As humans, having a purpose in life is essential for happiness. Without meaningful intentions, life can become less focused and restless. In truth, life’s focus can come in different ways; however, many people find purpose in their careers.
Unsurprisingly, jobs are essential for a sense of purpose since they provide objectives to work towards daily and a salary for financial support. Most jobs also have requirements that professionals must meet to ensure success. Needless to say, there is an underlying connection between purpose, career success, and happiness.
For instance, in entrepreneurship, some proven strategies can guarantee success, from a well-developed business plan to a solid network of business connections. However, aside from these approaches, one critical feature is just as important – personal development.
The term “personal development” is often used loosely, especially in a professional sense, yet not everyone quite understands what it entails. Personal development goes beyond improving personal aspects of our lives; so we will be looking deeper into why it’s just as crucial for a professional as enhancing their job skills.
What is Personal Development?
Personal development is a lifelong process that includes how people review their skills and qualities and evaluate their aims and objectives in life in line with maximizing their potential. A significant part of our lives as adults is determined by early life development and experiences in different settings such as family and school. Nonetheless, developments and experiences early in life are inadequate to traverse the challenges of adulthood.
Personal development is a robust process that can enable positive and lasting change in how we see ourselves and the world. Self-help is a significant concept within personal development; however, it can be difficult to define. It is an ongoing journey of self-awareness, reflection, and action. It helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can manage them more effectively. It also involves setting goals and taking steps to achieve them.
Areas of Personal Development
The concept of personal development is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – a theory that suggests that all individuals have a built-in need for personal development, which occurs through a process called self-actualization.
The theory suggests that each human’s development rate depends on specific needs, which could change at different phases of life. With this, a hierarchy of needs is formed, including physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, and self-actualization.
The needs present in Maslow’s hierarchy are a significant determinant in the areas of personal development. Experts have outlined five areas into which personal growth can fall:
Mental exercise is essential for personal development. Throughout life, cognitive development can occur in different ways, from coaching to learning opportunities and purposely for career growth. In truth, even basic activities such as rest can help you improve mentally, ensuring resiliency, innovation, and self-awareness.
This area focuses on social connections and relationships, which are crucial for personal development. By default, we are social beings as humans, and there is always the need to create and maintain a social connection for growth. Social interaction also helps develop skills that are essential for most needs in Maslow’s hierarchy.
The spiritual aspect of personal development has very little to do with religion. Spirituality, in this context, refers to a level of devotion to understanding yourself and the world around you. The spiritual aspect leads to self-awareness and changes through a better understanding of yourself, your skills, and your values.
Emotional development goes together with emotional intelligence. It features a person’s ability to acknowledge emotions and how they impact thoughts and actions. For most people, emotional development takes place through numerous experiences. Developing this area requires you to put yourself out there in order to gain relevant experience.
The physical aspect represents the final area of personal development. The benefits of a healthy body and its mental and emotional impacts cannot be ignored. This area focuses on physical health, incorporating activities such as healthy eating, rest, exercise, and movement.
Importance of Personal Development
As a professional, personal development can be just as critical to your career as job skills. Personal development helps in creating strategic plans for personal and professional growth. Professionals that infuse personal development activities into their daily routine have highlighted it as an effective way to achieve goals, advance in their career, improve skills and find fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction. There are numerous benefits of personal development to a professional, a few of which are highlighted below:
1. Ensures Motivation
It’s never an easy task to stay motivated in your professional and personal life. While this comes naturally to some people due to their early life development, those that find it hard to stay motivated can improve through personal development. Creating a list of achievable goals can help motivate you more. Even professionals that are better at staying motivated still need to refer to their personal development goals to remain on track.
Different factors help professionals stay focused and fulfilled with their jobs in an organizational setting, including personal development goals. This allows them to contribute significantly to an organization that values their input.
2. Improves on Existing Skills
It’s one thing to develop a skill; however, it’s an entirely different proposition to evaluate those skills and decide to improve them. The world is dynamic, and things change daily, so the most in-demand skill today might be replaced by something better tomorrow. This makes it important to improve your existing skills to remain relevant in the labor market.
Personal development creates an opportunity to achieve this. It’s common for people to focus on any area of personal development in refining their current skills and talents, even if it means failing during the process. Ultimately, failure is a critical part of learning, and such scenarios should be embraced and used as a driving force for better development.
3. Reduces Staff Turnovers
From a business viewpoint, personal development is an effective strategy for keeping employees happy and loyal to an organization. This is especially true when the organization’s management is equally committed and encourages personal development.
Earlier, we established the link between career success, purpose, and happiness. Creating achievable goals gives professionals purpose and achieving these goals results in career success and fulfillment. In summary, job fulfillment is the key to retention. All possible steps should be taken to ensure employee fulfillment.
