Get the most out of yourself with personal development
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Willem Jagtman - 01/01/2020

Get the most out of yourself with personal development

So you want to spend time on your personal development. Great idea! But why? And where do you start? You’re probably already working on your personal development every day on a subconscious level. Once you start doing so consciously and once you set some goals, you can make even more progress.

What is personal development?

Personal development is all about the evolution of your identity, your talent, your potential and realizing your dreams. Personal development starts in childhood and continues throughout your life. Examples include building confidence, improving your physical health or developing a talent. You can do so consciously by reading a book on psychology, meditating or practising a skill (such as playing the piano) every day. But you evolve subconsciously too, for example when you have a good conversation with a friend or family member. 

Personal development in Aristotle’s time

Is all this attention for personal development a new trend? Absolutely not. The well-known philosopher Aristotle, who lived in ancient Greece, was thinking about personal development a few centuries BC. He defined it as ‘practical wisdom’. Whoever practised it would reach ‘eudaimonia’, which can be translated as ‘happiness’ but also as ‘the flourishing of man’. And he wasn’t alone: people all around the world have been thinking about people’s individual development for centuries. 

Why you should invest in your personal development

So are we all supposed to buy self help-books and sign up for yoga classes? We’re not going to tell you what to do, but we will say this: if you put time and effort into personal development, you will see results. You will gain insights about yourself and become more self-aware. If you stop to consider your actions, you’ll start to have moments where you think: ‘Oh, that’s why I always do that!’ You’ll become aware of how you automatically deal with certain situations. By reflecting on these occasions, you’ll be able to recognize the situation the next time it happens and choose how you react. Besides, self-awareness goes hand in hand with confidence. Think about it: if you know that you’re good at presenting, you’ll be much more confident talking to a group of people than if you believed you’re terrible at it. By getting to know yourself, you’ll discover what qualities you possess. Once you know, you can use them more accurately and effectively. And that feels great! Self-awareness will help you feel more confident in your own skin. 

The balance between personal development and acceptance

It is important to remember that personal development is a balance between growth and self-acceptance. On the one hand, you want to develop and get the most out of yourself. On the other hand it’s good to know when it’s enough. Sometimes it’s best to accept the current situation as it is, without having to change anything at all. It is therefore important to keep asking yourself what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. 

Working on personal development with goals

Are you ready to build your confidence, evolve and realize your dreams? Then let’s have a look at how to work on personal development! You don’t have to get some kind of expensive coach or read endless self help-books. You can start today with a few simple steps. The focus is goals that will help you with your personal development. 

1. The first step is self-reflection. This is the perfect time to stop and lay a proper foundation for your plan. You’re essentially investigating yourself. What are you good at, what are your skills and abilities? What do you find difficult? What do you enjoy doing? What achievements are you proud of? You can include both your work and your private life. Write down anything that comes to mind, for example in your copy of Chapters. It can also help to ask a close friend or a colleague some questions.

2. Next, you need to pick a topic to focus on. Within this topic, you’re going to set a goal. Goals motivate you to work on personal development. Make sure the goal is concrete; you’ll know what you’re working towards and when you’ve reached it. Examples of concrete goals for personal development are: I want to complete a photography course by the end of the year. Or: I will speak to two clients per week to gain insight into their wishes and expectations. You can use the SMART-method to set concrete and achievable goals. According to this method, a goal needs to be specific (S), measurable (M), acceptable (A), realistic (R) and have a point of termination (T).

3. Your goal has now been set, and you know how you want to grow. Now it’s time for a plan! In a personal development plan you write down what you want to achieve and what steps you will take to achieve it. This plan can be for a week, a few months or multiple years. You should split up a large goal into multiple smaller ones, and write down exactly what actions you will take and when. Make sure to keep the plan realistic and divided into steps, so you can tick off each step as you go. This will help you stay motivated to keep working on your goals for personal development!

Taking the time to develop yourself

Personal development takes time. It would be pretty great if it didn’t; if we could set a goal today that we can reach tomorrow, and immediately feel like a better person. But unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. Take the time to ask yourself questions, to find out what really matters to you, in which areas you want to grow and how you want to achieve that growth. In the chaos of everyday life we sometimes forget to stop and think. Personal development starts with taking the time to ask yourself the right questions. Who knows: you might be much closer to your goal than you think…

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