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9 Ways to Invest in Personal Development this Year

Self-improvement is a lifelong task. If you’re like most people, the close of the year is a time to reflect on your growth and make plans for the year ahead. The following are nine great ways to invest in your personal development in the year to come.

1. Take time to exercise daily (even if it’s only for ten minutes).

Daily exercise is one of the most meaningful things you can do to improve all areas of your life. Several scientific studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress, increase brain power, and boost both productivity and creativity.

While most people think about exercise as a health-related goal, it contributes to your success at work, too. Harvard Business Review even states that the benefits of regular exercise are so great that every person should have it in their job description.

Whether you take a walk around the block or hit the gym, make a concentrated effort to get more exercise this year. Your body and mind will thank you. Setting a small exercise goal (like ten minutes of physical activity) can help motivate you, even on days you don’t want to work out.

2. Set SMART goals.

Productivity and self-improvement gurus often use the acronym “SMART” when they talk about setting goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. When you set goals, you’re more likely to get more done.

One of the most important aspects of goal-setting is making sure that you set yourself up for success. Break large goals into manageable chunks since this will give you a personal roadmap to success.

3. Put energy into improving your strengths.

Investing in yourself doesn’t mean you have to learn a new skill. In fact, one of the most effective growth strategies involves investing energy in developing skills you already have. After all, investing in these areas allows you to build on an already-existing foundation instead of starting completely from scratch.

This is the thinking behind the StrengthsFinder evaluation (and its related books). Instead of improving your weakest areas, turn your existing strengths into areas of expertise. When you develop your strengths, you set yourself up to be excellent in one or two particular areas.

4. Invest in learning a new skill.

This seems contrary to point #3 above, but learning a new skill is still a great way to improve yourself. Balance your energy between developing existing skills and building new ones. You’re better equipped to tackle future challenges when you learn new skills.

The new skill can be anything: public speaking, knitting, meditation, or anything else you can think of. Even skills that aren’t work-related can help you broaden your horizons and improve your productivity at work. In some cases, a hobby can turn into a full-time business!

5. Go to a conference or enroll in an online seminar.

You can achieve a lot of self-improvement on your own. However, expanding your knowledge through conferences and seminars can help you accelerate your growth. Find a relevant conference or seminar with leading experts in your field.

Even if your schedule only has room one or two seminars a year, these events allow you to powerfully improve your skills. Talk to the human resources department at work to find out if they offer any compensation for these types of events. In many cases, your workplace may offer to pay for your professional development!

6. Declutter all areas of your life.

Marie Kondo and other organization experts have created significant buzz around the idea of decluttering your space. Decluttering is an important step if you want to get organized. At home, decluttering allows you to find what you need, when you need it.

A study released by the Mayo Clinic concluded that having an organized workspace allows you to be more productive throughout the day. Since clutter makes it harder for your brain to process information, a clean and neat workspace can contribute to your productivity.

7. Ditch unhealthy and destructive habits.

Everyone has a bad habit or two. Overeating, procrastination, smoking, nail-biting, obsessive anxiety, and other habits drain your physical and mental health. You probably don’t have to think long before you think of at least one bad habit you want to break.

It takes hard work to break a bad habit. However, breaking your bad habits is a freeing feeling. Once you break a bad habit, you free yourself to build healthier habits in the future.

8. Take more time to read.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed individuals in 2020 and found that Americans between the ages of 15 and 44 only spent 10 to 12 minutes reading each day (on average). Reading is a great way to help you invest in your self-improvement, especially if you read books that empower you to make positive changes.

Even if you read fun books (like fiction), reading can help you build new neuropathways in your brain. These neuropathways are important to help you keep your mind sharp, even as you age.

Set a goal for how much you’d like to read this year. Whether it’s fifteen minutes a day or a book a week, take time to invest in reading.

9. Reduce and eliminate your financial debt.

Debt is extremely stressful, especially if you have a significant amount. Reducing your debt is a great goal, especially if you’re trying to invest in retirement, buy a house, or save money on insurance. Unfortunately, getting out of debt is often hard, especially if you don’t make enough to cover your monthly debt payments.

Take a close look at your income, budget, and debt. If you’re not making a dent in your debt after paying for expenses, look for other jobs in your industry. In some cases, you can switch between companies to receive higher pay for the same work.

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