Realistic Goal Setting

The importance of setting realistic goals...

I recently embarked on an ambitious personal project. However only a couple of weeks into the 2 month project, I realized that the plan I'd laid out just wasn't realistic. So where did I go wrong and how will I be more realistic about setting goals next time?

To start off with, I'd broken the project down into manageable pieces - tasks if you like. Each of the tasks was less than half of one day in duration. I then set out the tasks in logical order and estimated the total time it would take based on the time I had available to me. And based on these estimates, it was a 2 month project.

As I said before, after 2 weeks, I'd fallen well behind the schedule. I decided to take the time to work out what had gone wrong with my planning. When I went back through my completed tasks I confirmed that I was completing them in approximately the time I'd estimated. So why was I falling behind?

The answer turned out to be simple enough. I'd overestimated the amount of time I had available to work on my project each week. I'd been way too optimistic. This is natural enough. Some might say it's human nature. But the reality is that we all have family and friends that need our attention. And the best laid plans are easily derailed by unexpected events. There wasn't one single thing that ate into my available time but rather a whole raft of smaller things which collectively were enough to derail my project.

The danger now is that I could become discouraged and give up. This is what could happen if you set unrealistic goals for yourself. So what steps have I taken in my efforts in re-planning? Well there are 2 main things.

First of all, I have been a lot more realistic about how much time I have available. By being conservative, I'm hoping that I can remain on schedule and therefore stay motivated through to completion. Regardless of the strength of my time management skills, I just can't manufacture the extra hours I need out of thin air. And there is only so much sleep deprivation one can manage.

The other thing I've done is to schedule "catch up days". In fact one day each week has become a catch up day. The idea of this day is to tidy up any loose ends - any tasks which aren't quite complete or which didn't have a level of quality which I was happy with. This will help me to deal with anything unexpected which crops up during the week and should ensure a higher overall quality at the end.

Hopefully these steps will do the trick. With my new plan, built around some more realistic goal setting, I should be able to stay on track this time.

Improving Productivity Using A Task Based Approach

Is your personal productivity all that it could be? How much do you really get done during the average day or week. And how much time do you spend doing it? In this article I'm going to discuss how to use a task based approach to increase your productivity.

Task Based Or Time Based?

I used to spend a lot of time planning and worrying about how long I would spend doing something. During high school and university I would use time based planning to get things done. What does this mean? When planning out my week I would say - I'll spend 2 hours Monday night on Company Law and I'll spent 3 hours Tuesday night on Business Finance. In short, my time management strategy was to simply break my time up into blocks and throw these blocks indescriminately at the sunbjects I was studying.

So wht is the problem with this? Many of you will have spotted it already. For those that haven't, the problem lies in the lack of goals or specificity of objectives. It was easy for me to spend 2 hours "studying" Company Law but what did I actually achieve? Don't get me wrong - I knew what work was due and normally got it done on time. But it wasn't the most efficint way of doing things.

A Task Based Approach To Time Management:

I discovered a better way. Instead of saying I'll spend 2 hours on Company Law I would say I'll complete my Week 9 Company Law tutorial questions and complete the first 3 questions of the mid-semester assignment. The time allocated was the same but the goals had become specific. I would know at the end of the session whther I'd completed what I'd set out to do.

To use a task based approach, you'll need to break your work down into discrete tasks. Time is still important - in fact estimating times becomes critical to planning and scheduling. But time is secondary as a means of measuring progress. The primary method of determining progress is to ascertain whether the allotted tasks for that day have been completed.

Each task should be large enough to represent a significant step toward meeting your overall objective, but small enough to fit into one day, or preferably less. You'll need to be able to look back the end of a session or a day and tick off each of the tasks you've completed.

I switched over to this approach to time management towards the end of university and never looked back. And it's served me well in the years since then as well. In fact I would put down my increased productivity as a major step forward in my own personal development.

Motivation To Exercise

Are you looking for help with motivation to do exercise?

Being physically fit is great. You feel better, both physically and mentally, your self esteem is sky high and life is much more enjoyable. But if you're like most people , you need a little push to get you started on the path towards physical fitness. In this article I'll share some strategies to help you not only get motivated but also to maintain your motivation.

