Quick DIY guide to self-development & self-development

Henk Veenhuysen
by Henk Veenhuysen

The end of the year can be very busy as your attention turns to family or work that still needs to be finished before you go on vacation. Without realizing it, you might just miss a perfect opportunity to boost your own self-development. With the New Year approaching, this is a very good time to take time and look back on the past year. You can just do that yourself with this handy DIY guide! (Do It Yourself 😊)

Of course, personal development at work is the starting point in this blog, but including your personal life is, of course, also very possible. A good balance in that is also important, isn’t it? With this blog, you can look back on your year in three steps and come up with inspiring, simple steps for your self-development in the coming year!

Self-development meaning

On your own to further develop your own skills, for example, by seeking and using feedback and setting goals. ‘Self-development’ means having an understanding of how you yourself function and wanting to fully develop your skills and talents.

How do you develop yourself?

To get a grip on your own development, you need to know what happened in the past year and become a kind of “owner” of those events. Only when you consciously gain insight into your own development is it possible to adjust and determine what you would like to change. This self-reflection is the foundation for your personal growth.

Always running is then inconvenient. So time for a pause to look back at what worked and didn’t work for you in the past year.

1. Developing yourself? First press the pause button

Pressing pause means pausing, slowing down and zooming out on the past year; in essence, it means looking at what you did well and how you can further strengthen those good points. (My favorite way to reflect and grow). But certainly also review what went less well so you don’t repeat yourself in the coming year.

What can you do? Ask yourself these questions.

Choose a quiet place in your home so you can think undisturbed. Also, give yourself some time to really think quietly about the questions I’m about to ask you.

Some tips? Set a 5-minute alarm clock for each question and use your calendar from the past year so you can easily get on a track of what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Use the technique of mind mapping to write down a first impression of the past year for yourself.

Self-development with a mind map
A mind map is a diagram composed of concepts, texts, relationships and/or pictures arranged in the form of a tree structure around a central theme (here: self-development or self-development). A mind map is used to support creative processes and in learning and memorization.

I have these reflection questions for you:

1. When did I learn the most this year?
2. What am I most proud of?
3. Who helped me to be at my best?
4. How have my strengths helped me be successful?
5. What do I wish I had done differently?

Note: Want some inspiration where to look within your development as a professional?

Consider, for example, your results orientation, soft skills, work-life balance, emotional intelligence, communication skills, dealing with your supervisor. You can also look at how your work contributes to the strategy of your department or organization.

2. Self-reflection by seeking a mirror

Assessing your own development over the past year becomes so much more valuable when, in addition to your own view, you get information from a colleague with whom you work (closely). Blind spots and all that, you know it . Involving a colleague will give you insights that you cannot discover on your own or that remain hidden from you.

Therefore, ask a trusted, fine, fun, dear colleague to be your mirror for unfiltered and respectful feedback. And of course, the idea is to do that two-way, listening to each other and learning from each other.

You can do this:

Schedule time for you and your colleague to answer the following questions together. While everyone shares their answers, the role of the colleague is to listen and contribute any additional insights they may have, based on their own experience.

You can discuss these questions with each other:

  1. What three to five words would you use to describe the past year?
  2. Over the past 12 months, what have you found most satisfying and most frustrating?
  3. When do you think you have been at your best this year?
  4. What limiting beliefs (that is, beliefs that hold you back) have gotten in your way?
  5. What is the most useful thing you have read, watched or listened to in the past year?

3. Developing yourself through action

You now have all the information! And probably had a fun and in-depth conversation with your colleague. You can now turn this awareness of the past year into practical and concrete action for the coming year.

blog continues after photo

Quick guide to self-development & self-development in 3 steps
Look for it in small steps that give success & results

You can do this:

I deliberately don’t make it too complicated because it’s better to work concretely on 1 goal than on endless goals. The latter is demotivating. I look for it more in small steps that give results and progression and get you in a positive flow.

So in one sentence, what few small steps are you going to take based on the information you’ve gathered.

Tip: Put the small steps in your calendar for three months from now. Then you immediately have a finger on the pulse about your own progress.

Some help with the small steps? Here you have some sample suggestions from me. Choose 1 or all 5, it’s up to you. Another one is allowed, of course; above all, choose your own path:

  • One learning goal I will work on and get better at in the coming year
  • One habit I will devote myself to
  • One person with whom I will have a career conversation
  • One way I will support someone else
  • One mistake I will not make again

Myths about self-development

There are some persistent rumors going around when it comes to personal development. These I like to share with you because they can hold you back.

Myth 1: ‘You only get improvement by steadfastly focusing on your goals’.
The reality is that this is not true. Research shows that while setting goals makes you think about them more, it does not necessarily lead to action. Action, doing something, in my experience, is the only key to self-development and gaining new experiences.

Myth 2: “We get better by comparing ourselves to others.
As tempting as it is to look at others’ traits and talents and pursue them, DO NOT. Your development is related to your personal choice to work on making your own talents stronger. Talents that are developed through action, training and interesting projects.

About your self-development

Although the reality of work at the end of the year can be particularly overwhelming, self-reflection is the key to doing things differently in the coming year.

Taking time to look back on your year increases your self-awareness and provides insights to improve, which is perhaps the best gift you can give yourself to achieve self-development.

Good luck

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