Start, Stop Continue

Personal development is EV-ERY-THING! It’s what has helped me become the person I am today But what actually is personal development? Like everything else I need a definition for, I go to Dr. Google. There I found that personal development is the activities that develop a person’s capabilities and potential, help enhance the quality of life and help an individual realize their dreams and aspirations. When I read this, I thought back over the course of my life.

  • As a kid, I was told I could do anything I wanted and become anything I wanted. . .but I was never told how.
  • As a teenager, I remember having big dreams and aspirations. . .but again, I wasn’t given the path to get me there.
  • As an adult, I am learning what I want my quality of life to be. This, my friends is after finding personal development.

The thing you need to realize is that I didn’t even discover personal development until about 10 years ago. I was coasting through life, working my full time job, paying my bills and trying to figure out what I was meant to do. Then I started to do things for myself. Things like workout regularly, eat the right foods for my body, read books on mental health, stress and bettering myself. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was practicing personal development.

What is personal development anyway?

First and foremost, personal development is DIFFERENT for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you. This is a process that is specific to the individual practicing it and may have to be tweaked and refined over time. That’s why it’s a practice. It’s not something you do once and then you’re good. Personal development is something that must be repeated daily, despite the fact that you’re never finished. It’s like trying to reach enlightenment. . .you never really do. But the practice itself gets you closer to who you want to be. Here are a few of my favorite ways to practice personal development:

  • Reading – Books can give you so much information, tips and tricks and advice to help you throughout your life. I love the physical book, but if that doesn’t work for you, try an audible book. Here’s a list of my favorite personal development books.
  • Podcasts – There are a TON of podcasts out there! Anything from true crime to local news and yes, personal development. I almost always listen to podcasts in the car and when I’m working because I can sneak in some advice throughout the day. Two of my favorites are The Rachel Hollis Podcast and Straight Up with Trent Shelton.
  • Conferences – One of my favorite things to do each year is attend a conference. You learn so much for the speakers and the community you get to connect with. And there are tons out there to choose from. I shared a post about attending at least one conference a year that I think you’ll want to read.
  • Exercise – No, this does not mean hardcore movement. It means moving your body each day. Whether that’s a walk around your neighborhood or dancing while you do housework, choose something you love to do and have fun while doing it. After all, if exercise isn’t fun, you won’t stick with it.
  • Meditation or Yoga – I lumped these together because they go hand in hand. During a guided meditation or a yoga session, the answers to your questions come to you. I know it sounds like hocus focus but it’s true. Although those answers may not seem to mean anything at the time that you hear them, they can lead you down the path you need.
  • Set Goals Regularly – At the very least, you should set goals every year. This will help you focus and have a direction to head towards. Setting monthly and quarterly goals also allows you to set smaller goals, make more progress and re-evaluate your direction and tweak when you need to.
  • Journal – I’m not talking about writing down your thoughts every day. Instead, try free writing. This practice lets you connect your mind and your hand and jot down any and every thought that comes to mind. On occasion, these thoughts show you the way and help you decide what to do next.

My favorite activity

My all-time favorite activity to do when you’re trying to find your path is the Start, Stop, Continue Exercise. I learned about this back in my corporate days and I knew it could be applied to my personal life. The exercise is exactly you might be thinking. You’re going to ask yourself what you should start doing, what you should stop doing and what you should continue doing. But you aren’t going to just ask yourself what you should do, you’re also going to ask yourself what you want and what you need.

To do this exercise, you’ll need a notebook or a piece of paper and something to write with. Start by folding your piece of paper into three columns. The first you’ll label with START, the second you’ll label with STOP and the last you’ll label with CONTINUE. Now it’s time to do a brain dump. All you need to do is start writing. Put whatever comes to you into one of the three columns. The important part here is that you do not pass judgement upon yourself. When I started doing this, I did judge the things I wrote down and it stopped me, dead in my tracks. It prevented me from moving forward. So be kind to yourself as you perform this exercise.

Here are a few examples of what I wrote when I did this exercise recently.

Hopefully these examples help you get started brainstorming your own ideas of what you want to start, stop or continue.

Ideally, do this exercise twice a year – the week between Christmas Day and New Years Eve and again at the end of May. It will help you start the year off right and figure out if you should make changes halfway through the year. And if you haven’t done it this year, DO IT NOW!

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