“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
Nowadays, many people believe that learning only happens in schools. Once we graduate from high school or college, the learning ends. We have occupational specific learning, but there is often no attempt to increase our knowledge in other fields of interest. We become stagnant.
For many of us, the school days represent a time in our lives when we are forced to learn. We are placed into a system to prepare us for life. We must read books, we must learn information, and we must pass tests on subjects that we have no interest in or will never use again in our lives. When we leave school, we are often ready to set learning in the rear-view mirror and finally enter the ‘real world’. I strongly believe that it is important to separate our school based learning, from continuous self development.
Continuous self development should be focused on areas of your life that you want to improve. Whether this is fitness, increasing the amount of books you read, practicing gratitude, learning to play an instrument, learning to become less reactive, etc. There should always be an aspect of ourselves that we are trying to better, or else we will never evolve past our 20 year old selves. Below, are four of the best ways to focus on continuous self development and keep yourself striving to improve!
Start A Self Development Journal
A great step towards improving yourself is to keep yourself honest. The best way to accomplish this is to start a self development journal. Here you can keep track of goals, progress, and accomplishments. It has been shown that writing goals down helps make them real and increases the likelihood of completing them. To ensure you stay honest to yourself, it is recommended to use this journal daily.
Here’s how I recommend starting your journal:
Page 1: Life Bucket List - Do this! Take the time and do this. Stop having “dreams” and “wants” without defining what they are. When you write down the things you want to do in this life, it becomes more real. This should include everything from places you want to visit to goals you want to accomplish. This page will serve as a constant reminder and also allows you to track your accomplishments as you complete them.
Page 2: 1 Year Goals - Write down everything you want to accomplish this year. Separate this into two different sections. The realistic goals and some stretch goals. It is a lot more difficult to make progress and accomplish your goals when you haven’t defined what they are.
Page 3: 5 Year Goals - We often underestimate what we can do in 5 years. Take a second to think of where your life was 5 years ago. Imagine if you used the last 5 years wisely and lived them with intention. Intention on accomplishing your goals and full focus on adding personal value through learning. Would you be further along then you are now?
Page 4 & Beyond: Daily Journal - Every day you should create a new page with three main sections.
- Main Focus: What is the one thing that you need to accomplish for today to consider it a successful day?
- 3 Goals: These should be tasks that you need to complete or steps for your larger goals.
- 3 Things You Are Grateful For: Gratitude has been shown to have a profound impact on your mood and positivity. This will lead to increased productivity in your day.
Overcome Your Fears With Personal Development Challenges
“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action” - Dr. Henry Link
All of us have fears. They often keep us from pursuits we are interested in. There is the fear of uncertainty, fear of being judged by others, fear of failure, the list goes on and on. The energy it takes to begin working on a goal which is shrouded in fear is often more than is needed for the act itself. This is why I recommend personal development challenges.
These challenges should push you to take the first step. They should be micro goals, mini tasks that put you on the path towards success. Our end goal often seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb, so we do not bother with taking any steps. By setting personal development challenges we can begin to gain momentum.
Forget about the end result and stop comparing yourself to the perfect end state. Focus on the minimum effort it takes to get started and crush that goal. Then as you gain momentum, create larger and more difficult challenges. This is part of the concept of Life Quest. Start small, overcome your fears through small action, and you’ll slowly tackle your big challenges. If you need help coming up with personal development challenges, use the internet as a guide or purchase Life Quest.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Comfort is easy. Comfort feels good. Humans tend to move towards comfort, because it avoids frustration and hassle. But let’s be honest, comfort doesn’t improve us. Comfort keeps us doing more of the same.
When was the last time you took the stairs next to an escalator? It’s not that we’re incapable of walking the stairs, but we choose comfort too often. This is a small example of how you can begin to add discomfort into your life and then focus on making bigger strides. Force yourself to talk with strangers, force yourself to use a piece of equipment at the gym that intimidates you, make yourself uncomfortable and learn from it. You’ll often find the things that make us uncomfortable aren’t actually that big of a deal once you have conquered it.
Surround Yourself With People Who Are Improving Themselves
There are various quotes to insert here, but the culmination of the quotes are that you become the aggregate of the people you hang out with the most. If your closest friends have a negative impact on your life or are simply not trying to better themselves, you will be more inclined to take the easy route. Find friends who are actively trying to improve their lives and you’ll find yourself more inspired.
Self improvement is a journey and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals will help provide exponential growth. As you continue to improve yourself, you’ll be inspiring others, just as they inspire you. It becomes a mutually beneficial relationship and one filled with positivity. You’ll consciously and unconsciously be pushing each other every day and this will lead to increased personal development and fulfillment.
A Final Word
Improving yourself can give you an increased sense of direction and self worth. We often create our own roadblocks on this journey, but we should never stop improving and learning. Start small. Set realistic and attainable goals and don’t stop. Consistency is the key to any improvement or learning. Just because you are no longer in school, doesn’t mean that we should stop learning and improving. Learn to enjoy the journey and you’ll find that self improvement can be more rewarding and enjoyable than it is difficult!
To help kick-start your continuous personal development journey, check out Life Quest. A self-improvement game designed to increase your productivity and improve your mood!