Personal development is a form of coaching that focuses entirely on the self. It aims to assess and evaluate an individual's current strengths and weaknesses in order to improve any aspect of their life that they wish to address.
At a personal development appointment with a life coach, you will be given the opportunity to assess how you are getting on in life - whether you are happy, whether you are reaching your goals, how your state of mind is affecting your relationships and so on. After establishing where you are in relation to your needs and goals, your coach will be able to help you devise ways to improve these aspects of your life.
On this page
The history of personal development
The term 'personal development' was coined in the USA during the late 60s and early 70s. It emerged as part of California's vogue for 'self-discovery' and 'life transformation', along with a host of other self-help therapies (such as Neuro Linguistic Programming, gestalt therapy and family therapy).
By the late 70s and early 80s, personal development had flourished into a lucrative industry. This preempted the emergence of 'therapy celebrities' like Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn, who took centre stage as self-help pioneers of the century.
According to research, the personal development industry is currently worth an estimated £50 million per year, and this figure is rising. This ever increasing demand for personal development coaching in the UK is thought to be a result of a mixture of factors, including the current economic climate. With more debt, more cuts and less jobs, the state of Britain's economy could well be causing people to rethink their lives.
How do personal development sessions work?
Personal development is, in a sense, like spring-cleaning your house. In the same way you might go through rooms examining old belongings and asking yourself whether or not you really need them, personal development improves life by evaluating aspects of the self.
Personal development is about increasing your self-awareness. Life coaches aim to draw out the strengths and weaknesses and identify the potential that already exists within you. This is accomplished through a series of questions designed to help you first realise, and then build upon, your strengths and weaknesses.
A personal development coach does not necessarily offer direct advice. They tend to steer clear of telling clients exactly what to do. They do, however, offer guidance in the form of personal development plans and strategies enabling you to practice effective self help. These structured plans will help you to take steps towards success and happiness, however big or small.
A personal development coach will aim to:
- Ask the right questions in order to guide you to an answer.
- Encourage you to think deeply and pragmatically about how you live your life and what you would like to change.
- Challenge you by identifying inconsistencies in your thought processes.
- Support you through difficult decisions.
- Help you to devise strategies to implement your goals.
- Assist you with implementing and following a personal development plan.
Is personal development coaching for me?
As long as you feel ready to start making changes and to put the effort into implementing them, then a personal development plan could help you. It may help you to quickly consider the following questions:
- Do you feel like you need to build a specific skill or skill set to advance in life?
- Do you wish you had better communication skills?
- Do you want to learn how to become more confident?
- Do you wish you were happier?
The way you deal with situations determines the way the situations turn out. For example, if you are having relationship problems you may want to work on certain skills. This can involve things like controlling your temper, voicing your grievances, being more selfless etc.
According to Tony Nutley, author of 'The Little Book of Personal Development', there is one fundamental rule in personal development, and this can be applied to any situation. That rule is: to continue to grow and to make changes to any aspect of your life that you wish to improve. This could include your:
Mental or emotional state
How do you approach life? Negatively or positively? Often the way we feel about certain events or changes that occur, effects the way we deal with them. Personal development places emphasis on what you think about things and what things mean to you. For instance, if you desire success, you need to ask yourself what success means to you. What is it? How do you know when you have it? What does it feel like?
Understanding your mental or emotional state is the first step towards improving it, which is in turn the first step towards reaching your goals.
Love life, relationships and happiness
Your 'love life' will often have a big effect on your overall well-being and happiness. Whether you are single or in a relationship, taking a moment to consider how happy you are with the situation is the first step towards improving it. Perhaps you are single and find it difficult to find or maintain partnerships, or perhaps you are in a unsatisfying relationship and would like the confidence to address the situation. Learning about yourself through personal development coaching could help you to address the unhappiness you feel in relation to your love-life and strive for the happiness you deserve.
A personal development plan can often help you to address any social issues you might have. Whether you lack the confidence to meet new people and make new friends, or if you have fallen out with friends or you're not sure how to deal with a friend's problems, personal development can help you overcome these anxieties by encouraging you to look introspectively.
Your personal development coach may ask you what your social life is like currently. Are you the kind of person who needs lots of people around them to feel happy? Or do you prefer your own space? Realising your social needs can help you understand why certain problems have emerged, and how best to deal with them.
Ability to manage money
Money is becoming an increasing worry for many people in the UK. People who find themselves in debt can often think of nothing else. This can cast a shadow over every other aspect of life and have a negative impact on emotional health. If you have money problems, personal development can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your finances and realise how you got into your financial situation - do you spend frivolously? Do you have too many outgoings? Do you have any expensive addictions? Devising a personal development plan could help you to gradually gain control of your finances.
Do you feel like you're not reaching your full potential at work? Do you feel like your efforts are constantly undervalued? Are you being given too much responsibility? Do you feel unsuccessful or unable to face challenges? Are you approaching retirement and feel anxious about how your life might change? For so many people, work dominates life. This means that work stress can have a negative impact on other aspects of life, such as relationships or general happiness. Personal development can help set out your problems and goals systematically so you don't have to feel too confused or overwhelmed while facing these issues.
Are you unhappy at home? Whatever your role in the household- teenager, father, husband, wife or mother, being unhappy at home can be all-consuming. The home should be a place of comfort and protection, not conflict. Personal development could help you to improve the way you deal with these problems.
Many people seek personal development coaching to help them address their 'spiritual needs'. You may feel like in order to understand life, you need to explore ideas that go beyond the physical realm. Personal development addresses all aspects of the self and for many people, spirituality is an integral part of life.
Personal development techniques
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
If you are going to develop yourself personally then you first need to know which areas you would like to develop. The above areas can all be addressed with personal development coaching, and the first step is to identify the strengths and weaknesses in each area of your life.
Personal development is about recognising small achievements. Sometimes, we can feel insignificant or unsuccessful simply because we fail to recognise our day to day successes. A success counts as anything from going to the gym or finishing a work project, to gaining a degree or getting married. By seeing life as a series of small steps and accomplishments, you can start to develop a more positive outlook. You can begin to feel like you are developing positively.
Log your achievements
A life coach may advise you to keep a personal development diary. Here you can write your thoughts and feelings about the events that happen in your life. Recording events makes it easier for you to evaluate your changing behaviour and reflect on how you could improve it for a better outcome.
Evaluate your behaviour/decisions
In order to move forward and improve, it is important to understand both the positive and negative impacts of your actions. When examining the positive impacts, it is essential to pinpoint why your actions worked out the way they did, and how you can reciprocate them. When examining the negative impacts, it is important to identify where and why things went wrong, and to learn from your mistakes.
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