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21 Important Personal Development Skills

By Edited Jul 17, 2016 2 1

Improving personal development skills in the pursuit of reaching our full potential as human beings is something that has been done since the dawn of man, though the process didn't always have a name. All early man knew was that he wanted to improve his quality of life and that the results were worth striving for.

Today many of us desire the same sort of improvement, but we don't always know where to begin.  The list below is not nearly complete; there are many personality traits you may wish to improve upon.  Even if you only choose one skill to focus on, you should see improvement in your life on some level.

1- Keeping an Open Mind: It's not necessary to go out and recklessly try everything that you have never experienced or latch on to any idea that someone whispers into your ear, but you shouldn't automatically be closed-minded to such things.

2- Continuous Learning: From the moment we are born we have a natural thirst for knowledge, but as we get older many of us lose that thirst for some reason. Keep in mind that curiosity and learning go hand in hand and do not necessarily have to be experienced through books. One of the most important areas of study should be gaining knowledge about yourself.

3- Focus: Not being able to finish what you start is often due to a general lack of discipline and focus. Luckily, there is an easy way to repair this deficiency… finish what you start before beginning another project. You will eventually find that people around you may start using words like hard worker, single minded and intense (all words describing focus).

4- Willingness to Embrace Uncertainty: Uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox will always be a part of life no matter how hard we try to change it. Would you really want to live in a world where you would always know what is going to happen?

5- Balance: Although not always easy, we should always strive for balance in our lives between work, play and relationships. The words "burn out" are used quite often for a reason.

6- Passion: Having an intense inner fire for something is a somewhat rare phenomenon, I think. If you discover you have this gift then you should do all you can to take advantage of it. Passion can get us through so many difficult obstacles in life that it is always worth trying to jumpstart it.

7- Taking Responsibility For Your Actions: Bad things happen and many of us try to place the blame on others to keep from doing what needs to be done. If you go back far enough, you are likely to find that some bad decisions were made that led you to your current situation. Just focus your resolve and do what needs to be done.

8- Realize And Appreciate That Everything Is Connected: Every item and being in this universe is connected in some way, though we may not realize how or why yet. Scientists would do well to keep this in mind. Leonardo da Vinci once noted, "The earth is moved from its position by the weight of a tiny bird resting upon it." I agree.

9- Acceptance: Everyone eventually comes to the conclusion that there are some things that we cannot change and that life is not always fair. Knowing when to accept these things is what makes us all different and unique.

10- Improvement of The Senses Through Appreciation of The Moment: When was the last time you enjoyed a meal so completely that, although you didn't know how to describe it, you knew every fiber in your being was changed by it? Slowing down and really soaking in what is happening is a lost science today. It is worth it, and you will be changed by the experience.

11- Honesty: It takes so long to build up but can be destroyed in one quick stroke. Always strive to be honest with the most important person in your life… yourself.

12- Resilience: We all will go through trials and tribulations in our lives that will test our resolve. The option of giving up will always be there, though it may not always be the best option. If we are able to struggle through the difficult times, we often find that we are better off for it.

13- Personal Excellence: This is a highly individual exercise that can be different for everyone. Others may offer their opinions, but only you know if you've done a job to your satisfaction.

14- Charity: To give to others without any anticipation of payback truly is the best way to move forward in life. The feeling you get when you do this is unlike any medicine or drug I have ever experienced. I believe it does wonders for your body and soul.

15- Fitness: Your fitness level affects all other aspects of your life much more than you realize. Just ask someone who is not fit.

16- Having A Set Of Personal Values: It is important to know what lines you are and are not willing to cross. Your values can be important guides on your journey through life. Sit down and make a list of what is important to you and distill it down to 5-10 individual words.

17- Understanding That Experience Is The Source Of Wisdom: Be willing to learn from your mistakes even though it is not always the most pleasant way to learn. Many believe that you gain a lot more by learning through experience than by learning from a book. Why not try a mixture of the two?

18- Authenticity: Pretending to be someone you aren't can be a slippery slope. Try to never begin down such a dangerous road; you may not even recognize yourself after a while.

19- Improvement of Social and Communication Skills: Being able to communicate and get along with others well is an underrated skill that many employers are beginning to see the importance of.

20- Having A Sense Of Humor: Laughter is some of the best medicine that exists in this world. Never pass up a chance to do it, especially with others.

21- Gratitude: By focusing on what we don't have instead of what we distance ourselves further from happiness. Be grateful for what you have and experience a profound sense of peace.

If you're looking for more in-depth reading on personal development in parenting, leadership, business, or relationships, check out the important resources below.

Parenting with Dr. Meg Meeker

Business with Dave Ramsey

Relationships with Gary D. Chapman

Leadership with John C. Maxwell



Jan 19, 2011 9:40am
This was a very good article, any one can improve themselves if they have a desire. And you touched on very important ways we can all improve. I enjoyed this good read.
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