According to Wikipedia.com, “personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” To me, it means to be able to react to negative changes to and generate positive changes within one’s life through the development of more knowledge, talents and abilities to ensure a prosperous future. That sounds complicated, but it’s really not. It also doesn’t sound simple either, because it is not.
Why Is Personal Development So Important?
If you are content with everything you have in your life, and you are as a leaf floating down the proverbial stream of life, then personal development isn’t important to you. The problem is when change comes along. Your job gets eliminated, someone totals your car (and you’re broke), your industry goes out of business, or a vast economic restructuring (like a recession) takes place. If you are constantly learning about yourself, your environment, and your potential, then you can shrug off these changes as just that, changes. If you are not constantly learning about personal development, then these events are not small changes, but they can be devastating. They can be so devastating that you tend to take on victimhood as your modus operandum. “Learned helplessness” sets in and you are out of the game of life…until you change your mind.
When I started my first business, nothing went right. I failed because my education and experience was in nuclear power plant operation and nuclear-powered submarines. It would have worked great, but I wasn’t in the Navy anymore. I had to learn new things to be effective in business. Now that the Information Age has arrived, my life is now a continual learning experience because I constantly want to improve my results.
One extreme of personal development would be to quit your job and go back to college, get your Bachelor’s, your Master’s, or your Doctorate. Then, you can get a new, potentially higher paying job. This is extremely expensive and is not an option if you have to keep a roof over your head too. If your main goal is financial freedom, getting a new job is the exact opposite. Another option is to visit your local bookstore like Amazon.com (where I get all my books from), and search titles that can help you achieve your personal goals, like marketing, social media, business management, sales, psychology, investing, etc.
Why is Personal Development So Difficult?
Because doing something like read a book for half an hour a day is easy to do. It is SO easy that it is easy not to do. Since the benefits of personal development may take years to realize, going out with your friends instead of reading for half an hour a day can be more attractive. Going out with friends is so fun that you can put it off for another day, and another day, and another day until you forgot why you were reading that book anyway. The process of personal development stops and so does your control over your life.
Personal development is a topic which caught my attention from the beginning of my business career. It was a mystery to me early in my business career because no one ever talked about it. I entered the business world with the belief that everyone wanted to get rich, to make more money, or to reach their personal potential. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The truth of the matter is that everyone wants you to act just like them. What matters is the “who” with whom you are spending the majority of your time. For example, if you are a cashier at the grocery store and you spend the majority of your time with other cashiers at the grocery store, then they will exert a psychological force on you to remain where you are. If you are a cashier at the grocery store, but you started your own business on the side, then the other cashiers will start to repel you. That’s human nature. You will also need to learn more about how to start and operate a business. This is a good example of what personal development is.
When should you get started?
I got started on personal development as soon as I realized how it could affect how my life turns out. If you are just starting out in life, the first thing you should do is turn off the TV. All the news is biased, one way or another. Press releases dominate the news today, even government-initiated press releases. Some great authors with whom to get acquainted are Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Napoleon Hill, Anthony (or Tony) Robbins, and Zig Ziglar. Some more authors to read are Tom Peters, Steve Farber, Alan Weiss, and Robert Greene. Depending on your interests and your goals, there is a lot of reading that you can do to help you get where you want to go. I would recommend getting started as soon as possible. After all, your life DOES depend on it!