The importance of self-development is often spoken about. People are called to develop constantly, but no one indicates the directions — where and how to develop, few imagine. At the same time, everyone has a need for development. In this article, we will look at what self-development is, what it consists of and how to implement it in practice.
What is it in psychology?
Self-development means a certain work on oneself, the efforts and actions of a person aimed at improving oneself in various areas of life. Up to a certain age, our parents are involved in our development, then teachers, universities. But now the diploma has been received, should development stop there? Of course not. Any stagnation sooner or later leads to degradation. Therefore, the need for self-development is obvious.
This is an internal human need, and even those who rarely think about the essence of the concept as such have it.
Self-development allows a person to maintain self-respect, the proper level of self-esteem. He works on himself in order to acquire the necessary personality traits, skills, characteristics that will become the basis of his existence, help him achieve his desired goals. If at school and university everything is quite simple with the definitions of tasks, they are set before us by mentors, then in terms of self-development everything is more complicated. No one will give you a task, explain a new topic, take an exam and send you to retake. All this will have to be done on your own.
You can, of course, find schools of self-development, turn to coaches, or, in extreme cases, join a sect, but practice shows that often they all have very specific goals — to gain benefits, and they are completely uninterested in your development as a person. And therefore to engage in self-development, as follows from the definition of the concept, will have to be done solely on their own, sometimes through trial and error. To reduce errors, it is worth listening to the basic recommendations, on the basis of which you can develop your own development plan and successfully follow it.
There is also good news — human nature itself will be on your side, providing for the need to develop for each species. If a person stops in development, life itself tries to push him out of his comfort zone so that the process of evolution and learning continues.
Why is it necessary?
The desire for self-development — the need of everyone, and to one degree or another it is experienced by everyone without exception. Developing personally, striving to change ourselves for the better, we increase our level of motivation, learn new things and open up prospects for ourselves. This is extremely important for self-realization, finding the meaning of existence. The importance of self-development is undeniable at any age. If a person does not stand still, he gets the opportunity not only to use basic motives, but also to create his own life with his own hands, to make it interesting and rich, complete and harmonious.
Choosing the path of self-development, a person sees positive changes in himself, the world around him, because everything starts with himself and his views, beliefs, judgments, optimism. Those who have identified self-development as an important area of their lives are usually more successful at work, happy in family and relationships. They begin to achieve goals faster, their health improves. Why, with all the visible advantages of self-development, do many try to avoid it? There can be quite a few reasons for this.
- Fear of changing something in your usual life, fear of the future.
- Understanding that development will require some effort, unwillingness and laziness.
- Fear of being condemned by relatives and friends and the risk of falling into the category of «eccentrics» who always lack something.
Belief that the best is the enemy of the good usually stops a person, and not allowing him to move from reasoning about the benefits of personal self-development to real actions. What if the improvements will have an unexpected effect? What if it gets worse than it is now? Gradually, such an approach can lead to the reduction of life to banal physiological needs — to eat, sleep, reproduce, defend themselves if attacked, or stay in a well-fed sleepy slumber if no enemies are foreseen on the horizon. This is a natural way of life for an animal, but not for a person.
Directions of self-development
If the decision to embark on the path of self-development is made, it should be clearly understood what are its components and strategic directions, types. This will help not to wander in a sea of information, but to immediately build clear and distinct goals, to determine the areas in which you have to work further.
No one will tell you what to believe, what God to worship, what commandments to accept as true. If someone tries to do this, it will be more of a manipulation. Only you yourself can understand what kind of spiritual content you need. But the spiritual direction is the most important, and it is recommended to put it in the first place.
Even inveterate atheists rely on some of their values, ideas about the permissible, moral, and this can also be considered spirituality.
Whatever form a person is in, he it is important to take care of your health. If you lose it, then other areas of life will automatically lose their significance. That is why it is important to take care of your body, visit a doctor on time, and not engage in experiments in the field of traditional medicine and self-medication. Age-appropriate physical activity should certainly be a part of your every day. It is not necessary to play sports professionally, a simple but daily exercise will be enough.
How do you take care of your body? you need to monitor your psyche, supporting it. This direction of self-development involves mastering the techniques of relaxation and stress management, regular self-control and introspection, mastering the methods of training memory and attentiveness, concentration and thinking. By forcing the brain to work, you can correct mental processes, avoid nervous breakdowns. You will learn to hear your own feelings and thoughts, to know your desires.
