“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – G B Shaw
What’s Personal Development?
We all know about the 92- year old Lata Mangeshkar, who even after reaching the pinnacle of musical excellence, still does 10 hours of riyaaz (practise) daily. At this age and after scaling so many heights, she probably needn’t. But that is what differentiates her from others. She didn’t stop after one achievement; rather, she has kept her passion alive throughout life. And also Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Everest. But even after this monumental achievement, she kept leading expeditions and carried out relief and rescue operations during floods in the northeast.
It is this continuous journey of exploring newer horizons that we call personal growth or personal development. Personal development is the lifelong process of assessing life goals and enhancing skills to actualize one’s potential by becoming proactive and taking charge of actions. One may not always reach one’s goals but one certainly lives a more fulfilling life as one has a sense of purpose, satisfaction and success.
You can work on your personal development by embracing certain self-improvement skills. These are traits and qualities that you already have or gain through education and training. Some common personal development skills are:
Communication skills – Let you convey thoughts with clarity and confidence
Interpersonal skills – Let you build relationships for a more fulfilling life
Problem-solving skills – Enable you to evolve the best solutions to obstacles
Adaptability – Let you adjust to new things, staying calm in unanticipated situations
Leadership skills – Help you guide others, boost morale and confidence
I, too, am have-been-there, done-that. So, it’s all about walking the talk. Used to crib about the short 24-hour days (flip the pages of my A Story Can Change your Life) and a constant lack of time until one day……. I looked into the mirror, decided to give up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do Your Best.
Today, about a decade and a half later, I’m a fairly successful businesswoman, motivational speaker and author, a John Maxwell certified life coach and counsellor engaged in transforming lives through the learning that worked so well for me. This journey of personal growth and development has been so empowering, liberating and fruitful that I would like to spare the cheer to as many as I can.
Why personal development is important?
Many people suffer from the misconception that personal development is for those who need to work harder to achieve goals. But the fact is, even the most successful people constantly look for further improvement (that’s what made them successful in the first place) despite scaling the heights in their respective fields. In reality, the brain needs to be fed new information constantly (to forge new neural pathways) so that you remain mentally active and sharp and can flourish continuously.
Personal development may take time but is it certainly worth it:
It helps you define your personal vision and goals clearly. With the targets in place, it is easier to plan and work towards your goals.
Continuous learning and personal growth define personal development. You learn from your past to overcome challenges.
The more you work on yourself, the more you get to know about your latent potential and push your boundaries to explore new things.
Personal development empowers you as you get to control things. Due to constant improvement, you feel more confident and motivated than ever, thereby raising your productivity and self-satisfaction.
The Bigger Picture
Once you accept your shortcomings, you hold yourself answerable for your mistakes. Self-awareness can help you appreciate the bigger picture and not self-criticize for things beyond your control.
The Social Animal
Good social skills help you build healthier relationships. If you face workplace conflicts, you need to address them instead of avoiding them. You learn to regulate emotions, thoughts and behaviours, thereby strengthening your self-control. You begin to differentiate facts from opinions. Addressing difficulties makes you more resilient and look at a problem objectively.
A Better You
Self-development is about putting your learning into practice. If you are consistently learning, growing and striving to become the best version of yourself means that you will reach your ultimate potential.
Once you know your goals and why you want to better yourself, you will have a clearer outlook. This sense of direction makes decision making easier and help you avoid unnecessary tasks.
Once you have a sense of direction, the job of prioritizing people and tasks becomes easy. Focusing purely on areas that will improve you makes you motivated and productive.
Click here to read the blog on how to increase productivity in the workplace
Progress is addictive
Making a small change daily to help you achieve your goals adds up to a big change over time. Putting in the efforts to make it possible eventually becomes a habit. And when you look back and realize how far you’ve come from where you once stood, the progress becomes addictive, pushing you even further.
Please note that it is different from personality development as personality development refers to changing the very fundamentals of the unique way a person thinks, reacts and behaves.
It is a conscious process of enhancing oneself by developing skills, competencies and knowledge. Self-development aims to create a self-fulfilled person. The process has three components:
It covers both personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Personal effectiveness skills like goal-setting, time management, decision-making and stress management benefit you as a person while interpersonal skills help you interact with others and develop fruitful, healthy relationships.
Mental conditioning is the process of building and strengthening our minds, which results in a better focus on our goals. It helps us keep a positive focus, improve our self-image and self-confidence. Mental conditioning techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and relaxation boost concentration and performance.
Habits make a man. A habit is a routine, automatic, unintentional behaviour or tendency, which can be difficult to break. We can also cultivate new habits and bring about positive changes in life.
Is it time?
Though they might differ on many other things, the best life coaches agree on certain things necessitating a concerted effort for personal development.