Exercise With A Partner:

This is a great motivation strategy for two reasons. Firstly, by training with a partner, you'll feel an obligation to attend each training session. On the days when you can't be bothered going out, knowing that your training partner is waiting for you and that you'll be letting them down if you don't show up can be a powerful motivating force. Secondly, while you're actually training, the session is more beneficial when you have someone else to push you. You're less likely to take a short cut or stop and walk if there is someone else there to keep you honest. Most days I run with a friend and there have been numerous occasions when I've been feeling lack-luster, yet he's twisted my arm just enough to get me out on the track. Also he's a little fitter and faster than I am so it's always a tough session.

Enter A Race:

If you need motivation to exercise and lose weight, entering a race or some other sort of organized sporting event can be a great way to get started. I've done this a number of times with fun runs, triathlons and cycling events and in my experience, setting a goal like that has been greatly beneficial. It has given me a something objective which I can measure myself against and it gives ma a fixed date to work with. And if you can convince friends and family to participate as well, so much the better - there's nothing like a little friendly rivalry to spur you on. And once you complete the event you'll feel great - another goal accomplished and a couple of steps closer to personal discovery.

Motivational Podcasts:

If you can't find anyone to train with, the next best thing may be a motivational podcast. There are heaps to choose from - just have a quick look at Google. Some provide general motivation and advice for getting and keeping physically fit while others provide specific exercise programs for you to follow. Just imagine having Anthony Robbins spurring you on to greater personal achievement while you get your exercise.

Join A Gym:

Another great way to motivate yourself to exercise regularly is to join a gymnasium. There's nothing like having spent a heap of money on a gym membership to keep you going. Because there are minimum commitments to a membership period which apply at most gyms, you'll feel obligated to get fit just because of the financial commitment you've made.

Fitness Gadgets:

And speaking of financial commitments, what about snapping up the latest hi-tech gadget to help you achieve your physical fitness goals? One useful device is a heart rate monitor. This handy gadget monitors your heart rate in real time to ensure you're exercising at the correct intensity. And for the scientifically minded, the more advanced heart rate monitors will let you download enough stats to baffle even the most hard-core statistician. You can graph heart rate against distance against time against ... well I think you get the idea. You can even track your progress against long term goals in a training diary.

So as you can see, there are many options available to you. If you're social, train with a group. If you're the solitary type go with the motivational podcasts. If you're willing to invest some money, look at the gym membership or the heart rate monitor. Take massive action! Just do whatever works for you find that motivation to exercise.

Effective Time Management Strategies

3 Ways To Find More Time In Your Day.

We'd all like to get more done each day but there never seems to be enough time. Let's face it - we could all use an extra hour or two each day. Think how much more productive you could be with that extra time available to you. You could start that exercise program you've been promising yourself, use the extra time to chill out and meditate, or you could spend it on some other task which will advance your personal development. In this post I'm going to give you 3 simple tips to help you find that extra time you need in your day.

Get Out Of Bed Earlier:

This may sound obvious, but you'll be surprised at the power that becoming an early riser can add to your life. I find that waking up early has multiple benefits. It gives me a continuous chunk of time first thing in the morning before everyone else wakes up. My mind is clear and my brain is functioning well at that time of the morning. And it gives me the time to plan out the rest of my day and even knock off a couple of tasks early. Set yourself the goal of getting up one hour earlier every day starting tomorrow.

Switch Off The Television:

I have found that one of the most effective ways of wasting time is by watching television. I'm not saying you need to go cold turkey. But think about how much TV you watch during an average week. We all have our favorite television programs and there's nothing wrong with sitting down to watch those. A little rest and relaxation can do wonders but there are limits. Over the next week, try to do the following. Pick out the TV programs you really want to watch. Make a list if that helps. Now apply a little self discipline and only turn on the television when one of those programs starts. Then make sure you turn it off again when the program finishes. Don't sit there channel surfing and wondering if there's anything else on. Think of it this way - if you didn't know it was on, how could you miss it?

Do You Waste Time Online?

This is a bad habit I'm especially guilty of at times. How often have you sat down with your computer with the intention of doing some "work" only to find an endless array or distractions to occupy your mind and your time? Do you check your mail and catch up on all of your favorite blogs and forums before you get down to real work? And again while you're "working", do you do the same thing? And again when you're finished? If this sounds familiar, you might need to be a little more disciplined and organize your time more effectively. Try changing the order around. Complete the important tasks first. Then with any time you have left at the end, catch up on the more menial tasks.

