A human being is always learning and evolving. Have you ever had a sudden realization that you have everything you need yet you are not satisfied? Nothing to worry about, as it is natural. This is a wake-up call that you need to switch the auto-pilot mode off and get behind the wheel of your adventurous life. Self-development is an integral lifelong “mending and boosting” process, that does not cease and goes on for a lifetime.
Complex- as it takes a lot of self-realization and being honest and true to oneself; Simple- as it is all about assessing our skills, qualities, considering aims, setting the goals to maximize our potential. Let us face it, who knows us better than ourselves? Self-development enhances self-esteem and leads to a healthier and more fulfilling life. It also, in turn, leads to personal empowerment as the optimistic decisions we take for a better future. It is a long process, but it is worth giving a shot.
Managing personal development
Developing a clear idea of “who we want to become, in what duration and why” is the first step. When we have a purpose it becomes more exciting and motivating to do something. Thus, it is a crucial part of self-development to find what you expect from yourself in a few months or years. And, where do you see yourself is going to lead you to that eventually.
Moreover, getting to know about our emotional intelligence to modify how we perceive and respond to things is essential. Analyze where your emotional states come from by paying attention to what changes your mood. Moreover, instead of looking at oneself as a victim, one should take responsibility for the actions and the consequences of the same.
Starting the improvement
Once you figure out “what” you want to become, start working on the “how”. Planning your development plan is as essential as the timetable you follow for school, college, or workplace. Drawing up a plan and breaking it into small objectives at a time is better. Instead of trying to acquire the bulk result. A plan is an indispensable subpart of goal-oriented action. Amazing ideas often fail due to poor planning.
The five important principles to keep in mind while setting a goal are commitment, clarity, complexity, challenges, and feedback. Setting the goals and reflecting upon them builds a success ratio.
It examines the existing situation of oneself or an organization by looking at the “ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats”. It helps in identifying the areas where one can have an advantage and score opportunities by utilizing that skill or resource (strength), the area that needs to be worked upon to do better in the future (weakness), the possible areas that one can excel in or successfully achieve goals (opportunities) and the things that should be avoided as they act as hurdles in the journey, standing as a barrier between a person and the goals.
On a personal level as well, the SWOT analysis helps people in identifying the areas for development. There are several different techniques and styles of learning that one can adopt and follow the work plan according to their preferences.
Step out of the comfort zone- test, risk, and achieve
Everyone has a comfort zone, a behavioral space where all the activities are confined to a set pattern and routine, minimizing risk and stress. It is difficult to leave the comfort zone because of the mental security and ease. A safe comfort zone is good when we need to relax, reboot, and recharge. But staying stuck in that space alone is not the solution. Sometimes, our habits slow down our personal growth. Hence, it is crucial to analyze which habits are harming or hampering our growth. Habits are nothing but our behavior established over a long period of time. Thus it is difficult to spot and change them.
Trying something new and facing what frightens us might be uncomfortable but it really helps a person grow. Moreover, if some unexpected events unfold, the person would be able to lead the way through. Challenging ourselves makes a better version of us. Confronting difficult areas would lead to growth, new experiences, improved skills, and awakening the inherent wisdom.
Keep a track of progress
Keeping a record of personal growth and jotting down the achievements helps in examining where one stands. A learning journal goes a long run in terms of self-development because it is strongly linked to optimism. Negativity halts progress because we accept our defeat instead of putting efforts into turning the tables around. Thus, it is necessary to detect and deal with negative thoughts, look at mistakes as a scope for improvement. Once you achieve a certain goal you never believed you would or gained a new skill, you naturally feel better about yourself. The more you indulge in this process, the better you feel and the more confident you become.
Learning is a cycle, that needs a timely check the same way one checks if the bicycle tires are working well. Whether they need more air or to change them altogether. For effective self-development, a regular review of the development plan holds vital importance. Ensuring that plans followed are relevant with changing circumstances is important. The changes and challenges in our lives demand a well-equipped and prepared person willing to excel in all areas of life.
Balance EQ and IQ
Intelligence quotient is the score derived by people after taking one of the several standardized tests for intelligence. The emotional quotient is the measurement of the ability of an individual to control, identify, evaluate and express emotions. The test determines the ability of an individual to deal with the questions using only the mind power and no other resources. The balance of IQ and EQ is what makes a person who they are and how they behave.
