Personal development is a lifelong process. No matter how accomplished or emotionally intelligent you may be, there’s always room for learning and growth. Whether you’re in your mid-20s, late-30s, or 50s, working on yourself is a great way to improve the quality of your life and achieve your short- and long-term goals.
At The Greatest Self, we’re committed to helping you develop new skills and become the best version of yourself. If you’ve been struggling to actualize your full potential, we’ve rounded up some essential personal development skills to help you put your best foot forward in every aspect of your life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the physical and mental health of millions of people across the globe. According to research, the unemployment rate increased more in the first three months of the pandemic than it did during the entirety of the Great Recession.
From financial insecurity to deteriorating health to overwhelming stress and anxiety, people faced—and still continue to face—some of the most challenging hurdles in recent history. At a time when everyone’s story is marred with turmoil, anguish, chaos, and uncertainty, developing empathy has become more important than ever.
Start by introspecting. Do you go out of your way to practice empathy on a regular basis? Are you an understanding and compassionate employer? Have you been putting yourself in people’s shoes or dismissing their troubles because you simply can’t relate? Have you been kind and considerate about your friends’ and family’s shortcomings?
Think back to each time you practiced empathy this week. What comes to mind? More importantly, does anything come to mind? If you’re struggling to recall specific incidents, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
Empathy is one of the most vital personal development skills, as it allows you to look beyond your privilege and understand where other people are coming from. If certain issues don’t affect you, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Rather, it means that your privilege has allowed you to steer clear of them.
It’s important to understand that not everyone has the same privilege. The sooner you make this connection, the easier it will be for you to practice empathy in all areas of your life: professional and personal.
Effective communication isn’t something that’s solely required for leadership roles at work. In fact, it’s imperative for just about anything. Whether you’re communicating with your partner, kids, family, friends, or strangers, getting your message across using the right tone, language, and manner is essential.
Speaking with hesitance and diffidence during a work presentation will cause your words to lose their efficacy and impact. Similarly, refusing to be open and vulnerable during a conversation with your partner can do more harm than good.
If you’re not a great communicator, start by taking active measures to set things right. Brian Tracy’s personal development kit—“How to Talk: Secrets of the Great Communicators”—is a masterclass in effective, influential communication. Learn how to master the art of communication in all aspects of your life. The kit also walks you through the process of leveraging communication at work to effectively persuade, negotiate, and influence your way to success.
Humans are fallible. And there’s nothing wrong with that admission. It’s impossible for us to strive to do something and complete it to perfection without faltering in some way or form along the way—no matter how negligible the hiccup may be.
If you’re a cinema aficionado, you’re probably familiar with Nina Sayers from Black Swan and Andrew Neiman from Whiplash. Each character was obsessed with the idea of perfection and went to great lengths to achieve it, only to… well, we’ll let you find that out for yourself. In essence, the bubble of perfection is just that: a bubble. It’s fragile and can be popped at any second, revealing the noxious gas enclosed within.
Understanding the difference between perfection and self-discipline is essential. The former can be extremely dangerous while the latter can be used to your benefit—albeit with care. As long as self-discipline doesn’t begin to morph into an obsession with perfection, you’re on the right track.
Start by determining where you stand. Does your life lack discipline? Or are you too disciplined? Brian Tracy’s powerful personal development kit—“The Miracle of Self-Discipline”—helps you strike the right balance. He helps you develop a “no excuses” mentality and get things done without veering on either end of the spectrum.
If you’re a procrastinator, the kit will help you cultivate self-discipline and check things off your list. If you tend to be a little too self-disciplined, it will help you make better decisions that are healthier for you. Ultimately, this personal development skill can help you manifest both personal and professional success.
If there’s one skill this year has instilled in us, it’s adaptability. However, some of us have been struggling to use it to our advantage.
Life is a curveball. If you’re a methodical planner, there’s only so much you can preempt. If you’re not adaptable, you’ll struggle to acclimatize to new circumstances and “roll with the punches,” no matter how brutal they may be.
Start by getting a good grasp on the fact that no matter how much you plan, you can’t control every situation or make things go your way. While we’d love to be omnipotent, unfortunately, we’re not. Things can easily go wrong despite meticulous planning. This doesn’t mean that you stop planning; it means that you embody flexibility when things go wrong.
Whether you’re dealing with a work emergency or a financial crisis, practicing adaptability will help you make the best of the situation and improvise like a seasoned pro. Ultimately, an adaptable mindset and attitude can help you effectively recover from a crisis instead of crumbling under the pressure.
