Introduction to personal development
After spending years literally reading dozens of personal development books, watching hundreds of hours of videos and trainings, having done therapy, having been coached and finally becoming a certified Life-Coach myself, I thought it would be interesting to synthesize all this information into a guide that would save you precious time.
So, welcome to the complete 101 self-development guide.
But, what is personal development?
Personal development aims above all at the fulfillment of the individual and affects all areas of our lives.
It is an introspection that aims at improving self-knowledge,
improving our quality of life, discovering our talents, optimizing our potential or achieving our goals.
Personal development aims to bring more coherence into our lives and live in harmony with ourselves and the world around us.
The origins of personal development.
In a way, all religions have been talking to us for millennia about personal development.
In ancient Greece, philosophers and thinkers such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, etc., were already bathing in it.
The same is true in Asia with Lao Tzu, Confucius, and many others.
Of course, one could find many examples in all cultures.
The origin is simply the human being in its simplest definition. Every human being has the will to change, improve, discover, and learn continuously.
Closer to home, Dale Carnegie was undoubtedly one of the pioneers of modern personal development, where he created methods for developing salespeople and managers. There are many of Mr. Carnegie’s books that are still best selling today.
Of course, through modern psychology, our contemporaries are still working on the issue of personal development.
Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, has strongly contributed to personal development through analytical psychology and its individuation concept.
Alfred Adler is an Austrian doctor and psychotherapist, founder of individual psychology.
One of the most famous is Abraham Harold Maslow and his famous Hierarchy of Needs, as you can see below.
The origin of personal development is multiple and comes in many forms and in many cultures.
Why is personal growth so important?
Our lives have never been so stressful in our modern society; civilization has never evolved so quickly.
Things were mostly fixed from birth in our ancestors’ time, and the possibilities for evolution were very limited. Today we live in an age of unlimited possibilities, where dreams are affordable, and knowledge is easily available.
Nevertheless, it is essential to note the explosion of mental illnesses over the last 30 years; anxiety, stress, burn-out, depression are among the new diseases gnawing at modern society.
Self-development has emerged as a matter of course and one of the best weapons at our disposal to avoid these traps and act positively on our lives.
Of course, personal development is not limited to this. It is mainly a way for many people to improve their lives.
Above all, it’s a choice!
Above all, personal development is a decision we make for ourselves, a commitment to great and lasting change.
I prefer to be honest right away. It’s a challenge.
In some ways, it is the most challenging path to follow because change requires effort, questioning. There are no shortcuts. Otherwise, everyone would do it, wouldn’t they?
This is the reason why most people don’t change.
Who is personal development for?
To everyone, regardless of age, gender, religion, country, or social status.
Personal development has an impact on all our different areas of life:
- Mental Health
- Physical Health
- Social life
- Spirituality and Personal Growth
- Physical Environment
This shows that personal growth affects absolutely everyone, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mother/father, a businesswoman or a businessman, and regardless of your age or love situation.
All of our life situations reflect what we feel inside us and how we manage our internal emotions, and therefore will have an impact on our results and our environment.
Where does the need to be fulfilled come from?
This need often appears during a significant awareness that many people will call: a trigger.
The best-known triggers are a dismissal, a love break-up, an illness, a death, an accident, etc.
It’s a general feeling of unease to push us to explore new paths and try to change things and, in the best case, to find ourselves.
Personal growth hides a straightforward yet fundamental notion for each individual, the desire to be only happy.
The benefits of self-development
One of today’s enormous advantages is the accessibility of information, thanks to the internet, which allows you to extend your knowledge and deepen your learning. The fact that you are reading this article is proof of this, and the same goes for personal development.
Here is a shortlist of benefits about personal growth:
- Better emotional management
- Improve our stress management
- Better relationships with oneself
- Better relationships with others
- Deepen self-knowledge
- Develop self-confidence
- Learning to assert oneself
- Put more coherence in his life
- Develop new skills
- Develop its resilience
- Learn how to achieve your goals
- Discover its life mission
- End procrastination
Of course, this is a non-exhaustive list, and everyone will find what is important to him or her.
PART 1: Time to change
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou
Start by admitting that you can change
It’s time to realize the power you have and the opportunity to change the things that don’t suit you or what no longer suits you.
By focusing on something I couldn’t change, I only increased my frustration and made me unhappy and frustrated.
I am not an isolated case. I regularly come across this kind of problem during my coaching session, therefore the importance of changing what we can.
Self-development starts here, becoming fully aware of what is in your area of action, what we really have a lever to act on.
