Personal development is the process of reflecting on your skills and qualities, considering how they relate to your goals in life, and identifying ways to build the strengths you need to succeed. Engaging in the lifelong process of personal growth can pay dividends in your inner life, your family life, your relationships, and in your professional development.
Think about childhood development as an analogy. As an infant grows from a toddler to a preschooler into childhood and then adolescence, they acquire crucial skills like walking, talking, fine motor skills, reading, and countless others. While we may be finished with the dramatic physical growth of childhood, we must continue to learn the more sophisticated skills we need for success in the adult world: patience and discipline, financial and career planning, listening at the office and at home, finding a sense of inner calm in the midst of a hectic day, and so much more.
The path you take in your personal development is different for everyone. Approaches to achieving personal growth are as different as the individual qualities and goals guiding them. But, as the explosion of interest in this field in recent years attests, personal development is something we can all learn about no matter what stage of life we are in.
While many learners focus their career development efforts on building 'hard skills' in areas like computer science, medicine, accountancy, or finance, almost all careers also rely on the 'soft skills' that are closely intertwined with your personal development. These hard and soft skills are often more closely related than you might think. For example, good communication skills are essential to management positions in any industry, and the inner confidence that comes from mindfulness practices can be a major asset in marketing roles or business negotiations.
many people who become skilled in their own personal development may harness this in their career more directly and become a professional in this field. Careers in personal development can cover a wide spectrum of roles, from occupational therapists to life coaches to personal finance teachers to career planning counselors. Depending on your path in personal development and your own soft skills, you may find that the most rewarding career path is in enabling the personal and professional growth of others.
With the ability to make personal connections virtually, online courses have become a terrific way to learn the interpersonal “'soft skills”' and lessons in personal growth needed to meet your personal development needs. The flexibility of online learning is particularly well-suited to building personal development skills, since you can select individual courses you need instead of pursuing a full degree program. The ability to complete coursework on your schedule is also a huge advantage, - especially if you're working full time or raising a family.
Coursera hosts a number of popular courses and Specializations in personal development, taught by instructors at top universities. For example, you can take classes to help with creative writing, leadership, job interview skills, and more from universities like University of Illinois, and Yale. For a more in-depth education, Specializations in Dynamic Public Speaking from the University of Washington, Career Success from the University of California, Irvine, and Interview Skills and Resume Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park offer opportunities to pursue your personal development goals across a sequence of courses. Coursera offers some of these career development courses for free.
You do not need to have any special skills or experience to begin working on personal development. No matter where you are in your personal or professional life, there are benefits to learning the skills that will enhance your personal development. There is no finish line for personal development. It’s an ongoing process that may take you down many different roads over time. One of the keys to successfully beginning a personal development journey is having an open mind and heart. You may be asked to try things you’ve never done before, and it’s important for you to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
If you're looking for more fulfillment or happiness in your life, personal development may be a way to help you achieve those goals. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to personal development. Everyone’s path will look different, but the goals are the same. It’s about expressing gratitude, savoring the moment, and learning how to maximize your potential so you can become the best version of yourself. Personal development courses will give you the skills you need to recognize that social, emotional, mental, and physical health are all pieces of a puzzle that come together to help shape your body and mind into the best version it can be.
Studying meditation can help you learn about mindfulness, gratitude, and savoring the moment. Leaning about time and task management will help you become more productive and fulfilled in your personal and professional life. The science of exercise and eating will give you the tools you need to have a healthy body that can fight off fatigue and stress. If you want to learn how to be more resilient and develop skills to decrease anxiety, you can study topics that address positive psychology and well-being.
Businesses and corporations hire people with a background in personal development to help inspire, motivate, and encourage employees. Their job may be to help teams alter their behaviors so they can set high expectations and still reach their goals. People with a background in personal development may also become coaches who train managers in how to lead their teams and manage workplace expectations. These coaches teach managers problem-solving techniques and time management strategies.