I have worked in Professional Development for 15 years. Professional development by way of Events (planning large/small and virtual conferences where one attains continuing education) for the first 10 years of my career and by way of Executive Education (hosting professionals for customized trainings on campus) for the last 5 years. I have learned a thing or two along the way and am honestly grateful for the people I have worked with in these industries, the opportunities and skills I developed early in my career.
But I’m not here to talk about that. While I have 15 years of work experience in professional development, just within the last year I have been fortunate enough to really take time and work on my personal development. What a necessary and rewarding experience it has been. And perhaps you have done some too. It seems that topics on burnout and stress, mental health awareness and virtual learning platforms are at an all time high after all we have learned and gone through during the pandemic. Or maybe you are interested in knowing how to get started on taking the time to work on yourself.
I think it is hardest to just go ahead and finally get started here. Please know I am no expert, just a friend with advice. A friend who didn’t know how to even recognize help was needed nonetheless how to ask for help. Admittedly I find this hard, always have. I want to do a lot. I want to do it myself. Until it becomes too much to carry. Sound familiar to anyone else?
So, first step is realizing that there is a need, whether out of necessity or not, that you (and those around you) could benefit from you taking time focusing on yourself. Maybe you are struggling in your career or relationships or your own health. Maybe you are overwhelmed during pandemic, too much on your plate, not enough help and are literally drowning. 🙋♀️ Or maybe more subtly, you just feel unmotivated, uninspired, anxious or concerned about something, anything… not to mention all of the world’s problems today.
While you may not know where to begin, I find that making a list of specific needs is a good place to start. These are examples of questions to get your brain started:
What are you having a hard time with? What keeps you from having peace in your mind? Do you have troubled relationships? What keeps you up at night? What steals your joy? What areas in your life need attention? What is holding you back from being the best version of you? Or journal how you feel (1-10) with a corresponding emotion (or a few) for a week and see where you are.
Now this may look like a problems list but it is a way to get started and see where it is most beneficial for you to begin working on. You may even notice a theme. That is great, you are making progress!
From here, I would make another list of possible solutions or ways to improve yourself aka personal development. Some ideas for this list could be something like this-
1. Talk with therapist or doctor
2. Talk with friend/family or someone you trust
3. Look for a training/ class/ meeting or even a book (online or in person)
4. Eat right/ begin exercise program. Walk.
5. Join group/club or go to church
6. Take a vacation/ time off to reset/ extended leave
7. Take a break from a friends group
8. Go to a summer camp
You may not get past writing down just talk to someone. And that’s ok! Writing it down and looking at very general possible options can be tremendously helpful. I know that I really benefit from writing things down in order to process thoughts in my head. Recognition of a problem(s) is a huge first step and getting it all out of your head and on to paper feels like progress in itself.
And just initially spitballing and thinking about possible solutions can naturally get the ball rolling. By giving this attention, our brain can start focusing and thinking it through. Your list may become specific the more you think about it. “Talk to friend” may become “Call X and talk about Y this week” or “join a support group” may become “attend Wednesday weekly meeting for Z support group” just simply because of your awareness to the concern. Again, offering my non-expert advice here.
The reason for doing professional development comes easy. Want a promotion? Want a skill or degree? Need CEUs to keep your job? Professional Development is most definitely the answer.
Not feeling productive, like yourself, need a change, want to grow, worried about something, unhappy… when and how to do some personal development is less clear. It does not often get prioritized until the problem is out of control. It doesn’t go away, it just keeps growing. Hopefully the 2 lists I have described above helps.
1. Make a list of things bothering you, areas of need. Notice any themes?
2. Make a quick list of general possible solutions
Then begin refining, prioritizing and working through possible solutions. This is where your journey begins.
Taking time for your own development will always be worth your effort and energy. Your goals may include just being happier or quitting a bad habit, saving money or adding a skill to your repertoire.
If I may offer a non-expert tip: While social media wants you to sell your soul and “be vulnerable” sometimes it is best to keep some thoughts and feelings to yourself before crowd sourcing and getting unsolicited opinions. Just a thought. I find reaching out to those you know, love and trust or professionals may be the best avenue especially at first.
Also, think about those that are close to you. Heighten your senses and become aware or observant. If you think they could use some help or personal development, it doesn’t hurt to offer kind words, advice or encouragement to loved ones or those that are close to you. You may even want to share this with them.
I have more to share on the topic but am always interested in your thoughts and feedback. Also, as I always say, I am here. Always a listening ear and happy to help if I can.
Not everyone suffers but I think we all struggle from time to time. It’s human nature. This is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all dealing with a lot right now in varying ways. Our world moves way too fast. Being open and honest will help put you in the right direction to seeking personal development.