Personal Development

The emphasis that I place on Personal Development cannot be overstated.  I believe that it is essential to work on improving yourself in all aspects of your life, so that you can develop into a successful individual who appreciates everything that life has to offer.

Self-Improvement Rationale

From what I have learned, I believe that it is important to identify the gaps between where we are and where we want to be in the key areas of our lives.  Once we have identified the gaps, we can then go about bridging them by consciously choosing to work on aspects of ourselves.

The 6 key areas of life that I personally believe deserve focus are:

  • Spiritual Beliefs
  • Mental Development
  • Emotional Well-being
  • Physical Health
  • Business / Career Development
  • Relationships

I know that if I am able to make small, incremental improvements in each of these areas, then those improvements will be compounded, leading to significant, meaningful change long-term. For more information on this principle, check out the following book by author, Jeff Olson:

The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life

The Wheel of Life

You may or may not be familiar with the ‘Wheel of Life’, which is commonly used in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help people to establish a work-life balance.  The image below shows an example of this tool:Basic CMYK

This can be used to help individuals to assess what is most important to them and enables them to focus on improvements in those areas.  Whilst this can be a good starting point, focusing on individual areas can mean that others are neglected, or fulfillment in other areas is compromised.

My Personal Hierarchy of Life Tool

There are certain aspects of the wheel of life that I perceive as highly relevant and there are also elements which I personally believe can be combined or re-framed.  I have adopted many of the teachings of Anthony Robbins from the Audio programme, ‘Get The Edge’ and this has enabled me to develop the Hierarchy of Life tool that I now personally use when structuring my personal development plan.  I recommend the ‘Get The Edge’ audio programme because the content is inspirational and Tony Robbins’ narration is exceptional!  His voice alone can move you to action! Use the link below to purchase a copy from Amazon:

Anthony Robbins – Get The Edge 7 Day Complete & Original Program

The Hierarchy of Life Tool can be represented in the following way:

personal development wheel of life

The internal environment depicted above encompasses our internal representations, our views and opinions, our beliefs, our perceived purpose, our mental states, etc.  Each of these can and will affect how we feel and what we focus on.  Therefore, they drive all of our actions and reactions.

The external environment can be summarised as the  outward expression of our internal environment and mental states.  It is demonstrated by how behave on a day to day basis. The things you do to improve your health, to make a difference in your work or business and how you behave in your relationships encompass the external environment and are a direct reflection of your internal environment.

We will look at each of the components that make up the internal and external environments below.  There are 6 key areas of focus: 3 that make up our internal environment (spiritual beliefs, mental development and emotional well-being) and 3 that make up our external environment (physical health, business / career development, relationships).

The 6 Key Areas of Focus

In this section, I am going to outline the 6 key areas of focus in turn and I will offer my own views and interpretations as to the significance of each.  I will then outline the importance of goal setting and measuring your progress in each of the 6 areas.

Spiritual Beliefs

It is important to point out that being spiritual does not necessarily mean that you need to have particular religious beliefs.  You can have spiritual beliefs without believing in a God or Gods.   Being spiritual is really about accepting that there is something within us that is non-physical and is not constrained by our physical body.

Being able to reflect and consciously change our behaviours is something that is uniquely human.  Only humans are able to look objectively at their behaviours and decide to make changes.  This would imply that there is something outside of our physical body that is able to ‘observe’ us.

This is also supported by the fact that human beings tend to feel unfulfilled or frustrated when they are not achieving their potential.  When we settle for less that we can be and share less that we know we are able to, we are often left feeling compromised.  This is also something that is unique to humans (as far as we are aware) and therefore raises the question as to why this is the case. What is different about us?  Could it be that our spirit is what influences us, due to our connection with others’ spirits?

If we are able to accept that we have a spirit then it follows that every human being has a spirit and is connected as a result. This makes us all equal and equally worthy.  If you allow yourself to hold this belief then it will certainly impact on how you behave and how you treat others. For me, this is what makes spiritual beliefs significant and it is the reason why I feel it is important to support and nurture others that I have the fortune to connect with.

I have no real way to substantiate my beliefs, other that through evidence that I have read.  I have intentionally looked for references to support these empowering beliefs because it serves me to hold these views. It encourages me to strive to be all that I can be, as I am driven towards my calling, or my purpose.

