To start your personal growth journey, you need to define which areas you need to improve. To do so, you should identify your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? Where are you lacking?
Be thorough. For example, a stay-at-home mother who put her career on hold for a few years may fail to see that her skills at organization, time management, and keeping her calm under stressful situations would count as strengths.
If you are uncertain about what to write down for each, you can always take a skills test that will help you grasp your overall competencies and work on the results.
Once you have a broad understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, it is time to select the skills you want to develop. For example, do you want to tackle your weakest skills? Would you prefer to work on your strengths and take them to the next level?
To be more effective, you should choose to work first on the skills that would help you achieve your goal, be it to advance on your career or fulfill specific goals.
In general, most people focus on improving skills such as communication, self-confidence, leadership, and adaptability, for example.
A self-assessment of your skills may not be as accurate as you believe. For example, people with a personality high on neuroticism tend to downplay their strengths and underestimate their level of competency.
To remove any biased perceptions from your path, talk to friends, family, and colleagues and ask them which skills would they recommend you to improve. Try to understand if your self-assessment is aligned with the perceptions others have of you. If they are not, try to understand why. Depending on their answers you might be able to sort out the specific skills you need to improve.
For example, if they find you unapproachable, try to find an explanation. Are your communication skills weaker than you thought? Do you fight back or ignore suggestions and comments, making others avoid you for fear of confrontation? Do you lack self-confidence and, thus, are perceived as unreliable?
The only way you can improve your skills is by learning. Therefore, you should be open to suggestions and criticisms.
Do not take them as a personal attack and try not to contradict them. Instead, listen to what others have to say and deliberate on it. Make an effort to analyze any criticism and suggestions from a logical perspective and see if they are making a valid point.
Practice makes perfect. If you want to become proficient in something, even a specific skill, you need to train it continuously. Engage in situations where you need to use the skills you want to improve.
A good option would be to become a volunteer and choose an activity that would require you to use skills that you would not normally put into practice in other situations. For example, if you struggle to make a presentation because you become nervous and fidgety when you are the center of attention, you can volunteer as a model for art students. The options are endless, you just need to find the one that suits your intention the best.
You could also enroll in courses and workshops. There are several available options nowadays targeting the development of particular skills in a business context.
Creating a plan, setting targets and follow-up on your development will help you remain motivated. It will also allow you to check if you are on the right track or if you need to adjust your plan and find different strategies to achieve your goal.
If you are looking to improve your organization and focus abilities, you might even find in this activity a good method to train them.
Look around and find people that you perceive as good at the skills you want to develop. It can be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, an expert in your field, or even a celebrity. Observe how they do it and try to emulate their skills. Listen to what they say and learn from them.
Expanding your network is important even if you are not looking to improve your social skills. Meeting and getting to know a wide pool of people will expose you to new perspectives, new knowledge, new attitudes, and new ways of thinking.
These connections can also give rise to new opportunities and career options more suitable to your current set of skills.
Improving your skills should be an ongoing process. If you want to keep growing, you should never be satisfied with your level of mastery. Keep practicing and working on your competencies. Do not let them rust or become obsolete.