Self-development for women is such a huge topic. There are so many aspects of our lives that we can and need to work on to be a “better” version of our selves.
Our well-being, our careers, and our relationships are some of the many parts of our lives that we can improve.
Personal Growth (or self-development) looks different for everyone. After all, we all have different circumstances and are all in different stages in our lives. Self-improvement means different things to different women. That is why there is no specific steps to take.
The steps listed below are ones that you can take wherever you are in your life right now. Follow them and you will achieve some form of positive growth.
1. Commit to Making Changes in Your Life Towards Self-Improvement
This may sound cliché but nobody can make you grow except yourself. Your parents won’t be able to do it. Neither will your partner. It is totally up to you to decide that you want to become a better mother, wife, daughter, employee, student, or boss.
Any change that is motivated by an external force, such as a boss or a teacher might not take permanently.
Additionally, once you face some form of push-back, you might end up blaming that person. This will foster resentment, which is not good for your personal growth and development.
So, in order for this journey to be successful you need to tell yourself that you are going to do it no matter what. And make a commitment to see it through. This is the best way to start your journey to self-growth.
Once you have decided to make the changes by yourself, you can focus on choosing which steps to take. Do you want to work on your career? Do you want to have a better relationship with your partner? Do you want better health?
2. Be Intentional in Your Journey to Self-Development
The majority of mentors believe that your intention becomes your own reality. That is why it is crucial that you be intentional in your journey towards a better you.
You can’t just say, “I want to be better”. You will find it difficult to set out actionable tasks to attain that intangible goal.
When you don’t have a tangible goal to achieve, you might feel discouraged if you don't see evidence of any progress.
Identify your intentions and align them with your goals. This way, you can have a firmer resolve to reach whatever it is that you set yourself to do.
How do you align your goal and intention?
Find out which aspect of your life you want to improve. For example, if you intend to become a better boss, set a goal that will help you do that.
Is your weakness your communication skills? If so, you could set a goal of becoming a master communicator.
Or, you can opt to learn how to delegate more. From there, you can decide on concrete steps that will get you there. You can opt to take classes or look for a mentor that will help you achieve your goal.
Being intentional in your pursuit of personal growth will prevent you from going back on your decision. As long as you have your intention, it will be your own driving force to keep pushing forward. It will help you during the days when you aren’t feeling up to doing whatever it is that you need to do.
Be specific with your goal. It is hard to check a to-do list when you don’t know if it has already been achieved.
An example of a non-specific goal would be to “change my mindset”. How will you know that you have already attained this?
Instead of that goal, stick to “Say thank you more often than saying sorry.” That is a type of goal that you can check once it has been achieved. Being able to check items off of your list will motivate you to work harder.
3. Find a Tribe That Will Support Your Self-Improvement Journey
Self-development for women is often very challenging. One thing that will make it easier is to establish a support system.
Surrounding one’s self with the right people is crucial not just for self-development but for one’s well-being as well.
That is why it is necessary that you find your so-called tribe – a group of women that you can be sure to have your back. The right people should be women that you trust, admire and respect. These are the people that will inspire and challenge you to be a better person.
These days, due to social media, the good thing is you don’t have to be all in one geographical place. You can cultivate a good relationship with other women that you call your tribe members even if they live in a different country. Just make sure that you touch base with each other regularly. And really invest time and effort into cultivating your friendships.
Set up regular dates for events, chatting or video-calling. Send an occasional email or message about challenges or triumphs that you have experienced that day. Did you learn anything new today? Share it with your tribe. Something that is useful to you might also be useful to somebody else.
As a bonus, you get to inspire and push others to become their best versions as well. Being there for another woman is great for your self-esteem. Being needed and valued by another person can do a lot to build your confidence.
Being confident is a huge factor when it comes to self-improvement. You can gain more confidence from mentoring others. Why not volunteer your time to teach other women? Are you good at writing? Do you enjoy making videos? Do you enjoy sharing advice?
Perhaps you have experience or expertise in one specific facet of life. Offer to mentor somebody who wants to improve that part of their skill set. You will realize that you are further improving that skill by teaching it to somebody else.
4. Try Things That Are Out of Your Comfort Zone
Have you ever heard about “growing pains”? Sometimes, for you to experience growth, you have to go through some pain.
Just like if you want to become healthier, you need to go through the pain of giving up eating unhealthful food. If you want to learn new skills, you need to go through the pain of going to class or taking time out to learn those skills.
