Personal Growth Resources

Personal Development – What is it?

I pump personal development a lot! But a lot of you are probably wondering what in the world personal development even is! Well, let me tell you... Personal development - to me - is the process of continued and conscious self-improvement.

I think what personal development is is defined differently depending upon who you ask. Literally. Google personal development and just read the variety of things that people define as personal development. But to me, there are three important facets of personal development. It should:

1. Improve your life.            2. Be conscious!                  3. Be continuous. 

Now these things might seem very vague at first glance, but I promise you that I phrased these important facets in this manner for a reason.

Personal development should improve your life in the sense that it should both give your life peace and direction, as well as increase your knowledge. In my opinion, not all personal development is woo-hoo goal-setting, meditation, and motivational techniques. Don't get me wrong - those things are very important. But I think it's just as important to continue educating yourself! No matter what area of your life or your interests you choose to focus on--nutrition, fitness, productivity hacks, or maybe it's field-specific education--continuing to improve your knowledge is personal development.

But, perhaps more importantly than what you do to improve your life, you need to be conscious about undertaking personal development tasks. Personal development is pointless if you're mindless about it! Listening to or reading any personal development information is not effective if you're not consciously trying to absorb the information that you're listening to! The same can be said for goal-setting. If you're not really invested in and conscious about the question you're asking yourself and the goals that you say that you want, then you're perpetuating a cycle of of decision and choices that don't direct your life down a path that you desire. Being conscious about the direction you choose to pursue in life, even if it means changing that direction, will only save you from aimlessly wandering down a path before waking up one day and realizing that you have no recollection of how, why, or what you're doing there.

Lastly, this process is continuous. One of my favorite things to say is "never stop improving," because personal development is  a reflection of just that. When you reach a milestone or a goal that you've set, instead of feeling like there's nothing left to do in this world, you can continue to push further, aim higher, and become even more audacious about the things that you want in your life!There's no reason that your ambitions and your life goals should ever have a ceiling! Instead, treat each step you take along your personal development journey as you leveling up! Each new piece of information, each new goal, each new step along the journey is driving you up a mountain of infinite height, allowing for you to continue delving into your personal journey through the course of your life!

WHAT CONSTITUTES PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT?  Again - this question has many answers depending upon who you ask. But, as I stated above, I think anything that improves you can be classified as personal development. But, for clarity sake, I will break up types of personal development into categories…


VERTICAL GROWTH. This is the canonical idea of personal development. To me, this aspect of personal development encompasses everything that outwardly results in your growth as a person, a growth that drives you in your outward pursuits. As a result, this type of personal

development requires a great deal of personal evaluation. It involves defining your passion and life's purpose, setting goals that will drive you toward that purpose, and evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, areas to improve, and means by which you can improve. I call this "vertical growth" because to me these are the things that can be outwardly identified and help define us to other people. 

Defining and understanding your purpose and your "WHY" is in life & Goal Setting. What are you looking for out of life? What is your definition of a life well-lived? What is your definition of success? A lot of people are unhappy in life because they spend so long living out other people's dreams and motivations instead of identifying their own. Part of personal development is time spent determining what your driving force is in life - why do you do what you do?

Enhancing you weakness, and enforcing your strengths. This is sometimes a really hard thing to implement, because no one really likes to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. But, a crucial part of improving yourself is finding the areas where you need the most improvement--your weaknesses. If you only ever invest in your strengths, you will stagnate. That is a large part of personal development--determining what your weaknesses are so you can build them up, and enforce your strengths.

Learning to be balanced and productive. This is a big part of what this blog is about - balancing your life. When you want to pursue a lot of things in your life, as a result of that you're forced to learn to balance your time! Personal development teaches you how to do that, whether it be by increasing your productivity by teaching time management and scheduling strategies, as well as teaching you about prioritization strategies. These include strategies such as having a DOMINO goal or PUSH goal, which is something that I'll take about in future posts. Also, the idea of "EATING THAT FROG," which is something that is described in the book "Eat That Frog" By: Brian Tracy, and a concept that I will elaborate on in future posts.

