Personal development is a lifelong learning process that prioritizes an individual’s ability to assess and improve their own skills to set and achieve long term goals. These goals can influence an individual’s career, finances, health, and personal ambitions.
According to Myrko Thum, personal development can be understood as “the conscious pursuit of personal growth by expanding self-awareness and knowledge and improving personal skills.”
It’s also an acknowledgment that we don’t stop learning after we leave formal schooling. And even outside of formal education, we can still take control of our own skills and goals.
Whether your personal development goals are simple or complex, the process to reach them is a flexible effort, based on experience without truly right or wrong answers. Your pathway for personal development depends on your goals, how you envision yourself in the future, and your particular learning processes. In some ways, it can be understood simply as taking responsibility for what we know, understand, and are able to accomplish.
For many people, personal development feeds on personal ambition. Such a model centers personal development around growth and skill attainment to break down obstacles, think positively, and accomplish goals. However, this is not the only pathway for personal development. Others choose to develop skills in order to fill needs, such as physical strength and comfort, self-expression, social poise, and community development.
The Benefits of Personal Development
Personal cultivation is a constant throughout history. While it likely stems from psychological drives, such as the hierarchy of needs, individual cases have documented their development journey from ancient times to the present.
One of the main goals of this long-standing tradition of personal development is for individuals to have the inner resources needed to live their best lives.
While the various practices involved in this development process may target individual skills and parts of life, each is key to helping an individual bring about a fulfilling lifestyle in which they believe that what they do has purpose and matters.
There are many benefits to working on personal development, from building on your own talent and potential to realizing your dreams or building a future career:
- Personal development may be a part of psychological self-actualization, helping individuals fulfill their hierarchy of needs, particularly:
- You can live a happier, more spiritual, or more fulfilling life.
- Learn to manage your time and energy in a way that allows you to focus more on loved ones.
- Nurture social relationships and a sense of community and understanding with others.
- You can live a healthier life by developing good habits and taking care of your body and mind.
- Maintain daily habits of good food choices, adequate rest, and getting your body moving.
- Meditate, pray, or find other ways to find solace.
- Self-reflection helps you to better understand yourself, your actions, your skills, and your personal relationships.
- Gain self-awareness by assessing your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you value and need to live your best life.
- Explore and learn to tap into your personal motivation by understanding why you are self-developing and what you intend to achieve.
- Achieve business and career-based goals through learning and productivity.
While much of personal development includes skills training, there is wide latitude for spiritual development. This includes the ability to improve self-awareness, introspection, and reflection while developing a stronger relationship with one’s personal and spiritual identity.
For many people, personal development begins right here with self-awareness. Spiritual development might also include finding a way to understand your personal values, beliefs, and the purpose to which you intend to dedicate a large part of your life.
Spiritual development has often taken the form of yoga, martial arts and self-discipline, philosophical study, meditation, spirituality, and even asceticism.
In many cases, spiritual development takes on an ethical and philosophical interest. As you come to understand yourself, you will also need to consider the laws with which you govern your actions, as well as whether they support the goals you set for your life.
We all act according to some ethical leaning. That doesn’t mean that we understand it, that we have examined it, or that it’s even consistent. Spiritual development often means examining these instincts, learnings, and assumptions that may seem like they come naturally.
The more we understand them, the more likely we are to make them more consistent with the type of person that we intend to be. These spiritual and ethical values are important for building a strong foundation for the more intellectual and physical sides of personal development.
Mental and intellectual development are two ways of improving your function in the world. Through mental development, you will likely have the training, discipline, and focus to better assess what is happening and how to solve your problems.
At the same time, intellectual development offers you an expansive and wide range of experiences, in addition to your own, to draw upon. This allows us to expand our minds and understandings far beyond what any one of us could know in a lifetime.
You’ve probably heard a lot about how the worlds’ most successful people set aside time to read every day, whether its history, self-help, personal development, or the psychological understanding found in fiction. When we read we are absorbing others’ experiences, and experience is one of the most important ways that we learn and grow.