The first step here is becoming aware of what you can change.
The process is natural/To the rhythm of the seasons
It is always quite surprising to see how resistant human beings are to change. Our various fears often prevent us from seeing. Further, we come up against a wall that often seems impassable, yet it is well beyond this wall that there are infinite possibilities to explore.
By observing our environment, everything is a source of change, the seasons, the weather, animals, and of course, human beings.
Sometimes change imposes itself on us, a rupture, a divorce, a bankruptcy, a dismissal, a mutation, a mourning, etc. Many of these hazards are part of our lives, whether we have decided them or not.
Afterward, we adapt, react, and although it is often uncomfortable, we create a new routine, new habits appear, and the cycle continues.
I am firmly convinced that each person tries to change and improve their life constantly by doing their best.
However, the reality is that most people will never really change and come to the conclusion that it is impossible to change or at least impossible for them.
However, the reality is that some people do manage to change their lives, so I began to ask myself the simple question:
If they can do it, why can’t I? And why can’t you?
You choose what you want to change, or life will decide for you, and it will find a perfect reason to do so.
Change can be scary at first glance, you resist, and you’re afraid to become someone else, yet growth has only one goal: to become the person you’re mean to be.
While change can be scary, it is all around us and the changing seasons are the most shining example.
Frederic Hudson, coach, and professor at Columbia University, an expert in transition and organizational coaching, proposed an approach to change that includes four distinct phases that allow us to effectively understand what we experience throughout our lives.
It is an often positive building phase. One is in high positive energy and action. We often feel full of life during this period, hence the impression of motivation and the desire to do things we don’t usually do.
It is the moment of questioning. We realize that everything is not perfect. The stagnation settles little by little. It is fundamental to become aware of what does not suit us anymore and bring changes to start again in the summer. It is what we will call the mini transition.
This time, we are in a rather negative low energy. We are rather in a phase of introspection, chaos, and sometimes even depression. This phase is undoubtedly the least pleasant of the four. Paradoxically it is the one that is the richest in lessons. It is time to reflect on the situation and find solutions to find or rediscover what makes sense for oneself.
This cycle is still low energy, but this time it is positive. It is a phase of experimentation to find what we really want.
It is the moment when everything is possible, we test, discover, and allow ourselves to explore unknown areas, the previously dark sky is gradually clearing up, and the sweetness of summer is approaching.
Take your responsibility
Let’s talk about a subject that annoys us. The change will only occur after we realize that we have to take responsibility for what happens to us in life. This sentence seems profoundly unfair at first glance, so let me explain and give you an example.
I had just turned 16, and my brother, a few years older than me, died in a car accident. From that moment on, my world collapsed. I became more and more anxious about the world around me. I even developed a form of hypochondria. This went so far as to build anxiety myself that almost prevented me from leaving my home.
Of course, I was not responsible for what happened. However, I was responsible for the way I responded to the events. Some in the same circumstances would have done differently. A good dozen years later, I fell into personal development. My situation was so complicated that I was looking for every possible way to get out of this nightmare.
I then became truly aware that I had created this prison I was living in myself. Afterward, I made the decision to transform my life.
Realizing that we don’t control events, our relationship with them can seem frustrating, but I see something positive in it.
Therefore, it is up to us to make a different choice and, therefore, to direct our thoughts and decisions towards new solutions.
Taking responsibility for what you have today is rarely easy at first, but it’s the first essential step towards a better life.
What is the point of changing?
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” Paulo Coelho
This is the first important question here, the intention to change is commendable, but it is fundamental to do so for the right reasons. I have no desire to prevent you from changing – quite the opposite, in fact – but change is built on a solid foundation.
This foundation reflects your inner clarity, and it is up to you to ask yourself the right questions.
If you are not sure yet, give yourself time to think about it, and avoid regrets.
Speaking of regrets, Bronnie Ware’s book “The 5 Great Regrets of People at the End of Life” by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care caregiver to people at the end of life, has collected some poignant testimonials:
- I wish I had the courage to live the life I wanted and not the life that others expected me to live.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
- I would have liked to stay in touch with my friends
- I wish I could have allowed myself to be happier
If the notion of regrets doesn’t mean that much to you, here’s what I’ve seen from my personal experiences and my coaching:
Now, let’s see three main reasons that come before a change of life.
It is quite simple to notice that we do not reason in the same way (at least I hope so!) when we are 15 years old and when we are 30. Life experiences (successes or failures) are sources of permanent learning and, therefore, the implementation of new strategies daily, of course, if and only if one can learn from the past.
