Personal Development

Today I’d like to introduce a new theme to our blogs which is very close to my heart.

Now, bear with me on this as the phrase “personal development” can have people cringing in their seats. A Wikipedia search on the subject reveals the following:

“Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations”

Sounds good to me. I’ll have some of that, thank you.

So, let us begin with a brief Q&A session. Answer the questions below as honestly as possible:

  • Do you care about your career?
  • Do you work from a to-do-list at work?
  • Do you schedule your day, week, and month at work?
  • Are you on a promotional path with a vision of where you’d like to get to?
  • Do you have clear KPI’s, regular reviews and annual appraisals?

My guess is that you probably answered yes to most, if not all, of the above questions. Most people, or most of my readership at least, put a lot of weight and significance on their careers. We are all striving to improve and to develop, aren’t we?

Let me ask you another question...

Why do most people not attach the same level of planning, structure, diligence, care and attention to their own personal lives as they do to their professional lives?

I would guess that very few people have written a personal mission statement or written a list of short and long term goals. Fewer people operate a scheduling system to prioritise their time, and even fewer schedule regular time for mental and emotional development.

Not to mention scheduled time for physical challenges, goals and major life ambitions.

Sound familiar?

Through my own career, meeting thousands of professional people during the last 13 years, it's clear to me that most of us could lead far more productive, happier, richer and more fulfilled lives if we would all apply the same structure that we do to our careers to the other areas of our lives.

Self-help and personal development books have been around for years. Tony Robbins, Peter Drucker, Deepak Chopra, Paul McKenna. However, there has been a recent explosion in books, podcasts, and vlogs all focused on holistic personal betterment methodology.

Could this be a reaction to decreasing levels of general life satisfaction in the western world?

Over the coming months I’ll start to share some key insights and learnings that I’ve gained as a self-confessed personal development junkie. For me though, it all started with ‘why’. Why we live the way we do, why we act the way we do, and why feel the way we do.

During the past 10 years I’ve immersed myself in the literature by studying psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness. I’ve devoured biographies and listened to podcasts by some pretty radical thinkers (by modern standards at least!).

The hedonic treadmill

Why have I done this?

For some time now I’ve always had a suspicion, although it’s only in more recent times that I can articulate it, that the ‘progress’ we are all part of in modern society is actually making us all sick, unhappy, depressed, and anxious.

The global marketing industry has done a fantastic job of creating a deficit need in all of us. This teaches us that we all need more. More possessions, more money, more status, more beauty even.

The phrase ‘hedonic treadmill’ was coined in the 1970’s to describe this very phenomenon.

Which brings me back to my original question regarding planning. If we don’t schedule time to focus on life out of work, if we don’t set major life goals that aren’t defined by our profession, then are we all chasing the wrong things?

Looking forward to expanding the conversation further over the coming months.