Mental and intellectual development helps you to stretch the mind while understanding, reflecting, and building on your experiences in a way that allows you to see more of the world around you.
At the same time, this will make you more open to trying your hand at new subjects, undergoing different experiences and learning more as you go. When you keep yourself limited, it can be difficult to branch out. However, when you work to expand mentally and intellectually, it becomes easier to embrace new and different solutions.
Physical pursuits are among the most common forms of personal development for adults. They often take the form of physical fitness but can web into smaller specializations from there, such as yoga, martial arts, weight loss (whether it’s a diet like keto or a routine like intermittent fasting), muscle building, athletic training, and outdoor sports training.
Physical development is not only important for keeping the body fit and healthy, but it also impacts how others see us, our own sense of self-esteem, and it can be a positive emotional outlet for stress and frustration.
Regular exercise doesn’t just enhance our physical fitness, it also has enormous benefits for how your mind works. We can never truly separate the disciplines of the body and the mind. To begin with, the brain is part of the body, wired into the same system of nourishment, health, sleep and waking cycles, and all the other factors that make us tick.
Creative thinking is the root of problem-solving, flexibility, ideation, and mental agility. Creative thinkers always have a way of making what they want to happen and bringing about their visions.
Not only that, but creative skills are among the most desired or most missed out on skills for older adults. It’s a common sentiment for older individuals to feel that they have missed out on creative skills that are often seen as life-enriching, such as musical skills, drawing, visual arts, or writing skills. These creative skills become more important, as we accumulate more experiences throughout our lives and look for ways to express them.
Learning creative skills from the ground up can be difficult for adults, since it may take more effort to pick up a skill, unlearn bad habits, or find the time to practice. Nonetheless, creative skills have a powerful positive force on everyday life and career, offering psychological benefits, feelings of self-worth, avenues for making sense of one’s place in the world, a wider ability for self-reflection, and a sense of creative thinking that you can bring to the table every day.
Relationships and Social Development
Social skills are a key topic in the self-help and personal development discourse. These skills influence everything from one’s ability to gather allies to their causes, form meaningful relationships, participate in a community, interact professionally, and communicate on a wider scale.
While it may seem that some people have innately stronger social skills than others, social skills are something that can be learned and practiced.
Meaningful social relationships are key to a healthy life for both those who may identify as introverted or antisocial and the social extroverts alike. What form that these meaningful relationships take and the ways in which they are expressed will differ drastically from person to person. Nonetheless, the ability to develop relationships is almost universally indispensable.
One of the biggest things that holds back an individual’s relationships and social development is fear. Fear of rejection and self-consciousness are rampant hindrances to positive social relationships. It can take a willingness to be vulnerable, as well as a self-confidence that comes from knowing one’s individual limitations, to embrace positive social situations and form meaningful relationships.
Where to Begin?
Taking those first steps to work on improving personal development can be overwhelming. Everyone will follow a different path through their development. The way that each individual will go about developing will also be highly subjective, requiring one to look at their own goals, plans, skills, and, in particular, priorities.
Certain industries offer gateways for different people, complementing different tastes and styles. Some people might begin straight away by taking classes and skills training, there’s also the option to hire a life coach, while others will listen to podcasts and read books to get started.
This is all dependent on how you learn and prefer to spend your time. Nonetheless, there are a few main paths to get started with personal development:
- Some people will begin with the more mental side of personal development, such as implementing positive thinking, developing personal organization, and creating routines. In many cases, this mental form of personal development opens many doors, allowing individuals to be more productive with their time, more optimistic about their approach, and more willing to begin new projects and take new opportunities.
- Others will approach personal development from a physical well-being approach, generally beginning with regulating their diet and exercise routines, before moving to other aspects and priorities. With the physical approach, it can be useful to start by working toward an initial goal, such as training for a target weight or to run in a particular race.
- Many will also begin with skills development, particularly as developing new skills may influence their career or passion. A skills development path is wide with all kinds of skills, from picking up a musical instrument, to learning to code, to learning about a new field, or learning a new language.
