Personal Development: Who are You?

I recently used the metaphor of a stagnant pond to discuss what it is to halt your personal development – equating a stagnant pond to a person who isn’t growing. Normally, when people discuss personal development, they assume we are talking about skills training for work. This is the easiest way to grow, but there is a difference between skills development and personal development.

When looking at personal development, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what needs developing – let’s discuss a couple of factors that go into this process.

Starting with Self-Awareness:
We are quick to point out what we can and cannot do, but this is often limited to the work context. If, for example, someone struggles with communication at work, they most likely struggle with communication at home as well.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? Which of your character traits would you like to see improve?

Next is A Mindset Shift:
Many people hold the belief that, by the time you reach your early twenties, your personality and knowledge base are set in stone, but this simply isn’t true. The brain continues to grow and develop into old age.

Something else I have discussed in the past is the growth mindset. A growth mindset says that we can continue learning and adapting, and that life moves and changes quickly. It is about understanding that you can always learn, grow, and move forward.

This kind of growth starts with addressing our limiting beliefs; these are things we decided we could not do, and therefore attempt to address. For example, I have bought many gym memberships over the years and none of them have gotten me anywhere, so I believe I am terrible at exercising – but I am fond of taking walks and am mindful of what I eat. While I might be terrible at going to the gym, that doesn’t mean I can’t be healthy.

Next is the concept of Lifelong Learning:
People constantly change and grow – there is no way to complete the cycle of learning and growing. The ever-changing pressures we face daily highlight this.
In business, we often see this take the form of people developing new skills and growing their knowledge-base, taking on new responsibilities, getting promotions, etc. Just as this growth happens in the workplace, it happens in our personal lives as well. The ‘inside track’ here is when your personal and professional development align.

Finally, we have Goals:
With our self-awareness, our changed mindset, and understanding of lifelong learning is the prequel to setting goals. This is where we need to get down to brass tacks and decide what it is we want to develop, find out how to get it done, and then going and doing it.

Of course, as they say, a goal without a plan is just a dream, so this is where you lay out your plans and identify your milestones – ‘S.M.A.R.T. Goals’ are particularly helpful here (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound). Sometimes this process needs to be taken a step further by involving a life coach (like me), someone you can partner with, becoming an ‘accountability partner’, and even ferreting out whether your S.M.A.R.T. Goals are really all that smart.

What I love most about coaching, especially around goals, is that when people get stuck, there is a tendency to just give up, but with a coach, you have someone on hand to ask for help in ‘getting unstuck’.

Understand that learning and goal achievement is a lifelong process. As soon as you have achieved this set of goals, there will be more; there is always something else to learn, another way to grow, another way to be, feel, and act.