Learning and becoming a better version of ourselves is an ongoing process. In fact, it is a life long process. The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing. However, learning and developing ourselves require discipline and intentionality. This is especially true for those of us who are no longer in school, and have no assigned homework, reading or research project. We are pretty much on our own and are a 100% responsible for our development. So what can we do to keep developing ourselves despite our busy lives? Here are 10 ways we can invest in our personal development.
As an introvert, this does not come naturally to me, but I have to commit to doing it. Networking can be in a formal (e.g., attending a networking event) or informal (e.g., making new friends at the gym) setting. If networking does not come naturally to you, make it a goal to attend at least one networking event per quarter, or per month if you can make enough time. Then decide how many people you want to talk to/exchange business cards with at the event. So, have a plan and stick to it. Once you’ve reached your goal, you can hang out with your friend if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Sometimes, we dread networking events because we feel like we will be doing most of the talking, but that is usually not the case. Let’s be honest, most people like talking about themselves and what they do in life. So you may end up listening more than speaking and getting a lot out of the event.
Once you leave the event, make it a goal to stay in touch with the people you met. You may need them at some point or they may need you.
Volunteering is another great way to develop ourselves while giving back. For example, if you are interested in transitioning into another career field, find a volunteer opportunity that will help you develop the skills you need to be successful in the new field. Let’s say you want to get into event planning – wouldn’t it be good to get some hands-on experience with a well established agency first? This will not only help you understand what event planning entails, but it will also help you know if that’s what you really want to pursue. So take advantage of volunteering opportunities to acquire new skills or perfect existing ones.
- Find Your Tribe
As women, having a tribe is an asset. This will be a group of people (men and women) we share something in common with; they are people we can talk openly to without fearing judgement; they will push us, cheer us up when we feel down and most importantly, they will give us constructive feedback. If you don’t know how to find your tribe, start with attending Meetup groups on topics that interest you for example. Whether it’s a meetup for new moms, real estate investors, book lovers…you’ll already have one thing in common with the other attendees. From there, just let things come naturally; don’t force it.
- Find A Mentor/Become One
A mentor is someone who is in a position/place you aspire to be in one day. In other words, your mentor should be somewhat ahead of you and can give you advice, best practices on how to get to where they are. Let’s say you are currently a staff within a company and would like to one day become a Manager; it would be good to have a mentor who started as a staff and is now a manager. Or let’s say you are a blogger with 5,000 followers and would like to get to 100,000 followers; find someone who is there.
One thing to remember is that the mentor/mentee relationship should be a two-way street relationship; just because you are the mentee does not mean you have nothing to offer. Just like in any other relationships, the person who always gives and never receives will eventually get tired. As a mentee, you can give for example by being proactive in the relationship; for example, schedule meetings with your mentor and come prepared with questions.
Be a mentor to someone too. If needed, join organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister.
- Find A Coach
With all the coaches out there these days, people are more and more skeptical when it comes to having a coach. They feel like they do not need one. But let me tell you that the majority of successful people out there we aspire to become one day, have at least one coach if not a couple of them. Whether it is a life coach, a career coach, a financial coach…we can all use someone.
So see in which area of your life you may need a coach and find one. And they don’t have to be the most expensive ones. In fact you can even have a virtual one. You’ll thank yourself later.
This is one of my favorite ways to develop myself. In fact, reading is one habit that successful people have in common: from Oprah Winfrey to Warren Buffet, they all attribute at least part of their success to their love of reading. So read as often and as much as you can. If you are not into reading yet, start reading books on subjects of interest to you and don’t pick up a book just because everyone else is reading it. You will get discouraged!
Now with audio and digital books, there are so many ways you can get through books. And even if you don’t get anything else out of a book, at least you will learn a few words you can add to your vocabulary.
- Follow People Who Inspire You On Social Media
If someone inspires, uplifts and motivates you, follow them on social media. You will learn so much from them that you can apply to your own life. We can easily waste time on social media reading things that depress us; but how about turning our focus on things that inspire us, that alone will make us feel better about ourselves. And when we feel good about ourselves, we can definitely achieve greater things in life.
- Constantly Ask For Constructive Feedback
As human beings, we usually don’t like to be told that we are doing something wrong. But asking honest constructive feedback is a great way to develop ourselves. It shows us how other people perceive or think of what we do or say and helps us adjust accordingly. Whether it is at work or in our relationships, asking for constructive feedback can only make us better people. That being said, if you feel like the person providing the constructive feedback is not being honest, ask someone else to. We want constructive feedback and not destructive ones.
- Never Stop Learning
Make it a goal to learn something new periodically (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Do what you have to do, but never stop learning. Whether it is listening to podcasts, participating in conferences or reading as mentioned in point 6., NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Last but not least, travel !
Travelling opens up our mind to other parts of the world and helps us understand other people and cultures. A person who travels tends to be less judgmental towards people of different cultures while also becoming more knowledgeable of other cultures. So travel if you can!
Until next time…