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Getting started: 5 pillars of self development
At the start of your personal development journey, you would be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed. There is so much you could do that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do them! Without proper structure, chances are you will get lost, disheartened, and eventually give up. I have been there myself many times. There is no shame in that, it’s all part of the process.
My goal for this post is to give you a rough template, an “all rounder” plan for your development. A plan that, if followed, will produce incredible results you didn’t think were possible. Of course, I don’t know who you are or what you want to be. So it will be your job edit this pathway and prioritise areas as you see fit. But I hope this will be enough to get your creative juices flowing so you can start planning your journey.
The 5 key areas to improve your life are as follows:
What I like most about these areas specifically is that your results from one zone are not isolated. You’ll find that improving one of these areas speeds up your progression in the other areas too.
For example, working on your health may improve your productivity within your career, making you more likely to advance quicker and earn more. Once you have spent time improving your financial literacy, you may find that you have more money to spend on your hobbies and ultimately improving your mental health because you are spending more time doing what you love. Your results do not just add together, they compound.
Track everything you possibly can. Without being able to compare statistically, you won’t really know how far you’ve come. And it’s way easier than you may think. Making spreadsheets is my personal preference, but some people prefer to use a physical calendar or a small book they can carry with them. Either way is okay as you long as you keep on tracking, even if the results aren’t what you had hoped.
Seeing measurable improvements in your life will add fuel to the fire of your progression and encourage you to keep going. It’s a human trait to get satisfaction from continuous small improvements, so take advantage of that!
Below, we’ll look at each area more in depth and some basic ideas that you can use to improve that area of your life:
This area refers to not just your physical health but your mental health too. Everything involving how you feel in the present moment. Personally, I think this area is the most commonly overlooked. Modern life has allowed us to become idle if we want to. Coupled with the fact that we (usually) take the easiest route for a result we want, it is no wonder why so many people in the western world are now obese.
The modern human lifestyle has developed so fast that psychologically we have not caught up yet. What is considered normal to us actually really quite bizarre. That’s why we should reject the easiest path, and prioritse our minds and bodies. After all, you only get one of each.
- Regularly visit a gym
- Hire a personal trainer that can make you a personalised workout plan
- Get a general health check up at the doctor
- Measure your daily calorie intake
- Start a journal where you can track your moods and feelings on a daily basis, as well as vent out the frustrations you may have encountered that day
- Take a step back and look at your habitual behaviours which may not be serving you well
This includes your relationship with everyone in your life as well as your (often overlooked) relationship with yourself. Dealing with people is not taught in schools and so we’re left to just figure things out on our own. Relationships however are a learned skill. Simply by reading a few books and implementing the ideas that they suggest, you will be far ahead of the average person.
Take a step back and look at the way your talk to yourself. How do you feel about yourself? Would you talk to a stranger or a friend the way you talk to yourself? If not, then this is an area you should invest some time in learning more about. Nobody can truly love you if you can’t love yourself.
- Read books on relationships, self esteem and interacting with people
- Practice talking to strangers for no reason other than to improve your general confidence
- Ask the important people in your life how they are doing more often
- Assess whether the relationships you keep in your life are healthy or not, and act accordingly
The Japanese have their own term for this, they call it Ikigai. It refers to your purpose, or your reason for being. Endlessly spending 40 hours a week on an occupation you do not enjoy can take a toll on your mental health, and you shouldn’t settle forever on something that does not serve you. Knowing that what you are doing is contributing towards your dream can make things a whole lot easier though, so if you are not where you want to be, don’t worry. It will all be worth it and it’s all valuable experience.
This purpose is something we should all continuously strive towards, even if it may feel elusive at times.
I feel like the term “career” does not completely capture what I mean. Your purpose can be your day job, your hobby or something that you would still be doing if you didn’t have to worry about money. It transcends the typical 9-5 career as we know it.
You don’t have to be career oriented to thrive in this category, I’m certainly not career oriented in the typical meaning of the word. However, I am sure we can all agree that we would all love to do something that provides value to both ourselves and those around us, something that we can enjoy, are good at and also pays the bills.
- Seek out a mentorship with someone who has already walked the path you are looking to go down
- Create a road path on how to progress to your “Ikigai” from your current position
This is less to do with how you earn and more about what you do with it once it has been earned. Where it goes, what you spend it on, your habits in relation to it. If you master this properly, your finances will not even be something you have to think about. They will all be automated for you after some learning and time spent upfront. Not having to worry about bills is truly a blessing that cannot be described, and this alone will vastly improve the state of your mental health.
- Create a financial tracking spreadsheet which shows you how much you are spending and in what areas
- Create a financial budget for the month and stick to it
- Calculate your net-worth regularly so you know how you are doing
- Read books on financial literacy and the mindset of the wealthy
- Track your monthly bills, assess what you really need and remove the excess expenses
- Make the most out of your employee benefits
- Consider whether you can potentially downsize your home or get by without owning a car
- Aggressively pay off any debts owed
- Create an emergency fund that consists of 6-12 months of life expenses
It is nice to have an area of your life that doesn’t have pressure surrounding it. Activities that you can do in your own time and at your own pace. Do not allow yourself to have the excuse of “not having time”. Make time. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Doing this will make it less likely that you feel burned out from day to day life, as you will have given yourself dedicated time to get lost in something you enjoy. You should feel no pressure to succeed in this activity, but you should get satisfaction from doing it.
- Create dedicated recreation times throughout the week that can allow you to decompress from the stresses of daily life
- Find a friend that you can do your hobby with
- Join a community surrounding your hobby
- If you don’t have any hobbies, consider what interested you as a child and learn more about that