Before diving into personal development, I thought it would be important to define what it entails. Nowadays you hear about personal development everywhere. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses anything that raises your self-awareness, increases your potential, develops your talents and fulfills your dreams and aspirations. It is tied to your personality, your values, your beliefs and identity. It is anything that makes you learn about something, someone or yourself.

Still a big vague? Let’s get into the specifics.

Some of the activities below count towards personal development

  • Attending online or classroom training and workshops on transferable/soft skills (like communication or emotional intelligence, or tools like Excel or coding you will be able to use in a different role)
  • Finding a topic you are passionate about (even if it’s not related to work) and learning about it
  • Signing up to language classes
  • Watching TED Talks, videos of motivational speakers, documentaries
  • Reading non fictional books, not just self-help books but also any other books that will shed light on a topic
  • Browsing through magazines and websites like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The Muse, The Institute of You (I had to) that you can also follow on Facebook or Twitter
  • Asking for constructive feedback from your colleagues but also your partner, friends and family
  • Being open to the feedback you receive when it is not positive and instead of dismissing it, thinking about what you are really going to do about it
  • Defining work and personal goals and creating a plan to get there
  • Practicing meditation
  • Doing yoga
  • Going to therapy to get closure on the past
  • Doing coaching sessions to understand current challenges and how to tackle them
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • A lot more

The importance of mindfulness

Personal development is not just doing these activities, it’s also being aware every step of the way while you do them. By paying attention to present experiences, not only you do get something out of the action you took, but you also understand how you do it, your motivation behind it, how it makes you feel and what it is going to bring to your life. Why is it important? Because you will learn to do it better next time, or in a way that makes you happier and more fulfilled.

Mindfulness helps you see where this building block fits in your big picture in relation to other building blocks you added in the past or that you want to add in the future. It comes with practice so I will share my own experience on how to be more mindful in another post.

Personal development and Career planning

In the workplace, personal development and career planning are so entwined employees and managers tend to confuse them with each other. Career planning is one approach to personal development but it doesn’t fully cover its scope. So how to approach Career planning in the most effective and complete way?

It starts with yourself, not with your others. If you expect your others to identify opportunities for you, they might do so, but it will be limited to what they think would be best for you within your company. But what if they misunderstood what you were interested in? What if your goals or interests changed since your last conversation with them? What if you were not comfortable opening up about your real motivations? Their input wouldn’t be impactful.

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself. Whoever said that first was probably thinking about career planning. If you want to develop new skills or find new opportunities for yourself, no one will do it better than you. And I am not saying this as a Manager. I am saying this as an employee who never ever received better answers about myself than when they came from me.