This direction implies the realization of oneself as a social unit — as a husband or wife, mother, father, grandmother. Learning to interact in society, understanding the connections that exist in the philosophy of relationships, we begin to rethink the role of people in our own lives, increase their value, better understand our own value. The social role does not always correspond to the education and profession received. That is why people of different professions go to volunteer or do socially useful things at their leisure, for example, they clean the banks of rivers or repair public playgrounds on their own.
Through these actions, a person realizes himself as a member of society, remaining at the same time a bright individuality.
The intellect itself does not develop, which has long been proven by biologists and physiologists. If you do not teach a child to read and count, he will not be able to comprehend more complex sciences. So and an adult needs to constantly maintain his mental and intellectual spheres in perfect order, giving himself food for thought.
Unfortunately, many see relaxation after a hard day’s work as watching a talk show on TV. Such spectacles do not force us to think, to do mental work. A person on the path of self-development refuses any activities that are devoid of semantic load. Any minute is used by him with benefit — he will read books, solve logic puzzles or puzzles, preferring to increase his intellectual potential even at his leisure.
Any person is a creator in some way, it is not necessary to be a representative of the creative profession in order to fulfill oneself in creativity. On the path of self-development, a person learns to creatively approach the solution of his everyday tasks, to introduce elements of an artistic approach even into routine actions. There are no people who have no talent at all. There are people who have not yet revealed them.
The creative direction does not provide for the indispensable development of drawing or modeling, playing music, it only helps to find one’s own talent, discover it and give it the opportunity to develop.
Self-development in the profession is the constant improvement of professional knowledge and skills. The desire to keep abreast of everything new that happens in the field of activity distinguishes the artisan from the master. It is not enough for a master to have his baggage of experience, he is always open to receiving and transferring experience, he is keenly interested in everything that is important for his work. With professional self-development, a person is not burdened by the need to go to work again. She gives him pleasure.
Ways of self-improvement
There are many ways to develop yourself. The main ones are obvious — education, training, as well as the desire to read and comprehend new, previously unknown. Self-education in modern conditions does not face obstacles in the form of a lack of information. There is a lot of it, and you need to use it.
But before you choose a technique or methods, you need to find approaches to yourself. Therefore, for starters, you can study information that is useful for self-knowledge and awareness of your true goals, needs and desires. The principles of self-development imply complex efforts and actions aimed at:
- increasing self-esteem, confidence;
- development of own strengths and positive qualities;
- correction of one’s own shortcomings that complicate life or prevent one from living the way one would like;
- improved health status;
- increase in social status;
- development of their emotional and mental potentials;
- time management.
The main principle of successful self-development is to optimally combine theory and research with their application in practice. Without implementation in life, any knowledge loses its meaning.
Where to begin?
First stage — self-knowledge. It will help you determine what aspirations you have, what your priorities are, what stage of development you are currently in. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, identify what internal beliefs are preventing you from achieving your goals. Based on this, an individual plan is formed in which you determine what you will do first and what later. Psychological tests can also help in self-diagnosis.
Whenever an idea comes to you that gives rise to a willingness to act, stop for a second and ask yourself the main question — “Why?”. Why do you want it? Why do you think it’s difficult? Why is this needed right now? Gradually extend this useful question to your decisions and actions, to habits, because it is very useful to find out why coffee is more pleasant for you than tea, and your favorite color is blue, not yellow.
The second stage is the definition of methods and techniques. You can use one, you can practice several at once. Gradually, an understanding will come of which of the proposed ones is more and less effective for you. Start observing yourself — it is very helpful. Nonjudgmental observation will show real changes. Record your thoughts, emerging emotions, ideas and beliefs, bodily sensations, and sudden needs. Usually a couple of weeks of such close observation of oneself is enough to understand exactly how this or that technique or exercise affects you.
