Personal development has become a buzzword in the modern era, with individuals all over the world focusing on and ready to enhance themselves. The market for self-improvement products and services is booming, and it’s easy to become obsessed with the latest strategies, tactics, and techniques for personal growth.
However, there’s one thing that I think keeps getting forgotten in this space where we’re challenged to learn and grow and do… it’s the PERSONAL part of the developing. I feel like for many in pursuit of becoming their best selves, the scales are tipped far in the direction of the development aspect that we’re forgetting the other piece of the puzzle.
It’s vital to remember that personal development is about the “personal” aspect as much as it is about the “development.” In other words, it’s important to focus on the individualism of the process, rather than simply following generic blueprints. That’s what this episode is all about.
I Need This Reminder, Too
Let me be the first one to say: this episode is just as much for me as it is you. I actually avoided a lot of the personal development stuff for years. I thought I could white knuckle my way through business by just leaning more and more on marketing strategies and learning the processes but a few years back when life knocked me to my knees during our fertility journey, I started to really look at this world with different eyes.
When we approach personal development without taking into account our unique personalities, we risk struggling to discern what is truly useful to us. Each of us is different, with different backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and goals. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work BUT the work isn’t necessarily on the expert; this puts the work on YOU.
For example, while a morning routine may be beneficial for some, it may not work for everyone. The same goes for other strategies and techniques that may not align with our personal preferences, learning styles, or lifestyles.
Focusing on the personal aspect of personal development is also crucial for maintaining motivation and enthusiasm for the journey.
An Excerpt From My Book
I want to share an excerpt from my book with you, because I think it captures what I mean by the importance of focusing on the personal part of personal development.
It’s no surprise we’re exhausted. Before we’re even fully awake, we start scrolling through everyone else’s opinions and ideas and Solutions—our news feeds, our Facebook page, our Instagram feeds.
We crowdsource our life to push us toward something else, to distract us, to lose those 3:00 a.m. thoughts in the comforting chaos of the latest craze. We set goals we think we’re supposed to, we buy the bestselling planner, we create the resolutions that sound nice to (and for) everyone else, and we hope for the promise that on Monday it’ll all be different. But most of the time, on Monday, we wake to reality, again—that the five-star magic diet plan didn’t work. Those meditations still haven’t sunk in. We’ve been grinding our teeth again. That same stressor keeps getting in the way every single time you attempt to journal, strategize, or manifest your way to happiness.
And we decide that surely the problem is us? Surely we’re doing something wrong? It always comes back to us and the many ways we assume we’re incapable. We wonder, do we just need, like, three more yoga classes to make it click? Do we just need to wake up earlier?
The fill-in-the-blank, $99.99 solution is working for everyone else, isn’t it? At least, that’s what the ads say. That’s what the wellness guru preaches. That’s what the book promised. So why isn’t it working for me? Spoiler alert: that thing you’re doing isn’t working for you because it didn’t come from you. That “answer”—the diet, the planner, the four-step- manifestation plan—came from something (or someone) outside of you.
It came from Amazon. It came from an influencer or that wellness guru. It came from your sister or your sister’s neighbor or her sister’s neighbor’s best friend.
We can’t always solve our own problems with someone else’s solutions. We can’t always find our own selves using someone else’s directions. And we sure as hell can’t always question our lives clearly if we don’t close our eyes to the nonstop jazz hands of every other answer parading by.
When we look to the crowd to answer our deepest questions, we move in whatever direction we’re carried. We stop looking within, stop checking in, stop carrying our own visions, because what is inside of us perhaps doesn’t match the identities our world keeps telling us to clothe ourselves in. Instead, our gaze catches the motions of the crowd and we sync up. We become people who know how to go with the flow more than anything else. And we end up exhausted and bruised, numb to ourselves, lost down a path we don’t even remember turning on.
But this time it’s going to be different. This time, you’re going to hear your voice—not your best friend’s, not your mother’s, and not that one girl’s on Instagram. (Yeah, that includes me.) In this book, I’m going to gently shake your shoulders and remind you to wake up to your life, to start listening to yourself and trusting yourself more. I’m going to tell you to be ready to question what you thought couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be questioned, and to lean into your curiosities because they’re about to get noisy. I’m going to ask you the question that you should be asking yourself, each and every day: How are you, really? And I’ll help you prepare to dig deep for the answers.
This is just in the prologue of my book – so not even inside the chapters and if this called to you, PLEASE get a copy! My book, “How Are You, Really?” is available anywhere books are sold.
Why Does It Matter?
So why does it matter that we bring in the personal aspect to this whole development idea? Well, when we are true to ourselves and honest about recognizing our individual needs and desires, we are more likely to not only feel invested in our development, we’re more likely to actually develop in ways that are long term.
We can set goals that resonate with us and celebrate the progress we make towards achieving them. On the other hand, if we follow strategies and tactics that don’t align with our personal preferences, we may quickly lose interest and give up. I get a lot of well-intentioned advice but from people with different values than mine so I have to discern what I need to take and what I can let go of.
This also makes me think of how important it is to be thoughtful with who we’re letting into our lives from a level of influence. Now I want to preface this in saying that you don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING someone says to learn from them – talk about echo chambers and how that’s not healthy either – but also to be mindful of the lens they are teaching from and thoughtful with how you’re receiving what they are sharing.
When we are confident in and embrace our individuality in the personal development process, we gain a better understanding of ourselves. I truly believe that when I started my personal development journey just four years ago, I was more focused on how it would impact my work and leadership but in reality, it helped me get to know MYSELF so much better. Taking this journey will absolutely lead you to increased self-awareness, which honestly is an essential component of personal growth.
Getting really honest with and knowing our strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs helps us to identify the areas where we need to improve, and make positive changes that align with our authentic selves. Talk about parenting and how it has me analyzing ALL the things on a whole new level in terms of how I want to raise my girls and what I’ve learned and who I learned it from – the deconstruction to rebuild.
Finally, focusing on the personal aspect of personal development can help us to develop a growth mindset, which is key to achieving long-term success. When we approach personal growth with an open mind and a willingness to learn and evolve, we are more likely to embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth. This mindset can help us to achieve our goals, develop resilience, and adapt to change.
The Big Picture
Personal development is about more than just following the latest strategies and tactics. It’s about recognizing the personal aspect of the process, and embracing our individualism. When we go in with this lens of knowing who we are and with a focus on our unique personalities, we are better able to discern what strategies and techniques will be most effective for us, maintain motivation and enthusiasm, develop self-awareness, and cultivate a growth mindset. So, let’s remember to keep the “personal” in personal development!