LATERAL GROWTH. This form of personal development might be the more woo-hoo personal growth that most agnostic and atheist people shy away from because it feels to spiritual. It's about expanding upon the conscious human experience by opening ourselves up to new ideas. To me, "lateral growth" is personal development that is more inwardly directed. It results in changing yourmindset, so that you're more open, positive, and motivated. These types of exercises change how you feel about your self-worth, self-acceptance, and your self-image.

Lateral growth encompasses areas like mindfulness, which can be practiced by employing meditation and reflection, techniques. Being mindful allows you to experience more, appreciate more, and understand more about the experiences and relationships that you build. Other practices that aid in this kind of growth involve experiencing positivity, inspiration, or motivation, either be being around motivating people, or exposing yourself to motivating materials in the form of books or podcasts! Learning to harness and practice those emotions will lead to a more positive, excited and grateful outlook on life - thus providing you with lateral growth!

Lateral growth also involves changing your perspective on failure, approaching it as a teaching opportunity and a way for you to improve and grow! Know yourself and what areas you're weak in, and get uncomfortable so that you can challenge yourself to improve in those areas. This may be in areas such as communication, relationships, nutrition, fitness, etc. Don't think of your struggles or obstacles in these areas as failures! They're learning opportunities!

The Student Mentality.

EDUCATION. This might be a very random category, but as I said above - to me personal development is anything that improves you for the better, including increasing your knowledge about varying subjects. So, anything that you can do to educate yourself, is in my book personal development. Whether it's in the same area where you work, a hobby, or a field that you're trying to break into - educate yourself! Knowledge is power, and improving what you know, the value you you can add, and therefore what you can contribute to the world will continue to grow!

How to fit it in?

Personal Development is perhaps the single most impactful thing you can add to your day, but it is also one of the easiest things to skip. So, today I want to give you a few tips and tricks to help youfit personal development seamlessly into your day-to-day life.

First things first...

Ask yourself what the best medium is for you to do personal development. Do you prefer to have a book in your hand so that you can highlight and underline important information? Do you prefer to do personal development while you're multi-tasking and doing other things? The answer to this question will dictatehow you go about getting my personal development in. There are multiple ways you can go about it...

· Reading hard-copy books.

· Listening to podcasts on the Apple iPhone Podcast app.

· Listening to books on audio using resources like Audible. 

The next question you might have is when to do it! It's so easy to get caught up in checking emails, scrolling through social media, etc. instead of spending time reading articles or books or listening to podcasts the will develop you and improve your life. Through the last year, I have found multiple way when I like to get in personal development so that it isn't inconvenient and I'm able to absorb what I'm listening too...

Firstly, I listen to podcasts while I get ready in the morning. I only watch the news for about 15 minutes in the morning right after I wake up - just enough for me to get the top story highlights and the whether. As soon as I get out of the shower, I immediately plug into my ipod! What I listen to really depends on the day, but I usually aim for a short and sweet podcast! I describe some of my favorites in the Resources section on the previous page. This makes it really easy for me to get in some PD while I gather my meal-prepped food for the day, dry my hair, brush my teeth etc.

I will also listen to personal development while I commute to work in the morning! Now, I walk or take the bus to get to work, which is very convenient! Even if you drive to work, you can listen to audiobooks or podcasts on your phone! Listening to personal development while you commute will give you a solid 15-30 minutes every single week day where I do not have anything to distract me and I can focus on my personal development. This would be dead-time anyways, so why not do something productive with it, right? Since it's such a distraction-less time to do personal development, this is when I like to do some of my more serious personal development that requires me to get a little bit more introspective. 

