We are shaped during our formative years by the people we encounter, the places we explore, and the events we participate in. These experiences help to determine the type of person we will become as we grow from childhood to adulthood.
Personal development, however, should be a lifelong process through which we aspire to be the best version of ourselves. While this can involve major goals and aspirations—getting a promotion at work, for instance—it can also be achieved on a day-to-day basis by adhering to simple suggestions. The following are eight easy-to-accomplish personal development goals.
1. Learn More
Similar to personal development, the act of learning and seeking out knowledge shouldn’t be suspended once you reach adulthood. Not only does learning support professional development efforts, but it also promotes critical thinking and equips you with the proper tools to understand and manage life challenges. Fortunately, acquiring knowledge isn’t difficult given the abundance of educational resources available online. You can also learn more by allocating more time to reading and not being afraid to ask questions.
2. Listen Better
Learning to be a more active listener is an easy way to expand your knowledge—all it requires is paying more attention when others are speaking. Also, by being a better listener, you can show yourself to be more trustworthy and compassionate. To get started, be sure to remove or ignore any distractions when in conversation with others. Display engaging body language and ask open-ended questions. Generally speaking, good listeners make good friends and communicators, as they make others feel cared for and validated.
3. Wake up Early
Many people promote waking up early as the secret to success. Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up before 4 a.m., while other successful early risers include Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Although there’s much more to becoming successful in business, waking up early can promote overall productivity due to the simple fact that there is more time in the day to achieve your various tasks and goals. Research has also indicated that those who regularly wake up early are happier and healthier than those who sleep in.
It can be difficult, however, to establish an early-rising routine. One of the most effective ways to do this is to follow a sleep schedule. Aim to go to sleep—and wake up—at the same time every day regardless of your schedule and plans. If falling asleep early is challenging at first, consider putting away all distractions such as phones and laptops and avoid drinking caffeine within at least six hours before bedtime.
4. Be More Compassionate and Empathetic
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion,” is a famous quote by the Dalai Lama. Being compassionate is integral to experiencing happiness, as it allows us to feel more connected to one another by emphasizing commonalities as opposed to differences.
Make it a point to verbally and non-verbally communicate compassion in your interactions, and encourage others to do the same. Moreover, you should show compassion to yourself by forgiving your mistakes and taking the time to be proud of your successes.
5. Be Proactive
Being proactive means considering any possible challenges before they happen, allowing you the opportunity to handle and overcome them head-on should they arise. Being reactive, meanwhile, means having to respond to obstacles as they occur.
Shifting your philosophy to being more proactive can be achieved by looking toward the future, taking personal responsibility for your success, thinking through possible scenarios, and focusing on what you can control.
6. Get Along Better with Others
Trying to get along better with others can be beneficial to your personal and professional life. In your career, it both helps with networking and promotes organizational success. Though you and your coworkers will have different perspectives on certain topics, trying to get along with them regardless can enhance productivity. To assist in efforts to get along better with others, try to listen without arguing and ask questions that might provide more insight into their point of view. Moreover, be aware of emotions, but don’t let them permeate dialogue.
7. Become More Mindful
Being mindful refers to slowing down and living in the present as opposed to focusing on the past. Put more simply, it means focusing on the positive instead of the negative. Meditation is one exercise that can help you become more mindful—and it doesn’t necessarily have to be an hour-long session. You can also try taking a minute or two for deep breathing exercises or stretching for short 10-second intervals every hour.
8. Volunteer More
The satisfaction gained from helping others is a benefit in and of itself. Researchers have highlighted volunteerism as a way to enhance mental health, as it alleviates stress and anxiety and protects against depression via regular contact with others. Other benefits include increased self-confidence and sense of purpose as well as improved social skills.