Sample lesson plan
Anyone can make their own program. But if this is difficult to do at first, let’s try to define tasks together.
week of truth
The first seven days will be the hardest. Your task is to be as truthful as possible in yourself, not to justify anything, not to look for explanations for your actions. Just write down all your observations every day and ask yourself “why?” more often. This week may show the most unexpected results. For example, you may realize that you are incredibly touchy, that you are in desperate need of new acquaintances and expanding your social circle, that you do not want to do what you have been doing all this time, but want to change jobs, that the decision to play tennis was not your own, but a decision girlfriend, and you only agreed with him that you do not love your husband, but only support marriage out of habit.
Revelations can be shocking, but they must be experienced and taken into account. This week will clearly show you what system you need, where you should direct your efforts in the first place, how to adjust your life priorities. From now on, you will no longer be able to deceive yourself, because the truth will already be revealed.
Contract with yourself
After forming a clear intention, conclude an agreement with yourself, an internal contract, which is called a personal vision. Describe on paper and in as much detail as possible what you want to become, who you see yourself, who is next to you, where you live, what you do, how you feel about it. You make a written commitment to yourself that you must not break. The likelihood that everything will be exactly as you described will increase if everything is really written on paper.
Making a plan
Start by setting big goals in every area of your life. Highlight in them intermediate goals and set clear deadlines. For example, in the week of truth, you realized that you are tired of your work — and it does not bring joy, as well as income. The goal is to do interesting things and get decent money for it. Intermediate goals are to study the job market for a period of 15 days, send resumes for interesting offers, schedule meetings and interviews. Do not settle for less, look for exactly what will fully reflect your ideas about a good job with good pay.
For each goal, clearly define what books, courses, manuals you may need. Consider asking for help from your friends, maybe there are people among them who have the necessary knowledge and capabilities, it will not be difficult for them to help you become better and more efficient, happier.
Accounting for achievements
Keep a clear record of your achievements. Even small achievements should be recorded. This will help track progress, keep you motivated in difficult moments of doubt and failure.
Make notes daily, every week and month, take stock of what you learned and how you were able to apply it.
Try to learn new information in this way. The method implies intuitive understanding instead of rote memorization of boring and not always necessary numbers, proportions, facts and dates. A sandbox is an area in which you can safely experiment without the risk of losing everything if the experiment fails.
The sandbox should be free, should not be an area of any risk. For example, you can start a blog and try to learn how to write well and interestingly, try your hand at photography, offering them on social networks. Analyze feedback, it will help you learn a new skill much faster. Gradually introduce new conditions and knowledge into your sandbox, study information, replenish knowledge and fill your experimental site with new content.
There are separate recommendations for representatives of different sexes.
- For women. Pay special attention to your emotions and don’t put «labels» like «this is good» or «this is bad» on your own feelings at the start of self-knowledge and self-development. This is the most common mistake of the fair sex. The evaluative approach prevents in the end to correctly understand the degree of significance of a change.
- For men. A common male mistake at the start is a naive approach. Various systems and methods are being tried, and for a long time it seems that all this works fine or may work in the near future. But in fact, a person stands in one place, not moving anywhere. To prevent this, you need to overcome the typical male reluctance to write down their feelings. It is the records that can show that you have gone astray or never set off on it.
Here are some more useful exercises that you can practice daily.
- Story. Take five minutes of your time and write your own story. It can be told to the child at bedtime or written down if the work is successful. Unleash your imagination, come up with unusual characters, a difficult journey. Each of your fairy tales should end with valuable advice and be sure to convey a part of life experience. This will help to effectively use your creativity, which, as we have already found out, everyone has.
- Counting in the mind. Everything that needs to be calculated, try to calculate in your mind, and not with a calculator. This will help maintain the tone of the brain, which is extremely important for comprehending any self-improvement system you choose.
- Three new words or terms. Every day, learn three new foreign words or complex terms that you didn’t even know existed before.
This trains memory and associative perception, which are necessary in order to quickly assimilate the bulk of the data.
The advice of experts to those who embark on the path of self-organization and self-improvement is quite simple, and the main thing is to aim yourself at success, not failure. Any barriers on the way are easier to overcome with optimism.
- Do not grab onto everything, bring what you started to the end.
- Develop internal discipline in yourself, do not allow yourself to be lazy and not fulfill the planned plan, justifying this with various life circumstances.
- Learn to relax, allocate enough time for this, meditate, relax.
- Do not set inflated goals, the implementation of which is unrealistic or inaccessible to you according to the opportunities available at the moment.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. It will become an experience and a new step in your development.