Here is a checklist of the 10 signs you need to look out to know if it’s time for personal improvement:
The Angry Bird
Anger can undo many a successful person by ruining progress- personal and professional. There are endless accounts of how angry people sometimes ended up on the wrong side of the law for life. When you aren’t making the desired progress at work and in life, your dissatisfaction often finds an outlet in sudden anger pretty quickly. Routine obstacles like a leaking tap or a lock not opening quickly become your scapegoats, you cuss more often and whenever those stupid shoelaces don’t untie, you scream aloud inside. Calm down! Go take anger management training, do some relaxation and practice meditation. And do flip the pages of my book A Story Can Change Your Life for more stuff on anger. It will help you, for sure!
Click here to watch the YouTube full video on A Story Can Change Your Life- By Life Coach Ritu Singal
Getting More Frustrated
If the pretty harmless noises children make while playing at home and the sound of a distant speaker is making you clench your teeth and jaws and you launch a full-fledged frontal attack on those around you, it’s time for a pause. You’re reacting unduly harsher to those you love – something not in sync with your character. You blow up your fuse over little things you can’t control because you’re not assuming responsibility for the big things in your control.
The X Factor
If you live the same year 100 times over, that’s not LIFE. If you don’t have a self-improvement milestone to differentiate one month from the next e.g. gaining more strength, more clients, spiritual upliftment —the months will soon turn into years multiplied by X. It can be scary and is another reason for a wake-up alarm.
Mother of distractions
The lack of absolute commitment towards making the most of your time makes you fill your time with useless stuff. It leaves you listless and unfulfilled. So if Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are your second abode, it’s time to apply the brakes and take a break.
Single but wanna mingle
Singlehood may be a hidden blessing as it gives you all the time and space to take care of yourself, heal old wounds, and become what you want to be, no holds barred. But if the usual distractions aren’t fulfilling enough, you develop a rapacious appetite for someone to occupy your time.
But imagine if you command the full ownership of yourself, and you’re working to make each day better than yesterday, relationships don’t bother you as you’re satisfied and happy with your life.
Those never-ending projects
Lately, all those cool projects are just not getting done. The list keeps on getting longer and it only hurts your self-confidence to see those important tasks piling up day after day.
You stay off your routine a little and sooner rather than later, it becomes a month since you’ve exercised regularly, which is affecting your body and mind. Very soon, you settle into your new routine of there being no routine. You get the point!
No longer an example
You were the guy to look up for family, friends and colleagues. You always took pride in setting an example by offering a useful insight or motivation to others but of late, you aren’t adding as much value as you used to. And you long for that exalted status you enjoyed in the past!
That Rut Feeling
You feel having slipped into a rut – nothing forward, nothing backward like an animal making an old-style oil extractor work by circling it. And to make it worse, you aren’t motivated enough to make a forward move to get out of it. There you are!
You had a well-earned reputation for keeping your word. If a belief or a principle or a cause really mattered to you, you stuck to it as a youngster does to his smartphone. But now things are sliding as your words are becoming less and less reliable. In fact, you’re not keeping your promises to yourself even.
So, how do I get a self-improvement reboot?
Falling out of routine is no cause for shame as that’s life. We become parents. We change and lose jobs. Our marriages get on the rocks. We get injured or sick. All that and much more is OK.
Now, the only thing that matters is that you return to the top of your game and stop making excuses. Take 100% ownership of yourself and your actions; be honest with yourself and have a self-improvement month to tell the world who you really are.
- Digital Detox
Have a complete social media and tech fast for an entire month and restrict yourself to only three email and message checks a day. The commitment to refrain from such low-value addition activities is the foundation stone of your reboot. Distractions threaten your productivity big time, so it’s time to throw them out of the window: social media, TV, Netflix and the like (Fret not, you can restore them after the fast is over.) But it’s imperative to format and reboot daily habits to let you focus on high-value habits and actions that boost your confidence.
- Stick to a simple, effective, repeatable daily routine for a month
Here we go: A. 5 minutes each of
- visualization and
- A 30-minute exercise routine
- An hour of work before any message/email checks
- 20-minute meditation in the afternoon
- writing a journal before bed and planning the next day.
Following it can inculcate discipline and a sense of momentum that aids good decision making.
Make a list of the biggest excuses you make and the things that cause them and refrain from all for a month. For example, if your biggest grouse is about the lack of enough time, list down all the things that suck up your time, and commit to stop doing them.
3- List daily goals as the week begins
List down your goals for your career, education, self-improvement, fitness, and all else that you want to do. Transfer these goals to your daily planner every night so that you know the most important things you have got to do tomorrow. Refer to the planner frequently to keep yourself updated.
- Get your accountability buddy. NOW!
Accountability really works. But for you, when you’ve been off the track, it’s all even more important. Have a buddy – a best friend, a preacher, a mentor or your father. It’s quite easy to rationalize you missed x y or z goals, so you need someone to alert you to the bluff when you think of taking the easy way out. Many of my clients often tell me, “The accountability buddies are great! Whenever I’m going to make an excuse, this ‘But what would I tell him? is a powerful roadblock.”