Mans_Search_for_MeaningVictor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ explains that a person’s deepest desire is for meaning and purpose in their life. He recalls his time spent in Auschwitz and documents his observations on the differences between the people who survived their ordeal and those who didn’t. Click the link below to purchase a copy of this best seller by Victor Frankl:

Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust

We all need to feel a sense of purpose and I believe that this is because of our spiritual connection with others. Your purpose and actions should be guided by what is best for others as well as for yourself.

At the present time, I am developing my spirituality by embracing my beliefs and consciously choosing to do something selfless to support and nurture another human being each and every day.  You may choose to develop your spirituality by living your life in line with religious beliefs, or by reading to expand your spirituality.  Your actions will depend on the gap that you perceive between where you are and where you want to be and your focus may change throughout your life.  That would be perfectly natural.

Previously, I have read broadly around the subject of Buddhism and Buddhist Philosophy, but I have also read and listened to some inspirational works by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer.  The following two link are for life changing books / audio books by Dr. Dyer. If you are keen to expand your spiritual understanding then I highly recommend them both:

Wayne Dyer – Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom Of The Tao

Mental Development

If you have spent any amount of time reading the information posted on my website then you will understand the importance that I place on education. This will be apparent from the Education and Qualifications page of my site.  However, not all education is academic and learning isn’t just about gathering knowledge and information. It is essential to use what you have learned, otherwise there will be little benefit to learning and little opportunity to grow.

It is likely that the focus of your learning will shift as some areas become more prevalent than others, but the important thing is to always focus on taking positive steps to move forward in some way. You might focus on learning to improve your health for a period of time and then shift to learning to develop you understanding of business, but growth can only really happen if you keep learning new things and keep applying new principles and strategies in all areas.

The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_PeopleStephen Covey describes this concept as ‘sharpening the saw’ in his influential book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’,  which has sold in excess of 15 million copies worldwide.  ‘Sharpening the saw’ is habit 7 and is attributed to the most successful of people:

Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Metal development is the second key area of focus for shaping your internal environment and the effects will be evident as you gain greater influence and impact over your external environment.

Emotional Well-being

Tony Robbins teachers that our feelings and emotions are really governed by the things that we choose to focus on. We all attach meanings to things that happen and the meanings we choose to attach alters how we feel. For me, emotional development is all about creating resourceful, empowered states of mind. Whilst this is often difficult, mastery in this area has the potential to have the greatest impact, because our emotions affect every other aspect of our lives.

In my Hierarchy of Life model, I have depicted emotional well-being as a border which filters information coming in and going out.  When we are in an empowered state, positive stimuli filter in and out, but when we are dis-empowered the opposite is true.  It is our emotions and mental states that determine whether we see our goals through to completion or whether we remain in our comfort zone. Our emotions also determine how we perceive success and failure, as well as what really matters to us.

denis-waitleyDr. Denis Waitley’s book, ‘The Psychology of Winning’, looks at the mindset and character traits of successful people.  Each of the 10 qualities relate to emotions and state of mind in one way or another. I have had the good fortune to meet Denis Waitley at one of his book signings and have heard him speak at Usana’s International Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, US:

The Psychology of Winning: The Ten Qualities of a Total Winner

If you are a “move away from” type of person then you may avoid change due to fear, or being apprehensive about what you may lose, or what you may have to give up to achieve your goals. You can turn this on its head by considering what you may lose, or sacrifice if you don’t follow through.

If you are a “move towards” type of person then you may put off making changes because you like to stick with what is comfortable and what you know you can depend on.  If this is the case then you could instead focus on all the things you could gain from taking action. The end result is the same, regardless of the type of person you are. You will be motivated to take action and begin fulfilling your potential. It all depends what you focus on and what information you filter coming in and going out as a consequence.

I appreciate that change can be difficult, but to be truly fulfilled I believe you should do everything in your power to strive for what you know you deserve.  In Susan Jeffers’ book, ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’, she suggests some powerful tools and strategies to encourage us to take action, even when we are fearful of change:

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action

Physical Health

‘The Complete Health Toolkit’ is a culmination of everything that I have learned and applied on my own journey to improved health. I have included information from my Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer courses, as well as information and strategies that I have learned from experience, both personally and with Personal Training clients. I have also drawn on aspects of self-improvement, including goal setting, taking action and maintaining motivation.

