Life is going pretty well for you. You've got a decent job or business, you have a loving family, you're in pretty good shape, and for the most part, you're happy. You wake up each morning grateful for what you have and looking forward to the day ahead of you, and you go to bed feeling like you've accomplished something good.
Yet you still feel as if there's something missing from your life. While your career is going well, you've always felt like you were meant to achieve great things in this world, and you don't feel like you've done it yet. You've got a domestic fulfillment, but you sometimes feel like you don't fully understand them, and you desire a deeper bond and a stronger relationship. And even though you spend a few hours here and there working out, you're definitely not where you want to be.
It's very possible to be grateful for the good life you've got now while still yearning for an even better life. In fact, that constant desire to improve rather than getting bogged down in your comfort zone... that's what will enable you to live your best life.
How Can I Improve My Personal Development?
The term "personal development" gets kicked around quite a bit, but the biggest misunderstanding around the concept is that it's something you engage in for a set amount of time. You "work" at getting better, and then all of a sudden... you're done!
Personal development is a life-long process of uncovering your true (and best) self and applying yourself in the world. And depending on the individual person, it can encompass many different strategies and techniques.
Before we discuss some different ideas on how to improve yourself, there are a few steps that you need to address at the beginning of your personal development journey. Ask yourself the following questions (and be honest!):
- Where are you now in your life? This can mean in your personal or professional relationships, your career, your physical fitness, emotional state, or even your spiritual beliefs.
- Where do you want to be? You may not have specific goals in mind just yet, but it's important to have a general idea of how you'd like to spend the rest of your life and who you'd like to be.
- What are your strengths? Everyone excels in something, and knowing your strengths will help you better apply them.
- What are your weaknesses? Yes, everyone has these too, and knowing yours will help you better overcome them.
- Why do you want to improve? Having a strong "Why" will allow you to overcome the challenges you'll face on your journey.
Once you understand where you're currently at and where you'd like to go, you can begin to incorporate the following tips into your life.
Personal Development Tips to Help You Find Your Best Self
There are many ways that you can embark on a personal development journey and begin to live life as your best self. Keep in mind that you may not be drawn to every one of these tips, and that's okay. Everyone is different, and your journey (and your timeline) will be unique to you. Comparing yourself to others is the kiss of death for personal development. You will progress in your own way and your own time. Trust the process and enjoy the ride.
1. Wake Up Early
You have to wake up, right? You have to get to work, get the kids off to school, or do whatever else it is during the day that keeps a roof over your head. You don't have a choice about whether or not to wake up. But you do have a choice about how you wake up.
- Hit the Snooze bar 15 times, drag your butt out of bed with just enough time to brush your teeth and throw kibble in the dog's bowl before dashing across town to work. You arrive looking windblown, missing an essential part of your wardrobe, and have to guzzle coffee so you don't fall asleep in the morning meeting.
- You can wake up an hour or two before you have to, engage in a morning ritual (we'll talk about options in a moment), set intentions for the day, and then leisurely commute to work where you'll arrive refreshed and ready to face whatever comes your way
Which option will lead to a better day?
2. Incorporate Meditation
Meditation offers a wonderful way to clear your mind, provide space for thoughts and solutions to come to you, and enter the day in a peaceful and focused state. A 15-20 minute meditation done first thing in the morning can help you set an intention for the day and be present for your family, coworkers, and yourself.
3. Read, Read, Read
In order to reach our best selves, we must continually be learning. Create a list of topics and books you'd like to dive into. Fiction is good for temporary escapes; however, for actual personal development, you'll want to focus on nonfiction works that help expand your mind, your knowledge bank, and your skillset.
4. Look for Mentors
People on a personal development journey understand the need to give and receive help from a mentor. Mentors at work, in civic organizations, and as professional coaches will guide you through the process of personal development. Find someone who is a few steps ahead of you and who embodies the characteristics you admire. Choose a mentor who is in a position (whether career-wise, social, or physical) that you'd like to be.
5. Hit the Gym
Without our health, we have nothing. You may be incredibly successful, passionate about what you do, and surrounded by loved ones. If you aren't taking care of yourself physically, none of that will matter in the long run.