It is comforting to stay in your comfort zone. But doing the same things and making the same choices doesn’t help you grow. Growth only comes from attempting things you haven’t tried before.
For example, if you are shy, challenge yourself to talk to more people. Introduce yourself and be the one to start a conversation.
The more difficult the challenge the better the sense of achievement you will feel once you have completed it. You will discover your inner strength and be empowered to take on bigger challenges.
At first you may feel hesitant. After all, we fear change and avoid pain. This is where the power of your intention will come in. Focus. Remind yourself what your intentions are. Give yourself the necessary push to overcome those fears and hesitations.
5. Learn from Others
One of the things that you can do to learn something new and grow is to learn from other people. There are so many things that you can learn from people’s successes and from their mistakes.
Experience is something that we can all learn from. The good thing is, it does not have to be your experience. While getting a coach or a mentor can be beneficial, sometimes this is not an option.
Hiring someone can be very expensive. If this is the case, you can always buy their books. You can also watch their videos or listen to their podcasts.
Self-help books are very effective tools in any person’s self-growth journey. But you don’t have to limit yourself to materials on self-help for women. You can also check out biographical books and videos.
Read up on the lives of the people that you look up to. See how they achieved their own successes and see if you can apply those steps in your life.
Learn from successful people's mistakes and realize that even they suffered setbacks. This will teach you to be more forgiving of yourself. Especially when you experience setbacks yourself.
If you can't buy new books, borrow them. Your local library is a great resource. Borrow from the people in your tribe. Go online and read free articles. Remember, personal development for women need not be expensive to be effective.
6. Learn How to Do Things on Your Own
While there is nothing wrong with asking for help, learning how to change a tire, request a bank loan, or fix your computer can feel very empowering. These are just a few things that you can invest your time and effort in learning.
You will definitely boost your confidence, and improve any low self-esteem issues, when you can do things without the help of anybody else.
Additionally, it removes the fear of being alone. Women are conditioned by society that they need another person, particularly a man, to survive. They are told that they cannot go at it alone. This conditioning can make self-improvement for women more difficult.
Once you have learned the skills that you need, you can validate yourself. This will do wonders to improve self-confidence and reassure you that you are going to be okay even if you are by yourself.
One good example of a skill that is useful for a woman to learn is to drive. When you know how to drive, you can decide when and where you want to go. You don’t have to wait for anybody to take you anywhere so you can do something.
Even if you always take public transportation, having this skill in your back pocket is very reassuring. This way, if you have an emergency and you need to be somewhere in the middle of the night, you don’t have to call up anybody or risk taking a taxi to get there.
7. Try Setting Out on Your Own
Woman are often seen as the person in charge of taking care of everyone else. While being nurturing is a great thing, this means a woman is always surrounded by other people. Often, women end up taking care of everybody else's needs and neglect their own.
When a mom is with her kids, she usually makes sure that they are dressed, fed and happy before considering her own needs. Women often make decisions based on the wants and needs of others.
"Will this be something that the other person will enjoy?" is a constant question that a woman asks herself. This type of mindset, while good, can hide your inner desires and interfere with your personal growth and development.
Find some balance by spending some time by yourself. You always hear the term, “me time” and sometimes women feel that they are a little selfish for putting their needs ahead of others. But you need to remember that you have to take care of you first before you take care of others.
Note how differently you feel when you are alone, without any kids, siblings, partners, or coworkers. Look at the choices that you make. This introspection will allow you to get to know yourself better.
Having a clearer picture of who you are will help guide you in the direction of growth. What kind of food do you choose when you are not required to share with somebody else? What kind of music do you listen to when you are alone?
Again, you don’t have to go away and spend too much on a solo vacation to achieve this. You can watch a movie alone. Sit at a park bench for a little while. Embrace the silence. Practicing mindfulness and meditation is something that will benefit you immensely.
Without all the noise that the people around you are constantly providing, where does your mind go? This might help you realize which aspect of your life needs improvement.
8. Learn to Decline Graciously but Firmly
For some reason, women tend to take on so many things and just silently suffer from being overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because so many people rely on us. It could also be because we want to prove ourselves to others.
Whatever the reason is, many women think that they have to have a full plate all the time. This leaves them stressed and fatigued.
Not being able to say no often makes one resent the person asking. It can also create self-loathing for not being in control of the situation.
Do not do this. Saying no when your list of things to do is already filled is not a sign of weakness. It is not a mark against your coping skills. It is an ability to realize your limits. Constantly going hard is going to result in fatigue and eventual burn-out.
