To answer this question I think I should start by explaining why I chose to pursue personal development, and why I believe that pursuing personal development is one of the most important things you can decide to do in your life.
The idea of personal development never crossed my mind before. In my view, my life wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. My belief of my life was that it was largely out of my direct control. Sure I knew I could do things to change areas of my life but I largely felt that my life was just in the current, proceeding to go wherever the flow took me, for good or bad.
During this time in my life I used to regard “self-help” or personal-development material with contempt. I had classified them in the same category that I put pyramid-schemes, cults and infomercials. I believed that most of the people selling this stuff were just preying on people’s doubts and inadequacies to make a grab for some money.
During this time, I happened to stumble upon an article for setting goals to achieve success. Seeing as I didn’t identify it as “self-help” material I read the article. The claims made in the article amazed me, they opened me up to a new perspective. Perhaps if I applied conscious effort, I could change the things I didn’t like about my life. With the techniques and strategies I might be able to improve myself.
Because of my appreciation of the article I went on to look for a lot more information. I read a lot more information regarding goals, which would eventually sneak me into the field of personal development. Slowly my focus changed. I was dedicated to raising the standards I set for my life. I became dedicated to personal development.
I became dedicated to personal development. I went to focus on gaining courage from the things I fear. I went to create discipline where there was laziness. I went to create learning where there was ignorance. I went to create hope and power where I found weakness and depression.
There was never epiphany. I never had the moment where I absolutely had to change. I have read many of the personal stories of other authors and speakers in the field of personal development. Most of them had a moment where they felt they had hit “rock bottom”. This blow sharply raised their awareness for a brief instant. This increase in awareness gave them the epiphany moment they needed to make huge sweeping changes in their life.
For many of us that epiphany never comes. We never have a moment in our lives where we snap out of our frame of thinking and decide to apply conscious effort to change our lives. We go about our lives never feeling the acute pain we feel we need to take action but instead just learn to put up with the chronic pain of a static, boring, unfulfilled life.
I’m going to tell you right now that you don’t need that moment. You can begin taking steps to incorporate personal development into your life. You don’t have to begin by immediately changing everything in your life. Just take a few steps.
Think of personal development as an investment in yourself. If you put one hundred dollars in the bank each month starting when you are twenty you can be a millionaire when you retire. Personal development works exactly the same way. Investing a small amount of your own time, money and energy into yourself will give its return in terms of more courage, self-discipline and a better life.
But the beauty of personal development is that the interest compounds. Every investment you make increases the rate of your return. Investing in your health increases you more energy that you can apply to your relationships or financial situation. Investing time into improving your financial situation gives you more money to aid in your relationships and fitness. More importantly, each of these investments also gives you more self-discipline, motivation, courage, tools and techniques making improving other areas easier.
What exactly is personal development?
Personal development is the investment into improving yourself. Personal development involves accepting responsibility for your life and taking conscious actions to improve it. Personal development is not a technique or tool to make quick fixes. Personal development is a way of life.
Personal development can take many forms. Personal development can be educating yourself to improve your knowledge. Personal development can be stepping up and facing the things you fear so that you will improve your courage. Personal development can be exercising to increase your fitness. Personal development can even be making yourself more financially independent or improving your relationships with others.
Personal development is more than that though. Personal development is the attitude that you are constantly improving your life. It is the attitude that keeps you from settling down at a life that is below your best.
Personal development does have a cost. Personal development involves a lot of hard work, patience and it often involves some pain. Often the path through personal development can become discouraging. I’m not here to delude you with quick fixes or shallow techniques that yield no substantial results.
I’m not here to talk down to you. I’m not here to pretend like I have “arrived” or that I am a “guru”. I am still learning, improving and growing all of the time. I am simply a fellow traveler with some advice on the trail ahead. You have had many experiences that I did not.
Hopefully the experiences I did have will help you with your own personal growth and development. I expect that a year from now I will probably look back at where I am today and laugh. That is the power of personal development, that you can continuously expand and grow.
How Can I Begin?
Well the first step would be to watch this blog. I’ll try to update it regularly with free content for techniques, tools and concepts I have found helpful in my own life. I will also post more information on the larger projects I am working on towards personal development.
The next step would be to explore! There is a lot of resources dedicated to personal development on the web for free. You can also go to your local library or bookstore and get some written material from other authors, speakers and experts on personal development.