I believe it contains everything you need to develop a healthy lifestyle starting today, which is why I strongly recommend registering for your free evaluation copy.  Click the banner below for more details:

cht_banner_small

Business / Career Development

In May 2006 I started my own business with Usana Health Sciences and this marked the start of my business education.  One of the first books that I read was ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki and it completely changed how I viewed employment, careers, business and investing.

In summary, Robert Kiyosaki’s father believed in the importance of getting a safe, secure job, whereas his best friend’s father (and business mentor) saw acquiring income producing assets as the primary goal. This book and the follow-up, ‘Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant’, provides a narrative of Robert Kiyosaki’s awakening to the power of business:

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant

With the recent boom in the Home Business and Network Marketing industries, I believe it is possible to maintain a career whilst developing profitable assets, which helps to remove any risk attached to building a business.

A couple of years ago, at Usana’s International convention, I had the privilege of attending seminars with Robert Kiyosaki and a number of other highly influential speakers.

Robert Kiyosaki, Paul Zane Pilzer, Tim Sales

Usana Convention Speakers (left to right): Robert Kiyosaki, Paul Zane Pilzer, Tim Sales

Another book that changed my perceptions about business and what it means to be wealthy was ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ by Timothy Ferriss. This book was recommended to me by one of my Usana mentors and as far as I recall, until reading this book I believed that wealth was measured by the amount of capital a person owned.

What I learned in ‘The 4-hour Work Week’ was that there are a new wave of Entrepreneurs emerging that Timothy Ferriss refers to as ‘the New Rich’. The new rich do not necessarily hold an abundance of capital, but they generate enough passive, residual income to meet their lifestyle goals and needs.  They do not need to work, but can do everything they choose to do using recurring income streams:

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

Network Marketing is a perfect vehicle for generating passive, residual income and offers the potential for anyone to join ‘the New Rich’. One of the other major benefits of Network Marketing is that when people have a vested interest in you, you gain access to successful coaches and mentors, as well as world-renowned speakers.  Through Usana I have attended conferences and conventions and have gained insight from the likes of Paul Zane Pilzer, Author of The New Wellness Revolution and Tim Sales, Author of Build It Big, to name just a few.

To learn more about the Usana Network  Marketing Business opportunity, click the link below:

http://andygsmith.com/business-and-entrepreneurship/home-business-and-network-marketing/usana-home-based-network-marketing-business/

Relationships

Previously we discussed the importance of supporting and nurturing others and that applies to our business relationships and personal relationships alike. When you give respect to others, you gain respect from them in return.

how to win friends and influence peopleThe most important book that I have read about building and maintaining relationships is ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie:

How To Win Friends and Influence People

It is important to note at this point that Influencing people isn’t about manipulating them to get what you want. It is about helping them to get the most out of themselves, encouraging and supporting them along the way.

Goal Setting, Monitoring and Tracking

My personal approach is to try to do something each and every day that will nurture and develop me in each of the key areas that I have chosen to focus on. Each day I review my progress in the 6 key areas, which in turn provides encouragement for the following day.

I get a huge sense of pride when I accomplish something in each area that moves me forward in some way.  However insignificant this may seem in the short-term, small improvements will compound over days, weeks and months. Small wins early in any given week tends to spur me on later in the week, which provides momentum and empowers me further.  A good week often leads to subsequent successful weeks and so on.

An essential aspect of this approach is to document your advancements and accomplishments.  I have a spreadsheet which has a set of daily commitments, designed to move me forward in each of the key areas.  For example, one reads:

“I have maintained my commitment to improving my health by completing my daily exercise”

If I can answer “yes” then I give myself a point (1).  If I can’t then I score myself zero (0).

Another reads:

“I have maintained my commitment to improving my finances by doing something significant and meaningful to move my business forward today”

If I can honestly answer “yes” then I give myself another point. It is important to be honest with yourself if you chose to use this method, because this is a tool for getting more out of yourself, not given credit when it hasn’t been earned.

The final example that I will share reads:

“I have maintained my commitment to supporting and nurturing another human being today”

This is what I aim to achieve every day to embrace my spiritual beliefs, as mentioned earlier.

In total I have 8 daily commitments and every day I review them and score myself. I monitor and track my daily and weekly scores for future reference. For me, there is no better way to maintain motivation, but I also believe it is important to give yourself credit and to notice when you are making the most of yourself, especially when you are constantly striving to achieve your potential.

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