Integrity isn’t an option on a long list that you may or may not choose to embody; it’s indispensable. No matter how great your career or personal life may be, you won’t feel an iota of contentment if you’ve made your way to the top by stepping on people’s toes and being unscrupulous. If honesty and fairness aren’t your priorities, you may want to turn things around stat.
Start by doing some reflection. How would you feel if you discovered that 50% of everything you’ve been told in life was a lie? Not so great, right?
“Your employee lied to you when they said they were inspired by you.”
“Your son lied to you when he said he looked up to you.”
“The barista at your local Starbucks lied to you when they said they were all out of vanilla bean powder.”
No matter how big or small a lie may be, it cuts deep and makes you wonder “why?”
Come to think of it, not only is dishonesty vile, but it’s also absolutely unnecessary. Sure, lying to your boss to get in their good books may sound like a great idea in the moment, but think of all the guilt you’ll experience shortly afterward. Practicing integrity doesn’t take much, and keeps you from feeling pangs of remorse in retrospect.
Start by making a list of each time you were dishonest in the past week or month. It’s okay if you can’t remember everything. Work with what you have and try to recall what prompted you to be dishonest. Was it fear? Envy? Insecurity? Think of what would have happened if you had been honest. Sure, there may have been temporary discomfiture. However, you wouldn’t be feeling uneasy in the long run.
Prioritizing integrity in your personal and professional life will make it easier for people to trust you, rely on you, and respect you. Over time, you’ll begin to wonder why you ever resorted to untruths or half-truths in the first place.
The process of cultivating resilience is probably one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences of life. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed people out of their comfort zones by throwing them in the deep end of the pool without providing a lifeguard on duty. As millions of people struggled to stay afloat, they were forced to devise temporary coping mechanisms to effectively navigate the turbulent waters. If you’re nodding your head because the scenario sounds similar, you’ve already developed resilience without even knowing it.
Whether you managed to make your way through a period of financial instability or regained optimal health and wellness after contracting COVID-19, you’ve experienced the lowest of the low and climbed out of the dark abyss. As the ongoing uncertainty triggered by the pandemic lingers, make sure you continue to practice resilience.
Start by acknowledging everything that you’re grateful for: your health, family, friends, home, therapy, business, etc. This admission will help you cultivate resilience in other areas of your life that have taken a hit.
Not many people perceive “passion” as a personal development skill. And it’s easy to see why. How does “passion” fit into the grand scheme of things?
Let’s break this down.
When we talk about “passion,” we’re referring to your drive for certain things in life. Are you passionate about your career? Fitness? Reading? Podcasting? Adventure? No matter what excites you in life, it’s important to have a driving force that motivates and inspires you. Without having something to look forward to, we’d all feel lost, purposeless, unenthused, and apathetic.
If you’re going through a rough patch, make a list of everything that makes you feel energized. Think long and hard. What comes to mind? No matter how trivial it may seem to others, list it if it excites you. Crafting? Sports? Entrepreneurship? Taxidermy? Once you have a list of your passions, arrange them in order of importance. Make sure you give adequate time to those that mean the most to you to retain that spark in your life.
You can also consider transforming them into a viable business opportunity. Darren Hardy’s inspiring book—“The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success—is a gimmick- and hyperbole-free guide to manifesting professional success. We also suggest looking into “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey for timeless wisdom that will help turn your life around.
As long as you don’t let your passions die, you’ll manage to succeed in life and have a great time while you’re at it!
No matter how many milestones you achieve in life, you should never stop the process of self-reflection. As stated earlier, we’re prone to making mistakes. And we don’t always pick up on them. Self-reflection can help you identify and correct your flaws, especially those that affect other people. Whether you were arrogant, dismissive, rude, or dishonest, uncovering your shortcomings and making up for them is a great way to grow as an individual.
Start by looking inwards. Can you recall any shortcomings? If nothing comes to mind, make it a habit to periodically ask your friends/family/co-workers to remind you if you were ever out of line but never made up for it. This will help you acknowledge certain behaviors and actions of yours that you never deemed offensive. Over time, this process will help you develop a better understanding of your flaws and identify them yourself without requiring external help.
As you become more mindful and cautious, you’ll evolve into an understanding, compassionate, and self-aware version of yourself. Make sure you’re open to constructive criticism. Instead of letting it get to you, view it as an opportunity to grow and learn from your mistakes.
In this blog, we walked you through the top personal development skills that can transform your personal and professional life. At The Greatest Self, we’re always open to having raw and honest conversations with our readers. If you have any comments, please share them with us. We’d love to know your thoughts! You can also keep up with our blog for more insight into health and fitness, financial planning, and personal development.