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Personal development: 12 tips & 6 exercises for your self development

Only gradually – and often through conscious effort – do we develop further, throughout our lives. Self improvement is exhausting, yes. But it also makes you satisfied and happy. Below you’ll find tips and exercises to help you get more out of yourself.

Most people do not use their full potential by far. Self development is a long and continuous process, but in the end, you can grow from the challenges you set for yourself. We explain how that works here.

What personal development is – a definition

What personal development is – a definition

Personal growth is an ongoing process that can go in very different directions. Goals include these:

  • Through personal development, you get to know yourself better and understand the way you act and why.
  • You find out what goals you want to achieve and what principles you live by. And you will also find out how to achieve these goals.
  • You become more relaxed and happier, more stable in life.
  • You can deal more flexibly with difficult times, problems, and crises.
  • You live a self-determined life and become more independent from others.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? However – and here comes the catch – personality development is a slow process that progresses in small steps. And: You will never be "finished". There is always more to learn and experience. Fortunately, the journey itself is exciting and fulfilling.

12 tips for your self development

So how do you get started? Below are 12 helpful tips for your personal growth.

Establish a (preliminary) focus

One thing at a time: Set a focus for your personality development

As you can see from the list above, the possible goals of personal development are very broad. It is impossible and not necessary to work on all of them at the same time.

The first thing you should do is to decide in which direction you want to go. Do you want to develop more self-confidence? Become more relaxed? Gain a zest for life? Deal better with criticism? Identify your goals in life. Or something completely different?

First, decide on a direction. Don’t worry: The focus will always change depending on your life situation and interests, and the other topics will come sooner or later.

If you’re having trouble making decisions, here are tips on decision making.

Read, read, read

There are many books and websites that deal with self development in all its facets. There you will find a lot of exciting content, thought experiments, experience reports, and tips.

The experiences and thoughts of others are very helpful for your own personal development. And: If you deal with a topic intensively, you won’t lose sight of it so quickly. Therefore, read many different things and pick out the aspects that suit you.

Find your own way

Nothing is as individual as personal growth. Only you can find out what you need and what is helpful for you. Therefore, do not limit yourself to one single path, and do not believe in any "gurus" or specialists unreservedly. Only you can find the right way for you.

Experiment and try new things

Experiment and try new things

If you read or exchange with others, you will experience many different exercises, tips, and strategies. To find out which ones work for you, experiment a bit.

Try exercises and see how they work for you. If they don’t do much for you or don’t feel good, just drop them and try something else. Be mindful of yourself and test what works for you.

Keep a diary

It can be very helpful to write down what you try and how it makes you feel. On the one hand, it is very exciting in retrospect to find out what was on your mind a few months or years ago.

On the other hand, this way you can better perceive your progress and distinguish useful from useless ways. Therefore, make notes on important insights, exercises, thoughts, and results.

Take small steps

To be self-confident, happy, and successful the day after tomorrow would be great. But that’s not how personal development works. You will move forward in small steps and on winding paths.

Therefore, don’t expect too much from yourself, but be happy about small progress. They add up over time and then bring big results.

Be open-minded

To develop yourself, you will have new experiences, learn different ways of thinking and meet new people. The more open-minded you are to new experiences, the easier it will be for you to move forward.

Take responsibility for your life

Only you are responsible for your own personal development. Not your parents, your friends, your partner, the boss, or anyone else. As long as you let other people take responsibility for your life, you are slowing yourself down. Take the wheel into your own hands and determine the course.

Work more on strengths than on weaknesses

Work more on strengths than on weaknesses

Many people are interested in personal growth because they want to get rid of a perceived flaw. However, this approach often leads to frustration.

If you are very shy, you will probably never develop into a party animal. If you’re very messy, you may never look like something out of a furniture catalog.

Go ahead and work on toning down your weaknesses and bringing them to a level you’re comfortable with. But then focus on your strengths. That’s where development is much more fun, produces better results, and helps you fully develop your skills.

Allow for change

When you engage in self development, it won’t come without change. You will gradually change your thinking, your goals, and your worldview, and that’s a good thing.

