February 25, 2016

The 5 Essential Areas of Personal Development

In this article, we expand on the personal development process by taking you through 5 essential areas of personal development that will help you develop as an individual.

Being a teenager is hard, right? So many emotions and physical changes, plus the pressure of having to figure out what you’re doing with your life, mean that lots of young adults end up getting a bit lost. You might know what you want, but you don’t know how to get it. Or you have no clue what you want, so you just go along with the crowd and let your own goals fall by the wayside.

Achieving your goals can help make you more confident and happy – something we hope every young adult can be! That’s why we’re here with a few helpful tips to help improve your personal development. Before looking into the important areas of personal development, it’s important to know exactly what we’re talking about.

What is Personal Development?

In a nutshell, it’s the process of maturing and developing a sense of self-awareness that will allow you to establish goals based on your individual character. It’s also the way forward when it comes to plotting out specific steps through which you can reach your goals. In essence, personal development enables you to have better control over your life by becoming proactive rather than reactive.

Once you begin to create your own opportunities, you’ll develop a more positive attitude and find life much more rewarding. It can help you establish your independence, build satisfying relationships and define your values and goals – in other words, it’s a vital way to make sure that you have a well-rounded life.

Personal development can help you reach your fullest potential and achieve the utmost happiness, but the responsibility rests on your shoulders. Only you can ensure your own growth.

The 5 Essential Areas of Personal Development

  1. Establishing independence
  2. Enhancing relationships
  3. Defining values
  4. Prioritizing goals
  5. Balancing private and social life

1. Establishing Independence

The years between adolescence and becoming an adult are a time of transition in which you’re changing physically, mentally and emotionally. Growth spurts occur, hormone levels change, your voice deepens, and your brain continues to develop.

And this continued brain development is the reason why, according to The Primal Teen by the late Barbara Strauch (former health and medical science editor for The New York Times), “some teens seem to be inconsistent in controlling their emotions, impulses, and judgments.

It’s a lot to deal with!

It’s a time when you’re starting to figure out who you are and what you like and don’t like, discovering what’s right and wrong, and forming an opinion about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in relation to the opinions of others.

A time when you’re starting to figure out who you are and what you like and don’t like, discovering what’s right and wrong, and forming an opinion about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in relation to the opinions of others.

A time when you are establishing autonomy for yourself and taking more control over your day-to-day life (no need for Mum to pick out your outfits anymore!).

Establishing Autonomy

In the article ‘Adolescent Growth and Development’ published by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Morgan and Huebner explain that teenage autonomy is defined as “becoming an independent and self-governing person within relationships.”

Becoming independent isn’t always about flying solo – it also includes having independence within existing and new relationship with friends, family, and others.

For example, while you’re living at home with your family, you may have the independence to come and go on your own. But at the same time, while you’re at home, there are rules too.

The point is, even though you are interdependent with your family while at home, you need to seek ways to develop independence of your own.

Seeking your own independence unlocks all kinds of exciting new life developments and thought processes.

You’ll discover what is important to you, the direction you want your life to take, the goals you need to achieve, and the changes you need to pursue to establish your own independence.

You’d be surprised at all the little things that add up to independence – it’s not just about being able to go out late!

Observe and Model Others

A great way to further your personal development in this area is to spend time with your parents, relatives, or someone else you know during a workday. Check out how they organize themselves, the actions they take while getting to work, and what they actually do in their workplace.

During your experience, consider what you like and dislike about the work and use that new knowledge to help you decide what type of work interests you.

This can help you decide on a career path that speaks to you while enabling you to plan for your future and truly establish your independence.

2. Enhancing Relationships

Relationships can often present conflict during adolescence. And not just relationships with family and friends, either – your relationship with yourself is really the most important of all.

During adolescence, many teenagers frequently deal with peer pressure, through the combination of wanting to fit in, but still wanting to assert their own independence. Micki Caskey and Vincent Anfara write about this in more detail in the article 'Developmental Characteristics of Young Adolescents' published on the Association of Middle-Level Education website.

