Why do we sometimes fail to make the progress on our personal development that we’d hoped? It may be that there’s a lot of good intentions, but insufficient action to make a difference.
Think about those books left unread. The YouTube videos you’ve ’saved for later’ but never watched. The online course you didn’t complete. Maybe you worked with a coach, but didn’t get the results you were hoping for. What stopped you from making the progress you wanted to? Why did your initial motivation to work on yourself evaporate? There are a few possible reasons.
What stops us working on our development?
Our good intentions can disappear in a puff of smoke, but why is that?
- General ‘busyness’ means it can be hard to concentrate on what matters, especially if you’re not clear on what really matters.
- Focusing on immediate priorities, like urgent demands from others. This kind of fire-fighting is tiring, leaving little energy for development.
- Hesitating at the discomfort involved in change. We can easily think twice when we just focus on how difficult it’s going to be to make changes.
- Procrastination, due to not being specific enough. If your todo list includes ‘Learn how to delegate’, then you’re not going to get very far.
If you want to move your development activities from vague (if positive) intentions, then it’s time to adopt a different perspective.
The metaphor I use is a project. Most projects have the following:
- An agreed output or goal
- A set of tasks to be completed, to reach that goal
- A schedule for activity
Let’s look at a typical coaching process, for example. It can be very helpful to view the coaching journey as a project. Clarifying the goal, scheduling activities in the calendar and completing meaningful tasks. All projects involve work, so too must your personal development. It won’t happen by magic – it needs your time and your attention. This is a message I emphasise at the outset of a coaching process.
A final ingredient
There’s one final ingredient to include here: values. Values give us a sense of purpose and meaning. When it comes to changes we want to make for ourselves, clarity of values help us answer the question ‘why?’.
Make it easier for yourself
So if you want to ensure you make progress on your personal development, make things easier for yourself by:
- Clarifying why it is you want to make a change: identify a key value to remind yourself
- Establishing the goal you’re working towards: make it SMARTER
- Clearly identifying the small, practical steps you’ll take to reach your goal
- Blocking out time in your diary to ensure you take meaningful action
Remember that development doesn’t happen without time, focus, effort and intentionality.