You can't enjoy personal improvement if you are always tired. You need to be able to recharge and wake up without feeling panicked that you have so many things lined up for the day.
Now, when you decline, learn to do so without apologizing. Do not say, “I’m sorry but I don’t have time anymore.”
Do not justify having to choose your well-being over their needs. Saying no is enough. You can do it politely without having to apologize that you can no longer accommodate them.
What if the person you are saying no to is not happy? Explain to them the list of things that you need to do first. If they are still not happy then they are being unreasonable and you should tell them so.
If you have been used to saying yes to everything your whole life, this step may prove hard. Know that saying no is like a muscle that you need to develop.
Start with something small and then work your way up to the bigger things. Once you get used to this, you will be able to decline with more confidence.
9. Avoid Negative People, Even Yourself
Identifying the negative factors in your life can be challenging. Sometimes, people hide their negativity under the guise of caring for you. “I am only telling you this because I worry about you,” is something that you would hear from these people.
Additionally, if you have grown so used to having a negative person around, constantly undermining you, you tend to overlook their influence in your life.
Being surrounded by people who only see why something won’t work, is too expensive, is too risky, is too difficult, or pointless or dangerous. If you keep on hearing the bad things about something, you tend to imbibe this negativity. You start mirroring this kind of attitude as well.
What you want around you is somebody who will help you think of a solution rather than wallow with you in the problem. You need a reason to move forward and not a reason to sit down and stop.
What if the Negative Nancy is you? How do you stop yourself from being around yourself? You can’t. What you need to do is to change your self-talk. Instead of focusing on “This is too hard,” try to ask yourself, “What do I do to make this easier?”
"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right"
Change and growth can only be initiated by you. Giving up is also your call. If you keep on telling yourself that something is too tough or painful, you will eventually convince yourself to stop the process. You don’t want this to happen.
How can you address negativity?
Work on becoming more positive. Recognize the power of self-talk. Start with positive self-affirmations like, "Today I choose to be happy" or "I am an unstoppable force of nature" or "I am confident.”
By changing the way you talk to yourself, you can work your way to becoming more positive.
10. Do Not Let Setbacks Derail Your Self-Improvement
Women tend to be very critical of themselves and of others. While being objective enough to recognize that something is not working is good, do not be too self-critical. If you have to ask for help, or if you regain some weight, do not lose hope.
Understand that there are going to be days when you are not going to be one hundred percent. There might even be days when you won’t be able to stick to your new routine. There are going to be times when you will slide back.
This is normal, so don’t punish yourself. What you need to do when this happens is to evaluate why a step is not working and see if there is something that you can change.
Do not expect yourself to be able to bounce back immediately. If you don’t feel like doing something, feel the disappointment. But don’t stay in that dark place forever. Recall your reason for undertaking this self-improvement journey.
Go back to your intention and reevaluate your goal. Is it too lofty? Is it too soon? Is it unattainable? Make the necessary changes.
Do not engage in self-defeating talk like, “You are too dumb for this to work,” or “You failed because you are lazy.” That’s not going to help. Again, negative talk is not going to help. You are your own cheerleader.
If you decide to leave your side, who will be there to push you? So, go through the emotions and then brush yourself off. Move on... NEVER GIVE UP.
Growth and self-improvement cannot and will not happen overnight. You have to be patient with yourself. It will take some time for you to learn a new skill, change the way you think, or lose the extra weight that you want to get rid of.
Just because you decided to take some steps towards a better you today, it doesn’t mean you will see mind-blowing changes in a few days. You might not even notice any improvement in a few weeks.
Just remember to stay consistent, determined and willing to grow. Enjoy the process and you will be surprised by how much you have progressed. Stick with hitting your goals one by one. If you slide, accept that this is a part of the process.
Remember that you are undertaking a huge project. Personal growth and development for women are not easy but it sure is worth it.
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Maria is an expert life coach with a proven record of helping women attain their personal goals. One of her personal goals is to help over 100,000 women clients, "I believe that helping others gives us the greatest rewards". She has been a full-time professional self-help coach, journalist, and author for nearly fifteen years.
She also runs several successful online ventures, including her consultancy business. "I'm proof that any woman can get what they want from life". Married, with two grown-up children, she enjoys a good work-life balance. When Maria isn't working she likes traveling, shopping and dining out. Maria is based in San Diego, California.