The boy who cried ‘personal development’

With every blog post should come some research and while I was doing mine I came across an article that started with: Personal development is an often used but rarely explained term. It is one of those ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ conundrums, but fundamentally, personal development is what it says it is… personal and about development.

It is about taking the time, and making the commitment to invest in your greatest resource – yourself. Personal development calls for you to be proactive. Rather than wait for things to happen, you put yourself out there and you make them happen.

When people start developing an interest in personal development, it is mostly based on a realisation or a pressing need for change. In any case, any realisation that nudges you to take interest in your own personal development is always a positive one!

We are beings that learn, constantly. It is a part of our make-up. Development is a progressive process in everybody’s life.

A personal development plan helps you to grow and achieve. It is the perfect instrument to use in order to review

  • What are the opportunities you can work on that are really going to help you succeed and
  • What you can do to get yourself ready to either perform better in your current role, or get you ready for your next move.

A few of the benefits of a personal development ‘mindset’ are:

Self-awareness and a sense of direction

Personal development begins here with self-awareness. It is the first fundamental step in the process. It helps you to clearly define the purpose you wish to pursue, the kind of work you would like to do in the future, creating a direction for your career path.

One tool I have used many times to help with this is the Wheel of Life. If you are struggling to identify which areas to target for development and improvement, this can assist. It is also very accessible. Type ‘wheel of life’ into any search engine and you will be directed to several versions of the same idea. Then it’s just about choosing one that works for you.

Another useful tool would be to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. The analysis is a way of looking at your situation by identifying: strengths, those areas where you have an advantage over others, or some unique resources to exploit; weaknesses, areas where you or your organisation may be weaker than others, and may find that others can do better than you; opportunities, possibilities that you can take advantage of to help you achieve your goals and ambitions; and threats, things that may prevent you or your organisation from making a profit or achieving your goals.

Once you are clearer on the things you wish to pursue, to achieve from life, then you can chase your own goals and objectives.

Improved focus, effectiveness and more motivation

When you know what you want to achieve, it is easier for you to see the benefits of taking action. Even when the task ahead is not enjoyable; if you can see a clear benefit, you are more motivated to take the necessary action. The process alone can help you to grow in confidence and be more decisive with any choices you make.

This confidence can also be reflected in your skills and attributes.

Once you have planned your development, you can then go on to improve the skills that you have identified. But it is important to realise that that is not the end of the process. It is just as imperative to review and evaluate your development. Your personal development plan is a live document throughout your career which you adjust accordingly to meet your goals, but more importantly, hold yourself accountable to follow through.

A regular review process can lead to you revising both your goals, and your planned development activities, to ensure that they take you where you want to go. You may also find that your goals are no longer valid, and you want to update them. Regular review will also ensure that you keep tabs on your activity, and are not tempted to make personal development a lower priority.

From an organisational perspective, encouraging the use of a personal development plan is extremely important as it identifies opportunities to align job duties with a team member’ personal goals. This can in turn, improve employee morale and reduce turnover.

So, what have YOU done in the past few months to improve your performance?

Amy Gentles-McKie is a Learning and Development Advisor for Mitie Client Services

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