That's it - nothing earth shattering, yet these ideas can definitely help you achieve your personal growth and development goals more quickly. Get up earlier, watch less television and use your time online more efficiently. Sounds simple doesn't. But I challenge you to put these principles to use over the next month - or even the next week. You wont know yourself once you've employed these simple yet effective time management strategies.

Massive Action

Are you having trouble getting started? Not making any progress towards your goals? Getting bogged down is a common experience. Sometimes we can spend so much time analyzing and planning what we're going to do that we never actually get around to the "doing" part. How can we get past this? What can we do to get moving again? The solution - take massive action!

Sounds kind of cool doesn't it. Just as an aside, take care if you ever use Google to search for some of the variations of massive action. Make sure safe search is enabled, or you may be surprised at what you find. I first heard the term "massive action" used at a forum I visit on a regular basis. To me it captured the essence of personal growth and development. No matter what your goals are, you just need to start doing something. Anything. There's and old Chinese proverb which goes something along the lines of: "Even the longest journey begins with a single step." While a major undertaking can be daunting, sometimes just pushing yourself to start can be a major step.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained - that's what they say. I think this is true of most things worthwhile especially in the area of personal growth and development. And the very concept of massive action is both inspiring and motivating. I've found that when I bring this sort of positive attitude to my projects, I normally get off to a flying start. The progress I make early on and the positive reinforcement I receive in turn motivates me to further action. It becomes self perpetuating.

A colleague of mine is a great ideas man. He's very creative - some of the stuff he comes up with is way out there. But he doesn't just sit there contemplating these ideas. He takes action. He goes out and takes the steps necessary to make his dreams a reality. To be honest, not everything he's tried has worked. In fact he's had some spectacular failures. But overall, he' done very well for himself and had some great life experiences along the way.

And his story leads nicely into my next point - what's the worst that can happen? You might fail, or you might even succeed. But even if things don't go as planned, provided you maintain a positive attitude, you'll learn a lot. Sometimes failure can be painful, but it's normally character building. To get back on track, you'll need to take stock of the situation. What worked? What didn't? Take these lessons on board and use them to help make your next project a success.

Don't get me wrong. Planning and goal setting are very important components of personal development, but they are just ideas until you take the steps to make them reality. Take massive action. You'll never know to you have a go.

15677 Steps To Personal Discovery

Taking on a physical challenge can be a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses and to further you pursuit of personal growth and discovery. While our day-to-day lives are full of challenges, most of which are unavoidable and not of our choosing, sometimes we need to go out of our way to find a way to push ourselves to the limit both physically and mentally. Today I'd like to discuss an endurance race I participated in recently. It was a great experience for me personally and something I highly recommend to others.

The race I competed in was a Rogain. For those unfamiliar with this type of event, it's an endurance sport involving long distance cross country navigation. Using only a compass, a map and a clue sheet, competitors need to work in teams to navigate to as many "checkpoints" as possible within 24 hours. The course we covered was in mountainous, heavily wooded terrain and the weather conditions were challenging as well - a hot sunny day followed by thick fog then torrential rain during the night-time hours.

So what did I get out of such a punishing physical ordeal? I discovered an inner strength which I didn't realize was there. To be completely honest, I was very nervous immediately before the race. Two of my fellow team members were marathon runners and a third had spent time in the military, running around in the wilderness for a living. I was worried I'd be too slow - that I'd hold everybody else back - or that my fairly basic navigation skills would get us lost. Add to this all of the energy powders, gels and sports drinks the other guys were packing, which made my muesli bars, sandwiches, fruit and water seem completely inadequate.

But as the afternoon turned to evening and then to night and as the fog and then rain rolled in, I found myself not only keeping up but even encouraging other team members at various times. That's not to say I wasn't hurting - I was in pain as well. My "weatherproof" gear turned out to not to be. I was soaked to the skin only one hour into the six hour downpour. My muscles were aching and my feet were blistered and bruised from the rough terrain. But my mind was clear. I hadn't got us lost and I'd even managed to lead the team directly onto a number of checkpoints. Even with the physical fatigue and the lack of sleep, I was not only surviving - I was still competing. A big difference, certainly in my mind, if not in reality. I never got to the point where it was merely survival. I maintained a positive attitude and was always looking for ways to reach more checkpoints and score more points.

