Are you investing into your personal development?

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Josh

Date

As much as it's important to get ahead in life, it's just as crucial to get ahead in your personal development. Chasing your career goals should obviously takes precedence, but not unless you are also providing sufficient time to take stock of yourself. Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising enough? Are you reading enough?

Personal development is key to understanding yourself authentically. It allows you to delve deeper into your understanding of yourself and uncover hidden strengths you never knew you had. It’s also about accepting the weaknesses and personal defects that are holding you back in life.

Not only does developing yourself help your mental health, but it also improves your outlook on your work life as well as your relationship with your peers.

There are several ways in which you can invest in your personal development, from exercise to yoga and reading to meditating. This article will highlight some of the main ways you can carry out personal growth and explain how they directly link to life improvements.


Defining Personal Development

Personal development is the act of making changes to yourself with the ultimate goal of reaching self-actualisation and inner peace. When we say personal development, we mean developing ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and mentally. We develop these through routine - through regular acts of exercising, reading, socialising, and so on.

Although the term ‘personal development’ is often applied in a career prospects context, in this article, we’ll be discussing it purely in a self-improvement sense. Personal development is the act of bettering yourself, and more specifically, your mental and physical wellbeing. It's about giving yourself enough time to unwind, tune out, and disconnect, and filling the free time gained with self-improving activity.


The amount of activity that can be defined as ‘personal development’ is broad. Plus, everyone is different, and so the concept of personal development will likely be defined differently depending on who you ask. However, personal development can be broadly categorised as follows: physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual.


Why Personal Development is Important

The working world is unhealthy for us spiritually. It eats away our self-motivation. It also limits the time we have to actually implement the shrunken energy we have left to pursue hobbies, explore ourselves spiritually, or try any other kind of personal development activity.

With the time and energy we have left to ourselves, it is far more appealing to turn to social media, streaming platforms, and, for some of us, alcohol to feel a sense of reward for the work we are doing.

This is an unhealthy rut to get into and one that doesn’t offer any long-term pay-off - only short term gratification. Although, it is one that many of us become stuck in. And, with work sometimes feeling endless, it’s one that some cannot get out of.

The day-in, day-out aspect of full-time work also obscures our sight of the end goal. With no time to take stock and reflect, self-actualisation cannot be established, and we lose our sense of purpose.

Not only does this lead many down an anxious, existential, and mentally unhealthy path, but it also weakens our ability to perform our jobs. If we become disengaged with ourselves, we also become disinterested in the tasks we’re expected to perform, which puts our career prospects at risk.


The Pandemic and Personal Development

Arguably, one good thing (for a lot of people) about the numerous Covid-19 lockdowns was the amount of time they allowed for introspection and reflection.

For many, a lot of good habits were formed during this time, as more people turned to yoga classes, fitness routines, and other hobbies to initially bring some structure to their lives. This structure-building quickly turned into a habit once individuals realised how much they were getting from these activities.

Hopefully, a lot of people were able to maintain these habits. But, as the world slowly progresses back into a somewhat semblance of pre-covid life, people have had less time to carry out personal development activities.


Types of Personal Development

In this section, we’ll go over the 5 main subcategories of personal development and link relevant activities.


Physical

Physical personal development isn’t just about picking up regular exercise (although fitness plays a huge role in it); it is more about finding ways of improving your overall body health.

Body health starts with perfecting eating and sleeping habits.


Sleeping

Specifically, rest is the foundation of a day spent both working and performing a recreational activity. If you don’t get sufficient sleep at night, not only will your work suffer, but you’ll also likely be too tired to exercise, read, or meditate when you get home.

To have enough energy to live a balanced lifestyle of work and personal development, you need a healthy sleep of 7 to 9 hours per night. This may seem like an impossibility to some, but once you get in the habit of filling your evenings with other personal development activities, you’ll likely be able to get to sleep much easier.

Other good habits to take on include going to bed at the same time each night, reducing your screen time in the evening (and avoiding looking at your phone before bed), practising a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, and avoiding coffee and alcohol consumption before bed.

