There are many potential personal development activities we can utilise to improve the quality of our lives. Whether you want to become more emotionally intelligent or improve your relationships, effective daily habits exist to improve these skills.
Personal development activities
As the saying goes, ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’. So, like you’re doing now, most personal development starts with reading. Exposing yourself to new opinions, thoughts and recommendations can have a profound impact on our lives – it’s why I’ve created a personal development book section on the site. I still remember the first time I read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle which introduced me to the concept of living more fully in the moment, helping to cement my meditation practice. Sometimes, you just read a book at the right time, and it strikes such a chord as to alter the trajectory of your life. Not all readers are successful, but all successful people read.
Just as reading exposes us to new viewpoints, so it enables us to learn, which is one of the foundations of psychological wellbeing. As with the feeling of playing a computer game, levelling up and making progress on a learning pathway unleashes a tidal wave of psychological wellbeing. Gaining competence in a new skill not only improves internal satisfaction, but can also improve external results as you put these new abilities into practice. Learning and growing really are the hallmarks of personal development, so it’s imperative to advance out of your comfort zone to yield progress.
While reading and learning are foundational aspects of personal development, the power of writing cannot be underestimated. An abundance of scientific evidence exists to demonstrate the scientific benefits of putting pen to paper. Releasing your thoughts and feelings is a vital way to gain clarity over what can often seem like a confused and jumbled mind. Morning Pages, popularised by Julia Cameron, is just one way of doing this, as is the more recent Bullet Journal. Not only does this personal development activity enable us to observe our innermost psychology from a more impartial position, but also reflect on our plans and goals, retrospectively, ensuring our behaviours align with our desires.
As Socrates implored – ‘know thyself’. Getting to know ourselves better is the first step in modifying our behaviour to create a better life. Self-awareness is, therefore, one of the cornerstones of personal development. Meditation is perhaps the best method to achieve this. In a world full of distractions, the ability to sit in a quiet room observing the contents of your mind becomes a superpower. We can learn about the automatic states of mind that underpin our behaviour, realising that we can gain psychological distance from these thoughts before acting productively.
5. Coaching and mentoring
Most personal development activities can be performed alone as part of a nourishing daily routine. Sometimes, however, there’s no replacement for gaining an external perspective from a trained and/or experienced professional. Many people seek coaching or mentoring for this, or in the case of complex mental health issues, therapy. Speaking to someone who is impartial and removed from our situation can help to identify areas for further exploration and work. Speaking about our issues openly and having our thoughts and feelings reflected back to us is a powerful exercise in bringing about personal growth. Furthermore, accountability is key as we begin the painful process of transformation, aligning our actions with our desires.
6. Goal setting
Goal setting can be a strong personal development skill to master. Creating ambitious but achievable goals is one facet of creating a purpose-orientated life, especially when those aims align with your life purpose and core values. Making progress towards these targets is a rewarding activity, both on an internal and external level, improving your quality of life.
While most personal development focuses on mental fitness, physical exercise is one of the foundations of living a good life. Without sufficient investment in our health, any self-improvement exercises only increase in difficulty. Exercise not only improves our physical wellbeing, but also enhances our psychological wellness, providing renewed energy for tackling our goals.
8. Active listening
Listening skills are central to the relationships in our lives and breed empathy, connection and positive, healthy conversations. Active listening boils down to attentiveness. Placing your full attention on the speaker allows you to interpret verbal and non-verbal cues and form an appropriate response for a symbiotic interaction. This type of mindful listening isn’t an acquired trait, but rather a skill that can be practiced for personal and professional development.
Just as active listening improves your interactions, so too you can apply the skill to the wider topic of teamwork to foster a positive, supportive network. After all, no goals are ever achieved in isolation – by recruiting an empowering cadre of individuals working towards similar aims, not only will you be held accountable, but your mindset will shift in a positive direction. If you become collaborative enough in the wider team, you could also be considered for a leadership role.
10. Self-care activities
While personal development might seem like all work and no play, it’s imperative to include rest in the daily routine. Otherwise, the constant push towards self-improvement can easily lead to fatigue and burnout. Self-care activities vary between individuals, depending on what you find nourishing. This could include activities such as gardening, knitting, puzzles or scrapbooking. At the very least, self-care encompasses basic considerations for physical and mental hygiene, such as eating a nutritious diet, sleeping well and spending enough time outside in nature.
There are many opportunities to engage in personal development activities to facilitate growth in your home and work life. Picking an area to work on consistently is vital, as these habits frequently take a significant time to compound until tangible evidence of progress becomes apparent. In this way, personal development is really a lifelong commitment and investment in your wellbeing. But through this dedication it’s possible to reap the rewards on both a psychological level and via external measures such as career and income.