And the big surprise was that I actually enjoyed it. Despite the physical discomfort and the poor weather conditions, I was having fun. More than that, it was satisfying a deep need to test my physical and mental boundaries. It was a feeling that lasted beyond the weekend of the race. In the days and weeks which followed, I found I had a new level of self confidence and self esteem. I was walking taller (if you'll pardon the cliche). The relationship with my teammates had strengthened as well. Spending so much time together in such arduous conditions had brought us closer together. We'd been able to support each other through our down periods - and we all has those. We'd worked as a team and shared a great life experience.

Now I'm hooked. I sought out a new experience and liked it so much that I'm now a regular competitor. I've convinced other friends to try it as well. The message here is to try something new - step outside your comfort zone. You never know what you'll find out there. It doesn't have to be some crazy adventure race. There are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself. The icing on the cake in this story of personal discovery is that we won our category of the event.

Better Time Management

What are the benefits of better time management skills?

Time management is a skill I've always coveted. One of the key planks of my own personal development is productivity. How can I motivate myself to get more done with the time available to me? I've written about personal development planning and the importance of setting goals in recent posts, but without efficient and effective use of time, achieving your goals becomes that much more difficult.

There are many paths which may lead to better use of your time. Today I'm going to focus on a couple of bad habits which you can address to free up some time and start getting things done.

Stop Wasting Time.

This sounds simple but it can be a very effective strategy to harness more of your energy and direct it towards more productive pursuits. Or if you prefer a more positive spin, let me re-phrase it for you. Are you spending the bulk your time on activities which assist you in achieving your personal goals?

Consider your typical day. Are there periods during the day when you're not as productive as you could be? We all need "down time", but even then there are ways to use this time more efficiently. For example, for the last few years my lunch break at work has become an hour spent on my personal health and wellbeing. I use my lunch break to exercise and stay fit. This might be a session in the pool or the gym. Or even if I'm not geographically close to such facilities, I can still get out for a run. Running is great because you don't need much equipment and most buildings I've worked in over recent years have had showers available to staff.

Another way of using my time efficiently is cycling to work. Whenever practical, I'll jump on my bike for the commute to the office. In most traffic conditions, it doesn't take much longer than driving or taking public transport and I have the added bonus of getting to work and feeling great both mentally and physically.

This next bad habit is an extension of time wasting...

Stop Procrastinating.

I'm ashamed to say that procrastination is something I've indulged in a little to often. Why do today what you can put of until tomorrow? At times, that's been my motto. But as the demands on my time have increased and my life has become busier, I've found myself becoming more productive. I'm more proactive in the way I approach problems. I'm less likely to put things off until another day. Yet I still lapse into my old ways from time to time.

Have you conquered procrastination yet? I'm going to lay down a challenge for any and all comers. Stop procrastinating now. Not tomorrow. Not later today, but now. What do you have on your to do list which you've been putting off. I want you to go out and complete one of your tasks today. It could be something at work or something around the home. It might be starting that new exercise program you've been talking about or telling a loved one how much they mean to you. Whatever it is, do it today.

And I'm taking up this challenge as well. I had an experience the other day which caused me to take a closer look at myself and my habits. One of my children started school not long ago. The weekend just gone, my son came to me on Sunday night and told me about a class project which was due the following day. He then went on to tell me that he hadn't started it yet. So we worked on it together and completed it in time for him to take it to school the next day. I didn't make a big deal of it at the time - I find a positive attitude and plenty of encouragement works best with my children.

But later I found myself contemplating the situation and how it reflected on myself as a role model and my time management skills or lack thereof. And being brutally honest with myself, I had to admit that the habit of leaving things until the last minute was not only something I indulged in as a child, but a habit which I still slipped into occasionally. As other parents are no doubt aware, children will frequently mimic behavior they see at home (unfortunately the bad, not just the good). So as parents, we need to make sure we set a good example.

So from now on, no more procrastination. For the good of my personal growth and development and that of my family I will stop putting things of. In an effort to get more done I'll be starting the hard jobs sooner. Just by making this commitment, I feel more motivated.

Ironically I've run out of time, so I'll have to wrap up here. I have more to say on this topic, but it will have to wait for another day. This no doubt illustrates the importance of better time management skills.

