11 ways to supercharge your personal development

6 min read  |   23 November, 2023   By Aimée Brougham-Chandler

Three green shoots sprout from soil, each one has sprouted further than the previous

We know that learning and development is a broad area - and it can be hard to know where to start. How can small businesses maximise their personal development with useful strategies? 

When considering development for your team or SME, it can be helpful to reflect on your own personal development and evaluate what you'd like to do more of, or what you feel might be lacking.

For example, do you struggle to find time to dedicate to L&D? Or have your training programmes got a bit stale? In this blog, we'll provide 11 tangible pointers to help you in your personal development journey.


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What is personal development?

11 ways to supercharge your personal development

What is a career development plan?

Free career development template for your SME



What is personal development?

Personal development is essentially self-improvement by learning new skills and enhancing your capabilities. The aim of personal development is often to build knowledge, gain qualifications or enhance your career by expanding your experience.


11 ways to supercharge your personal development

1. Set goals

First and foremost, set goals and clear objectives. Identify and make note of want you and your team need to achieve, then use this as a benchmark and measure of success. Setting SMART goals will help; make sure your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. 


2. Write it down

Commit to recording your objectives somewhere you can easily access them & track progress. Performance management systems - such as Breathe's one-to-one and performance review feature can help keep you on track for personal development targets. There's also a handy deliverables feature that can be used to break down bigger objectives to make the task easier to manage,

After all, no-one likes a nagging, unticked checklist. 


3. Learn in your own style - and do what works for you

Everyone has a different learning style - so try and work out what yours is (or what those of your team are) if you don't already know it. If you've done something in a certain way before and it helped you improve, then use that tactic again. It’s no good buying self-help books if you know that you respond better to learning through training courses, or chatting something through with someone. 


4. Start small

It could seem daunting to try and achieve a big objective such as "make yourself a better communicator". But if you break that sizeable target down into smaller steps and start on just one of them, then the task seems easier. If you challenge yourself to achieve just a modest goal at first, you can grow from there once you're ready.

Reaching a small, more achievable personal development goal empowers and encourages us to continue. In no time at all, you'll be working away towards your ultimate end-goal before you even realise it. 


5. Go at your own pace

As well as starting small, you shouldn't pressurise yourself to achieve something in too short a timeframe. We often overcommit, so if you can't reach your goal in the time you have allowed, make sure to set more achievable goals in future. If your goal is marathon-like, you might not achieve it all in one go, but each step you take will be a step nearer the finishing line. 



6. Improve existing skills

When it comes to self-improvement, we often concentrate on learning something new. But sometimes you might want to consider improving something you're already good at, rather than addressing one of your weaknesses. Too often we focus on our negatives. But if you can strengthen something you're already good at, you could become extraordinary at it. The benefits of that to your small business could be spectacular.


7. Have a positive mindset

It’s never wrong to embrace and address your failures, that way you will learn from them. If you go into new experiences and learning situations with the mindset that you will achieve, you are more likely to do so. Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, notes that successful people have a growth mindset. She describes that these people "believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship, and so on. And these are the people who go for it. They’re not always worried about how smart they are, how they’ll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow.”


8. Learn from failure

Everyone makes mistakes - the old adage that someone who has never failed has never tried at anything is true. But it's what we take from failure that's important, and how we moved forward. Failed that test? You still know more than you did before you started the course. You can take it again. Perhaps a project didn't go as planned, or you didn't hit your target. These things can be disappointing, but it's how we take the learnings and reflect on what we can do better next time that counts. This attitude will achieve success in the long run, rather than being defeated by failing and never trying again. 


9. Hone your expertise

It's sometimes best to study one thing in more detail than to learn lots of things at a more superficial level. You'll have identified a few aspects of your skillset that you want to address in your personal development plan. Make sure you dedicate enough time and resource to one thing at a time so that you can approach it more thoroughly than you otherwise might have been able to.


10. Prioritise your personal development

It can be tricky to find the time for development - but it's important to invest this time in yourself and your role. Whilst it can be appealing to cancel the time you've scheduled for L&D when your to-do list feels endless and you've got a mountain of emails, in the long run, you'll become better and more efficient in your role and will thank yourself for it. 


11. Measure your achievements

Tracking your progress along the way allows you to adjust your plan if you are not on track. If something's not working, you might need to stretch a deadline or adjust the objectives or the strategy itself. If you at least know that it's not working, you can then ask why. You can additionally consider how you might be able to make it work and what you have learned from it.



What is a career development plan?

A career development plan is essentially a personal development plan - you work out where you'd like to get to, and what skills or training you'll need to get there. This can be anything, really, and as long as you set goals and deliverables to get there, you've got a career development plan. 



Free career development template for your SME

We've created this free career development template to help get you started with career planning. Feel free to download and make it your own. 

Why not find out how Breathe's performance management system can help your SME? Record objectives, track them against company goals and let your team add in their own deliverables to break down big tasks. Trial Breathe for free for 14 days.


Author: Aimée Brougham-Chandler

An IDM-certified Digital Copywriter (2023) & English Language & Literature graduate (BA Hons), Aimée is Breathe's Content Assistant. With 3 years' content marketing experience, Aimée has a passion for writing - and providing SME HR teams with solutions to their problems. She enjoys delving into & demystifying all things HR: from employee performance to health and wellbeing, leave to company culture & much more.

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