really sure how to stop them.
If you find yourself slipping into martyr mode – where you’re doing everything to make other people’s lives better and not getting anything in return – it might be time to explore how you can become a more powerful version of yourself.
Topics to explore: Confidence, boundaries, personal power, speaking up
2. Personal development can help you understand WHY things happen
Are certain patterns repeating themselves in your life? Perhaps other people never seem to respect your time and are always cancelling appointments at the last minute. Or you always seem to feel inadequate about your weaknesses, even though you know your strengths lie in other areas.
When you understand what makes you tick, and have a sense of your unique abilities as well as your challenges, you’re able to let go of a lot of energy-sucking anxiety and worry. You can look at the root cause of issues, rather than just their “symptoms”. The difference that can make in the results you achieve is often surprising.
Topics to explore: Personality profiles, mindset, habits
3. Personal development can reset your results
When you understand yourself better, you’re more able to make decisions based on your unique personality. You might choose to completely stop certain things which are always a struggle, and instead focus your energy on the behaviours which really create results.
Maybe you’re a business owner who really struggles to stay on top of your systems. Emails get lost, client details misfiled and your calendar is, quite frankly, a mess. Instead of beating yourself up for not being more organized, you might discover that your real talent lies in face to face connection and in the amazing power you have to transform individuals you spend time with. So, you decide to stop trying to “fix” yourself, hire support with the administration, and focus your energy on what you’re really good at.
The result? Outcomes way beyond what seemed possible when you were stuck wearing all the hats.
Topics to explore: Mindset, goals, how to be effective, leadership
4. Personal development can change your perspective
It’s easy for us to get stuck in “echo-chambers” or “bubbles” on social media and in our communities. When you spend all your time with people who never take a break, that can start to feel normal.
But personal development can often open your eyes to a totally different way of looking at things. Maybe your coach asks you a question about a habit you’ve never thought to question: do you really need to spend Sunday evening preparing for the work week? Would your family mutiny if you decided to order a takeaway once a week instead of cooking? Is hiring a cleaner really beyond your budget?
One of the most powerful things we can do is learn to question the assumptions we take for granted – and use them to create change.
Topics to explore: Coaching, mindfulness, abundance, mindset
5. Personal development can help you be more you
It’s easy to be sceptical about the latest “trend” in personal development, or to assume that it might lead to burning incense, hugging your boss and reciting mantras in the mirror. (All of those things are totally fine, by the way – they just might not be your style!)
The thing to remember about personal development is it’s just that: personal.
Whether you choose to start a quiet journaling habit when the kids have gone to bed, invest in a coach who can help you work out how you’re holding yourself back, or commit to a course that will change the way you think about your marriage, what you choose to do is up to you.
Topics to explore: Journalling, meditation, how to change your life
The clue’s in the name
The most powerful, successful and impactful women I know didn’t get to where they are by pushing on and ignoring their own needs. Far from a waste of your time, investing in personal development means you can make sure you’re using it in the most efficient and effective way.
If you’ve found yourself rolling your eyes at someone else’s latest personal development trend, remember that we’re all different. Taking the time to work out what will best support you might lead to something completely different – and a transformed experience.
I’m curious: what’s your take on the personal development thing? Are you a course junkie or a self-help evangelist? Or do you tend more to the sceptical side of things? Let us know in the comments.
If you’re not sure where to get started, Life’s Little Toolkit is a mini kit we gathered together of the top resources our community love to use. From how to get out of overwhelm to how to stop worrying, it’s packed with helpful advice and step-by-step tools.
Click here to download yours now – and let us know which one works best for you.
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