Personal Development Goals

What are your personal development goals?

In my last post, titled "What Is A Personal Development Plan?", I discussed the importance of goal setting as part of the personal development planning process. These goals form the foundation or nucleus of such a plan and as such are worth exploring in more detail. So today I'd like to discuss setting self improvement goals in more depth.

Setting goals for yourself can a more difficult task than you might initially expect. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and try to distill all of your life's dreams and ambitions into a handful of written statements. Where do you start? Where do you stop? How much detail should you go into? What follows is a series of tips to help you set personal development or self improvement goals for yourself.

Setting Specific Goals:

In order to succeed, you will need to make sure you have specific goals. Having vague or abstract goals makes achieving them that much more difficult. How will you know when you've met your target?

Numbers can be a great way of expressing goals. A number has a certain quality about it which gives you a fixed point of reference. As everything in life ebbs and flows, a goal expressed as a number stands out like a beacon, guiding you towards your destination. Instead of saying "I want to lose weight", you could re-state your goal as "I want to lose 7 pounds" or maybe "I want to reach my ideal weight of 160 pounds". Now as the days and weeks go by, each time you jump on the scales you'll watch yourself closing in on your target weight.

What Is Your Expected Date Of Achievement?

Deadline can be an ugly word. It has connotations of externally imposed time lines. So instead of deadline, let's use the phrase - "expected date of achievement". This gives a much more positive interpretation of the time by which you'd like to attain your goal.

But regardless of when we call it, it's important for us to consider not only the what but the when. Without a concrete time line in place it's easy to slip back into what used to be one of my favorite activities - procrastination. It's easy to find something else to fill your time. Then days slip into weeks and even months with no progress. The next thing you know, another year has passed and you still haven't done anything about starting that further education you'd been promising yourself.

Break Down Your Goals:

Make sure your goals are realistic. Rather than having one enormous goal, try breaking it down into two or more smaller ones. For example, if you wanted to run 8 miles in under 1 hour by the end of the year, you might set an intermediate goal of 4 miles in under 30 minutes by the end of September.

Setting these mini-goals can work wonders for your motivation. If you can tick off each of these smaller achievements on the way to your major milestone you'll feel like you're making more progress faster.

But What Are Your Goals?

How do you work out what your personal development or self improvement goals are? While some people have no trouble in clearly articulating what they want out of life, others may be less sure of themselves. If you fall into the latter category, how can you determine what you really want?

A technique I've found useful is to remove any constraints, obstacles or roadblocks, both perceived and real. What if money was no object? What if you had unlimited time? What would you do? Imagine you are independently wealthy - you have no need to work and have time on your hands. What would you do with yourself? What do you feel passionate about?

Or what if the opposite were true? You had limited time left (a comet is on a collision course with our planet - okay, maybe a little melodramatic, but you get the idea). What would you do with the time you had left?

Sometimes doing these mental exercises can be a good way to gain some perspective on things. Your mind has incredible power within it. Sometimes you just need some help to unleash that power. But that is a topic for another day...

There's no time like the present. Take some time out of your day and consider the question at hand. What are your personal development goals?

What Is A Personal Development Plan?

What is a personal development plan and how do you create one?

A personal development plan is like any plan - a series of steps laid out in a consistent and logical order with the aim of achieving one or more specific goals. In this case the focus of the plan is self improvement.

As with any endeavor, we need to establish our objectives in order to work towards them. And our own personal growth is no exception. What follows are some thoughts on how to approach this planning process.

Identify Your Goals:

Let's start at the beginning. What do we want to achieve? What do we want to change. What habits would we like to acquire and what habits would we like to lose? What do we like about ourselves and our lives and what would we like to change or improve?

This is a great opportunity for us all to take a step back and give serious consideration to where we are in our lives. As the days and weeks go past, it's easy for us to get so immersed in day to day activities that we lose sight of what's really important. But, by taking the time to consciously decide what it is that we want, we can re-focus our energy and efforts on what's really important to us.

Establish Priorities:

One of the dangers of personal development planning, or of any planning for that matter, is that of coming up with a wish list so long that we'll be overwhelmed. Many of us when faced with a lengthy to do list will get bogged down. Where do I start? How can I possibly get through all of this?