If you’re not sure where to begin, it can be helpful to have something that you want to achieve. Having a larger goal or project that you want to accomplish will give your personal development structure. This may include directing priorities, choosing which avenues to pursue first, and, in some cases, it can even direct you with a timeline.
Personal development requires people to reflect on themselves and visualize where they want to be. This alone can be a difficult and ponderous exercise for many people. Nonetheless, it’s the best way to begin a journey of personal development, ensuring that you spend your time on becoming the kind of person you want to be.
Visualization can take many productive forms. Some people will know exactly what they want to learn or how they want to live. This might mean learning skills such as dressing well, learning to make friends and form communities, or learning a business skill.
Others, however, will need to reflect for some time on what it would look like to become the kind of person they would want to be. Only through this kind of reflection will they be able to set the kinds of goals and priorities that will allow them to enrich their life.
The visualization stage can ask a lot from you though, as you consider questions, such as your station in life, your domestic and career goals, and how your own personality works in the balance. In some ways, it’s similar to asking you what you want to see yourself in five years, what you want your skill sets to be, and even how you want to think.
This might be a lot of self-reflection of the kind that we don’t often delve into during our day-to-day lives. To aid your visualization, consider tools that will help you organize your thoughts. Common tools include pros-and-cons lists, mindmapping, journaling, and questionnaires.
Dissatisfaction and the Need for Change
In many cases, the desire for personal development is a need for change from the way that things currently are. You may find yourself dissatisfied with the way that your life is going, or have the feeling that you are living for someone else’s dreams as opposed to your own.
During times like these, it can be important to ask yourself:
- How it could be better and what would make it better?
- What would you rather be doing?
- If you had nothing barring your way, and all the resources you needed to accomplish your goals, what would your goals look like?
These questions might not be enough to satisfy your dissatisfaction or change your life. Nonetheless, they can help you understand the direction you need from your personal development to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Consider What You Can Do to Reach the Person You Visualize
When you have a more clear picture of where your goals are heading, you can start asking yourself what you should do, learn, and practice to get there.
It can be helpful in this case to make a list of possibilities, that way you can organize them into solutions, goals, and even timelines. Begin by weighing your priorities. Consider what routines you will need to have, as well as what you will need to learn before you can begin focusing on your goals.
These questions will lead you to find the intermediate steps that lie between you and the person you visualize for yourself.
Look for Reading Material
Look for learning and reading material that will help you to understand the various parts of your goal. There are a number of self-help books geared toward general personal development, such as positive thinking, spiritual discovery, philosophical understanding, and strengthening social relationships.
Nonetheless, once you know what your goals are, you might be better suited by reading material more specific to your field. In most cases, each field or skill that you intend to learn will have it’s own canonical set of educational books. The more you can inform yourself on your chosen field, the easier time you will have working toward mastering skills within that field.
Look for Mentors
At times, it becomes important to consult someone who has gone through the kind of personal development that you intend for yourself. This person can be considered a mentor, and for many people they can offer the indispensable service of humanizing a process.
As much as we love reading to expand our minds, many skills and efficiencies are experiential and hands-on. This means that you really can’t learn everything from a book. Live events and podcasts offer us the semblance of a relationship with a mentor. However, for many people, this limited social interaction isn’t enough.
Finding mentors can help you learn how to solve some of the problems that you’ve been having trouble with. A mentor will help you learn how to think your way through these problems. Answers are temporary. However, the method of thinking that will help you to find answers and solve problems is an indispensable skill.
Goals are a way of structuring and organizing personal development, as opposed to adding something extra to your life. Goals give direction to what you do with your time.
One of the most common mistakes with personal development is using goals to try to make life seem bigger. Goals structure what’s necessary, so adding them in to inflate your daily life will likely just overload you. Instead, it’s important to allow the goals to offer you direction.
Part of goal-setting, therefore, is gaining clarity on what you need to be doing. Once you know your priorities, you can pare down your schedule and eliminate those things that you don’t need. Personal development doesn’t necessarily come from doing more all the time. It’s much more important to do just what you can handle while doing those few things better and better.
