There's no denying life is looking a little, well, different these days. But that may make it the perfect opportunity for some self-reflection and personal development.
If you suddenly have more time on your hands (less socializing means more time at home), it may be worth it to look at this unexpected time as an opportunity for self-improvement. You can aim to develop new skills like learning to cook, focusing on your well-being, dig deeper into social justice issues, or even pursue further career development to reach your full potential.
"For many of us, one silver lining of the challenges we are facing during the coronavirus pandemic is that they present an excellent opportunity for personal growth," says Anna Rappaport of Excelleration Coaching.
For instance, if you've lost your job and your search hasn't led you anywhere, you can benefit from areas of professional development such as becoming a better networker or learning new skills that will make you a stronger candidate.
Think of all the time you've gained if you do not have to commute to work, adds Lynell Ross, certified life coach and founder of Zivadream. "You can use your extra time to improve your life circumstances," she says.
The results of these efforts can feel intangible without a solid personal development plan, however. And what better time than now to create your own road map to personal growth?
Identifying opportunities for personal growth
Personal development is the process of improving oneself, whether that be an internal area of personal growth like self-awareness or an external factor like work-life balance or career development.
You might already feel motivated to better yourself as a person, but it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to identifying your own areas of self-improvement. Examples of categories for personal growth include: time management, communication skills, stress management, interpersonal skills, social justice advocacy, self-care practices such as meditation or exercise, and beyond.
Alan Chu, a certified mental performance consultant and sports psychology professor, suggests starting with the three biggest strengths you want to maximize and three weaknesses you want to improve upon.
If you're not immediately sure of your top strengths and weaknesses, Ross recommends leading yourself through a self-assessment. Take an introspective look at the following areas of your life, and rank you satisfaction in each area on a scale of 1 to 10:
- Fitness and nutrition
- Mental health
- Home life
- Fun and recreation
- Life purpose
Does anything stand out to you? If you're not feeling fully satisfied in one or more of these areas, now you know what to tackle first.
"Decide what kind of life you want, what kind of person you want to be, what you stand for, and what kind of world you want to live in, and then take one small step toward that life," Ross says.
If the most fundamental areas are at or near a 10 – you have a healthy routine, eat well, exercise, have strong relationships, and are financially stable – then it might be time to think about self-improvement opportunities that add more meaning to your life, Ross says.
"This can come in the form of volunteering, or educating yourself about topics that are affecting everyone these days, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the Black Lives Matter movement," Ross says. "Oftentimes we jump to conclusions and live from a fear-based perspective without taking time to learn what others are going through. Joining a group, or researching facts and articles may help you learn more about how you can help, which may bring more meaning to your life."
Thanks to technology, we all have an abundance of learning and development resources available at our fingertips.
"In today's age of technology, it has never been easier to gain access to information and education," Ross says. "You can order books online, listen to audiobooks, listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos to learn about any subject."
How to build your own personal development plan
Once you've identified your focus areas for growth, the personal development process can be broken down into three parts. First, set goals. Don't forget to make them specific! Next, determine the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. And last but not least, create a support structure to help you stay on track.
According to Chu, many people set ambitious personal goals, but they miss the step of planning how to achieve them. "Whenever we set an outcome goal (e.g. losing 10 pounds of weight in two months), we should set a feasible, concrete, and realistic plan — think exercise 30 minutes a day, no snacks — to achieve it," he says.
A 5-step action plan for self-development
Corrie LoGiudice, a strategist and speaker who helps overwhelmed professionals find balance, encourages her clients to follow a 5-step framework. She says an effective personal development plan requires the 5 C's: clarity, confidence, community, conditioning and consistency.
- Find clarity on what you truly want in order to build the foundation for your next steps.
- Build the confidence within yourself to realize your personal goals are a real possibility.
- Ensure your community, or support circle, is on board with your aspirations, or find others who are.
- Condition yourself to achieve these life goals by building physical and mental fitness and practicing self-care.
- Implement a strategy to achieve your goals, and ensure that you're consistent with your routine.
Silk + Sonder's monthly journals are the perfect personal development companion, as they offer mindfulness exercises to help you find clarity, the productivity and planning templates you need to ensure consistency, and a community of subscribers you can lean on.
Track your progress, and watch yourself grow!Ready to grow your own way? To join our community of wellness-minded women, become a Silk + Sonder subscriber today by clicking here.