Sometimes you will also realize that you need to change the framework of your life or your habits. Don’t worry: Your life won’t suddenly change from the ground up and transform everything.

Remember, it’s up to you to decide what changes you want to make. But it won’t come off completely without change.

Stay with it

Important for self development: stay with it

Personality development is a permanent process that will keep you busy more or less for a long time. Therefore, regularly create a little time to deal with your personal growth. Even ten or 15 minutes a day or one or two hours a week can go a long way.

Seek help

If you encounter issues in your work that you can’t handle on your own, seek help in time. Contact a coach or psychotherapist to discuss your issue. Sometimes just a few sessions are enough to help you see things more clearly again.

6 exercises for your personal growth

6 exercises for your personal growth

Are you eager to get started right away? Then maybe one of the following exercises is right for you.

Initial stock

To develop your personality, you should first find out where you are now, right? This exercise is good for that. Take an hour where you won’t be disturbed, and make yourself comfortable with writing materials. Then start writing down everything you can think of about yourself:

  • important experiences in the past
  • Character traits that distinguish you
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • interests, hobbies, passions
  • topics that have been bothering you for a long time
  • goals and dreams
  • Unfinished business from the past

Your notes don’t have to have a structure, just write down what comes to mind. When you’ve had enough or the hour is up, put your notes aside. The next day, repeat the exercise.

Read through your notes from the day before and add to them. What else comes to mind? What do you see differently today? What aspect have you not yet considered? Ideally, you should repeat this exercise every day for a week.

Then you should have a comprehensive inventory. And in the course of this exercise, you will certainly come up with ideas on which aspects you want to work on.

Leave your comfort zone

Leave your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is the area in which action comes easily to you and requires no special effort. You know what to do and feel safe. Great stuff and absolutely necessary for everyday well-being.

The only problem is: learning is hardly possible within your comfort zone because you already know everything here. For personal development, you should get into the habit of regularly doing things that are a bit outside your comfort zone.

Visit places you’ve never been before. Talk to people who are strangers to you. Overcome yourself to do something that scares you a little. Try a sport you’ve never done before. Get involved with a subject you know nothing about. Have new experiences outside of what you are used to.

Important: It’s up to you to decide what change you’ll embrace. But it will not come off completely without it.

Learn mindfulness

Mindfulness means to be in the here and now and to perceive things in and around you more closely. This is important for personal development for various reasons: Mindfulness helps you to get to know yourself better and to feel what is good for you. And it helps you to relax.

You can do this simple exercise at any time, preferably several times a day:

Stop what you are doing to notice the here and now. Pay attention to your breath. Feel how your body feels right now. Does something hurt? Are you tense or relaxed? How do you feel right now, what emotions are there?

Look around you. What do you notice around you? Don’t try to change anything, just open your senses to what is there.

Notice the positive

Notice the positve

If you are one of those people who tend to think negatively, you may find this exercise useful. It is also very simple: make it your task to take a photo of something you like or care about every day.

It can be an object, a person, a flower, the sunset, or something else entirely. If you like, make a collage of your pictures after a month.

Get to know yourself

Get to know other perspectives

To get to know yourself even better every day, you can use fill-in books. You can buy them in many different forms. Just choose one that appeals to you. A fill-in book regularly confronts you with a question that you have to answer for yourself. This is a fun way to get to know yourself better.

Get to know other perspectives

If a particular topic is on your mind a lot right now, ask yourself, "How else might you look at this?" Try to find as many different assessments of the same situation as possible. Gather information: Talk to people you care about.

Search for testimonials and thoughts on the topic on the Internet or in books. In doing so, also open yourself to perspectives that are rather foreign to you, without judging them.

Ask yourself: What would a punk think about this topic? Or a nun? A person from another culture? Your first love? Your great-grandmother? A child? In this way, you open your perception, and in the long run, you create a change of perspective more and more easily.

Important: Personal development is good for everyone, but there are also wrong motives. If you think that you have to change because you are not good enough, then you are heading for a trap. You don’t need a perfect body, a stylish apartment, or wealth to be happy. You are good just the way you are.
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