I also like to listen to personal development while I'm doing tedious, redundant tasks at work! Now, I definitely don't suggest trying this  when you're trying to do something that involves a lot of problem-solving and thought. Trust me, I've tried and it just makes you less effective in everything - you aren't able to get done the work you're trying to do and you can't as effectively take in the personal development lesson you're listening too. However, simple, tedious tasks are easy to incorporate personal development into. For me, I like to listen to personal development when I'm doing things like splitting cells in Tissue Culture--which I've done so many times I can practically do in my sleep--OR while I'm picking bacterial colonies, making media, or refilling tips! All of those are very simple, redundant tasks that don't require much focused attention. In your own job, I would say gauge the activity that you're doing. If it's something that you have to problem solve and troubleshoot your way through, it's probably not a good time to try to multi-task. But, if it's something simple like stuffing envelopes then go for it! Get some PD into that otherwise monotonous time!

Sometimes, if I'm having a particularly stressful day, I will read a personal development book while I eat lunch. I tend to keep a book in my backpack at all times, so I always have something with me. This serves as a great break from whatever is stressing me out and allows me to re-center and re-motivate myself so that I can really focus and be productive the rest of the day!

Now these tips are all well and good for weekdays, when we have very well established routines! But, what about on weekends? Now, I'm not going to lie - weekends are tougher to find consistent time to fit in personal development. My schedule varies so much on the weekends that I don't really have a set way I approach doing my daily PD. But you better believe that I still get my PD in no matter what! Some of my favorite ways to do personal development over the weekend are:

· While I'm grocery shopping

· While I'm meal prepping

· While I'm cleaning

· While I'm doing or folding laundry

· While I'm running errands or driving around

If you're really wanting to fit personal development into your life, a good rule of thumb to remember is - if you could be listening to music, you could be doing personal development! So keep that in mind as you're trying to find ways to fit it in!

The last tip I have for you is something that you can use any day of the week, and is something that I really try to build into my evening as often as possible, and that is...Wind down with some personal development before you go to sleep! I actually highly suggest this one! I don't know about you, but sometimes I have a really hard time falling asleep, and it's often because I am literally working on my computer or on my phone up until I brush my teeth and go to bed. How can we possibly expect our brains to go from thinking, trouble shooting, and problem solving to resting that quickly?? We really can't! It's not realistic! So, I try as often as possible to wind down with some personal development right before bed! Sometimes that includes reading a personal development book, but more often than not my nightly routine consists of writing 3 gratitudes in my journal and evaluating my day by asking myself...

· Who did I help today?

· What did I learn today?

· Overall - how did my day go? Was I productive? Did I live according to my purpose?

My bed stand is literally primed for this nightly ritual. Sitting right next to my bed is my journal, my personal development books and pens and highlighters so that I can do that PD right before I go to sleep!

So that's it! These are the most consistent and easiest ways I've found to get my personal development in.

There are many other ways that I know people use. In fact, I know that there are many people on my team that do their personal development while they workout by listening to audiobooks on headphones. But, here I have shared with you the ways that work best for me!

Pick out a few of these, and see if they work for you! And, if you find a different way that works for you! I would love to learn what you do to get your personal development in! Share it in one of our sessions!

Cut off the Stream of Crap! – Societal Influence

Everywhere I look I see campaigns for wafer-thin models, another starlet heading back to rehab, and entertainment new celebrating opulence, wealth, fame, and a singular image of beauty as though it’s our life’s mission. I read the statistics of rampant eating disorders and bullying starting as young as elementary school. I watch my friends settle for people who blatantly disrespect them because they’d rather be in a relationship with someone (anyone) than be alone. I’m surrounded by girls who barely eat, or when they do they feel so guilty that they distracting thoughts prevent them from living a powerful life. I see consumption everywhere and temptation behind every corner for bigger and better.

