What is self-development? To put it simply, self-development entails all the activities you undertake as a way to enhance yourself as a person in order to realize your full potential and/or achieve all your aspirations.
Self-improvement, or personal development, is a constant process that extends over the period of a person’s lifetime. It often includes activities that help a person become more self-aware, more skilled, and quite often helps to enhance their existing talents.
Personal development may also include the involvement of experts or skilled individuals such as counselors, guides, and mentors. Far from being an exact science, it takes a combination of tried and tested formal activities and specialized informal ones to help a person unlock their full capabilities.
As such, personal development is an expansive topic that covers several activities aimed at improving oneself.
What Does Self Improvement Entail?
Some of the activities that may be included in the process of self-improvement are:
· Self-awareness – from a psychological standpoint, self-awareness is the ability to acknowledge your existence as an individual and recognize the distinction between you and your surrounding environment and also from other individuals.
· Self-knowledge – self-knowledge is dependent on the quality of self-awareness possessed by an individual. While self-awareness might answer the question “what am I?” sufficiently, self-knowledge looks to answer the question “what am I like?”
· Building self-esteem – self-esteem is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to personal development. Explore the various ways your self-esteem issues could be holding you back and look for answers on how to overcome them.
· Enhancing personal talents – as natural as talents might be, you will never realize your
full potential unless you hone in on them and make full use of your abilities.
· Learning new skills and improving existing ones – as opposed to resting on your laurels
and depending on a particular skill set to earn you a living, learning different sets of interchangeable skills can be more than useful in enhancing your life quality.
· Improving the quality of life – settling for a mediocre life is one of the quickest ways to get yourself into a rut or worse, a mid-life crisis, or worse, an existential crisis.
· Enhancing your lifestyle/health – achieving perfect health is the farthest thing from impossible, especially if you start out early enough. By positively changing your lifestyle, your body will be more inclined to accommodate any personal development activities that will better you as a person.
· Setting goals and fulfilling them – there is no feeling that can quite compare to the joy of achievement, especially that of long-time goals. Setting personal goals and working your way to them is one of the best ways you can improve yourself, not only by allowing yourself to learn the value of hard work but also by teaching you how to be patient and persistent.
· Being more sociable – being sociable entails connecting more with others at an amicable level. The more you interact with fellow human beings, the more you get inspired to be the best person you can possibly be.
Maslow’s Theory of Personal needs
According to Maslow’s insightful theory, people can only be said to have achieved their
personal development needs by reaching the point of self-actualization. This, however, is surpassed in vitality by more basic needs that first need to be satisfied before one can begin moving tothe next level. The hierarchy paints a clear picture of a human being’s priorities, starting from those he has little or no control over to those that are entirely his/her choice and do not impact on his/her survival. From the bottom of the pyramid, the theory lists a human being’s priorities from the most basic to the most aesthetic needs.
The lowest tier comprises of basic physiological needs such as the need to eat and drink, sleep and rest, be warm or cool enough and to have appropriate shelter. Also included in a human being’s basest needs are sex, exercise and/or general activity.
The second tier largely consists of safety and security. This means safety from physical and psychological harm and the assurance of good health, a stable income, a steady job, and a familiar routine.
The third tier delves into a human being’s need for love and affection. It includes a person’s need to feel wanted or a part of a group, be it socially either at work or with friends or in a family. It involves the human being’s need to trust and be trusted and to be able to feel loved and wanted unconditionally.
The fourth tier mostly deals with self-empowerment, which is one of the major blocks of personal development. Self-esteem and self-respect go hand in hand but it is without a doubt that self-esteem is a major hindrance to personal growth. The fourth tier also includes the need to treat others with respect, be it at work, home or socially.
The need to fulfill one’s self is what constitute the fifth tier. This is basically the need to understand and realize one’s own potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can become, and be the most that one can be.
This simple hierarchy defines everyone’s need to be the best version of themselves that they possibly can.
5 Vital and Practical Steps to Self-Improvement
It is never too late to begin the journey to self-actualization. There are practical steps to be taken to ensure that your personal development goals are gradually achieved. These include but are not limited to the following:
1. Time Management
Personal development requires dedication and commitment, which will require you to free
up some time. The extra time should be allocated to activities that will satisfy your hierarchy of needs to the fullest in order to help you realize your maximum potential. These activities could be furthering your education, devoting yourself to your work, taking more time to enjoy your hobbies and spending some time with friends and family.
2. Create Your Resume
Your CV should not only be prepared when applying for a job. It is a great way to list your accolades and help you appreciate the skills or education you’ve garnered up to a specific point in your life. It will also be a good pointer on which skills are more in need of development.
3. Learn Transferable Skills
Transferable skills are skills that can be applied to more than one area in your life. Skills such as being an eloquent speaker and a lucid writer can have multiple benefits to you and can help you to drastically improve yourself.
4. Getting Over Obstacles to Self-Improvement
Self-esteem will prevent you from learning that new skill or taking that leap of faith as you look to expand your horizons. Learning to overcome your lack of self-confidence is important. Other hurdles you may encounter might not be as forgiving. These include financial situations, familial commitments and even an acute lack of time if you do not put the first step into action.
5. Recording your developmental progress
Do not ever underestimate the power of positivity. Recording your progress gives you a clear view of how far you’ve come, and how far you still have to go. Note down milestones in your personal development, underline your successes and highlight your failures as this personal reflection will be a crucial guide for you in the future.
In the end, how you treat yourself as a person will determine the quality of the life you will live and if you will get to achieve everything you are capable of. The fact remains that everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, possesses the limitless potential to achieve their maximum capabilities if they set their minds to it.