Focus on Yourself Series: Developing Yourself

A few months ago a friend and I had a conversation about how to overcome distraction and stay focused on a task. She really wanted to start doing better at it.

Do you have things you’d like to change about yourself, things you’d like to learn, and areas you need to grow in? If you do, that’s a good thing because the Bible encourages growth.  

2 Peter 1:5-8 makes God’s intention for us clear: grow so you can be fruitful.  

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

While Peter is speaking of spiritual growth in this passage, God wants us to grow in all areas of our lives.

What is personal development?

Personal development maximizes our God-given potential, multiplying the talents that He gave us instead of burying them in the ground as the unfaithful servant did in the parable.

It involves growth, learning, and change; and encompasses skills, character traits, health, and emotional intelligence. Personal development makes you a better version of yourself, empowers you, and makes you a blessing to those around you.

Why is self-improvement important?

Improving yourself is one of the best ways of helping yourself accept yourself. (Read this post on Accepting Yourself). As you learn new things, build better habits, and develop your character, you will like yourself more.

Developing yourself also benefits those around you – family, friends, and work colleagues all reap the benefits of the work you put into yourself.

“When you stop finding areas for growth, you’ve officially stopped growing.”

Debra Fileta

Part of being healthy as an individual is being able to see where you need to grow. If you can’t do this then you are not as healthy as you think you are.

How to develop yourself

Developing yourself doesn’t happen by accident or osmosis. You have to make work of it.

In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin decided he wanted to develop his character. He made a list of 13 virtues he wanted to develop in himself. The list included:

  • Temperance – In eating and drinking
  • Silence – Avoiding trifling conversation and saying only good things
  • Order – Let all things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  • Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness of body, clothes, or habitation.
  • Tranquillity – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • Chastity – Rarely use venery (gratification of sexual desire) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  • Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Each week Franklin focused on a different virtue and rotated through the list 4 times in a year. Every day he marked off his progress on a chart he had made for each virtue – which he carried in his pocket. Every night he did self-examination and every week he reviewed his list to evaluate how he had done.

This guy had a plan and worked his plan!

There’s a lot we can learn from Benjamin Franklin. Let’s pick it apart a bit and add a few things. Here’s what to include in your self-development plan:

1. Audit Yourself

Do a prayerful evaluation of yourself and write down the things you need to change and the things you want to learn. Don’t limit this to only character traits. Include any area you need to grow in, and things you would like to learn and achieve.

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What areas do you need to grow in?
  • What do others complain or nag you about the most?
  • What character traits do you need to develop?
  • What topics would you like to learn about?
  • What hobbies can you start?
  • What new skill would you like to learn? (Write these things down even if they feel impossible.)

2. Change your habits

Put in place daily habits that will help you change. Instead of focusing on the negative – “I need to stop getting distracted”, focus on the positive – “I need to stay focused”.  Cultivate the opposite of what you are struggling with.

Give yourself incentives – when I’m finished with this task, I’ll read for 20 minutes, or walk outside. When I’m done studying this chapter, I’ll check Instagram for 15 minutes.

3. Practice Self-discipline

When your 15 minutes on Instagram are over, get up and move onto the next thing. Set a timer to help you stay focused if necessary.

If you struggle with distraction then aim to finish one task at a time and mark it off on a To-Do list. (Read 5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get Your To-Do List Done).

4. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor is one of the fastest ways to learn and grow because you’re learning from someone who has experience. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and make all your own mistakes along the way.  

The idea of a mentor is to find someone who is ahead of you, not on a par with you. Talking to someone who is on a par with you is great for support, but look for someone who has wisdom that comes from experience.   

Want to get fit? Find someone who is already fit.

Want to be a better parent? Find someone who has already raised their kids successfully.

Want to learn business skills? Look for someone with sound business principles, and is successfully running a business. 

Pick their brains and learn all you can from them.

5. Educate yourself

Do something every day to educate yourself in the areas you want to grow in. You don’t have to spend hours a day. Just 15 minutes is enough. 

  • How to be a better parent
  • How to develop leadership skills
  • How to develop emotional intelligence
  • How to improve your communication skills
  • How to make your own bread
  • How to make build an outdoor fireplace
  • How to take great photos with your phone
  • How to give a massage
  • And a million other ideas! Make your own list!

Reading is a great way to learn, but if you’re not a reader there is hope for you! We have so much knowledge available to us beside books: Try Audible and have your books read to you. Watch YouTube videos (if you’re prone to distraction, avoid this one!) Listen to podcasts. Watch TedTalks. Talk to experienced people. Take an online course.

6. Do regular reflection

Part of Benjamin Franklin’s plan was to do regular reflection on his growth and development. A lot of the value of what you are doing will be lost without reflection. You need to know if you are progressing or not so that you can put in more effort or change your methods.

Do a daily review of your day. What could you have done better today? What did you do well? Hold yourself accountable and be honest with yourself.

Regular weekly, monthly, and yearly reviews of your progress are also essential. Doing a monthly and yearly review is good because growth takes time and you won’t always see it in daily and weekly reviews.

Developing yourself is not selfish – God expects you to grow the talents and abilities He has given you, and He is honoured when you do.

Are you investing in yourself and growing? What areas would you like to grow in? How can you make time for personal development?  

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Focus on Yourself Series: Being True to Yourself - Love More to Live | 17th Jun 20

    […] Recognise and develop your talents (read Developing Yourself). […]

  2. 12 Signs You're in a Healthy Relationship - Love More to Live | 13th May 21

    […] A healthy person has a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. They know more or less what they want in life and what their limitations are. They enjoy working on themselves and actively work on personal growth and healing. (Read Developing Yourself) […]

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