If you start small, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Big projects take a lot of drive and dedication, and they can certainly be done. Nonetheless, beginning with smaller projects can help you work your way up to these larger goals. However, going too big can cause burn out and or a sense of being overwhelmed by the scope of the project at hand.
Smaller projects build your capabilities by giving you a quicker sense of achievement and accomplishment, which will allow you the momentum to keep moving forward with your goals. To start small, you might invest half an hour each day to studying, meditating, practicing, exercising, or performing your goal.
Additionally, it’s important to consider that your larger goals are often made up of smaller goals. For example, if your larger goal is to gain a certain amount of muscle mass at the gym, your smaller goals might be individual workouts, setting up a sustainable workout routine, or mastering crucial forms of exercise.
Time management takes on an important role in your personal development.
It’s easy to stall your success by using the excuse that you don’t have the time to learn something new. In some cases, you might be working at capacity and find this to be true. If you are working at capacity, adopting something new into our schedules would mean decreasing the quality with which we perform our other functions.
However, it’s also important to remember that time spent on self-development is not a waste. It’s time that you’re investing in yourself, which among the most important things that you can invest in. This time can help you to cultivate new skills, stronger social relationships, and long-term personal health.
Time management, particularly allocating the time to your goals, is one of the more difficult parts of personal development. Particularly when these personal goals may seem less mandatory than the other goals that may be foisted on you through your various responsibilities.
Moreover, development like this takes time, and there are few overnight indications of progress. It’s important to have patience with slow progress while also continuing to allocate time to it.
Learning to Self-Assess
When it comes to personal development, you will most often be your own primary judge of your improvement and performance. This can be a potential pitfall as well as a boon.
When we judge our own work, we may have the tendency to be overly harsh, seeing only the aspects where we need to improve. This perfectionistic trend can hinder and even stifle development.
There is another pitfall for the opposite temperament as well. Those who are too relaxed with their personal studies or who are not discerning enough will find it difficult to understand where they should improve.
Being able to critique your own work with the kind of compassion and clear sight that you might use on someone else’s work can take its own kind of practice and self-awareness.
This is why it’s very important to have a more structured way of measuring your progress and improvement, even when you are only truly measuring it against yourself. The most common structures by far include setting out goals and benchmarks, that you cross as you complete certain works.
It’s also helpful to have a clear measurement or assessment for progress to help make sure that you aren’t being too hard or easy on yourself. These measurements can take place at certain milestones that are part of your goals.
One way to improve the efficacy of your self-assessment is to build a community with others around some form of a mutually beneficial feedback system. This can help you get an outside perspective on your development. External critiques can be essential to understanding your own weak points, while they can also provide some much-needed affirmation for your struggles and progress.
Planning Personal Development
Some goals have a simple trajectory, that you can practice every day. Others, however, tend to require more complex skills. Planning is there to help you to target areas of development. This is also true the deeper you get into a goal, as you have the opportunity to specialize and personalize your skills and development.
Making a plan is not only important organizationally, but it also helps you build ideas and make your projects more coherent. This goes both ways, since, without plans, our ideas wouldn’t find a voice or means. Additionally, for those with busy schedules, planning can be a key part of seamlessly fitting personal goals into other responsibilities.
Personal development often incorporates learning and skills development. This is a process that can have setbacks, personal hurdles, and any number of barriers to cross.
The path to development isn’t always clear. We don’t always know from the outset exactly what we want or how we will specialize. Over time, it’s common to alter what we want to learn from what we once thought we wanted.
This could mean switching from learning one coding language to another, switching from digital to analog photography, finding a favorite language to learn that you never expected for yourself, or going into a different style of art than you had previously studied.
The point is, we can only move forward by continuing to work and develop our skill sets. If we want our skill set to change direction, this isn’t a problem to fix. In most cases, it can be something useful and important to lean into. Remain agile when it comes to your goals, and allow yourself to cultivate and reshape them when they appear to be going in a direction that you don’t enjoy or want for yourself.
