Personal Development Project

A Personal Development Project (PDP) is a regularly scheduled set of rituals, disciplines, or exercises designed to help the practitioner achieve three basic goals: 1) The self-mastery and skill development that results from performing challenging tasks based on commitment rather than convenience 2) the sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that comes from consistently meeting specific goals 3) The self-awareness and self-actualization that comes from repeated investment in constructive or creative action.

My first experiment with PDP’s was nearly four years ago. I set out to write one blog post everyday for a year. I benefited so much from the challenge that I decided to continue for two more years. After 1,113 consecutive days of blogging, I decided to end my daily writing streak in order to step back, take a break, and contemplate what I wanted to do next. It’s pretty hard for me to believe, but it’s been nine months since I worked on a PDP. I can’t even begin to express how much I miss my daily rituals. As challenging as my last PDP was, it comprised some of the happiest days of my life. So without further ado, I’m starting a new PDP. This time, the focus will be primarily on learning (my first love) rather than writing (my second love). I plan on using the blog to document my adventures in self-directed learning and personal development. I also may occasionally, perhaps even regularly, write about my general musings. But learning is the main thing for me. Over the course of the last nine months, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve realized how much my fulfillment, productivity, creative inspiration–my very sense of life–revolves around the constant exploration of new ideas. I am never more happy nor more motivated than when I’m delighting my heart with the learning of new things. There’s a quote from Merlin in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King that captures my sentiments about learning very well:

The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

To model the education experience I’ve created for Praxis, I will be switching over from a yearly PDP model to a monthly PDP model. That is, I will identify one activity/goal at the beginning of each month and I’ll focus on that until the end of the month where I begin a new activity/goal.

This approach offers me two distinct advantages over the yearly model I previously adopted:

  1. I will be able to work in sync with my Praxis participants. As they work on monthly professional development projects, they will know that I am doing the same.
  2. It allows me to marry my need for focus (commit to something and get it done) with my constant craving for variety (if I discover something new I want to try, I can start it the following month) and my practical need to eliminate things that aren’t working for me (if there’s an activity that isn’t as helpful or feasible as I thought it would be, I can finish doing it for the month and replace it with something better at the beginning of the next month.

I plan to begin my first monthly PDP at the beginning of October, 2015. When I begin, I’ll write a blog post identifying what my activity/goal will be. I’ll track my progress everyday on a spreadsheet I will share and I’ll also write my notes/thoughts/reflections no less than once a week.

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