You could also invest in a fitness tracker such as Whoop, that gives you accurate insights into both your daily activities and your sleeping pattern. These straps not only inform you of how well you’ve slept but can also determine how much rest you need to recover from a workout.

With a fitness tracker like Whoop handy, your strive to attain sufficient rest becomes greater - it can encourage you to go to bed earlier to establish a sleeping routine.

Eating

Eating well and implementing regular meal and snack times are vital to keeping your brain switched on when you need it to be. Again, like sleep, your diet impacts your ability to perform tasks. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can improve mental health, as well as aid with memory and concentration.


Eating three meals per day keeps your energy levels balanced and ensures that you’re capable of performing both work and personal development tasks.

Like sleeping, eating well in itself is a personal development task, as you are making yourself simply more capable as a human being.

You could also increase your nutrient intake by consuming supplements like Earths Secret. These tablets are packed full of antioxidants and natural ingredients and promise to improve your overall focus while alleviating your anxiety and stress.

Exercising

You should take full advantage of the energy boost afforded by a steady eating and sleeping routine to better yourself physically. With more stamina to burn, you can focus on exceeding personal bests by visiting the gym more regularly, trying out new sports, or investing in a personal trainer. With sufficient sleep attained, you’ll be more incentivised to visit the gym after work.

Plus, exercising is a good way to split up your working day, and the endorphins gained may encourage you to carry out more self-development tasks in the evening.

These endorphins are the feel-good neurotransmitters that create that sense of euphoria we experience after we exercise. Not only do they give us a positive buzz, but they can also offer mental clarity and help alleviate concerns or anxieties that we’re facing. They can unburden us from the pressures of our jobs and allow us to have more lucid thoughts regarding our careers and the path on which we are headed. In other words, exercise can steady our mental health.

Exercising is arguably the purest form of self-development, as the signs of progression are more tangible. Not only can you feel yourself becoming more capable of completing reps, but you can also feel muscles growing and your body shape changing, which also has a hugely positive impact on your mental health and self-esteem.

Mental

Developing your mental strength is arguably the most important component of personal development, as you need to be strong-willed to exercise, do yoga, and, for some, simply go to work each day.

For many, mental health difficulties develop from an inability to switch off from work, their phones, or the outside world in general. They return from work, unable to stop thinking about it, and attempt to drown their problems in social media and Netflix.

Instead of relying on the internet to provide activity, there are several recreational activities you could be doing in your spare time that help you clear your brain fog and provide you with more in terms of personal development.

Meditation

Committing to a meditation session per day could really help clear the anxieties you have in both your work and your personal life and help you gain greater lucidity on yourself and your current state in the world. A key component of meditation is to gain new perspectives, which, in turn, lessens the power bad thoughts have in our minds.

Suppose there’s a singular anxiety or fear that’s currently present in your life that’s impacting your ability to perform at work or causing issues with your social life. In that case, meditation could be the key to resolving the issue.

Meditation is the best solution for brain fog and is one of the easiest forms of personal development you can carry out. A meditation as short as 10 minutes can work to improve your outlook on life, as long as you commit to it daily. Of course, longer meditation time is encouraged, but if you’re feeling tired from work, this may not always be possible. If done properly, it can fit easily into your work schedule and other commitments.

Reading

Regardless of what type of book you are reading, books can give you unlimited self-development power. At a glance, books can help strengthen your knowledge, empathy, cognitive functions, creative capabilities, and so much more.

Like meditation, reading can provide perspective on life and is a certified de-stressor. For one, getting lost in a novel can be an incredibly relaxing practice and one that takes little effort on your part. Furthermore, getting lost in a book - particularly a fictional one - can lead you into a totally different world, leaving your life stress far behind.

One of the best aspects of reading fiction is developing empathy for the characters you read about. If you’re currently feeling lost in the world, you can gain great comfort from relating to a character, regardless of whether they’re real or not. Good authors make a point of condensing complex philosophical issues into simple prose, which can help you better understand the problems you are facing in real life - and even how to overcome them!