Self-development and Age Groups
Every single stage of human life has its importance and relevance. Infancy is the stage when the brain is wide open to all the new experiences and possibilities that would help the baby to grow and develop an understanding of the world. Adolescence has its importance as it is the time when the physical health development of the kids is at its peak and the body, as well as their mind, goes through a lot of changes and development. Some people argue that the one acquired after adolescence is the most important stage than any other stage as human beings have finally acquired most of the wisdom and textbook knowledge acquiring the necessary wisdom.
Yet, the wisdom gained from experiences in life is still not fully acquired at that stage, and as experiencing is a lifelong process hence, every single stage of our life is equally significant. While an 8-month old kid and an 8-year old are both children. But both these stages comprise different cognitive skills, nutritional needs, motor abilities, emotional or mental capability, etc. and the same is true for an 18-year old adult and an 80-year old adult. Each stage has its own “unique” gift to contribute to the world. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the self-development going actively so that all the stages give their contribution in the best way possible throughout the human cycle.
Early Childhood (Age<12 years)
The child has all the options in life, full of new experiences awaiting right around the corner along with an unlimited source of energy fueling the process of play and learn. The sense of an inner subjective self is developed, and imagination has a great role. Children also acquire social skills and begin to deal with the people around them. The nutritional needs are high as they are at the basic development stage of the body and brain. The children learn the basics of the language and keep getting better each year. Moreover, the involvement of grades of the school builds a sense of competition and comparison between self and the people around/ friends. The motor skills are refined, the physical activities like games play a great role in keeping them active and interaction with fellow kids leads to making friends thus getting a taste of social life as well.
For self-development, people this age should keep learning, making mistakes but not repeating them, dreaming big for their future, studying, observing, learning, playing, and just ease the way through life and enjoy as childhood is the most precious time of life that one can never get back. Maintaining a balance between fun and learning is the key. Moreover, asking as many questions as possible at this age is the best part because it is the learning stage. Children are supposed to have queries and clarify them even it sounds bizarre inside the mind to ask from the right person because you can, and you should.
Adolescence (Age 12-20 years)
A period of powerful and dramatic changes sexually, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. Sexual maturation kicks in with all the hormones, also known as puberty. This is a time when new possibilities and abstract concepts are thought of and fantasized about. Concepts of freedom, fear, and love play a role in creating a sense of invincibility that puts kids at this stage, under a prevalent risk. However, where there is a risk, there is also hope for unbelievable growth. A lot of thought-processes take place in this time. It is the game changer years for sure.
For self-development, it is of utmost importance for people this age to connect with the deepest inner zeal of oneself and then decide how they wish to go on with shaping their lives by deciding the field they want to specialize in, the hobbies, the company of friends that they want to keep in life and many more crucial decisions, that are made in this stage. It is an overly sensitive time and it is of utmost importance to take a significant amount of time and put thoughts into the actions. The passion in this age is fruitful enough if used effectively in the right direction.
Yet, it is also mandatory to keep in mind that you are still a kid who still has a lot to experience in this life so even if you mess up a little, it is still an opportunity to learn and move on with your life. Never let any failure or your hormones mess with your mental peace. Make friends, learn from your surroundings, and keep yourself away from bad company or anything that does not contribute to your success and progress.
Use Your Adolescence
Try your best to explore all that life has to offer you as a teenager, let your creative side dabble, ask yourself what kind of career you want to build, why you want it, who is your role model, and start working on yourself. You may find that your childhood dreams are not realistic, or you have a different goal now and that is completely fine. Life is unpredictable and the unpredictability makes it even more adventurous and mysteriously beautiful. Never lose hope by comparing yourself with other people rather compare yourself to the person you were some time ago, getting better than your previous self is an achievement that marks an improvement.
Spend these years to focus on your career. If you do find a person and build a healthy relationship, value it, and give it some time as well. There is a whole lot in life that you must achieve and demands attention. Be productive, learn new things, take care of your health as there are physical as well as hormonal changes happening in the body, study, enjoy and most importantly accept the small changes happening all around you or inside you as it is a part of growing and everything has its place in life.
Another important thing that children tend to ignore at this stage is that your parents want nothing more than your respect and a little bit of the time that they deserve, and you know that. Things may get a little twisted and complicated with the age gap or misunderstandings, yet the bottom line is that your family is the most important part of your life.
