04 Oct Personal Development 101
Before the year 2014, if you had asked me what I thought Personal Development (PD) was, I would’ve answered with something along the lines of “a bunch of guys in suits at a seminar yelling the words ‘yes I can’ repeatedly” – in short, I had no idea.
Now if you asked me today, I would say it’s the process of going from the life you have, to the life you want. I would then add that discovering what PD actually was is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.
Being completely honest with you, up until 2014 I thought that after you finish your formal education that’s more or less who you are as a person, with the rest of what you learn coming from general life experiences.
It wasn’t until my life and work began to morph into a repetitive, mundane and passionless cycle that I began to start asking myself tough questions. I knew I was capable of so much more, but how can I become the person I truly want to be and how do I create the life I really want?
Life is far too short to accept things for the way they are and it’s just as easy to become content and settle, but that’s nothing you haven’t heard before. There’s obviously a big difference between knowing this and doing nothing about it, and knowing this and taking action.
I believe the difference in what sets these two scenarios apart is our lack of exposure to how we can actually make these changes; becoming the people we want to be and creating the life we want.
That’s where this whole Personal Development thing comes in, but before I get far too hyped on telling you how awesome it is, let me first explain what it is.
WHAT IS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT?
PD is a commitment to the ongoing process of identifying areas of your life you want to improve, then finding the ways to make those improvements happen. It’s about creating an intentional focus on becoming more, fulfilling your potential and ultimately enhancing the quality of your life.
The topic of PD has been around for thousands of years and isn’t new by any stretch. It is super broad by nature, due to the many different areas of our lives we can each improve. Common areas in traditional PD range from physical, financial, spiritual, skill building, self-awareness and self-knowledge.
When you look at what PD actually is, identifying an area of your life you want to improve and making that improvement happen, most of us have had this in our lives at some point – e.g. goals at the gym, diets for healthier living and expanding our knowledge on certain topics.
Where PD differs from the above is that it doesn’t finish once a goal is achieved. The focus isn’t even on the achievement of the goal themselves. The focus is on who we become during the pursuit of the goal and a commitment to keep going whether you get there or not.
Most people are all for the idea of self-improvement, I haven’t met anyone who isn’t, there is just a lack of awareness around the best place to start.
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO START?
If you want a new destination in life, you have to change your direction. I believe that means changing the way you think. The first step I personally took and what I recommend to all my clients I work with is to start reshaping your mindset and to create what I like to call a “mind shift” (a shift in mindset that stems from a new way of thinking).
“Change your thoughts and you change your world”
– Norman Vincent Peale
Think about it, you are where you are in life right now predominantly because of the decisions you’ve made. Those decisions are all a direct result of your thinking. Once you begin exposing yourself to a new type of thinking, you can’t help but view the world through a slightly different lens.
As soon as I was exposed to the ideas and new type of thinking that PD resources promoted, my whole world changed. I don’t know exactly what it was that was so appealing, maybe it was because I had nothing to lose, but I committed fully to seeing if it was indeed possible to create the life you want and it that ended up being the greatest decision I’ve ever made.
The number one source of PD resources I recommend is books.
If you aren’t into the whole, reading books thing, don’t worry, neither was I. Before I started my PD journey, I hadn’t willingly read a book, ever. Now I try to a read couple of books a month. I like to look at reading as an investment in myself – the greatest investment you can ever make according to Warren Buffet.
If you enjoy reading, I have no doubt you will enjoy the recommendations below and they will begin to spark a new type of thinking.
The titles I recommend that are a great starting point to begin to reshape your thinking are “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen (I recommend reading this a couple times – it’s a small read) and “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (it’s not all about money, kindle version is $1). If you want more, the other 3 on this list will also help.
Something I found super beneficial while I was beginning to reshape my mindset was to consume similar material in a different medium. Along with books, I began to expose myself to similar messages from PD and motivational speakers such as Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Eric Thomas and Tony Robbins on Youtube.
In my opinion, reshaping your mindset is the most important place to start when beginning your PD journey. From there it’s completely up to you – it’s different for every individual and the next step depends on what area of your life you want to improve.
All I will say is that once you begin this process and you begin to run with the ideas and types of thinking it promotes, you’ll know exactly what area of your life you will want to start improving.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
I strongly believe that the biggest regret anyone can have in life is looking back and wishing they lived differently.
As I’ve mentioned before, the things we regret in life are not the things that we’ve done – we can learn from them. It’s the things we didn’t do – all the times we played it safe and the risks and leaps of faith we didn’t take.
The best thing about beginning your PD journey is that you can’t help but address the above thinking and do something about it. When you are intentionally focused on improving yourself, you naturally focus on taking steps towards achieving the things you really want and making the most of life.
I’ve taken more risks and leaps of faith in the last 2 years on my PD journey than I did in the first 24 years of my life. Why? Because I’ve become 100% committed to seeing what I’m truly capable of and I absolutely love it. I now don’t even intentionally pursue PD, it’s become a part of me and is ingrained in every area of my life.
The only wish I have is that some would’ve shown me all of this sooner in my life. I truly believe that every single individual should start their own PD journey – just so they can get a glimpse of what their life would look like if they made themselves a priority.
Beginning your PD journey isn’t hard, the key is just getting started, that’s all you have to do. As soon as you get a taste of how beneficial it can be – I guarantee you’ll never look back.
The beauty of life is that we all have the free will to live the way we want. If you want your life to be different, you are the only one who can make that happen – you determine the destination and that responsibility is entirely yours.
If you know deep down that you are capable of becoming more and you want your life to be different to what it is now, then I implore you to give Personal Development a go and see where it can take you, you can always go back to how you’ve been living up until now.
You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.