First of all, one thing should be clear to everyone:
A self development journey is yours and yours only. Don’t cut corners, don’t rush it, and it’s not the same to everyone.
However, there are certain points in this journey that are similar to all, and someone’s insight or process might inspire you and give you the solution you didn’t know you needed.
Here are the aspects of life that I’ve discovered most books to talk about and have a consensus on their importance:
- Improving Productivity
- Improving Focus and Memory
- Dealing with your inner blocks or traumas
- Improving your social skills
- Improving your Self Confidence
- Help in setting goals
- Improving good habits and eliminating bad ones
- Embracing your spirituality
My key takeaways from 100+ self development books and youtube videos
Create a productivity system
A productivity system is crucial in improving your productivity as having a set of general rules will help keep you on track and don’t deviate into any of the extremes.
What you do in your system is totally up to you and you should constantly experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.
Our lives, contexts and goals differ so customise this constantly until you reach your perfect plan.
I’ll share with you a few points from my system:
- Timeboxing – I split my calendar into 30 minutes / 1 hour or 2 hours blocks and merge it with my to-do list. For example: Between 12:00 and 13:00 I am replying to emails, between 13:00 and 15:00 deep coding work
- Eisenhower method – This method refers to categorising your to do list into Important and Urgent, Important and Not Urgent, Not important but Urgent and Not Important and Not Urgent. This will help prioritising your tasks
- Pomodoro Method – This will help remove distractions by commiting to working 30 minutes and then 5 minutes break. And repeat the cycle.
- Admin work in the morning – This is controversial as some people suggest and follow the “Eat the frog” method which states that you should do the most important tasks early in the day before anything else. For me, it helps to get rid of admin work such as emails, code reviews, cleaning my environment, packages to send or receive, messages or calls. Getting rid of these early will allow me to have a deep focused work with no distractions later on.
Create a morning routine
This will help you with your motivation and focus as you will feel you already achieved something and you will be proud of yourself before you start with your day.
You will already tick certain tasks off the list, you will get the dopamine from some completed good habits and you will be charged for the day.
These are 3 things I include in my morning routine:
- Make my bed
- Decluter the house and clean my environment
- Go to the gym
I have seen that cleaning your environment helps to get you in the flow state later and remove distractions.
Going to the gym in the morning will give you energy, dopamine and tick a very important task out of my to-do list. It also gets me going so I don’t drag around the first hour of my work day.
Deal with your trauma and limiting beliefs
This flows a bit into the spiritual realm but it’s equally important as the work you are doing. Some people also say:
Work harder on yourself than you do on your job
Identifying your trauma and limiting beliefs and working through them is a good way of making sure you align with your values, you set correct goals that you really want and don’t fall into bad habits or coping mechanisms.
This is a very appreciated daily habit as it allows you to pour your thoughts on the paper and declutter your mind. It will eventually lead to a few benefits:
- Being clearer on your thoughts and beliefs
- Identifying possible areas of improvement
- Cleaning your mind to get it ready for a new day
- Remind you of your goals and trajectory which can change the priorities in your day
I recommend doing this as part of your morning ritual but you can also do it in the evening. The important thing is to do it before you set up your to-do list.
Improving your social skills
This does not only refer to you if you’ve got social anxiety. It also refers to how you interact with people, how you compare yourself to them and how you handle your image.
My key takeaways here are:
- Never compare yourself or your progress with someone else
- Don’t disclose everything about you and your goals
- Learn to identify manipulation (especially emotional manipulation) and don’t let yourself be affected
- Observe the needs and wants of others so you know how to deal with them
- Don’t let your communication or interaction be driven by anger. Think about the other person and have empathy first.
- Learn to consider other’s point of view before taking action
- Be a good listener
- Think about the other person’s interests and communicate your solution to those before presenting your request
- Manifest interest in what the others say and don’t iterrupt
- Always appreciate vocally what someone does for you or in general
Celebrate small successes
Make a point to celebrate any small success you have. Don’t wait for the big goal to be done so you can celebrate or feel good. Be proud of yourself every step of the way and acknowledge the progress you’ve done constantly.
This will be a huge dopamine boost and increase your motivation which will get you going at the same pace, without losing momentum.
Create a Personal Development Plan
Focus on your big goals, set them accordingly using SMART (short, measurable, achievable, realisting and time-based) and then dive into sub-goals and identify the actions you need to do to achieve them.
When identifying actions, split them until you reach daily actions or actions with a clear frequency so you can integrate them into your daily tasks or weekly tasks.
Think about your personal goals and aspirations. Don’t think about the company’s goals, your manager’s, your spouse’s, your parents’, your friends’, etc.
Get your habits right
A good way of doing this is to get a piece of paper at the end of the day and jot down everything you’ve done today. This should contain every single thing (drinking water, meals and their times, going to the toilet, scrolling on social media, etc).
This way you can observe habits that you didn’t even know you have, because most of these happen subconsciously.
Do these for a full week, every evening and make a note of all. Then split them into these 3 categories:
- Good habits you have and want to keep or improve
- Bad habits you have and want to get rid of or reduce
- Good habits you don’t have and want to introduce
You need to understand that the habits usually have a trigger. For example, if you are a smoker, when you smell coffee or drink coffee, you will feel the need to smoke a cigarette.
Or when you are stressed, you find yourself pulling the phone out and scrolling social media for a dopamine hit.
Changing your environment to block this habit from happening or removing the trigger will help get rid of the bad habit.
In these cases, keeping your phone in another room or further from you, will stop you from pulling it out and scrolling whenever you are stressed.
Embracing your spirituality
There is a consensus in any religion, environment, background and profession. And that is the power of meditating.
It has numerous physical and spiritual benefits such as:
- Improved focus
- Improved clarity
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Being more calm and not reactive to stimuli
- Being more at ease and at peace with yourself
- Being more loving
- Slowing down
- Being cleared on your goals and what’s important to you
- Better sleep
- More understanding
- More grateful and appreciative for what’s in your life
Besides meditation, there are multiple spiritual practices that you can use in your life:
- Affirmations – changing your inner limiting beliefs
- Scripting – changing your inner limiting beliefs and getting into a gratefull state
- Gratefullness – feeling grateful and slowing down
- Visualisation – getting into the state of the wish fulfilled as Neville Goddard calls it
Spend time with your loved ones
You need to spend at least 1 hour a day, with your loved ones, chatting, having a glass of wine, with no phones, no TV, no distractions.
You can understand them better, feel closer and more grateful.
There are more to be discussed here and I will follow up or will split it into more articles.
But following these key takeaways will have a massive effect on your life as a whole and will make you closer to your goals, while preserving your inner peace.
There should never be a price to pay for being successful or productive.
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