Self-Development or personal development is the result of taking steps to improve yourself. There is no single area of focus. In fact, the process of personal self-development is very personal. Each of us must evaluate ourselves, either with or without the help of a professional, and then use that evaluation to decide where we need to make improvements. Engaging in personal development helps us to improve soft skills such as:
- Being a good listener
- Having more empathy towards others
- Becoming more efficient
- Learning to feel more confident
- Becoming more focused and organized
- Setting goals – personal and professional – for ourselves.
Somebody who is struggling with the self-improvement process may wonder if it is worth it. They may wonder if they are wasting all of the emotional energy that it takes to successfully use self-development techniques. The answers to these this questions is that yes, it is absolutely worth it, and no it is not a waste of emotional energy. A high level of self-development can make a huge difference when it comes to obtaining success on the job and in other areas of life. Here are just a few reasons this is the case.
- You Will be Conscious of Your Weaknesses
Sometimes it seems as if people are either completely unaware of their weaknesses, or they are so hyper aware of them that they lose all sense of self confidence. This isn’t the case with people who have worked hard on self-development. They are aware of their weaknesses while still maintaining a high self-esteem. This means that they can constantly work to reduce their weaknesses or work around them when they need to. For example, a person with a deficit in their ability to communicate calmly when they are frustrated will acknowledge that deficit, work around it by committing to take 2 minutes before responding to any email. A person who had no idea they had that weakness in the first place might have sent off an offensive email in that situation. A person who was aware, but hadn’t developed a good sense of self-esteem, would have simply remained silent. Finding the right tools to compensate for a weakness can be a long-term task, but with each success, it gets easier.
2. Self-development is an Exercise in Getting to Know Yourself More
Self-awareness is the key component of self-development. If you do not know yourself, you cannot improve yourself. If you know yourself well, you will know what it is that will make you happy, and you will understand the gifts that you have for making others happy as well. A big part of this is understanding the relationships, life situations, and even job conditions in which we will be the happiest. This knowledge is the foundation upon which true success is built.
Many people remain in relationships that are not fulfilling; many remain in jobs that are equally so. And often the reason is that they have accepted that this is how they are just meant to live and work. It has not occurred to them that there can be another “life” out there. This acceptance of the “status quo” is, unfortunately, all too common. Here’s what can happen when a person embarks on a path of self-awareness:
- The person digs deep and uncovers his/her values. What are the really important things in life?
- Once values are identified, it is time to assess the current life situation and determine if the things in one’s life right now really relate to those identified values. For example, someone might identify a value of being of service to others. And yet, his/her current job has nothing to do with that. Another value might be a relationship in which both partners are equally supportive of one another. The current relationship may be one in which the individual is a “giver” and the partner is a “taker.”
- The next step is to identify changes that need to be made so that one’s life aligns with one’s values. This is really a goal-setting process.
- Once goals are set, the “action plans” are put into place. Take the unfulfilling job, for example. What is the ideal job? That is the goal. How will the person get to that ideal job? It may not be quitting a current job right now (everyone does have to eat), but it may involve going back to school or getting into the job market. As to the relationship, this may involve some serious work with a partner to make the changes that are necessary. And, more than one relationship has “died” because the changes are just impossible. One has to be prepared for that possibility, but ending an unfulfilling relationship also results in a new freedom.
3. You Can Use Self Development to Help Yourself Set Career and Life Goals
The pursuit of personal development means that you have a highly developed sense of what will make you happy. This clarity is very important when you set goals. The reason for this is that you have a better sense of what is going to work for you, and what it is that you should be working towards. People who have not worked on personal development often set goals, work towards achieving them, and then when they have succeeded in doing so, realize that they have arrived at a place that they never wanted to be in the first place. This is the time to go back to #2 on this list and begin the process of self-awareness.
Change can be scary. We all get comfortable, even in our lack of fulfillment, and avoid taking risks that put us in new “places.” The way to begin is one small step at a time. Take a course; join an organization that is related to your new career goal; volunteer in the field you hope to enter. These small steps give you confidence and motivation to continue.
4. People Who Have Engaged in Self Development Often Have The ‘X’ Factor
The ‘X’ Factor is a phrase that is used in the entertainment industry. It describes a trait that many entertainers have that goes beyond simple talent. It is the wow factor that draws people in and keeps them interested. People with a high level of self-development often develop the type of magnetic personality that could be described as possessing the same ‘X’ Factor that entertainers do. The more well developed your personality is, the more people will want to be around you, and that is definitely something you need in order to become a successful person.
Much of the ‘X’ factor is the result of confidence. And that is developed over time, as you meet with small successes and realize that you can actually make change happen for yourself. With each new success, no matter how small, you stand a little taller; you walk a bit more forcefully; you smile more; and you engage others more. The positive outlook you develop is contagious and attracts others.
5. Your Relationships Will Improve
If you go through a self-development process, you will learn to recognize certain patterns and behaviors that you engage in with regard to your relationships with other people. This might include:
- A tendency to engage in high conflict relationships or
- The avoidance of commitment.
- A selfishness that takes advantage of others
- A need to please others to please others that sacrifices what is important to you.
You may also learn that you have a tendency to engage in conflict in ways that are unfair and unhealthy. When you are aware of these things, you will make better decisions. You will pick better friends and partners, and you will do a better job of keeping the relationships that you are in as healthy as you possibly can. You will also notice that your relationships with employers, coworkers, and business partners will improve as well. These positive and fulfilling relationships will play a major role in your success.
Self-development should really be seen as a life-long process. We should always have new goals, things to look forward to, new experiences we want to have. All of these things make us a more rounded person – and the more rounded we are, the more successful we will be.
Ethan Dunwill is young entrepreneur from Hong Kong, his main goal in life is to inspire and motivate others, so people can make themselves a little happier. Connect with Ethan at Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or visit his blog at Medium.