The power of love:
It may seem relatively naive put that way, yet on closer inspection, isn’t it the greatest power that exists in the hearts of human beings? Whether it is a parent who would donate a kidney to save their child without thinking for a second. It’s a spouse or a husband who would agree to go live on the other side of the world to follow their soul mate.
I love this romantic idea of change and find it incredibly inspiring.
To me, this is, unfortunately, the most common way to change. As long as one lives in comfort, change is impossible. We prefer to wait, postpone, make excuses, ruminate, etc.
The natural resilience makes us accept a hallucinating level of suffering, leading to dangerous, even absurd situations.
Haven’t we ever heard of this kind of story, in which a person has changed their life after an illness, a layoff, a burn-out, or a divorce?
One then chooses to change because one simply no longer has a choice, and it becomes a matter of life or death. It involves a relatively brutal awareness of a reality that we have often avoided for too long.
There is a major difference between the desire to change and the real will to transform one’s life.
Ask yourself: Why do I really want to change?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment
The perfect moment is now because the moment we are all waiting for does not exist.
Did you ever think that you were going to start when everything was perfect?
I have spent my life doing it and waiting for the right moment. You know that famous moment when all the stars are aligned, that moment when motivation is at its highest, that moment when fate will finally give me a sign, that moment when I will have lost those extra pounds, that moment when I will finally have given my resignation, that moment when I will have enough money to live freely.
I imagine that some of these examples speak to you.
Have you ever seen how nothing goes according to plan, how the so-called perfect moment becomes a pipe dream and then turns into a brilliant excuse not to do things?
I have the only certainty that there will be no change if you wait for the right moment.
Unfortunately, that perfect moment will never exist so go for it, who knows, you might be surprised at the result.
4 Powers to get started efficiently!
1. Passion/Finding your way
To achieve a lasting and positive change, it is fundamental that it is still in tune with our deepest self. Therefore it is to reconnect with your childhood dreams that you have put aside, it is urgent to know how to listen to you.
Doing something we are passionate about is surely one of the best ways to act.
Even if you don’t know exactly what you want. Go for it anyway.
Not everyone is lucky enough to find their passion as a child. Sometimes you just don’t find it in the course of a lifetime, so what can you do?
I’ve been asking myself this question for a long time, and the answer is simple and confusing, we must try and discover the maximum of things following our values and our personality. Try to get out of what we already know and explore new horizons.
I have read an incredible number of articles and done dozens of different exercises to find my passion. None of them gave me a concrete answer, but little by little, and still today, I am building my path as I want.
Another trick is to reverse the question and ask yourself: What do I no longer want in my life?
Being clear with what we no longer want allows us to give a different direction to our lives.
2. Willpower and Motivation
The will is essential initially; however, it is sure of one thing, it does not hold in time for major changes. Therefore the importance of quickly transforming this will into motivation.
Motivation in itself could be the subject of a memoir on its own.
In its etymology, motivation refers to an idea of movement. The dictionary defines it as: Reasons, interests, elements that push someone into action; makes for someone to be motivated to act.
We can distinguish two types of motivation:
– The extrinsic motivation which comes from external elements
– The intrinsic motivation that comes from within.
To be fulfilled, intrinsic motivation is the only viable long-term solution, the only one that lasts.
3. The extraordinary power of habits.
Our lives and our results are a reflection of all our little daily habits.
If the results you are getting are not at the level you are hoping for, then start by changing your habits:
You don’t get rid of a habit by throwing it out the window; you have to take it down the stairs step by step. Mark Twain
It is through repetition that a habit sets in. Start now to choose new patterns to implement. It’s not a question of changing everything at once but of being progressive and regular.
4. The power of goals
An objective helps draw the framework for action, to know where we are going. It works in tandem with your overall action plan.
The objective must be clear, precise, and have a clear end date.
I won’t go into too much detail about objectives, as I have written a book dedicated to this subject that you can download for free here :
4 Pitfalls to avoid for your personal development
I have very often, too often chosen shortcuts, “hold a course to learn the guitar in 3 days? Oh, learn English in two weeks?! “
Yes… I really believed that it could work, but I lost money and lost motivation.
Any change requires new learning, establishing new habits over the long term, and taking time, weeks, months, and sometimes years.
Impatience makes you make mistakes by taking shortcuts and other side roads to save time. Finally, you end up losing time.
The human being is complicated. He must assimilate, understand and practice to improve. Personal development is no exception. Time will be both your best ally and your worst enemy.