Remember that people change over the years and with our experiences. And this also means that our goals are likely to change and reflect these experiences as well. Sticking to a stale path that no longer reflects all that you have become may very well stifle the dreams you were trying to achieve in the first place. Be open to letting your goals grow and change with you.
Find Your Community
A strong community can make up the difference between frustration with your goals and joyfully working through challenges. Speaking to others in your community will help you feel less isolated, as you tap into the experiences of others, and spend some time with others who might share your experiences.
For many people, initially finding your community is one of the largest challenges in personal development. This is why it can be helpful to attend conferences, spend some time at meetups, and not exclude yourself from groups.
At the same time, be aware of how your community is affecting you, your mental health, and your progress. We are often at our most vulnerable when we are developing, and this means that a toxic community can stymie our progress. Consider the impact of communities that don’t offer support or that cause you to feel too much negativity. It’s important to let yourself learn and develop without trying to force yourself into unhealthy social situations.
All good skills take time and practice to build, from language learning, coding, and developing social skills, to writing and comedy, or the visual arts. Even those with an inherent talent will find themselves falling short if they don’t nurture and spend time working on these skills. The best in every field are those with an array of experiences who have worked their way to that point.
Not only do you have to allow yourself to be a beginner when you start off those crucial habits, but it’s also a good idea to keep in mind the words of cartoonist Stephen McCranie, “The Master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Forming habits is all about allowing yourself to fail often enough that you can begin to succeed. To accomplish goals, you need to work through being a beginner.
At the same time, habits can keep you stable throughout potentially turbulent phases of personal development. Some habits are merely auxiliary to your personal development, such as forming a morning routine or keeping a healthy circadian rhythm. Others require you to consistently practice your personal development, such as picking a time to practice or study every day, reading for thirty minutes a day, or sketching every day.
Keep a Record
Keeping a record of how your goals and habits are developing is a good way of tracking the changes to your lifestyle, as well as noting and targeting areas in your development where you’re finding some resistance.
For many, keeping records inspires reflection, which can allow you to view your progress for further motivation.
No matter how you use your journal or record, it can be a beneficial place for noting down ideas, progress, and quotations that inspire you. A journal can help keep yourself together, aid your introspection, and identify the ways that you’re growing now, as well as all the directions in which you’ve still yet to grow.
This journal or record could be a key to helping you organize your thoughts in a way that allows you to problem-solve your way to success. Putting your problems down on paper has a way of clarifying them, to help you become better able to understand the different sides and requirements of each problem.
Identifying and Altering Bad Habits and Fears
One large part of positive personal development is to identify your bad habits and begin the process of countering them with more positive habits.
We all have fears, and they are the number one thing that holds us back from accomplishing the more important goals in our lives. Put it this way: if it weren’t important to you, you wouldn’t be afraid of it. Some fears help you to perform and grow. Others, on the other hand, will hold you back every time.
Additionally, your fears might be more common and relatable than you think. For example, one of the most common fears is public speaking and public disclosure, and it is eye-opening to consider that almost everyone has encountered some sort of public failure at one point in their life. Our first step is to identify that fear, realize that most of the population has experienced this problem, and then devise a plan to use that fear or failure as a learning tool to overcome it.
To begin this, it’s important to consider what your fears and negative habits are, and what drives you toward them. For example, many of the worst habits for personal development, such as procrastination, self-erasure, and other anxious habits, often spawn from a fear of failure. The fear of failure keeps many people from beginning. This blocks their full potential and keeps them from the powerful process of working toward a goal that would allow them to reap rewards.
On the other hand, there are some problems in our lives that give us more hidden benefits. We can’t get rid of all the bad. This means that there are sometimes some negative habits that we keep around to help us accomplish the bigger, harder things. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be positive and confident all the time. Ask yourself if you are deriving some kind of powerful motivation from this potentially negative habit.
Resilience is a psychological resource that offers us the ability to work through the tougher and more difficult times. While personal development isn’t magic and therefore can’t stop bad things from happening, the habits that you develop through it can help you to cope with these difficult times.
