Personal Development: Definition, Skills, and Plan
Want to learn new skills and develop yourself? Personal development can help you to reach your goals and improve your life. Here's exactly how to get started.
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What is Personal Development?
Personal development can be any skill that you want to develop to improve yourself. But it doesn't really matter which skills you want to improve, the key to personal development is taking the right steps — steps that help ensure that you reach whatever goal you are pursuing.
You can learn a bit more about what personal development is from the video below:
As I mentioned, personal development is all about taking the right steps. Read on to discover these steps.
1. Take the Well-Being Quiz to Test Your Skills
Not sure what skills you should build to improve yourself? Take this well-being quiz to get a better sense of your skills and where you are now.
2. Develop a Growth Mindset
I was painfully shy growing up – the kind of child who hid behind her mom’s legs when strangers were around. I hated even raising my hand in class let alone presenting in front of the whole room. So in college, when I gave my first presentation, my hands were visibly shaking, my heart on fire, and my voice squeaky. Ya, I totally sucked. But I believed I could get better, so I kept at it. Each time I presented, I did get better, even if just a tiny bit. Despite still being that quiet introvert who gets nervous in front of an audience, after a few years I ended up being decent enough at public speaking.
How did this happen? I believed I could improve so I kept trying to improve.
The belief that you can grow and improve, often referred to as growth mindset, has a surprisingly big impact on your ability to reach your goals. The more you believe that you can improve a skill, the more likely it is that you actually will improve.
And you know what’s really neat? This belief also applies to happiness skills. Believing that you can build happiness makes it more likely that you will.
How come? Well, it’s if you believe happiness is possible for you then it suddenly seems totally worth the effort and you start working your butt off to get it. This is why building a growth mindset is such an important step in your happiness journey.
3. Create a Personal Development Plan
A good personal development plan takes all these factors into consideration — the WHAT, the HOW, the WHY, and the WHEN.
This article goes into depth about how to develop a personal development plan specifically to increase your happiness.
Here's a Video on How to Create Your Personal Development Plan
4. Identify Your Values
We sometimes go through life without paying much attention. We just move from one thing to the next without considering whether our actions reflect our core values. But when we go through life without following our personal values, we can lose ourselves and our path. We may suddenly "wake up" and realize that we are not who w want to be. This is why it's so important to stay in alignment with our personal values.
What are your values? Perhaps: kindness, curiosity, creativity, hard work, or personal relationships. There are tons of values you may hold. Defining yours is key to living those values.
By identifying our personal values, we can begin to design a life that is in better alignment our true self. Keep in mind that values are different for everyone—you are the only one who can identify your personal values.
5. Define Success, in Your Own Words
Our internal scripts read like, “the American dream”, “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”, and “If you work hard, you can achieve anything”. These scripts have driven us to aim for power, prestige, and profit – goals that may not fit our definition of success.
It's important to remember that: To get where we want to go we have to know where we want to go. External pressures lead many of us end up pursuing the wrong goals — perhaps we aim to climb the career ladder, make more money, or create the perfect family. Then, once we get what we thought we wanted, we realize it doesn't make us happy.
This is why it's so important to think critically about what our goals are and whether the steps we are taking are actually leading to the goals that would make us happy.
Here's a Video on How to Be the Best Version of Yourself
6. Re-evaluate Your Personal Development Plan
When we regularly look at our personal development plans, we can see if we are on the right track.
Sometimes we realize that we've been running in place — pushing ourselves hard but not really getting anywhere. This is when we need to evaluate the approach we've been taking. Are we going about this in the wrong way? What could we do differently to be more effective?
Other times, we realize we've made a lot of progress, but in the wrong direction. Perhaps we have the job or the relationship or the home we've always wanted, but we don't feel any better or more satisfied with our lives. This is when we need to evaluate what we've been putting our time into and make some real changes.
7. Record Your Progress Towards Personal Development
Keeping track of our progress towards our personal development goals is key to understanding how we're doing. Which skills are we building easily or which areas of our life are improving and which need more work?
By frequently checking in on progress, we can see where we need to devote more attention. As a result, we can make better progress towards our goals.
8. Get Some Help Developing Yourself
Implementing all the steps here can help you along on your personal development journey. But, it's not always easy to figure out what to do and how to do it.
To develop the skills that lead to happiness and well-being, our Happiness Program can help guide you. Check it out HERE.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.