Sometimes we just end up back where started - or even worse off because we now have this extra list of things to do hanging over our heads.

So we need to establish priorities. What is most important to us? what needs to be done first? Is there a logical order we can establish.

One approach is to choose the top 3 things to work on and park the rest for the time being. Devote your energy to getting these things done before reviewing your goals again and choosing the next 3 highest priorities.

Another approach is to break your goals up into short medium and long term. The period is somewhat arbitrary, but short term might be within one year, medium term less than five years and long term being longer than that.

Set A Time Line To Reach Your Goals:

This leads neatly into setting time lines. Part of the planning process involves placing deadlines against tasks on the plan. And once again, planning for personal development is no exception.

Rather than just having a vague idea of what you want to do by when, give yourself a kick start by setting a due date. This will help you to get motivated. A self imposed deadline can be worthwhile if you hold yourself to it. And achieving that goal within that time-frame provides further motivation. You will feel better about yourself and be ready for the next challenge.

However, not all goals are well suited to setting completion dates. While you can give yourself a date by which you want to lose ten pounds, quitting smoking is a different proposition. Habit based goals are normally based on some sort of permanent change.

In this case, you might like to set duration based time-lines. What I mean by that is to establish a period of time over which you would like maintain a new habit. For example you might like to set yourself a goal of getting up one hour earlier everyday for the next 30 days. Once you've met that goal, you might like to extend it to 90 day or 180 days, although by then, hopefully the habit will have become permanent.

Be realistic:

While it's important to set aggressive goals, we don't want to make them so lofty that we have little chance of achieving them. Whether it's the size and scope of your goal or the time you've given yourself to achieve it, be realistic. Failing to achieve your goals can be a demotivating experience.

Take action:

It's all very well to sit down and formulate a plan, but you still need to do the work. Don't spend all of your time analyzing and planning. You will need to take action. Start at the beginning. It's amazing how motivating the feeling of making progress can be. You never know - you might enjoy it.

Review Your Plan:

The last step in the personal development planning process is to review your plan. Measure your progress against it. Anniversaries are a common time to undergo the review. It could be your birthday or the coming of a new year. These are times when we tend to be reflective anyway, so take the opportunity to review what you've achieved in the previous year and think about what you want out of the upcoming year.

Hopefully this article has given you some new ideas - or maybe reinforced some existing ones. Or at the least you will now be familiar with what a personal development plan is.

Personal Development Multimedia

Personal development multimedia (video) Tony Robbins style.

I can across this Anthony Robbins video on YouTube a little while ago. I know that Tony is a somewhat controversial figure in the self help movement, but what he says in this presentation is certainly worth thinking about in the context of working on your own self improvement.

In the presentation he talks about what motivates people and about human needs - universal needs that we all have and which we all strive to fulfill (at last in Tony's opinion). Whether or not you agree with the ideas he puts forward, I think it's a great starting point for considering what your needs are. What motivates you? What are your goals? What do you want out of life?

While the group he is presenting to in the video seem to be high achievers already, the concepts discussed are still worthy of consideration for the rest of us. Watch the video and keep an open mind.

Anthony Robbins Video on Personal Development

For those not familiar with some of the controversy surrounding Anthony Robbins, I suggest you take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Anthony. I can't vouch for some of the information in there but it's well worth a read. I didn't know about some of the law suits. I was more familiar with his Personal Power infomercials on late-night television.

But more importantly, broaden your search for information on how to improve yourself. Don't forget that there are many ways to consume this information - audio (podcasts and CD's), video (Youtube and DVD's) are other ways to expand your knowledge using personal development multimedia.

What Is Personal Development?

What is personal development and what does it mean to you?

It an attempt to put a framework in place for this website, I went looking for a definition of personal development. I was looking for a generally accepted understanding of what it means - a standard, one-size-fits-all description which I could just reference and use as a starting point for discussion.

But I was surprised at how difficult it was to find such a thing. While there are plenty of websites which have taken a stab at it, I couldn't find an authoritative source which I felt captured the essence of what personal growth and development is about. Even the ever-reliable Wikipedia didn't offer much help.

So then I thought - I'll just write my own definition. I figured I could do as good a job as anyone else. I've given the matter a great deal of thought over the years and indeed taken a number of steps to improve myself. I should be able to distill my thoughts and experiences in this area into a succinct and useful definition. But when I sat down to pen my definition, it hit me. Personal development is different for everybody.

