Personal Development: What is it and how is it useful?
Interested in starting your personal development journey? Start here!
Personal development is growth and transformation. When we grow physically, our body changes. We grow from 50cm when we are born to 165cm when we reach 20, as an example. It is an ongoing process, it happens gradually, we don’t grow 1 metre in one day.
Personal growth is very similar, but instead of our physical body, what changes is our inner self.
When we are very young, we acquire certain beliefs, behaviour patterns and perceptions of life depending on our early age experiences. As we grow older, and live new experiences, those beliefs can become stronger or change. But how often do we stop to actively think about the validity of those automatic beliefs or behaviours?
If a dog bit me when I was a child, I probably registered the belief: “dogs are dangerous”. At that time, that might have been useful as a way to protect myself from being bit by another dogs in the park.
But if as an adult I visit some friends and I panic thinking that their tiny dog is going to be near me, I might need to review that belief that is having a negative impact on me. I might be missing an amazing party for a limiting belief that is out of date.
Personal Development is about self-discovery and working on what is limiting us or we no longer believe. It is about looking inside us and knowing it is only up to us to change what we consider appropriate. It means taking responsibility for our life and knowing that our happiness depends only on our decisions.
It is a never ending journey, we are always growing and there will always be something new to learn or improve.
How do you start a personal development process?
Sometimes we learn unexpectedly. You might have heard expressions like: “life made me learn the lesson”, “that event helped me change X”, “that experience made me more Y”… We could say we are “forced” to learn. We don’t plan to grow, we just evolve with the experiences life puts in front of us.
But we can also start a conscious process where we decide to gain awareness of what is going on inside ourselves and decide to leave our limiting beliefs and behaviours behind.
Fortunately, there are thousands of tools to help us in this process. Personal development books, courses, blogs, and different types of therapies like Coaching. Sometimes the best tool is to disconnect from busy life and stop for 5 minutes to listen to ourselves.
There is no right or wrong when approaching a personal development journey. There isn’t a magic formula. Different people will prefer different authors or therapists. Some people prefer to work on their own. Others might prefer to do a course or start a coaching program to accelerate their transformation.
Each individual will follow a different pace, there is no “too slow” or “too fast”.
If you are a newbie and want to start a personal development process, I recommend you try different options and keep the ones you resonate with.
How is Personal Development useful?
These are at least ten areas you can improve when starting a personal development process:
1) Get to know yourself better and identify your true values. Very often we hide behind an “image” of ourselves. Spending time on ourselves help us find our real self, our true essence.
2) Say good-bye to limiting beliefs.
Like that “I’m not good enough” which is limiting your career.
3) Identify and change recurring behaviours pattern that frustrate you. Get out of that “This keeps happening to me again and again!”.
4) Replace bad habits with healthy ones.
5) Learn to have healthier relationships, interacting with others in a healthy way, learning to manage conflicts and reducing unnecessary arguments.
6) Take control of your life. When you realise that only you have the power over what happens inside yourself, you realise you have the most powerful tool to manage your well-being.
7) Learn to manage your emotions avoiding reactions you might regret.
8) Overcome your fears. When you discover the origin of your fears and learn tools to manage them, you can achieve goals you never thought yourself capable of.
9) Go from an “OK life” to a meaningful and enriching life. It might include having a successful career, starting a family, travelling around the world… That dream you always had in mind but didn’t think it could be for you.
10) Learn to value and take care of yourself. And ask others to value and take care of you!
Important aspects to consider:
- Don’t panic if you want to change A LOT of things when you start analysing yourself, it happens to everyone.
Be patient and take baby steps. Even if your aim is to grow and improve, it is very important to do it at your own pace.
- As you change, you might find some unexpected reactions from your social circle.
You might hear things like: “you’ve changed, you didn’t used to be like that”. Well that is what life is about! These reactions are normal, bear in mind that you might be reacting very differently to some situations but they will be behaving like before.
If you are about to start a personal development course or coaching process I strongly recommend that you discuss it with people who are close to you and ask them to be understanding to avoid surprises.
For example, imagine you used to be very jealous and you realised you don’t need to be like that anymore. This might be a positive change, but you partner might think “why this change now?” or “doesn’t she love me anymore?” If you explain to them that you are just improving yourself and it is not related to your feelings for them you will probably avoid an unnecessary conflict.
- If you choose to work with a professional coach or therapist, choose someone you have great connection with.
There’s no point working with the best therapist on earth if you don’t even feel comfortable talking about yourself in front of them.
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