Following the wild creativity of fiction authors can help you think more outside-of-the-box in real life. If your line of work requires you to think creatively, then reading prolifically can be your key to becoming the chief innovator for your company. By committing yourself to 20-30 pages per evening and immersing yourself in the narrative, you’re exercising your brain as you would a muscle area in the gym.

Lastly, all types of books can expand your cognitive function, your vocabulary, your understanding of language, and so on.

Nootropic Supplements

As we’ve stated, finding the motivation to work on personal development after completing a shift can be tricky. Not only do you lack energy, but you may also lack focus, which is needed to make your personal development sessions worthwhile. There’s no point staring at a book if you’re not focused enough to get anything from it.

This is where nootropic supplements come in handy. They basically work as brain function boosters that you can take before doing something recreational. There’s a wide range of nootropic supplement types to choose from, including phosphatidylserine, ginkgo biloba, fish oil, and creatine.

Surmising the benefits of the supplements, Amira Guirguis, senior lecturer in Pharmacy at Swansea University, states that “Nootropics work on improving cognition, memory, alertness, concentration, creativity, and attention."

Spiritual

Taking the time to get introspective and establish a spiritual outlook on life will change how you approach situations, whether inside or outside of work, for the better. Defining spirituality can be difficult, as it could apply to practising religion, meditation, or several other practices that reframe our understanding of the world.

The advantages of practising a form of spirituality include:

Understanding Ourselves

Spirituality, in a personal growth sense, means looking for a deeper meaning in yourself, the people around you, and events that occur to you. It means taking the time to discover your inner purpose, and understand that setbacks that befall you are things you must overcome in attaining this goal.

It means knowing who you are and the powers you have; what you can control and what you can’t control. Without spirituality, it can be easy to feel deeply frustrated over circumstances we have no control over. Practising spirituality allows us to let go of the unchangeable to focus only on what's within our field of influence.

Focusing solely on the present, and the changes we can make within it, allows us to progress towards our goals faster.

Dealing with change

Knowing that every event has meaning allows you to accept change with positivity rather than unease. Change can be daunting as it means changing our routine and feeling uncertain about the future.

For those who practice spirituality, the practice becomes the regularity - meditating once a day brings rhythm to their otherwise chaotic lives. Spirituality helps them feel grounded and easily adjustable to the changing situations around them.

Overcoming setbacks

Spirituality can help individuals feel secure in the face of setbacks and failures. It allows us to accept them as part of the work-in-progress, which will naturally have high points and low points.

From a spiritualist outlook, setbacks are generally seen as learning curves. No matter how damaging a failure may be to the progress of their career, spirituality allows them to remain optimistic when the odds are seemingly against them and express gratitude rather than regret over negative events that occur.

Emotional

Working on your emotions in your personal time can really help you make sense of their unpredictability in your social or work life. Although our feelings can be unpredictable, taking time to recognise certain patterns in our emotions, identifying potential causes, and working on ways to better channel them, could help us control them more effectively.

Anxieties, stress, interpersonal relations, and a lot more can be improved upon by self-evaluating. This can be done by several means, but mainly through journaling and counselling.

Journalling

First and foremost, a journal is a reliable place for you to vent. If you’ve got a lot of pent-up anger at the end of a particularly tasking day, a journal can act as an effective release. Instead of taking your anger out on someone, you could take your frustrations out on your journal.

Journaling demands that you logically think about your emotions. It can help bring structure to your otherwise chaotic and confusing emotional spectrum. It can help you identify certain emotional patterns, which can lead you to the root cause of your anger.

Fears, concerns, and anxieties may not be particularly comprehensible when kept in your head. Detailing these feelings in a diary can help you better understand them, categorise them, and identify how to solve them.

Plus, by keeping a track record, you have a point of reference for when you go through something similar in the future.

By keeping a record of all the times you felt a certain way, you can begin to identify behavioural patterns and better understand what’s good for you and what you should avoid.

Counselling

Attending counselling sessions can help you feel more engaged with the world around you, as a counsellor can illuminate what you don’t know about yourself. Like keeping a diary, a counsellor is a good place for you to vent. Except, unlike a diary, a counsellor goes a step further by providing a practical solution to your issues.

They can help you unravel the complex emotional struggles you are facing and be a guiding hand to get to the root of the issue.

