Personal development is a process. Is not a single task that you do once, and then forget about it. It’s a continuous hunt for your next crossroad, your next challenge, the next obstacle that you have to overcome. It’s personal, so you need to have an original approach. You use only tools and techniques that are working for you. You experience what’s best for you and then refine it. Use it and refine it.
Here’s my personal list of my most used personal development techniques. As things will evolve I will come back with more and more informations for each specific technique.
In chronological, Last In First Out, order:
GTD = Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done is a methodology created by David Allen. It is one of the most recent techniques I tried, liked and implemented it. At the first level, GTD is focused toward business people, managers and busy persons. But it can be used for anybody that just wants to clarify its life and enjoy it more. GTD has several concepts:
- You are an information processing machine. You process stuff. So, you must establish a consistent way to deal with it. The process of GTD is to analyze stuff and do the following: is it actionable? if YES, you move to the next step, if NO, you just chose from one of the three options: toss it (no longer needed, garbage), put it in a Someday/Maybe list (you want to action on this sometime), or file it (in a reference system, to be used lately).
- If you answered YES at the first question, is it actionable, you have to decide “what’s the next action”: if there are more than one, you create a project, if the action is less than 2 minutes long, you are doing it right now, if the action does not involves you directly, you delegate it, and if it can’t be done right now, you just defer it for later, in your calendar.
- You repeat this every day, and, most important, every week. The actual repetition, or implementation of the process, is the most juicy part of GTD. And the most difficult one.
- Another key concept is “mind like water”, meaning one’s capacity to react to some stimulus with the exact quantity of energy needed, and then regain the initial, quiet status, much like a water surface after “receiving” a rock thrown it. You achieve that by constantly learning how to “empty your RAM”, which is another key concept of GTD.
I am using GTD for about three months now and the benefits are extremely visible. I benefited the most by the “empty your RAM” exercise, and the daily/weekly review.
Well, I know, most people will find this controversial, at least. Well, I don’t. I started 2 years ago to learn and practice astrology, and this has proven to be a very rewarding activity. I learned how to identify the main cycles in one’s life and start to be prepared for them. I follow most often the Moon phases and the personal planet movements (Mercury, Mars, Venus, and, to some extent Jupiter and Saturn) with an emphasis for the retrograde movements. At the beginning of each month I make a chart for the following 30 days and try to see the opportunities and roadblocks that may arise.
I also found out it extremely useful in the personal relationship field. Knowing how to identify the strengths and weakness of each person by it’s natal chart proved to be a huge advantage I gain in the last two years.
Astrology is also quite interesting for the business side. Knowing the good time to start a project in order to use the most all the energies that you can touch is also a precious asset.
A note to the impatient to start using astrology: don’t. If you don’t really believe that there are many more filters that could describe our world than the usual established science, and are a huge fan of daily horoscopes (meaning daily crap), don’t start using it. You will just abuse it this way, and it will make your life harder. The main goal is to make your life easier, you know…
So, be prepared to spend a decent amount of time learning astrology before applying it.
It was an immense surprise for me to find out that hypnosis is a very common state. There is, of course, the spectacular hypnosis that you see at freak shows, but that’s just a part of the hypnosis as technique. Psychology uses hypnosis extensively. About 2 years ago I started to read extensively on this topic, and, after several months, I gained some experience.
I learned how to induce light hypnosis states, usually for relaxation. I also moderately succeeded in swishing, a technique for replacing bad habits/reaction with good habits/reaction, using hypnosis.
Hypnosis is just a way to access your inner power, your unconscious part of yourself. There is no rocket science in using it, but, as well as with astrology, there are serious drawbacks if you abuse it, or use it for strange purposes. I am a light and pretty occasionally user of hypnosis, but I am always ready to provoke and use a small trance state for relaxation or overcoming fatigue.
Neuro Linguistic Programming = NLP
NLP is a technique developed in the mid 80-s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, which believed they can reproduce “success and genius techniques” used by extremely successful persons. NLP is also a quite of a delicate topic, and, to be honest, I think I am only scratched the surface with it.
The main area in which I tried to use NLP was to reframe (reframing is a common concept in NLP) some of my bad behavior. There are also several other benefits of NLP, most of them in the area of observing people, identifying non-verbal communication and the overall trust level of the person you are talking with. In a negotiating process, as I am still functioning as the manager of my own founded company, I found that to really be a gem.
The only danger with NLP is that tends to be surrounded by a guru-esque aura. It is not like this, or at least it doesn’t have to be. You are not forced to join some NLP group, unless you want it. You can as well to familiarize with the base concept just by reading for yourself, and then decide if it’s worth joining a group or hiring a coach for that.
Transactional Analysis, or TA, is a psychological technique, developed by Eric Berne, in the late 50-s. Basically, TA states that we are all playing some roles – not many – in our lives, and we are constantly shifting from one role to another. TA also have a very strong tag-line: “I’m OK, you’re OK”, and this is the core of the whole technique. You learn how to consistently engage useful contacts with everybody, by acknowledging that they are as OK as you are, and in a transaction nobody have to loose.
TA helped me in identifying the roles I played, and the effects that those roles had on me. Also, starting each and every conversation with an internal tag-line such as: “I’m OK, you’re OK”, dramatically decreased my agressivity level.
Of course, there is much more to say about TA, as well as about NLP or Self-Hypnosis, you can’t expect to clearly describe very well such techniques in only a few lines, the goal was to give you an idea about the techniques mix that worked for me.
As of now, of course, because tomorrow something else may come up into my focus.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.