4. Improves Self-Awareness
Another crucial importance of personal development is its ability to help professionals reflect on who they are. In balancing a personal and professional life, it’s easy for a professional to get caught up in the whole routine without having time to assess themselves.
Thankfully, through personal development, people can reflect on themselves, identify their strengths and weaknesses and find happiness in their own lives. Various surveys suggest that about 50% of people hate their jobs, so it’s crucial to have a life outside of work to find happiness. Self-awareness helps with this and can generate a more tangible level of joy.
5. Provides Purpose and a Sense of Direction
We have talked about the importance of purpose to humans, as many things depend on how purposeful our lives feel. The decision to switch careers, engage in an advanced degree, or even relocate to a new city revolves around life’s direction. So, we all need to have a sense of direction at different phases of our lives.
As a result of self-awareness, making decisions that impact your life becomes much easier. This is due to a renewed purpose and sense of direction that accompanies personal development. This allows professionals to focus their time and energy on beneficial activities rather than burdening themselves searching for a purpose.
6. Improves Creativity
Creativity connects to numerous skills, which makes it a high-demand requirement in the labor market. Creative professionals can think outside the box and develop novel solutions to any challenge. Naturally, creative people are better innovators and problem solvers.
While most people employ different strategies to become more creative, a lack of creativity can also be caused by mental blocks and emotional barriers, both of which are personal development areas. Having an open mind helps reduce the pressure, ensuring you are much more relaxed about being creative.
7. Improves Resilience
Adulthood is not always as fun as it seemed to be when growing up. Challenges are a significant component of our lives, and those that have embraced them have a stronger mindset to navigate different situations successfully. However, not everyone has a well-rounded ability to face complex challenges.
Personal development can also focus on training a person to practice resilience in their professional and personal lives. No one can completely avoid challenges; however, your ability to face these challenges determines how well you recover. Personal development can provide the relevant skills needed to traverse hard times.
Self-confidence is the key to success, especially in achieving higher productivity levels in the workplace. This is most evident in careers that requires constant interaction with clients, colleagues and stakeholders.
Professionals concentrating on personal development can develop increased confidence in their professional and personal lives. Other benefits of personal development, including resilience, creativity and self-awareness, ensure a person becomes more confident in carrying out their occupational responsibilities.
Managing Personal Development
Most people never think about managing their personal development. It’s something that just happens as they grow older and gain experience, but what if you could take control of your own development, and make it work for you? What if you could choose the areas in which you wanted to improve? Here are some ways to manage and pursue personal development:
1. Identify Areas of Development
The first step in personal development is identifying areas where you are deficient and developing goals to address those areas. For many people, having a purpose and plan for doing something is the primary form of motivation.
You should develop a personal vision that represents a clear plan of where you are now, where you wish to be within a particular timeframe and why you should pursue this change.
2. Create a Plan
Having identified specific areas that need development, the next step is to create a personal development plan. While this step is not required, it does offer more realism and commitment to the development planning process.
An effective strategy for this is to create a SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is a framework that highlights a person’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By employing this framework, a person can accurately identify areas of improvement and work towards addressing them.
3. Begin the Improvement Process
The improvement process can begin as soon as the deficient areas have been identified. There are numerous ways for people to improve themselves. Some people learn from direct experience, which is most evident in emotional-related development. It is also possible to learn informally through processes such as mentoring, shadowing, or reading.
Formal learning opportunities are another vital learning process in which professionals develop with the assistance of an educational institution. A wide range of formal courses and online MBA programs are available, at places like Kettering University Online, to help professionals improve their careers.
For business professionals seeking to improve their knowledge in the field, they offer an online Master of Business Administration program. The online MBA program helps professionals gain confidence in making quality managerial decisions with finance, marketing, accounting, and management skills. This learning process can help professionals develop and explore career growth opportunities.
4. Document your Personal Development
It’s a good idea to keep a record of your personal development. As learning occurs, documenting significant aspects of your personal development is an excellent way to track your progress periodically. Reflecting on your progress is also an effective way to motivate yourself to continue the learning and development process.
5. Reviewing Development
Change is inevitable, and if Maslow’s theory is anything to go by, then personal development should also be adjusted with every change in our needs. So, it’s essential to reflect on your growth and consider what you have learned and how relevant it is to your current needs.
Regularly reviewing personal development goals helps you identify failures, learn from them and identify goals that might need revisiting. Additionally, it also ensures that your goals and visions are on an upward trajectory.
A lot has been said about the importance of skills in a career. Yet, people who ignore their personal development fail regardless of their competence. Personal development should not be overlooked, as it can be just as important as the technical skills required to perform your job.