Personal development has become quite the buzzword in recent years as we’ve all become a bit more aware of our own emotions, skills and strengths.
But what’s caused this hype around personal growth and self-awareness?
Partly we can put it down to the rise of social media, and with it the increase in public conversation and shared experience. What was once private information – privy to the experts of cognitive psychology, business coaching, and behavioural science – is now shared over Twitter and YouTube, and is accessible to us all.
As well as that, it turns out that millennials are hungrier to know themselves than the generation before. Described as the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s, millennials care deeply about their mental health, careers and working lives.
Where in the past, work may have been seen as something you had to do to put food on the table, something distinct from personal life (hence the classic ‘work life balance’ doctrine), a lot of millennials see things differently.
With the expectation to find a job that is fulfilling and inspiring, comes the strong desire to learn and develop in order to feel happy and healthy at work.
Where do you begin with personal development?
It’s one of those terms that’s easy to say but harder to break down into something tangible.
We’re typically not taught to self-reflect, which is why it doesn’t always come naturally. However, it’s important to remember that you are the best placed person to solve your own problems (most of the time) and so personal development is something that needs to be actively worked on.
Find out more about the benefits of mentoring for learning and development with Guider.
Simple personal development strategies…
Here are 6 easy ways you can take responsibility for your own personal development:
1. Write things down
This may not sound groundbreaking, but studies have shown that we are 40% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.
This figure goes up to 70% if those goals are also shared with a mentor, but more on that later.
Firstly, formulating the jumbled thoughts in your head into clear words on a screen or paper helps you understand and action them better. It is both cathartic and methodical.
Secondly, writing to-do lists and goals down physically holds you accountable to them.
And thirdly, writing down how you are feeling increases your emotional intelligence as you can start to recognise patterns and understand why you are feeling a certain way.
So grab that notepad and kick off your personal development journey.
2. Set goals
If you’re not in the habit of setting goals, now’s the time to start (put that notepad to good use).
To set effective goals, you must outline what you want to achieve and where you want to be so you can think of the best way to get there. If you’re having trouble formulating your goals, you can use this model to keep on track.
SMART goals are goals that are:
Check out our essential tips to goal setting here!
3. Understand how you work and utilise it
We’re all different. From energy levels to concentration span to methods of learning. What works well for one of us can cause stress and anxiety for another.
A crucial step in personal development is understanding how you work best, which can only happen if you make a conscious effort to analyse your behaviour at work, school or university.
- What time of day do you feel most productive?
- In what environment do you feel most creative?
- When you have an idea, do you prefer working it out on your own before sharing it, or do you have to tell people straight away?
The answers to all of these questions point to methods of working and learning that can help us work smarter once we understand them.
4. Work on your strengths, not just your weaknesses
When thinking of personal development, it’s easy to default to the need to work on things we’re not good at, such as: ‘getting less distracted’, ‘increasing confidence in meetings’, and ‘planning better’.
But it’s also really important to keep getting better at the things we are good at.
Part of becoming more self aware is identifying your strengths. Try listing what you think you’re good at. If you’re prone to self-deprecating thoughts you might find it difficult, but that’s why it’s even more important to do it!
You can then set goals to get even better and turn your skills into expertise.
This is a really important part of coaching too. So, if you’re struggling to find your strengths, consider speaking to a career coach!
📖 Find out more about the different types of coaching in our guide 📖
5. Find a mentor
Mentoring is another term – like ‘personal development’ – that seems easily said but not as easy to action. But the reason it’s so discussed is because the benefits are endless.
Those with mentors are more likely to increase:
- Job satisfaction
- Likelihood of promotion
- Loyalty to company
- Fulfilment at work
Sounds good right? But how do you find a mentor? The simplest way is to speak to your organisation and find out about any workplace mentoring programs they are running.
You can avoid any bad mentoring experiences by using mentoring software to find the perfect mentoring match!
6. Commit to and invest in your personal development
Like any skill, practice (and effort, dedication and passion) makes perfect. You’re not going to see results unless you commit to your self-development. And you’re not going to commit unless you want to.
Think of ways (that work for you) to ensure you actually put these strategies into practice. Your analysis on the way you work should help you also understand how you learn, which can help you think of ways to make personal development a habit, not a pipe-dream.
Set reminders on your phone, make a personal development plan, take up meditation, start journaling, ask mentors or friends to hold you accountable for goals or actions – start small and find what works for you!
Personal development is an ongoing exercise.
The whole point of it is that it doesn’t end, which is why it’s often so hard to start.
What’s important is to start putting small behaviours into practice that help you understand yourself and get you to where you want to be!