I admit it: normally, this blog is heavily skewed toward serious topics that will almost certainly help you boost your level of productivity and success. But sometimes productivity and success can, should – and yes, even must – take a back seat.
One of the primary reasons for productivity and success to take a back seat is what might loosely be called “personal development.” After all, it’s you, personally, being productive and successful, and it’s your personal skills, talents, motivation, knowledge and experience that are largely responsible for that productivity and success.
This makes personal development a valid, meaningful, even crucial foundation for productivity and success, and a worthwhile use of your time and energy.
Having justified occasionally turning our attention now and again to boosting some of our core competencies, let’s take a look at some categories of activities that will support your personal development – even if you can’t prove they will directly contribute to immediate, tangible increases in your productivity and success.
“Sharpening or Adding to Your Tools”
Your abilities to recognize, understand, and take action to improve particular situations are among the reasons you are as productive and successful as you are. It stands to reason, therefore, that upgrading these abilities will similarly upgrade your results.
This is plenty of justification for you to spend time learning, doing, or even playing at just about anything that feels right to you.
Sure, if you must justify your actions to someone else, it’ll look better if you can point to some connection between what you’re doing and your primary role or responsibilities. But during the moments you don’t have to justify or report your actions to others, the field can be wide open!
“Clearing Your Head and Heart”
Working on important tasks, projects, and goals – as you often do – is demanding and draining. Much as your muscles build up lactic acid as they flex, and must be cleared and flushed of this material in order to restore their full function for next time, your skills, knowledge, and experience also need regular rounds of clearing and refreshing.
This gives you plenty of reason to devote some time and energy to a task, project, or goal that is totally divergent from your usual activities. This could be a hobby, a volunteer effort, or even just a lazy afternoon of idleness. The point is this: you can occasionally avoid your usual efforts and responsibilities in favor of something completely different.
“I’ve Always Wanted to Do This”
Rare is the productive and successful person who doesn’t have a pet project or a wild and crazy idea tucked away in the back of their mind. Normally, you can’t find a good reason to pursue it, consider it, or perhaps even reveal it to anyone.
But in service of your personal development, it might be perfectly fine to actively explore the possibilities, if only to see where they might lead and what they might yield. This is not a justification to do something truly out of bounds. But it is an invitation to explore an innermost hunch or wish, once in a while, on the off chance there is some value to be found there.
“This Just Might Work”
In the same vein, most productive and successful people have a finely-tuned sense of what will and won’t pan out. That’s one of the ways you’re able to perceive the best way forward in a variety of unexpected or unpredictable situations.
But you can pad your personal development by taking an occasional flyer on a particular task, project, or goal that seems unlikely to succeed, but could potentially yield a highly desirable outcome. You can consider this effort an experiment, or a lark. Either way, it can help you develop some aspect of your skill and talent portfolio that could prove invaluable at some time in the future.
“For the Heck of It”
This may be the best reason in the world to try something that can add to your personal development. At least once in your life, without any sensible reason for giving it a try, whether for just a moment or for a carefully planned sequence of actions, you may decide to pursue a task, project, or goal simply because you want to.
Most of the time, you won’t be entirely sure how this effort will turn out. But as long as it’s fairly well contained, partially or fully reversible, and doesn’t entail too heavy a cost, then – “what the heck” – you might decide to go for it.
These and other categories of “personal development” projects are worth a fair look. Many times, you’ll decide not to pursue them. But every now and again, you’ll recognize one or more of them deserves a legitimate place in your schedule.
If you’re willing to experiment in these areas, you will often find that certain activities aid your personal development and more than pay for themselves in satisfaction, valuable experiences, and additional tools that will help you in many aspects of your work and your life.
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