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Become your best self with the IDEAL process

Learn what self-improvement actually requires and why

Self-development is one of the most admirable, courageous, and difficult endeavors to undertake. Self-improvement is not about selfhood—the particularities of an individual—, one's abilities—skills or talent—or interests; self-development is about the quality, maturation of one’s humanness.

 

Self-development involves confrontation of the natural self, as it is expressed through conditioning—socialization, cultural influences, and environmental factors.  Common areas of focus for self-development include fears, ego, pride, and empathy. Development may be facilitated through learning, introspection, awareness, acceptance (such as of the realities of life), honesty, courage, conviction, questioning personal beliefs, recognition of biases, knowledge, and persistence—over time and with effort. This is where the IDEAL is useful.

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1. Intend

Where—specifically—will you concentrate your developmental effort? Clarify what your development means, involves, and will achieve.  

Intention is essential to self-development, and should focus on an outcome, a result – that which self-development represents.  And what self-development should represent your answer to the question: What kind of person do you want to be/become?

 

Keep in mind, that as you develop, you answer to that question may change.  Nonetheless, your answer frames where you are today and can help you focus.

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2. Direct

Self-development is a process that involves dedication (to the process), awareness, and self-sacrifice.  

Self-development is a process that involves dedication (to the process), awareness, and self-sacrifice.  

 

The Intend step clarifies your aim, what it means to "develop," and may establish the purpose for your willingness to strive for development. In the Direct step, you choose your means, the course, steps, or practices that gird your development. 

 

Your having defined development for yourself is not sufficient; you should expect challenges, be ready to respond to situations, or “tests”, as the person you wish to become.  You may have a routine to practice, or another way to build “healthy habits,” promote awareness, improve knowledge, and be effective in your efforts. Intention, defines what you’ve targeted for self-development. Direct establishes the "how," the practices that attempt to achieve what you’ve intend.

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3. Engage

Engage, with regard to self-development, is about your experience to achieve an aim. Remember, self-development is a process; it may include discovery of the course that will actually allow you to make strides in your development.

The Engage step is the most difficult because it faces you with yourself. That is, this is where you confront that which you're trying to develop: yourself.  Self-development can put you at odds with yourself, in a position where your rational side contends with your emotional side, ego, pride, fear, etc.—those things that need to be settled in order for self-development to be achieved. Guard against being defensive, know what to expect, and be ready to proceed well through opportunities for self-development.  

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3. Assess

A critically important part of self-development is regular assessment of your experiences – your feelings, challenges, and efforts and their results.

It is important to note that your assessments also present an opportunity for self-development. Just as the Engage steps confront you with yourself – your defensiveness, ego, etc.—, assessments challenge you to think objectively, suspend the self-protective tendencies, ego influences, pride, and rationalization. 

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5. Learn

The aim of learning includes finding a healthy perspective of your challenges and way to respond to those challenges.

Self-development can be a lifelong pursuit. There is no manual, playbook, or single course for self-development. Certainly, tests of self-development can arise throughout life.

 

Ultimately, self development is about the declaration of yourself in life, and, therefore, must be based on some philosophical construct, an encompassing foundation. 

 

With regard to learning, among the topics essential for self-development include:

 

  • Intentionality

  • Purpose and potential

  • Peace – the cessation of “againstness”

  • Worldview

  • Reconciliation with the material life and mortality

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