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How to improve your personal development

Studies show that people who learn throughout their life and work on their personal development are typically happier and more fulfilled.

Personal development is the process of learning and growing for the benefit of yourself. It’s about identifying where you are, where you want to be, and what your plan to get there is.

It is the ability to believe in and develop your own potential to achieve what you set out to do.

Most people recognise the importance of personal development for themselves and the people they work with. However, many people we work with often say that;

“They wish they had more time to focus on developing themselves!”

“They are not sure where to start!” or

“Other priorities always seem to take over!”

The key is to be really clear on the benefit to you from spending time on personal development and putting a strong plan in place to achieve the outcome you want.

How to Improve your Personal Development

Here are some tips to help you think about your personal development in a practical and adaptable way… so that it does happen!

Get to know yourself

First, you need to spend some time thinking about why personal development matters to you.

Here are some of the questions that you might want to explore:

  • What does a successful career look like for me?
  • Where am I now? How big is the gap between what I do and how I do it now and where I want to be going forward.
  • What do I know about myself in terms of my strengths, personality preferences and values?
  • If I don’t have the answer to these questions, what do I need to do to find out? How can I find a way to get to know myself better? How can I get other people to help me see my value and my improvement areas?

Raising self-awareness is the first step to cultivating personal growth and successful development planning.

Think about what you should focus on – setting your goals

Next, you need to think about what would be useful for you to prioritise in your personal development. From the areas you identified what’s most important for you? What is the outcome you would like to achieve and how can you break that down into smaller goals?

– Is it identifying the technical skills you need to grow in your current or future roles? Do you need to acquire additional knowledge?

– Is it the more human skills (or soft skills) you would like to develop? How can you work better with others?

– Or is it gaining experience that is important to you?

Once you know the answer to this question, you can then focus on how you are going to achieve it.

How to achieve your personal development goals

Often people talk about the 70/20/10 rule in terms of effective learning and development. It reveals that only 10% of our real learning comes from classroom-based training, 20% comes from coaching, mentoring and relationships and 70% comes from hands-on experience. It really shows how important “on-the-job” training is. Our CAPE research on how people managers learn also reinforces this.

Many people when they think about development automatically think about the 10% – gaining knowledge from a course or book. This is still important but should also be blended with learning through other interventions too. Spending time upfront on identifying actions that will really help you learning with impact has value.

Create a robust personal development Plan

And finally, the last element is to create your personal development plan the same way you would do with work goals and objectives. Think about:

  • How you can measure your development goals. How do you know when you’ve achieved them? For example rather than a goal to ‘be more confident’ have a goal to ‘present at 2 board meetings this year’.
  • What actions you need to take, when will you do them and how.
  • What time limits do you want to set for your goals, get accountable and committed in terms of making your personal development work.

A big part of this is also finding your support network. Think about who’s going to help and support you.

Evidence and research shows that learning with other people is the best way to develop, as it enables you to be curious as a group and to support and challenge each other. Finding your “tribe” in terms of learning can really be helpful.

Only when you are really clear on the benefit you are going to get from your personal development plan, will you be able to remove the time blockers and achieve your goals.

Please do contact us if you would like to dive into things a bit deeper or if you would like some other resources around this subject. 

CAPE Coaching & Development equip, empower, and enable brilliant People Managers through development programmes, workshops and 1-2-1 coaching. Learn more by visiting

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