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How to Effectively Use Personal Development Posts

How to Effectively Use Personal Development Posts


    Why are you reading this?

    It’s likely not out of boredom — there are hundreds of Facebook games and “failblogs” for that.

    No — you’re here to improve yourself or your life in some way. That’s what great personal development blogs are all about, right?

    But they sure can get overwhelming, can’t they? This is the age of information. Everywhere you click, there are hundreds of articles screaming at you :

    “Do X for a Happier Morning”

    or…

    “5 Ways to Enjoy Your Commute”

    The charming headlines and promising content lure you in. And before you know it, you’ve got 10 tabs open and are skimming through each one, hardly pausing before you click to the next.

    Is this an effective way to digest this content?

    I don’t think so. Think of it as swallowing your food whole.

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    So how can we ditch these bad habits and really get the most out of personal development posts?

    1. Determine what it is that you want to develop.

    Are you having productivity issues? (Note: Then you may want to skip the personal development posts and just get to work!)

    Is writer’s block keeping you from putting words on the page? Having problems on knowing how to structure your day?

    Knowing what you’re looking for before you dive in helps you to stay focused and ignore those screaming headlines that have nothing to do with your cause.

    2. Set aside time.

    Do you surf personal development sites haphazardly? Maybe you’re in the middle of working, get stuck, and so off you go to your favorite site. (I’m guilty of that one from time to time…)

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    I think we often turn to personal development posts when we’re avoiding our work. But instead of using them as a tool for procrastination, we can actually use them as they are intended — to help us grow. Setting aside a designated time keeps it from leaking into your work time, and ensures that you’re focused on what you’re looking for.

    3. Put on the blinders.

    Those headlines can be so tempting, I know. They’re supposed to be. Their aim is to draw your attention.

    But if you’re searching for ways to become an early riser and you’re ending up on a post titled “Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Safe” and you don’t even have kids…then you know you have a problem.

    When you’re focusing on that one thing you want to develop, ignore the headlines that you know won’t serve your quest. Bookmark them for later if you want – I know sometimes it’s entertaining to just click through random posts, but look at the previous tip for that. You don’t have to give it up completely, but while you’re actually trying to improve some area of your life, focus is key.

    4. Read the articles thoroughly.

    With so many great headlines, it’s tempting to open a bunch and skim through them. But this won’t help you out much, and I bet you don’t retain the information (I know I don’t). Having a focus in mind definitely helps with this step, and it seems easier to soak up the information. Read each article all the way through — skimming defeats their purpose.

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    5. Ask yourself: “What did I learn?”

    After you read a post, pause a moment to reflect. Did you learn something? Was it what you set out looking for? Do you need to keep looking? Then take it from there.

    6. Implement.

    After reflecting, if you feel you’ve found what you’re looking for…stop looking.

    That’s the tough part, because you know there’s always more out there. But if you want to use what you’ve learned and actually grow, you’ll have to simply stop looking. Close the browser, use your reflection and take action. How can you use what you just read?

    While it is very easy to get lost in the sea of personal development, don’t do it. While it’s true that there are many fantastic posts with the potential to improve your life – they are only good for you if you use what you read and take the action to make it happen. The idea is that they are should help you develop, and not envelop you in the process.

    (Photo credit: Personal Development flow via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 19, 2019

    How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

    How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

    There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

    Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

    This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

    These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

    1. Know Thyself

    One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

    An unexamined life is not worth living.

    I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

    Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

    You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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    None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

    For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

    It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

    2. Figure out What Matters to You

    What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

    When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

    In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

    Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

    A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

    3. Play to Your Strengths

    Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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    If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

    Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

    Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

    4. Listen to Yourself

    It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

    The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

    Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

    To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

    Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

    Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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    5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

    Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

    Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

    When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

    However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

    It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

    “If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

    6. Make Time for Reflection

    It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

    Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

    • What went well today
    • Something you’re grateful for
    • What would make tomorrow even better

    Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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    It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

    Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

    7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

    Arguably the most important step of all:

    Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

    The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

    “I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

    Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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    Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

    Reference

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