Early Adulthood (Age 20-35 years)
This includes an accomplishment of the responsibilities like searching for a good job, finding a motivating profession, finding a home, settling with a partner, building a happy family, and many more. A stage when people are at the psychological peak. A time to make the right choice, believe in oneself, focus on the future, putting energy and skills. Both loves, as well as work, are primary concerns during early adulthood. Evaluation of the needs to become a professional in your preferred field like experience, degree, skills, etc. is done for proper training and acquiring the needful.
People need to understand that this stage is sensitive as well and not everybody has the same definition of “adulting”. Giving interviews also include facing rejection healthily and constructively, getting a new job would mean leaving the current job and the colleagues. It is all a part of this stage. Some people may not find the love of their life at the perfect age and it is fine. People need to do their best, try to do better, and not judge themselves based on stereotypes. Make your own rules and play by them, it is all fine if you are moving forward.
Middle Adulthood (Age 35-50 years)
This is the phase in which adulating, and aging becomes a little more noticeable and a peculiar period when many people are at their peak of productivity. Yet, people can be going job hunting, looking for a mate, gaining expertise in any field, finding the solution to the problems more efficiently than before, gained wisdom with struggle and experience and a realistic approach is developed that helps in differentiating between dreams and reality, what is possible and what is likely.
The element of contemplation enriches this stage of life. It is the stage when people are still working, relatively healthy as compared to the late or mature adulthood while some are still struggling with jobs and settling in their own homes. For self-development, people can evaluate their positions and where they want to be. They come up with a plan for themselves. They evaluate their interests and skills for career-related conflicts and try to overcome the hurdles.
For those, struggling with settlement issues and emotional conflicts, it is time to set the priorities straight and see where you have been lacking as sometimes we tend to be in a toxic relationship that hampers our overall growth and is not worth it. One should try to get the jobs done, set the priorities straight and work in a focused manner. Evaluate your needs and expectations from your life as it is time to pull your socks and get the best out of your resources, skills, and abilities combined with the gained wisdom from experiences and mistakes.
Mature Adulthood (Age 50+ years)
People should take a break from worldly responsibilities and focus on the deeper meaning of life and new understanding. They have mostly raised their families, are mostly well established in their work lives while some are approaching the retirement age. People start contributing to society. They use their free time on volunteering and philanthropy. Giving more of them to the younger people who need the wisdom. They lend the youth help.
Guiding others with the acquired rich repository of the experiences is a win-win situation. It is one of the best things one can do in this stage by using the source of wisdom. This helps youngsters reap the benefits of life lessons. And, grants the feeling of satisfaction by guiding and helping other people with their life issues simultaneously.
It is essential to hold on to the value of living and not take our lives for granted. People start losing hope as they tend to grow old. Misinterpreting this golden age as a burden or deterioration of skills, energy, or health. What one needs to do is look up to the idols who changed the world at old age. With the help of the gained wisdom and utilize this time as the golden opportunity to give to the youth. Even if you help one youngster with your experience, you have contributed a significant amount. It would bring you a lot of positivity and peace.
According to an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow (1970), every individual has an actual in-built need for self-development or the personal development that occurs because of the process called self-actualization.
The level of development that a human being is capable of, is different for different individuals. Hierarchy of Needs, explains this to some extent. With time, an individual makes progress in his or her life, satisfying basic psychological needs. They eventually progress to a higher level in the hierarchy. He also added that all the people have limitless room for improvements and scope for growth.
The first level holds the basic psychological needs for survival like food, drink, sleep, etc. The second one comprises of the needs for safety and security- physical as well as economic sense. Thirdly the need for satisfying love and belonging. The fourth level highlights the need for self-worth and self-esteem. The fifth describes the need for a deep understanding. And search for the meaning of life or an abstract idea like curiosity. While the sixth level related to the aesthetic needs- the need for art, beauty, symmetry, order, and creativity. Then finally, on the top lies the need for self-actualization.
Self-actualization is self-fulfillment– the desire of becoming everything that one is capable of and to reach the full potential. The hack is to be in touch with yourself, your emotions, and experiencing life to the full extent.
Life is much better when we have worked on ourselves investing our time and dedication in a full-time job that caters us for the lifetime ensuring all the stages are given the care they deserve, resulting in a blossoming life to the fullest.
“Investing in oneself is the best investment one can make. And development is a luxury, not a race.”