The Lifelong Journey Of Personal Development

The term “personal development” is very much a part of today’s lexicon, but have you ever thought about what it really means?

I describe personal development as a transformational journey of human evolution, which improves self-awareness and self-actualization. Personal development is what lets you realize your full potential and be all that you can be.

You can be aided greatly in that transformational journey by improving your Emotional Intelligence (EI). Improving your EI can be a major part of that journey. This is becauseEI develops your self-awareness and gives you the tools to understand your legitimate needs, as well as the needs of others. EI also elevates your self-actualization by allowing you to honor those needs as well as understand them.

In order to do that you must first identify those needs and understand that they are not just your “wants.” They are things that are essential to your core values. Second, you need to be aware of, and recognize moments when you act in alignment with recognized needs and feel positive about having done so.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) can helpfully be thought of as like one of your gadgets: it opens up new opportunities and possibilities so that you can see things and acquire knowledge that wouldn’t otherwise be available. EI is particularly useful in identifying your “blind spots.” A “ blind spot” is a gap in your ability to see the powerful connection between your logic and your emotions. By growing EI, you are able to see that logic and that emotions are not separate, isolated features of your psychological make-up, but are inextricably intertwined. Recognizing this allows you to jettison negative thinking in favor of positive and more energizing considerations.

Thoughts are powerful intricate shifts and measures that impact your current emotional state. Replacing your initial negative thoughts with alternative positive thoughts can be done by shifting the meaning of the event that triggered those initial negative feelings. You can turn negative feeling into neutral ones and then into positive ones. It can be done in five steps:

• Name the main negative thought that created a negative meaning for the event.

• Come up with a few alternative neutral and positive meanings for this negative thought. By doing this, you will assign new, reframed meanings to the event.

• Choose the most attractive alternative meaning you came up with in the step above.

• Identify a new positive meaning from the previous step.

• Label the alternative positive feeling that has been initiated from a chosen positive meaning in the step above.

• Feel the alternative, positive feeling in your mood and be aware of your conscious choice of the meaning/thought that created the shift in your emotional state.

Doing this exercise will allow you to create a new reality for yourself by communicating responsibly and taking proactive actions that will make you proud of who you are becoming. By using your alternative thoughts with considered awareness and positive intention, you become responsible for your own emotional state, an emotional state that you can change and reset. Thus, learning to measure and boost your EI can bring significant and long-lasting dividends.

Although I am an Emotional Intelligence coach and thus harbor a bias in favor of coaching, it is a fact that one-on-one coaching is the most effective means devised yet to develop personally so as to achieve your goals and aspirations. You are in charge of your desired reality!

By focusing you on the ultimate goal of achieving a fully-developed personal identity, and understanding who you really are and what your gifts are, a coach will help you fully connect with all aspects of your personality, including recognition of your potential, defining your personal values, furthering your aspirations, identifying your life purpose, cultivating rewarding relationships and achieving your dreams.

The transformation from your current version of yourself to the best version of yourself is a life-long process, not an event. It doesn’t simply happen. It needs constant attention and nurturing. You must do your homework and be clear about the goals and desired outcomes that you, a unique individual in all your complexity, want to achieve. And, that is not done overnight.

Further, it is not done in a vacuum. To be done correctly, it must be accomplished having appreciation for its impact on one’s human and structural surroundings. In other words, you must be aware of the fact that your transformation will affect those around you and the environment in which you live and function.

Personal development should provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to experiment, reach out, incorporate learning and move ever forward.

Here are the necessary steps in your personal development lifetime journey:

1. Be honest with yourself by identifying your TEN highest values and measuring how much you currently honor them on a scale of 1 to 10. The scale difference per each value will represent your need to focus on closing the gap in honoring this value and having an action plan that takes you closer to your potential.

2. Be brave by recognizing your limitations and committing to desired change.

3. Be curious about your goals in life that support your dreams and aspirations by imagining different scenarios and options.

4. Be excited that you are finally ending procrastination about your personal and professional goals and evidence your commitment by telling your support circle about them.

5. Be creative in devising a method to measure your daily progress and create a reward system. Try to not miss two days in a row. If you miss a day, double up the next day.

6. Be proud of measuring your progress and closing the gaps in honoring your specific values, gaining desired outcomes and becoming a better version of yourself. Measure how much you honor them currently on a scale of 1 to 10 and celebrate your commitment to personal development.

7. Be proactive and ask for help by using an expert in personal development, including emotional intelligence boosting, in order to be aware of your thinking, feelings and actions that create your current reality.

8. Be forgiving towards yourself /others and ask for forgiveness from others by accepting your past mistakes and releasing guilt.

9. Be an internal light that you carry in you by glowing brighter for others when you share with them your discovered unique gifts during your personal development journey. The process of sharing those gifts can give you a desired purpose in life.

10. Be progressive by choosing another TEN values you want to focus on. Remember where your focus goes, your energy flows. Repeat the NINE steps.

Personal development allows you to enthusiastically embrace reading an article such as this one as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to learn new skills and perspectives in order to effectuate change and achieve. Other such opportunities are courses and seminars, self-help books, coaching, etc. Remember, personal development is a lifetime path. If you don’t take steps to move forward on that path, you are not fully living up to your potential and you are avoiding honoring your best identity, the best version of yourself! Yes, you are in charge of your desired reality, which you can create by applying alternative thinking, feeling and acting. Keep moving forward toward your potential!

This article was originally published in Forbes.

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