Your list of career goals might look something like this:
- Negotiate a raise before the end of 2020.
- Secure a promotion to a leadership role within the next five years.
- Start your own business within the next decade.
- Become an expert in your chosen field.
- Land a job at a new company.
No doubt you will have given a bit of thought to the stepping stones that will get you to where you want to be. However, many employees overlook the importance of addressing personal development to ensure long-term professional success.
Here’s the distinction.
Personal development is the continuous process of self-improvement that allows you to be the best version of yourself. The skills and capabilities you acquire through a focus on personal development will largely consist of soft, or “essential,” skills.
By honing your quality of thoughts and giving time to improving your health and wellbeing, you’ll enhance your sense of identity and grow more confident and effective as a person — both in the workplace and in your personal life.
Professional development is the process of developing your knowledge and skillset in areas that will directly improve your career potential. This might include taking on additional responsibilities, studying for a new qualification, completing training courses, or widening your knowledge in areas that relate to your role.
The skills you develop from doing so will make you more efficient and effective at your job. They will build your reputation in the workplace.
Why Is Personal Development as Important as Professional Development?
There’s no question that personal development will help you to thrive professionally, even though it might be harder to measure quantitively. By focusing on the core aspects of yourself, you’ll likely find your career advances quickly and seamlessly.
Here are four reasons why.
1. It Encourages You to Break out of Your Comfort Zone
One area of personal development involves interrogating your areas of weakness, which will serve to push you out of your comfort zone. In the workplace, this will likely translate to aspects of your role that you dislike or are the least adept at performing. By confronting these head-on, your experience and confidence will grow.
2. It Boosts Your Self-esteem
Personal development might involve learning a new skill, taking up a hobby, or reading more widely. Ticking off self-assigned goals is a natural confidence-booster. When you feel good about yourself and your capabilities, your performance in the workplace will be stronger.
3. It Helps You Figure out Your Priorities
Taking the time to focus on your personal development will compel you to become more self-aware by examining your core values, motivations, and life ambitions. You’ll learn new things about yourself and perhaps realign your priorities, which will impact how you perform at work. This time of introspection might even trigger a major career change.
4. It Improves Your Work-life Balance
With any luck, focusing on personal development will encourage you to pursue a healthy work-life balance — if you didn’t already have one. You may decide that you need to find more time for yourself and your loved ones and take better care of your mental health.
How to Focus on Personal Development
There’s no right or wrong way to commit to personal development. Ultimately, you need to approach this process in a way that works for you, whether that means focussing on improving your wellbeing or working on addressing your weak spots. Here are some options to consider.
- Commit to improving your public speaking skills.
- Take up a new hobby.
- Learn a language.
- Focus on actively listening to those around you.
- Read widely. Read diverse authors, non-fiction, and fiction. Learn about history and culture and politics, and the experiences of people who are different from yourself. This will, in turn, help you to develop your emotional quotient (EQ).
- Work to improve your time management and assess your work-life balance.
- Try to develop a growth mindset.
- Go out of your way to meet new people.
- Focus on self-care.
- Learn to embrace change.