I don’t see a society filled with substance. I don’t see a society full of integrity and contentment. I don’t see a culture celebrating girls for what makes us truly beautiful, one that highlights our character, but rather, I see one tha breaks us down for our physical ‘imperfections.’ I witness a sea of daily distractions that hold us down like shackles to our feet when we should be flying….

It’s hard in today’s society to ignore all the unrealistic expectations because they’re everywhere we turn and everything from the ads on the street to conversations with our friends and family all reinforce it every day. We’re fighting a battle to recognize daily out innate self-worth instead of allowing our confidence to reside in the approval of others…
— -Alexis Jones, “I am That Girl”

Get out of your Routine

One of the biggest reasons why we feel stagnant in our lives is because we have spent to long doing the exact same thing and living in the exact same pattern over and over and over. We wake up at the same time, take the same route to work, go to the same coffee shop, order the same thing, interact with the same people…

I’m all for routines, because I think the can be empowering and can be very important for helping you implement and cultivate important new habits. But they can also get monotonous and if you get too engrained in your routines, life loses its excitement and its adventure. Part of growing yourself is getting uncomfortable. We’re going to talk more about this later, but a good way to start getting uncomfortable is to occasionally step out of those routines. Whether it’s talking to strangers or going to a new grocery store or sitting next to someone different at lunch, I want you to break your routine.

Here are some ideas:

o   Wear something different

o   Make dinner for someone who you want to get to know better

o   Change toothpastes

o   Go to a movie midday during the week

o   Tell a new joke

o   Notice 3 new things about you that you love

o   Call home randomly on a Tuesday night instead of waiting until the weekend

o   Spend your weeknight going to an open mic instead of sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine

(I’m not going to lie – some of these are things that I do in my own life that I’m trying to move away from! But I’m game in making a change if you are!)

Today I want you to pick something – anything! – that you’re going to do to get out of your routine and add a little bit of spice back into your life!

Get Uncomfortable & Get Over Fear

I used to monthly fitness accountability groups, and each day in the group we'd have some sort of mini-assignment. One week, I found myself very inspired by the idea of fear and how we all have things that we have been dying to do, but have been too scared to do for one reason or another. So, I challenged everyone in my group to do that thing that scared them. What was my thing? I posted a video of me singing on YouTube.

I can’t tell you how many times I have watched videos of YouTube sensations and thought, “I wonder what it would be like to do that!” or “I could do that,” but then when I actually thought I would I got scared and chickened out. I’ve always been a person who is afraid of judgment and criticism, and the last thing I wanted was for me to post my video and have some YouTube hater behind the safety of their computer screen and screen name rip me to shreds. But I also realized how silly that was. Am I really going to let some anonymous hater keep me from doing something I’ve always wondered about? NO! Absolutely not! So I posted that video.

Am I YouTube sensation now? No. But I also explained at the beginning of the video why this was such a fear of mine. It’s amazing how supportive people are when you admit that this is a vulnerable issue for you.

So today – I want you to think of something that you’ve ALWAYS wanted to do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to do an open mic night, a poetry reading, submit your photography to National Geographic, apply to the Peace Corps, write a novel, quit your job and start a microbrewery, etc. I want you think of that thing that has been on your radar for years and do something that scares you in relation to that goal. Sign up at that open mic night, call National Geographic, fill out the Peace Corps application, call the manager at a microbrew you love and ask to interview him, etc. Do something that scares the crap out of you to help you do that think you’ve ALWAYS wondered about doing.

Put Fear in the Rearview mirror – what did you do in the past that you were scared to do but ended up just fine?

Flip your fear – Instead of thinking what scary things will happen if you do something that scares you, think of how you’ll feel if you don’t do something you want to do! Stupid? Ashamed? Ridiculous?

What’s your big scary thing?

What action are you going to take that scares you to make that big scary thing happen?

Last, but not least, I have shared abundant resources on my website, including:

My favorite Impactful books & My Current reading list!

My favorite podcasts

My podcast - The Growth Tribe Podcast

Ellyn SchinkeComment