Personal growth is easy when we are young, I mean biology is on our side, so is society, As a child we are literally bombarded with opportunities to learn from kindergarden, school, after school clubs, libraries, museums even summer camps. Our physical and cognitive development is constantly challenged to evolve and how fortunate we are in that. But once we reach adulthood learning, growing and developing becomes our own responsibility and that is often where our development stops. Ironic really when you think science with all of it’s ologists (psychologists etc) has proven that lifelong learning and personal development is a necessary part of mental and physical health. Our cognitive skills can keep developing even as we mature. The brain after all is a muscle and we all know the more we use a muscle the stronger it becomes. Personal development and lifelong learning improves our mental well being. It is in fact (although rarely thought of as such) an act of self love
No one I have ever met knew this better than my Grannie. She died at the grand age of 103 with all of her mental capacities in full function many years after her physical body failed her. While she could she travelled, she read, maintained a voluminous correspondence, she went to lectures (and I mean geology and archeology), gardened and loved her documentaries. She improved her brain constantly and consciously. I remember her saying it was important to keep the brain growing, to keep learning in life to maintain a good quality of life. And she really did. I am certain that if she had been my generation personal development would have been something she would have wholeheartedly embraced and participated in. The point being is that my Grannie born in 1912 was onto something important. If we don’t make the time to cultivate ourselves and grow then we and our quality of life will only wither and deteriorate.
I have met people, and been one of those people, who both doesn’t have time to invest in self love and self growth and boy is the deterioration obvious. Personally my brain felt foggy, I felt stupid and I kept making the same mistakes in my life over and over again. Until I invested in myself. Making me important enough to care for by motivating myself to grow and learn. I can feel the benefits. I am turning 40 soon (the point of cognitive decline apparently) yet I know through the self love I give myself of learning and growing as a person I will continue to evolve mentally and reap the benefits of that growth. And the great part is that in today’s world the opportunities for us as adults to learn and grow are both plenty and easily accessible. We just have to make ourselves important enough to grasp those opportunities.
Over the last few years I have really dedicated the time to this journey of self love, lifelong learning and self development. Am I perfect- hell no! Am I learning – everyday. If you want to focus on giving yourself this self love and care opportunity, even with a hectic schedule here are some of the things I do that might help you on your way.
Oh how I love these. Short enough for those us with limited time, topics for every taste and always a positive experience. I aim to watch one everyday during breakfast or when I have to commute. A great and easy way to learn something new, provoke a new habit or action.
Personal development gurus
There are literally hundreds out there. However again university youtube gives you access to all of them. As do audio books, ebooks and the traditional paperback ( my favourite). Thousands of hours of other people’s lives and learning out there for you to access and grow from. I read one personal development book for at least 10 minutes everyday. This way I can read at least 6 personal development books a year. It doesn’t take a huge chunk of my life and yet it gives me so much.
Do you remember the fad for brain training products a few years back? Ok well at least 10 years ago. These guys (although got into law suites for bad advertising campaigns) had a good idea. Now whether or not the health benefits they promised are true, my own opinion is that brain workouts such as sudoku, crosswords puzzles, rubik cube or even mindfulness colouring books all increase the brain’s cognitive activity which will exercise that big old muscle. Again easy to do whilst commuting, in lunch breaks and after the kids are asleep. I like to do colouring when I am watching some netflixs on evenings where I just need to wind down and get re-energised.
Whenever you can in moments of stress, happiness, or just for 5 mins everyday, write. On a computer or in a notebook. Allow your thoughts to stream out and clear your minds. A clear mind has space for new information so write, write, write.
Get a new or improve an existing skill
Not rocket science to figure out how this works. Applying for cpd training at work (continuous personal development) solves a time issue for studying. Or if you want to go all out there are evening schools, online courses and universities. You don’t even have to go down the education route. Documentaries are a really good way of learning new stuff in a short space of time. I love the Crash Course series on youtube and of course the networks are bursting with options. Wether it’s career orientated, or pleasure oriented there is so much info out there which you can access in a way that fits your life.
And of course you can always learn something new, hobbies are a great way of challenging yourself to grow. These days youtube, google and pin interest not to mention thousands of online forums, make it so much easier to try a new hobby. I have in the last 7 years both learnt a new language and been back to school for a year to do an education in that language, as well as re started my belly dancing. This year I am already signed up for two new courses one career related and one to support my own personal development.
It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, my Grannie is proof of that. Write a list of the things you always wanted to learn whether it’s waterskiing or patchwork and then choose something that fits your time and your budget and go for it.
Get physical, get outside
Not only does your brain need input and challenges, it also needs oxygen and blood pumping to it. I am the world’s worst at doing exercise or training (at the moment) however I found gardening helps me to move and get outside. Also going for walks. Or scouring the local area for places to visit. New things, new sights are wonderful for mind body and soul. And if you can’t afford a holiday every year finding fun adventures where ever you live makes life more fun and more active.
There are many, many ways to give yourself the self love of personal development and lifelong learning. They don’t have to be big major habit changing things, sometimes just a decision to prioritize yourself and one simple action can be the nudge you needed in the right direction to improve your mental health and make your life a better experience.
Remember a good day is a day where you learn something new ……..
Have a great week <3