Peer pressure is tough. As a result of peer pressure and the need for peer approval, it’s common for teens to experience conflicting loyalties. Suddenly, approval from your peer group feels a lot more important than adult approval.

Just to make things even more complicated, teenagers also experience a conflicting relationship between their peers and themselves. As Kenneth Brighton describes in his book, Coming of Age: The Education & Development of Young Adolescents, teens find themselves torn between their desire to conform to peer group norms and their aspiration to be distinctive and independent.

Understand Relationship Dynamics

In order to take steps towards strengthening your relationships with those around you – and to know how to develop strong relationships in the future – it’s important to understand these relationship dynamics and challenges and to always keep in mind that you are not alone in dealing with them. Taking all of this into account, it’s pretty clear that forming, maintaining, and enhancing relationships is important.

Figuring out the best ways to manage all kinds of situations (especially emotionally-charged ones) means that you can keep yourself in check rather than acting out. It's also a crucial part of understanding how to communicate effectively with people of all personality types. For example, showing empathy towards people with personality traits of an extrovert, introvert, or an ambivert – even if you’re the polar opposite.

In addition, you'll find that the skills you acquire through personal development contribute to developing positive, supportive relationships. Building new relationships is always important – so if you feel like it’s time to expand your horizons a little, why not look at joining a group or club that suits your interests? It’s an awesome way to meet new friends as well as do something you love!

3. Defining Values

As you enter young adulthood, whether you realize it or not, you’ll start to define your personal values. In an earlier section, we talked about brain development. Now, this is when you really start to think more abstractly and cement concepts such as fairness.

In younger years, our brains have difficulty grasping more than one point of view. But, as you move into young adulthood, you become better equipped to thinking more broadly. Sometimes you may deal with other people whose values are at odds with your own. Who may even make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

For example, you might have friends or other people around you who expect you to get involved with activities that you believe are wrong. Things like tagging property or going somewhere you know you shouldn’t.

The Importance of Values

Honesty, integrity, and responsibility are important parts of being a ‘good’ person. Personal development around values will play a big role in enhancing those parts of your behavior and personality.

It can enable you to act on your principles and stand up for your beliefs. While, at the same time, being respectful of others with conflicting beliefs. One way to further your personal development in this area is to make it a point, to be honest in all situations, even when it’s not easy.

4. Prioritising Goals

Entering the teen years, you begin to imagine the type of life you want to live and to make plans for the future. You start committing to goals for career or university. It’s great to be optimistic about what the future can hold, but it’s also wise to keep in mind the challenges that you might face.

It’s an ever-changing world, and careers and educational opportunities are no exceptions to this. So, one of the best traits you can work on is flexibility. Even the best-laid plans need to sometimes be adapted. For instance, you may apply to your university of choice to be denied admission because they are overwhelmed with applicants.

Personal development will enable you to not only set and prioritize goals but to overcome obstacles you’ll face. It’ll better prepare you for career planning. In addition to the development of problem-solving skills, lateral thinking and an ability to assess your options. Further your personal development in goal setting and prioritization by writing down achievable goals. Add benchmarks and time frames. Then, assess your progress on a regular basis.

5. Balancing Your Private and Social Life

You may find it hard to balance all of the activities involved in all the different aspects of your life. Maybe your football practice is scheduled at the same time as your best friend’s birthday party. Or you have a special family dinner the night before a final exam. Personal development can assist with achieving balance in all areas of your life. You’ll learn to focus on those activities that will bring you closer to your goals, making prioritization easier.

It’ll make it easier to pick out those tasks that will produce the greatest results with the fewest resources. Meaning you can save time while still working towards your goals. You can further personal development in this area by using a planner. Either paper or digital–to prioritize your tasks and coordinate your activities.

See also: The 5 Key Steps to the Personal Development Process.

Pave Your Own Path

Personal development can better prepare you for the future. It can provide the skills you need to create the kind of life you really want. Self-assessment is a critical part of discovering which direction to take in life. You’ll also find the ability to form positive relationships is indispensable. Both towards a satisfying personal life and a successful career. Personal development will kick start your ability to overcome the obstacles to success and help you achieve balance in your life.

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