A counsellor is effectively a trained self-development expert who is very in touch with their own strengths and weaknesses. They know how to make you feel comfortable and elicit the right responses from you, unveiling certain strengths and weaknesses you never knew you had.

Counselling is particularly worth considering if you’re feeling lost or unmotivated, as a trained counsellor can guide you back on track and get you feeling motivated about the future.

Social

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, as human beings we thrive on social connections.

In terms of personal development, we learn a lot about ourselves through how people interact with us. Plus, good social connections make us feel happy, depreciate our anxieties around social situations, and make us more willing to vocalise our true thoughts and feelings with other people.

Most importantly, being around others helps us to control feelings of loneliness.

There are numerous ways in which being social can help your personal growth, including:

Active Listening

Conversing with new people as regularly as possible helps fine-tune your ears and keep them alert. In a social situation, you can’t doze off - you have to listen to what the other person is saying to keep the conversation going.

Socialising, therefore, trains your ears to stay alert and your brain switched on to the topic at hand. This kind of training is massively helpful in a work setting, as, for example, it allows you to contribute during meetings meaningfully.

Communication skills

Regularly conversing in person with others, specifically about a broad range of topics, helps establish strong communication skills that can be useful in a work setting. If you work independently, you need to know how to effectively communicate as clearly as possible.

Being able to properly articulate yourself socially will help you get your points across clearly in a work environment.

Relationship-building

For you to be flexible and productive in a work context, you’ve got to be comfortable conversing and interacting with people you wouldn’t normally outside of the office setting.
Maintaining a broad and mixed social life counts as personal development as it better prepares you for better interpersonal relations at work.

The Ability to Give and Recieve Feedback

Knowing how to listen to give feedback as well as receive it are great life skills to master, and you can learn them naturally through social connections.

Regularly listening to how our peers respond to our thoughts helps give us a sense of both how well we communicate them and the quality of our ideas. This is good in a creative sense, as it teaches you how to bounce ideas off someone else in formulating a concept or strategy.


How Personal Development Directly Correlations With Aspects of Your Life

The main reason to work on personal development is to improve your mental health, but there are plenty of other advantages of taking time out to work on yourself.

Namely, personal development directly correlates with improvements in your work, relationships, and knowledge.

Work

By practising self-development, you are becoming more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses and can therefore channel your energy more effectively. Without self-development, you can waste time working towards something you simply do not have the necessary strengths to achieve. This can lead to frustration and diminished self-confidence.

With self-development, you can work only on what you know you’re good at, boosting your productivity and ultimately leading to greater confidence in your profession.

On the other hand, knowing your weaknesses is also beneficial as it shows you what you need to work on.

Also, being more in tune with your thoughts and feelings could help you communicate and converse more productively with your co-workers. Having the ability to articulate your ideas and communicate them in a comprehensible way could save you time.

Overall, self-development can help you approach work in a more creative and open-minded way.

Relationships

Being in tune with yourself and mentally strong allows you to better overcome disputes and disagreements in relationships. Committing to self-improvement means being more aware of areas where you fall short and accepting what you might be doing wrong in a relationship. Self-development lets you know of areas of your character that need to be worked on to maintain healthier relationships.

Relationships can also be improved by the inner stability that self-development brings. Being a reliable character and having a steady personality makes you more attractive to others. Coming across as unsure of yourself or shaky can leave a negative impression on others.

Lastly, people like authenticity, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than through accepting your faults. If you are persistently trying to act like someone you are not, this will radiate inauthenticity to others and lessen the strength of your relationships. The foundation of good connections is honesty, which can be attained through personal development.


Final Thoughts

As your career develops, your hours increase, and your responsibilities widen, you are unlikely to consider the mental and physical implications that your increasingly complicated job role brings - which is why you need to make time for personal development.

Personal development helps clear away brain fog, understand and accept the way things are, and get in tune with your authentic self. By dedicating your spare time to working on yourself, your perception of the outer world will improve. You will have a clearer grasp of the meaning of the challenges you encounter and how everything plays a part in the attainment of your ultimate goal.


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