Personal development is something that is talked about a lot nowadays, but what does it really mean? Well, simplified, it’s the process of learning about and adopting new practices in order to grow in a positive way as a person. I’m a firm believer that education does not end when we leave school. In fact I think continued learning is a very important part of life. Whether it’s socially, financially, career based or any of the many other areas in which we all strive to be better people.
Many people have a negative impression of personal development. They may know it better as “self-help”, something for those who are in a terrible place in life. I truly believe it is for everyone. Here are a few reasons why I love personal development.
Growth in knowledge
School was never a source of enjoyment for me. Between bullying, stress and my own struggles with mental health it was never a positive aspect of my life. Even so, the day after I handed in my Masters dissertation and left University I found myself bored. It was bizarre having nothing to do and no deadlines looming. To pass the time I picked up what looked to me like some sort of self-help book.
The book was called How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be. The author spoke in a motivational way about achieving your dreams and living life to the fullest. Just a few pages in, I was hooked. Literally twenty four hours after what I thought was the end of education for me, a whole knew world of information opened up. This was a new sort of learning. It was entirely dependant on my own motivation to absorb it and my own interpretation of what I was reading.
When I gain a new piece of knowledge through personal development I don’t memorise it and store it away somewhere in my brain for later. To me that defeats the entire purpose. Instead I process and utilise it in the moment. Whether I am learning a new behaviour, thought process or skill I look to see what I can do with it right there and then, allowing me to actually develop as a person.
Gaining new skills
Whether it is beneficial to your work, your daily life or simply a hobby you occupy your free time with, gaining new skills is a key aspect of personal development. This doesn’t even have to be a skill in the traditional sense of the word which me might relate to gaining a new qualification. It could simply mean something as straightforward as adopting a better way to clean your house.
If, like myself, you hate cleaning your home just the thought of it can have a negative affect on your mood and motivation. Instead of putting up with this irritation you may look for a new approach, a solution. Breaking the whole process down into smaller cleaning tasks that can be done daily, for example, may make it a little more manageable. In turn, this may make you less stressed and more relaxed in your home on a daily basis.
You become a happier person thanks to gaining a simple new skill and this sort of example is relative to all areas of your life.
Taking time away from daily life
Beyond knowledge and skill, personal development has a third benefit for me. The time I spend reading personal development books is invaluable, but not just for the growth I gain from the pages. It often has an added bonus of allowing me to step away from every day life for a moment.
The quiet time I take to read is, in itself, a reason to love personal development. When I find a book I love I become absorbed in what I’m doing and my brain stops running through all of the other things going on around me. My thoughts slow down and I become entirely focused on my own growth. This peace can of course be achieved with any book, but being able to zone out whilst learning something new is even better in my opinion.
My favourite personal development books:
- How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield – the first book that got me into personal development and pushing for a career and home life that made me happy
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson – my favourite book to date which shares the importance of positive daily habits
- The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris – a brilliant lesson in efficient and effective working