How To Mindfully Improve Your Personal Development

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 3 November 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Personal development is a continual feature of our personal and professional lives. Achieving a sustained positive change in your habits and acquiring useful new skills is a rewarding process that requires continuous engagement. These positive changes and new skills can be acquired over a long time with the right approach and an understanding of how to start this process mindfully. In this article, we explore personal development, explain the importance of mindful development, provide examples of development skills for sustainable change and list seven steps to take to get you to your goals.

What is personal development?

Personal development is the ongoing act of assessing your life goals and values and building your skills and qualities to reach your potential. This kind of positive growth is by no means a linear process and it can be difficult to make long-lasting changes. An effective way to manage your personal development is to set ambitious but realistic goals. This can include all sorts of development, from formal training and practice of functional skills to tackling psychological issues and building confidence.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set For Career Success

Why does improving your self-development mindfully matter?

Both mass-market publications and scholarship on self-development have often pointed to the importance of self-actualisation. Self-actualisation involves reaching one's full potential beyond any basic physical, aesthetic or psychological needs and being completely in touch with your emotions. A mindful approach centred on self-actualisation represents a positive alternative to a traditional emphasis on an unachievable ideal state of being. Accomplishing smaller development goals on your own terms can lead to better and more consistent development, as well as a more positive mindset.

Related: How To Write an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

What skills are relevant to personal development?

Paying close attention to nurturing both the skills you use most and some you don't use often can help you achieve your development goals long-term. Here are some examples of different skills that you can develop to facilitate personal growth:

  • Time management: Being able to manage your time effectively and produce work to deadlines is important both for your professional and personal life. Finding a balance between your work and home life and releasing time pressure by completing tasks can help avoid unnecessary stress.

  • Communication: If you find yourself unable to get your point across in business situations or have difficulty relating to people, consider working on your communication skills. Taking time to engage in social activities like debating or language classes can help you improve your understanding of how to communicate effectively.

  • Organisation: Reducing physical clutter and maintaining a healthy workspace can help with both productivity and mental health at work. This also extends to note-taking, planning and paperwork. Improving your organisation can help make work easier to complete.

  • Critical thinking: Engaging with research and publications more critically can help you develop more independent thought and boost creativity. Try to read reliable material closely and ask questions about the strengths and drawbacks of their investigations and arguments, as this can not only help you research effectively and avoid misinformation but also help you find ways of innovating in your own work.

  • Adaptability**:** Some people can find themselves inflexible and have difficulty responding to unforeseen developments. If you find yourself too rigid when something happens outside of procedure, consider trying to be more creative with problem-solving.

  • Confidence: Confidence is often the hardest skill to develop under the weight of both professional and social expectations. Taking the time to positively evaluate yourself and acknowledge your strengths can help you contextualise your shortcomings and prevent unhealthy mindsets.

Related: The Importance of Life Skills at Work and at Home

How to improve your development mindfully

Improving your development mindfully involves reaching clearly identified goals through diligence, confident decision-making and conscious effort. Here are some steps you can take to help you work towards goals that are important for you, and to sustain your personal development activities:

1. Set measurable and achievable goals

Setting measurable and achievable goals is a good first step to sustained personal development. For example, to improve sleep hygiene, you might set a number of hours of sleep in a week to achieve. Setting timeframes for your goals can also be helpful for motivation, providing they are achievable. Aim for gradual change, and remember that you can make your goals more realistic if you are struggling to commit to them.

Related: How to Develop SMART Goals

2. Read broadly about your goals and strategies for achieving them

Research can help you to understand the best ways of tackling your goals, especially if they are related to health or productivity. You may find that published ideas such as fitness programmes or management workflows are a great starting point that you can tailor to your personal needs. Some of your development goals may be unanswerable without research and education, such as learning new skills or developing critical thinking. Reading regularly can help you access the latest resources and keep you inspired to pursue your goals.

3. Plan your development activities

With your goals and strategies established, you can begin planning your development activities. Some people find it helpful to be specific with their planning, for example, visiting the gym three days a week or reading three books a month. The depth and strictness of planning you implement are entirely dependent on your goals and your personality. If you are someone who appreciates flexibility in their schedule, you might find it easier to sustain development activities that are planned in a more fluid way. Being strict and engaging in developmental practices more frequently can lead to quicker results, so long as you can commit to this level of activity, and are happy doing so.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills? (Types and Examples)

4. Begin implementing small changes in your life outside of your comfort zone

Long-term development is built upon the gradual and conscious change of ingrained behaviours. Think about ways in which you can introduce small changes into your day-to-day to complement planned development activities. If you're trying to be more organised, you could set yourself the task of tidying your desk at the end of the day, but also try keeping it as organised as possible throughout your workday, for example, by filing documents away once you've finished working with them.

5. Track your development

Taking the time to think about how you have aided your development in a week can help you reflect on how you could have improved. Adding the pressure of needing to report back to yourself at the end of the week is a great way of staying honest and conscious of your behaviours. Tracking this development and rewarding achievements is a healthy way of avoiding becoming complacent and enabling self-evaluation throughout this long process. If you feel there are areas of your plan that need changing, do not be afraid to make alterations accordingly.

Related: How to Write a Self-Assessment

6. Ask for advice and feedback

People can sometimes find that they are too close to an issue to properly observe its effects, especially in the case of psychological and health issues. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback from your loved ones and from colleagues and mentors on how you have tangibly shown development. If you feel your communication skills still need work, ask a colleague how you could improve your approach. If your goal is health-related, consider employing a personal trainer, qualified therapist or even a knowledgeable friend to give you helpful observations.

Related: How To Take Initiative in the Workplace

7. Celebrate your successes

When you begin achieving your goals, take a moment to celebrate this accomplishment. Consider showcasing your successful development on your CV or to your family, then set new goals to keep yourself continually developing and growing. Be mindful though not to feel pressured to stretch beyond your own goals. Keeping a firm focus on where you want to get to is the surest way to ending up there, and enjoying the journey.

Explore more articles