To me, personal development is about investing in yourself. It's spending time alone to think, learn, plan, and reflect. This time is invaluable, and I believe it has been the single most important factor in my life over the past couple years.
Personal development can come in many forms. Nowadays, it seems that there are unlimited resources. Apps, podcasts, books, audiobooks, YouTube videos, documentaries, articles- the list goes on and on. Other forms of personal development- such as meditation, prayer, or just silence in general- don't require any resources at all.
Personal development has enabled me to grow not only as an employee and leader, but as a father and a husband. Through this practice, I have become more mature, focused, and confident. Here's how:
Personal development is how you find out what's really important in your life. It separates your priorities from your distractions. It gives you the mental clarity to determine your goals, and teaches you a way to pursue them.
Most people spend their lives perpetually busy. Scurrying from one place to another, or one task to the next, without really thinking about why.
Why are you doing the things your doing?
One of my favorite quotes comes from the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. Covey states, "If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster." On the surface, it may seem like the completion of your day-to-day tasks moving you forward in life. But if those tasks aren't aligned with your ultimate goal, then what are they really worth? What's their purpose?
Most people don't spend enough time alone to think about these big, heavy questions. But that time is exactly what's needed.
Regularly schedule time to reflect on your past and plan for your future. Create a grand vision and set milestone goals along the way. It will keep you on track and make sure that your daily actions are aligned with your ultimate purpose. It will give you the ability to direct your efforts on those actions that truly matter, and eliminate the rest. This clarity is extremely important for success in all aspects of life.
Confidence and Self-Awareness
Another benefit of personal development is the creation of true self-awareness and confidence. If you can't spend time alone without getting fearful and uneasy, chances are you may not be 100% comfortable with who you are. I know I certainly wasn't.
That probably comes as a shocker to most people, as I'm pretty sure everyone who knows me knows I've never suffered from confidence issues (ha!)- but it's true. When I would listen to podcasts and hear the incredible stories of how people pursued their passions and made incredible careers doing what they love, I got pissed. When I tried to meditate, I got anxious and overwhelmed. It was frustrating.
Now, however, I believe that I have a true sense of who I am, what I stand for, and what I care about. I credit that to personal development.
Spending time alone to think and reflect will solidify your values. It will reveal the concepts that mean the most to you, and teach you how to practice them in daily life. I always admired characteristics like hard work, commitment, loyalty, discipline, and patience, yet I didn't truly know how to apply them. But I learned.
I absorbed the experiences of others, and became so familiar with these concepts that they began presenting themselves in my daily actions. I came to terms with the things I suck at, and recognized where I had the potential to excel. That process is what led to real self-awareness.
Learning from others first-hand has been the most beneficial aspect of my personal development. Just this year, I have been a student to countless entrepreneurs, CEOs, authors, pro athletes, coaches, and Navy SEALs. Their stories, of both success and failure, have given me a blueprint in which to construct my life.
The resources available to us today are so comprehensive that would be crazy not to take advantage of them. With a simple YouTube search we can learn business from Gary Vaynerchuk, leadership from Jocko Willink, and bodybuilding from Arnold Schwarzenegger. One minute I'm listening to Eric Thomas on Lewis Howes' School of Greatness podcast, the next it's Stone Cold Steve Austin on Mark Bell's PowerCast.
The content is so in-depth and detailed. Oh, and most of it is FREE. These are some of the most successful people in the world literally giving away their habits and philosophies. Most likely, there's a man or woman out there who has already done exactly what you want to do. Study them. Follow their habits. Learn from their mistakes so that you don't make the same ones yourself.
Personal development is an ongoing journey, and it's never too late to start. The impact that it's had on my life is so profound and overwhelming. I want you to experience it too.
Next time you're driving to work turn off the radio and put on an educational podcast.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier and meditate.
Grab a new book and read it during your lunch break.
These things have really worked for me, and I know they'll really work for you too.