Choose to move forward a little each day; you will see great results faster than you think.
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
The word “resilience” is first and foremost a physical quality. A body can withstand a shock.
In psychology, the term is mainly used to designate the ability to continue to live and flourish by overcoming a major traumatic shock.
Indispensable and rather positive, why am I talking about it here?
Quite simply, because the resilience of the human being is so strong at times, it can save us and destroy us.
In some cases, we accept such a level of suffering that we end up at one point or another by “breaking.” (depression, burn-out, etc.)
Strongly linked to a lack of self-esteem, self-criticism is very present in people who fail in transforming their lives.
Our energy must be invested in the creation of new thought patterns.
Being kind to ourselves, learning to love ourselves with kindness, approving, and valuing our actions is all we need to express our full potential.
4. The Ego:
The term ego comes from Latin, which means “I/me.” The ego designates the part of the personality in charge of balancing the different forces facing the individual’s psyche.
However, the ego is nothing but an impression. The ego is not an independent existence. It is the product of a feeling of individuality.
We are not our ego, this limited “being” that we believe we are.
However, this ego hates change because its role is precisely not to change.
Wanting to destroy your ego or trying to deny it would only make it more powerful. It is a question here of becoming aware of it and accepting to work with it. It is also to reconcile with oneself.
PART2: Time to Action!
The notion of commitment
Being committed means promising to accomplish something.
In their french book named A little treaty of manipulation for the use of good people Robert Vincent Joule and Jean-Léon Beauvois consider commitment in the following way: “Only actions commit us. We are therefore not committed by our ideas, or by our feelings, but by our actual conduct.”
Commitment means taking action.
Commit yourself fully to what is important to you, do it thoroughly.
3 questions to get started!
1. Why not?
Have you ever asked yourself this question? And finally, why not?
What prevents you from fully embarking on your fulfillment, on your quest for inner growth?
2. Why not me?
Maybe you think it only happens to others? That personal development is not for you or that you won’t make it.
I have good news, you can do it. This guide and all the other articles you can find on my website are made to help you.
3. Why not now?
Don’t make the same mistake that millions of other people and I made waiting for the trigger.
The perfect moment simply doesn’t exist – change happens at the moment, in the now, and it happens in action, act now, massively.
Get to know yourself
We are at the heart of our own personal development, so it is essential to be clear about who you are.
Getting to know yourself is the path of a lifetime, and this topic alone would deserve a full article.
Nevertheless, here is a non-exhaustive list of exercises that I hope will help you to move forward:
- Learn to live in the present and accept the person you are now.
- Write daily in your journal.
- Practicing meditation
- Doing sports and getting to know your body.
A non-exhaustive list of questions to ask to discover yourself:
- What are your qualities?
- What are your faults?
- What was your dream when you were a child?
- What are your passions?
- What are you good at?
- What do you dislike?
- What time of day do you feel most creative?
- Who are the people who inspire me the most, and why?
- Where do you want to live?
- What am I thinking about right now?
Take the time to answer these questions.
Define an action plan
Without a precise framework, it opens the door to procrastination, investing time in secondary or inappropriate things, spending evenings scrolling on the phone, watching Netflix, and playing video games. Don’t worry, I’m an expert at this. I know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Your plan of action will be your beacon in the mist, giving you a path to follow, the one you’ve chosen.
I invite you to download my book here to get you started in the best possible way.
Remember to have fun
Personal development must be long-term, and fun is the key to perseverance. No lasting change is easy. It requires work, sacrifice, and rigor.
We tend to forget when we are focused on listening to what we feel and especially to appreciate the moment.
When was the last time you wondered if you took pleasure in what you were doing?
Consciously think about enjoying your activities.
Patience is your best ally
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tsu
In a society where we want everything immediately and effortlessly, it seems almost heresy to some, yet patience is the best ally in our daily lives.
We have to accept that results take time in all areas, and the higher the targeted result, the more likely it will take time.
It is not by doing a one-hour cardio workout that you lose weight or just taking a foreign language class to become bilingual. This is not enough. The same goes for our internal changes.
It is repetition that will anchor new habits and put in place new results, and for this to happen, it will be necessary to be regular over the long term, weeks, months, or even years.
It is crucial to avoid the trap of wanting results too quickly, which often makes us give up, so move forward step by step towards your goals and build the life you want.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this guide to personal development. I hope it was useful for you.
I thought and designed it with the desire to answer as many questions as possible so that the non-initiated can get started.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.