personal development

Personal development is a huge field and it’s easy to get lost in it as you look for solutions for your life. I’m sure that your personal and professional development are some of the reasons why you read this blog.

Attending motivational talks, personal development workshops and seminars, or even reading books and blog posts will not help you achieve change. Long-lasting change can only be achieved through consistent and correct action.

I’ve been working on my own personal development since 2006. I’ve also coached high performing professional and business women in the same. One thing that I’ve found is that we all have the information required to make massive changes in our lives. However, translating that information into action becomes a challenge for many people.

In today’s article, I’ll share my journey into personal development. This is the first of four articles in a series on basic personal development skills I believe every woman over 30 should know and embrace. Each article will also have exercises that you can do on your own.

The early years

When I was in high school, I wrote myself a letter to be opened when I turned 21. I forgot about this letter and opened it at 30. The contents of the letter distressed me because I hadn’t achieved any of the goals I had set for myself. I didn’t achieve most of these goals until my late 30s and there are still a few that I am working on in my 40s.

I completed university at 23. However, going to university was not in my to-do list. It was at the top of my dad’s to-do list for me. When I joined University, I had no idea about what I wanted to do with my life. I was more interested in becoming a chef, travelling and getting rich, all at the same time.

By the time I hit 26, I was already in the rat-race. At some point, I opted to go back to school for an MA. I had followed the common trend among my friends at that time. The program didn’t work for me and I dropped out in the second year. I also changed my career from administration to research between the ages of 26 and 34.

An early mid-life crisis

Most women get a mid-life crisis in their 40s. Mine came at 35. I was just about to sign up for 5 years of higher learning. Completing that training would have given me a very prestigious degree and a well-paying job.

However, it would also have set me up for a lifetime of watching my back so that no one picks my ideas, writes about them in journals and gets credit for the ideas before I do. Also, it meant a lot of travel which would create separation from my family large chunks of the year.

I thought about it and decided not to take up the offer because I felt that this would be a huge mistake. I loved my job but wasn’t interested in becoming someone I didn’t want to be.

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The turning point

One day, as I was reflecting on my life, I asked myself, ‘Do I really want this life? Do I enjoy it and can I see myself living like this for the rest of my life?’

The answer was a very loud ‘No!’

By age 30, I already knew that I wanted more from life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t confident or courageous enough to go for it. I also didn’t feel as if I had control over my life. Everyone controlled my life except me: my husband, extended family, bosses, mentors, colleagues, friends, children…

My life felt like a roller-coaster to nowhere. And it’s no wonder that by 35 I had had enough.

At 35, I finally turned around and took control of my life. I spent the next few years exploring myself and doing things I loved. It was also a time of settling into a new career that has changed my life for the better.

This shift was not easy and it had a lot of repercussions. Some changes were downright painful and hard to accept, especially when I failed publicly.

Today, I’m glad that I persevered. I still have some way to go before achieving a number of my BIG goals, but I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been. I also have peace of mind no matter what I’m going through. Best of all, I’m now able to decide what is important to me and leave out what is not important to me.

The process of change

Change, and especially self-growth, is never easy. Part of the change includes going through a process of undoing what you know or do, and this process can be painful. Many people give up at this point.

Had I known the journey my decision to take control of my life would take me, I probably wouldn’t have started on it. Or maybe I would have sought professional help faster than I did.

For me, the change process was more of an exploration and trying out things. Some of the things I tried worked and some didn’t. Others left me wishing I hadn’t tried them out at all.

While the process started in my mid 30’s, it wasn’t until I turned 40 that I started seeing lasting change. The biggest change I had to make in my life – and the scariest one – was to leave an abusive marriage that had kept me hostage for almost 13 years.

This decision led to becoming a single parent, having to take control of my finances, and moving my family and business to a new town. Taking that leap opened up opportunities that were unavailable to me before. It also gave me the courage to grow my business in directions that I’d been afraid of trying before.

That’s my story in a nutshell. I’ll share more of my journey and give personal examples to beef up what I’m teaching in the following articles.

Introducing a system for lasting personal development

This series of articles will help you step into a new life. This is a life where you deliberately choose what you want to be, do or have. You then work your life around your choices and create an outstanding life for yourself and your loved ones.

In this new way of thinking and acting:

  • You don’t seek to hurt other people.
  • There’s no fighting, coercing or forcing people to give you what you want.
  • You’re not looking for people who will hand you what you want on a platter.

You simply decide what is important to you and allow the right people, resources, and experiences to come to you.

This process starts with what I call the 3 Cs. If you don’t have these 3 Cs, then you will struggle to build and amazing life for yourself and your loved ones. You’ll also miss out on being happier and more fulfilled.

These 3 Cs are:

  1. Confidence (in yourself and your abilities)
  2. Courage (to go for what you want)
  3. Control (over your life, relationships, finances, and destiny)

Before we move into the 3 Cs, let’s examine some of the challenges facing women from age 30 and above. I’ll then discuss each of the 3 Cs over the next 3 weeks. Finally, I’ll wind up with a simple action plan you can use to bring your knowledge together.

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Challenges faced by women from age 30

Women all over the world are faced with different challenges – from having to prove themselves as competent in the workplace to multitasking in order to have a career, earn good money and have a family.

From birth to death, we spend a lot of time trying to fit into who we ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be. We fail many times. And sometimes we fail because we don’t even know who we are in the first place.

As the age of 30 approaches, many women face internal struggles. Those who are not married by this age have an added complication with family and friends either making them feel as if they are not normal, or the internal biological clock that ticks every month… It’s easy for a woman to end up with any man, just to have a man by your side.

Women who choose to focus on their career and education first may manage to get their credentials and move up the career ladder in their chosen professions with ease. But, the reality is that by the time one reaches 30, there is still a long way to go and the achievements of the first third of their lives can pass unnoticed.

There are also emotional and physical changes that come with age leading to more worries and frustrations. Many high achieving women also find it lonely at the top.

30 is a dreaded milestone for many women. 35 is even worse, especially for single women. And 40 becomes one more challenge to overcome if your life is not to your liking.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Starting on the other side of 30 can be an exhilarating and powerful experience!

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve made great strides in your career or achieved all your professional and financial goals. It doesn’t matter if you have started a family, gotten married, or are single and loving it.

What matters is whether or not you are totally in control of your life, no matter your personal, professional, financial, or relationship situation.

Conclusion

It’s quite possible to see very successful and powerful women making mistakes in other areas of their lives. They live ‘lives of quiet desperation’ as Henry David Thoreau teaches.

This happens mainly because they are not aware that what they need in order to turn their lives around is within them and not outside of them.

Long-lasting personal development is achieved through consistent and correct action. It’s not enough to learn the skills, you need to practice them until they become habits.

In the next article, I’ll share tips and exercises to help you gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. For today, simply relax and enjoy being this side of 30.

Over to you now…

What challenges did you face when you turned 30?

If you’re under 30, what are your main fears or expectations about turning 30?

Let’s hear from you in the Comments below.

(Image credit: David Castillo Dominici at Free Digital Photos)

 

 

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, reduce overwhelm, and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.