10 No Bullshit Ways To Speed Up Your Personal Development

I have started more personal development projects than I can count on my fingers. The first one that I can remember was when I was seventeen. I wanted to get super fit. To prepare for that โ€œprojectโ€ I had an accountability buddy – a good friend of mine, and a tracker on a piece of paper. We used to go to the gym together and encourage each other to do our best.

Since high school, Iโ€™ve started and dropped many personal development projects. Some things did not change – I still try to get other people involved and still track my goals on paper. However, I learned a lot of lessons through trial and error and I want to share some of them with you. While I believe that real personal development takes time and there are no shortcuts, I have discovered that there are some things you can adopt and do that can make reaching your goals a little bit easier.

Take care of your mental and physical health

It is simple – if you feel better, you will do more. To feel good in your skin, make your health – both mental and physical, a priority. This philosophy applies to all kinds of personal development goals – from living a healthier lifestyle to getting physically fit to learning a new skill or getting gigs as a freelancer. Whatever you are aiming for, you will benefit from a better diet, good sleep, mindfulness and healthy social life. Make sure you take care of the five pillars of wellbeing in your life. Once you start learning new things, changing habits and challenging yourself in ways you have not before, it is easy to throw everything youโ€™ve got into these new experiences. This is part of the journey. Just remember to check in which yourself from time to time to make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Get to really know yourself

This may sound simple, but oh boy – it is not! You may think you know yourself but once you start improving an area of your life, you may discover things you never knew. For example, when I first tried getting up early in order to improve my morning routine, I learnt that if I do not get enough sleep, I cannot function properly. Another very important revelation I had about myself was that I am not consistent. While following a schedule is the way to success for many people, forcing myself to do the same thing every day is the surest way to kill my motivation. Similarly, when you set off on your self-improvement path, you will have to learn what works for you. You will discover things that you do not like about yourself and how to deal with them. You will also find out that you are capable of much more than you initially thought, and this is one of the most beautiful lessons.

Learn how to hack your habits

If you want to improve or optimise any area of your life, learning about habits will save you a lot of headache, energy and time. Whether you want to start doing something or to stop engaging in something, this knowledge will pay off in many ways. Look at it like this: if you want to fix a car, wouldnโ€™t it be much easier if you took a little bit of time to learn how its mechanics work instead of diving straight under the hood and aimlessly trying to fix the problem? It is the same way with habits. If you know how they are formed, how to make a good one stick and a bad one disappear, then you are much more equipped to do the work faster with better results. You can start learning the basics about habits by reading this post.

Research and talk to people

One piece of advice – do not try to reinvent the wheel, at least not straight away. Whatever it is that you want to improve upon, chances are someone already has been on the same journey. Researching what others have done, or not, to succeed is a good way to prepare yourself for whatโ€™s to come. This is not to say to take every article and every YouTube video without a grain of salt. On the contrary, look for information and only retain what feels true, possible and realistic for you and your situation. It is even better if you know someone in your circle who has already done what you are attempting. Go talk to that person and pick their brain. Ask them all the questions you have – how did they start, what was easy, what was difficult. Listen and ask in-depth questions. Learning from the mistakes and victories of those before us can give us great insights and can save us a lot of time.

Be honest with yourself

Sometimes when we set off to improve a certain area of our lives we might be doing so with the wrong motivation. For example, you might decide to earn more money because you think this is what you want but in fact, what you want is to be accepted and appreciated by others. You think that this goal will get you what you really want so you start pursuing it. Somewhere down the line, your motivation starts to waver – your income has increased but what you really wanted – acceptance and appreciation for who you are, is still not present in your life. Why are you making all of this money if no one likes you?ย 

It is okay to start without a clear and honest vision of what you really want. The more you work on yourself, the more you will start unravelling the motivation that hides behind your goals. The key is to examine your goals and whether they resonate with you often and with an honest heart. After all, it is your life and your development we are talking about. You are the only one who is at a loss if you try to bullsh*t yourself.

Track and celebrate your progress

The best way to start a personal development journey is to commit to a timeline. Setting a goal, deciding on the big steps you need to take and on all of the smaller milestones along the way will provide you with more confidence and clarity about what you need to do. Putting all of these pieces on a timeline will create a complete picture of how your journey could look like. Once you start making progress, the timeline will be a place when you can track it. Record what you are doing and celebrate the wins, even the little ones. When you have a couple of small breakthroughs you will notice that they give you more motivation to move forward.

While we are talking about tracking, it is important to mention that your timeline is a very general overview of what you wish would happen, not of what will actually happen. So do not get too hung up on it. Use it to move forward but do not let yourself be demotivated if you are falling behind on the original plan.

Take breaks and take them often

This is important enough to put as a piece of separate advice – make it a mission of high priority to schedule breaks in your personal development plan. It might sound counterintuitive since this is an article about speeding up your personal development but take it from a person who has made the mistake of not doing so many times. Nothing will drain your energy, drive, resolve and enthusiasm as quickly as overworking yourself and eventually experiencing burnout. If working towards your goals starts feeling like a drag, or you notice that you lose motivation with every passing day, do not pressure yourself to do more. Think of it like this – if you push yourself, you will work a day, a week, a month until you eventually lose all joy from your personal development journey and you quit. If, however, you take a day off to rest and recharge when you need it, you will be able to continue working for weeks and months with the same level of enthusiasm as when you first started. What do you think? Which way will get you more results in the long term?

Invest in skills and knowledge

Here is the truth – when you pay for something you are more likely to make something out of it. If you are truly committed to your personal development, then invest not only time but also money in it. While there is a possibility of wasting hours learning or practising something you are not 100% into, when you have to open your wallet, you will probably think long and hard about whether the investment is worth it. Once you start paying for courses, books or development programs, the simple act of putting the resources towards yourself will motivate you to take your goals more seriously. It also signals to the people around you that you are committed to your growth and to the person you are becoming.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

As cliche as it sounds, it is true – discomfort and growth go hand in hand. Often what you most need in order to enter the next level of your life is right on the other side of your comfort zone. No, this is not a cosmic joke. It is just how life is. The good news is that you can build resilience toward being uncomfortable. The more you put yourself out there, going after what you want, the more you will exercise your willpower, your perseverance and you might even develop a particularly weird affinity towards discomfort. It is like a muscle – if you exercise it, its abilities grow; if you stop, it loses its power. This also means that if you are currently living a very comfortable life that lacks discomfort of any kind, you will likely have a painful first date with discomfort. Keep at it and it will get better. I promise.

Course-correct quickly

If at any point in your personal development journey you feel like you do not resonate with your goals anymore, re-evaluate your priorities and switch direction as quickly as possible. I know what many of you will say – what about the time/money/resources that I invested; what about the sacrifices that I made? No one can take away from you the knowledge and experience you have acquired up to that point. You have learnt. You have grown. However, staying on the same track just because it took you time and energy to get there is not a good reason to continue something that you know you are not meant for. This is a lesson we can, and should, apply to our lives in general – if we find ourselves on the wrong path, is it better to course-correct as quickly as possible and start investing our energy into things we are excited about.

Oh, if you are wondering what happened with my first personal development project in high school, here is the answer: it took me years to realise I was already so fit at that time and I do not remember getting much fitter. One thing happened for sure, my friend and I became even better friends and we dearly remember those times even now.

PS: if you want to start a personal development project but are lacking time or energy, check this post. Seriously, it just might change your life!

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