Carve out time to hit the gym, run, take a dance class, hike, or do any other physical activity that appeals to you. With 30 minutes of physical activity 3-4 days a week, you'll begin to see a difference in how you look and how you feel. Eating a healthy diet is also essential for a healthy body and mind.
6. Create a Vision Board
What do you want for your life? A vision board is a visual representation of what you want to call into your world. Seek out magazines with photos and words that inspire you and create a collage. Then, place the art piece in a place where you'll see it every single day.
7. Do Something That Scares You
How many opportunities have you not taken because you're afraid to fail? Most people are trapped in their comfort zones, missing out on amazing, life-changing opportunities because they are too scared to step out of the norm.
Identify what it is that scares you, and then do something about it! For example, if you're afraid of public speaking, join an organization like Toastmasters where you can face your fears in a safe environment.
Create a list of what terrifies you and what you’re missing out of life by not dealing with those fears. Once you've done this, you'll see where you need to focus your energy to move forward.
8. Ask for Feedback (and Then Do Something With It)
Many people want to be absolutely perfect in thought and deed, which is not realistic. If you're like most people, you're doing something in your life or career that doesn't sit well with others. The people closest to you may not say anything unless asked. If you're serious about improving yourself and living your best life, you need to face the areas that need improvement.
Ask people closest to you what you can stand to work on. Not everything that's told to you will be useful or is even your issue (as opposed to theirs), yet when you start hearing similar comments from multiple people, it's time to take that to heart.
9. Surround Yourself With People That Inspire You
Perhaps you've heard the Jim Rohn quote, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with."
It's so true. When you surround yourself with low energy, negative, unhappy people who aren't going anywhere in their life... you become low energy, negative, and unhappy. On the other hand, when you surround yourself with happy, passionate individuals who are constantly striving to be better and help those around them, you'll become more like them.
This doesn't mean that you have to tell your family or certain friends to go take a hike; you just get to limit the amount of time you spend with these people and be careful not to take on their characteristics when you do spend time with them.
10. Take Classes
Learning a new skill is important no matter what stage of life you're in. Local colleges have community programs that will allow you to get better at your job, take up a hobby, improve your communication skills, whip up magical meals, and much more. Yes, you may be busy at work. That doesn’t mean you can’t still find time to explore your passions. Which brings us to...
11. Cut Back on TV Time
Are you ready for a scary statistic? The average American watches over 5 hours of television each day. Imagine a life where you have 5 extra hours in your day. You can spend more time with your family, take up that hobby we just discussed, start a side hustle, read, or do some self-care. The possibilities are endless.
Television is often negative (you really don't need to watch the news multiple times per day), violent, depressing, and, if you're still watching commercials, focused on telling you that you aren't good enough (but you will be as soon as you buy a specific product). Turn off the television and do anything on this list to improve yourself.
12. Improve Others
With all this free time, why not volunteer and help someone (or something) less fortunate? Spend a few afternoons a month tutoring children in low-income schools, help serve the homeless, walking dogs or cuddle cats at the local animal shelter, drive a veteran to a doctor's appointment, or clean up your local park. Find something you care about, and you'll be surrounded by like-minded people, making a difference in the community and developing personal skills at the same time.
13. Take a Break from Social Media
Yes, social media is a wonderful way to stay connected with one another. It's also a breeding ground for comparison, judgment, pettiness, and wasted time. Every once in awhile, take a break from the many platforms, reconnect with friends in real life, and reconnect with yourself. Your feeds will still be there when you return.
14. Spend Time at a Retreat
Just because it's called "personal" development doesn't mean you have to travel this journey alone. There are programs out there like Rapport Leadership International that have established, proven processes to guide you along and help you reach your highest potential and become the best individual and the best leader you can possibly be.
Remember, personal development is a lifelong commitment. When you are truly committed to becoming the best version of yourself, you'll want to work at it every day, seek out help from as many resources as you can, and focus on how you can help others along their journey. With hard work, determination, and focus, you will live the outstanding life you were meant to live.