Nonetheless, these times shouldn’t stop you from working toward your personal development either. A bad spell shouldn’t be enough to stop you from working toward being the person that you want to be. For some of us and for some of our goals, it’s even more important to practice our spiritual, physical, intellectual, and creative development.
Essential Books to Read for Self-Improvement
Reading is one of the best ways to get yourself to start thinking about the bigger questions in your life, such as what you want, who you want to be, how you want to present yourself, what motivates you, and what it takes to get there.
Self-help books are particularly useful for offering food for thought, as well as tips and potential solutions to problems that you might face as you work toward your personal development goals.
1. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Edition by Napoleon Hill
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
Don’t let the title mislead you. This monument of self-help books is about more than material gain and financial riches. This has long been a large part of using positive thinking for planning, making decisions, solving problems, and more.
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”
The seven habits outlined in this book offer a baseline for each individual to adapt to becoming their most effective self. In some cases, these habits and changes are simple. However, many of them may be fundamental lifestyle changes to help improve quality of life.
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Another classic in the self-improvement field, this book helps you to fully understand some of the social aspects of business and life that you might already have an intuitive inkling about. The advice urges us to win influence by making the effort to be beneficial to others.
4. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
Even though many of us know how important our attitude can be to success, it can be difficult to alter our attitudes and embrace something like positive thinking on our own. This book illustrates the ways that positive thinking can put you in positions to make the most of successful turns in your life.
5. Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck? and Other Provocations by Seth Godin
“Step one is to give the problem a name. Done. Step two is for anyone who sees themselves in this mirror to realize that you can always stop. You can always claim the career you deserve merely by refusing to walk down the same path as everyone else just because everyone else is already doing it.”
This book asks you to dig deep and ask yourself difficult questions in order to derive a perspective that sees opportunities and possibilities. By reading this book, you’re already forcing yourself to do the thinking work that will help you to expand and reflect.
6. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
“Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.”
Full of illustrative stories, this book can help to elucidate the invisible hierarchies that structure power relations throughout life. Having this understanding may not necessarily be a means of helping you to gain power, but it can help to protect you from pitfalls and abuses of power so that you recognize them when you see them.
7. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
This book focuses on mindfulness and its ability to inspire awareness, develop emotional intelligence, and embrace compassion for others. The ideal is to embrace the present moment in a way that allows individuals to detach from unhealthy thoughts and states of mind.
8. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Daring Greatly asks readers to tap into a sense of vulnerability to embrace their self-worth. This allows individuals to develop relationships through genuine compassion. Having both compassion for others and for ourselves helps to keep us from closing down during the tougher times.
9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”
Quiet is a manifesto of the inner strength that individuals can develop on their own. It’s a powerful book for anyone who considers themselves to be an introvert with great advice for introverts and extroverts alike.
Essential Podcasts for Personal Development
- The Lavendaire Lifestyle – This podcast offers tips for personal development and creating the life that you want to live. Topics include lifestyle and relationship advice, life coaching, minimalism and tidying, and cultivating a strong personal relationship with yourself.
- The Terri Cole Show – The Terri Cole Show focuses on finding purpose in a busy life with a good dose of motivation and psychology. This podcast speaks to embracing the inevitably of imperfections and developing self-nurturing habits.
- The Life Coach School Podcast – This podcast is indispensable for covering all the aspects of personal development, motivation, personal psychology, financial, and career development. Through it, you can learn to set goals, stop procrastinating, find happiness, and make your life your own.
- The Brendon Show – This podcast brings positive, high-performance professionalism into your personal development and everyday life. This is a career and profession-driven podcast that offers a heavy dose of motivation and a call to action.
- 10% Happier – Ten Percent Happier is a podcast about meditation, mental and emotional development, and life in general. It covers how to have both ambition and enlightenment.
As much as personal development is an individual pursuit, there are many helpful resources to get you started in the right direction, spur on your motivation, organize your goals, form communities and meaningful relationships, and bring about the life that you envision for yourself.