As far back as 1859, ordinary people were trying to improve their lives through self-help books. As many as 20,000 copies of Self-Help by Samuel Smiles sold in its first year alone. Keep in mind, this is at a time in our history when purchasing books was as about as common as purchasing private jets is today: rare, and only for rich people.
That very first self-help book eventually went on to sell a quarter of a million copies and sprung Mr. Smiles to the level of international pundit and expert, almost overnight.
So if the Pioneers were looking to improve their lot, what are you hoping to do? Everyone has something they’d like to change about their lives…
what would you like to change about yourself?
What follows is a complete look at the world personal development. Why? So you can get started on your very own self-improvement campaign. You’ll see how it’s a natural state of being for healthy adults, it can mean lots of things, and we’ll even show you tips on getting starting improving your life right away. Enjoy, and good luck!
Personal Development: a Classic Concept Dating Back in History
What does the story of Samuel Smiles and his Self-Help book tell us? It says that the will to improve our lives is a basic human desire that transcends the ages. People in the Civil War era were just as interested in making their lives better as we are today.
We could go back even further to find examples of people promoting self-help guidance. Just take a look at proverbs…these are bits of traditional advice passed down from generation to generation. They act as simple guidelines to tell people how to behave…become a better person, you could say.
Go back even further and you’ve got the ancient Greeks, the Stoics and people of the Renaissance era promoting self-help concepts, too.
In fact, go anywhere, talk to anyone and you’ll find that the concept of personal development not only transcends the ages, but also spans cultural, generational, economic and social divides as well. No matter who you are, the will to improve is present.
The point is: wanting to improve yourself is natural, healthy, and expected of a healthy adult.
What Does Personal Development Mean?
Of course, depending on who you are, personal development can mean anything from working on your interview skills to improving your English, to losing weight or simply trying to be a nicer person in your community.
So the question remains:
What would you like to change about yourself?
Nobody’s perfect, and self-improvement is what keeps the world ticking along, if you look at it a certain way. Would you like to be richer? thinner? smarter? more interesting? better at negotiating? better at selling? These are some of the most common areas of personal development.
- You can count “becoming financially independent” and other money-related goals as part of the same world.
- You could also count “find a husband/wife”.
- How about “get along with my in-laws”, “let go of worry”, or “eat a healthy diet”?
Big or small, grand or modest, easy or challenging, these goals are what make you a fully functioning human being. They’re what make you interesting, vibrant, healthy and…alive.
Why do We Feel the Need to Improve Ourselves?
Call it evolution, call it competition, call it human nature…but whatever name you give it, the reason for all this self-help activity has to be one of two things:
- Some people are happy but want to become even happier through self-improvement
- Some people are dissatisfied with their lives and want to change things through self-improvement
Which are you? It’s possible to be both types of self-helpers in this world. You might be perfectly happy in your career: it’s fulfilling, you make enough money, and you have plenty of time to spend with friends and family. At the same time, you might be dissatisfied with the way you look…maybe you need to lose weight or tone up a bit.
5 Things You Can do to Improve Your Life Right Now
You can start a grand weight-loss campaign, you could set a budget and overhaul your finances, you could invest in a business course, but there are little every day things you can do as well, to make any personal development campaign more likely to succeed.
In fact, any personal development program you choose will eventually benefit from the things you’ll see just below. They’re all quality of life things upon which you can build the grandest life-changing event you could imagine. We’re here to get you started…
- Look at your life from an outsider’s point of view, then judge it. If you were a stranger sneaking a peak at your own life, what would you see? What sorts of negative things would you observe, which would need changing? Looking at your life through a different lens can help you clarify what needs improvement.
- Separate the good from the bad. When you perform step #1, you’ll see both good and bad things. Don’t forget to notice your achievements, too.
- Choose your target. From the list of things you’d like to change, pick the one that’s the easiest to change, first. That will be something you can change relatively quickly, and which will have a bigger impact on your life. Don’t start with the biggest, most difficult thing in your life that needs improvement!
- Learn to be honest with yourself. After you’ve chosen your target, ask yourself if you’re really up to it. This takes a self-knowledge that’s very much in tune with your inner self on a deeper level than many people realize. If you’re not ready to start an exercise program right now, choose a target that doesn’t involve fitness.
- Enlist the bro network/sisterhood to support you. Get your friends on board and you’ll have people cheering you on as you hit those rough patches everyone eventually encounters. Do a Facebook announcement, if that’s your style. It’s very addicting to log in and see all the congratulations as you post progress updates.
- Practice a little self-congratulatory motivation. It’s OK to celebrate victories, especially when it helps to keep you motivated and avoid frustration. Celebrate any way you see fit, whenever you reach a mini-goal.
You’re doing things to make your life better, which is far more than many people do in this world. You already deserve congratulations…and good luck!