Is this a cop-out? I'd like to think not. I know what personal development means to me, but I couldn't presume to put a label on it for everybody else. Broadly speaking, personal development is an activity undertaken by an individual in an attempt to improve one or more aspects of themselves or their lives. It might relate to such areas as health and fitness, personal productivity, relationships, personal finances, spirituality or just a general sense of self.

For me, this is the key. Everyone has different priorities - and people's priorities change over time as their circumstances change and as life experiences shape each individual's outlook. While career advancement or pursuit of their first million dollars may drive some people, for others losing weight or gaining self confidence might be more worthy goals.

What follows are some areas of personal development which I'd like to explore in more depth. I intend to do this in upcoming articles on this blog.

Health and Fitness:

Most of us would like to be healthier and fitter than we are currently. Your goal might be weight loss for the sake of your general health and wellbeing. You might want to give up smoking. Or maybe you aspire to running a marathon or achieving some other feat of physical and mental endurance. As with most areas of self improvement, priorities will vary greatly for each individual.

Personal Productivity and Organization:

Do you get as much done each day as you'd like to? Have you ever thought there must be a way to organize your time in such a way as to maximize the tasks you can complete each day. Many people (myself included) want to improve their time management and organization skills so they (and I) can get more done. I'm aware of a number of systems which can be adopted in an effort to maximize your personal productivity. I'll explore these in detail in the near future.

Wealth, Money and Personal Finances:

There's a lot more to life than money. I can't emphasize this point too much. However, the reality for most of us is that we will need to manage our limited financial resources (both money and our ability to earn money) to provide an adequate, if not comfortable, lifestyle for ourselves and our families. This is a very broad topic and covers everything from basic budgeting and day to day money management to wealth generation with a view to achieving financial freedom.

Motivation and Goal Setting for Success:

Getting started can be one of the hardest things about personal development. How do you motivate yourself to do more? What drives you to achieve your goals? Just as importantly, how do you set your goals? Do you have a structured approach? Are your goals (and the time-lines you've set yourself to achieve them) realistic? Do you have a plan - a clear idea of what you want to do and how you're going to do it? For me, motivation and goal setting are inter-related. I find the act of setting goals helps motivate me and achieving these goals spurs me on to do more.

Happiness and Self Esteem:

For me, this is ultimately what personal growth and development is all about. And that's why it's such a personal and individual thing. What makes you happy may not - in fact probably wont - make the next person happy. But there's more to it than that. Do you really know what will make you happy? What is happiness anyway? Is it something you can strive for and once achieved will be permanent? Or is it a temporary or even fleeting state?

These are some of the topics I'd like to explore - and anything else that takes my fancy. I think I've rambled more than I'd have liked. But to be honest, I don't think there is a simple answer to the question - What is personal development?

What Is Personal Development & Self Help?

Why did I start the Personal Development and Self Help Blog?

I've spent much of my life looking for things - looking for experience, looking for better ways to do things, looking for meaning and perhaps most of all , looking for myself. I've actively sought ways to challenge myself both mentally and physically. In my youth I was drawn to extreme sports like sky diving and rock climbing. What drew me to these particular pursuits? What was my motivation? This alone could fill a PhD student's thesis.

While marriage and children have helped (or forced) me to grow up and forgo some of these more dangerous pursuits, I'm still drawn to endurance sports like triathlon and long distance running. There are obvious health benefits of staying fit and healthy yet it's something else that draws me to these sorts of activities.

I've sought to improve my life. This has included my health and fitness, my relationships, my career and my financial position. Like most people, I want strong and healthy relationships with my spouse, my children and the rest of my family and friends. And I want to be financially independent while I'm still young enough to enjoy it.

I want to get more out of life. I want to find more time to enjoy myself and to try new things. It's important for me to strike a balance among all of the demands placed on me (including those I place on myself).

So how do you set yourself challenging yet realistic goals and objectives? What time management techniques (and other life skills) are required to achieve your goals?. How can you harness your motivation and mind power to undertake significant personal growth? It could be something tangible like losing weight or making money. Perhaps something less tangible (though no less significant) like building self confidence or self esteem could be your life goal.

All of this and more is what the Personal Development And Self Help blog is about.