Personal Development – Where to Begin

Personal Development - Where to Begin - Style Nine to Five

Personal development has been a major buzzword over the last couple of years. Although the idea seems great in theory, actually putting it into practice can be a bit daunting. Where do you start? How do you know what to focus on? What resources do you have available to you? Here are six tips to help you organize, take advantage of your resources and achieve your goals.

1 – Make A List of Your Goals

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, sometimes the best place to start is at the end. Making a list of your larger, long term goals can help you to see the bigger picture. From there you can create a work-back plan by filling in the steps you need to take along the way to reach your long term goal. This will help you to organize your journey and make those lofty goals appear more achievable by breaking them down into manageable steps.

For example, let’s say your ultimate goal is to become the social media director of your favourite fashion brand. You won’t simply step into a director role. Typically directors work first as managers and maybe even coordinators. As a social media manager, or coordinator you will be expected to understand analytics, write creative copy, possibly do photography, video editing and graphic design.

From those expectations you can tease out some manageable goals. Maybe you want to focus first on graphic design. For this you will want to subscribe to Adobe Illustrator and register for a course in graphic design, or check out free tutorials online to get you started.

2 – Be Curious About Your Losses

Rejection is redirection. Losses are not easy to take and it’s definitely ok to mourn them, but remember they are part of everyone’s journey and every process. Rather than dwelling, ask yourself what you can learn from the loss. All experiences, even (sometimes, especially) the negative ones are an opportunity for growth and to learn.

Some good questions to ponder in the face of a loss or failure are:

“What can I learn from the experience?”

“What can I do differently next time?”

“Maybe this wasn’t the right fit for me, what is?”

Receiving rejection after a job interview is a great time to be curious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the employer who didn’t hire you. Send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to be considered and ask them about what you could have done differently, or what skills you were missing that caused them to overlook you.

3 – Ask For Help

You can’t be expected to know everything, so take advantage of those who avail themselves to you with more experience. Who do you have in your life that you go to for advice? A former manager? Mentor? A LinkedIn connection you trust?

Your workplace can be a great resource for this. Many places of work will offer to compensate you to upgrade your skill set. Book a time with your superior to discuss what kind of offerings they have, or if your company would consider reimbursing you to take a course of your choosing related to your position. If you can convince them it’s a good ROI for them, why would they pass it up?

Don’t have anyone personally in your life to go to? (Tip: consider adding networking to your list of goals.) No worries, you have options. For example, Style Nine to Five founder Christie Lohr has a wealth of experience and offers a number of different career related services for whatever personal development you’re working on at varying levels of your career. She’s also super friendly and easy to talk to, so don’t be shy!

4 – Expand Your Skill Set

There are a plethora of services now that make it easy and affordable to adopt new skills. Many large companies offer free courses that look great on resumes, think Google Analytics, Swift Playgrounds (for Apple’s iOS Development coding language), or Adobe Creative Suite.

A quick search on YouTube renders an abundance of tutorials for just about any skill you’re looking to develop. Return to your list of goals and do a bit of research into what resources are available for your unique desired skill set. You might even find a course you can begin today.

5 – Be Open to Feedback

Listen to feedback and be curious and open minded. Does this mean you have to take everything as gospel? Absolutely not. Everyone is going to have their own opinion and those opinions are going to conflict. If you take everything on and try to meld yourself to everyone’s liking, you’re going to be left with nothing. I have been guilty of this in the past and it can be frustrating and confusing.

My advice is to find a mentor. Someone whose opinion you trust and respect, who is knowledgeable about the industry you work in. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a few of them. Take their feedback on board and try it out. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else. Nothing is a one-size-fits all, so try it on and see what works.

6 – Growth Happens in Places of Discomfort

Okay, I don’t want to sound like a cliché, but this is really just the truth. You will never grow if you stay inside your comfort zone, you will just keep doing what you’ve always done and continuing to get the same results you have always got. Maybe that’s ok for you, but I hazard to guess, you want more, why else would you be here?

For me, negotiation was totally out of my comfort zone. I remember the first time I negotiated with an employer about my starting salary. I was terrified of having that conversation. I was nervous that they would say no, or challenge my abilities, or think I was being too difficult and decide not to offer me the job, but you know what? That five minute conversation bought me an extra $5,000 a year, plus they offered me the opportunity to renegotiate in six months, which resulted in another $3,000. Would you have a difficult five minute conversation for $8,000? When you put it that way, the answer is obvious, right?

Not every job negotiation is going to be like this. That’s not the point. The point is, that once you do something difficult, it builds confidence, so the next time it will be easier. Those uncomfortable things become easier and easier each time, until you wake up one day, look around and find yourself sitting comfortably in your place of discomfort.

So, if you’re looking for some personal development, start by writing down a list of your goals. Think about possible mentors and book some coffee dates. Research your resources to build your specific skills set and finally, find the courage to do something that scares you. Trust me, what’s waiting on the other side is totally worth it.

Looking for mentorship, or guidance? Christie offers a Virtual Career Meeting, where you’ll have the opportunity to pick her brain and get unique guidance on your personal development goals.

Sheila ONeill is a creative, innovative and inspiring fashion creator and writer.