New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
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Totally Together

What on Earth IS Personal Development?

February 22, 2008 by  

never ever stop learning

Personal Development for Moms.

Stay at home moms, working moms, work from home moms — it doesn’t matter!

I am a sucker for self-help books, and love browsing at the local book store, or the section in the library that houses all the “Get Rich Fast!” and “Change Your Life RIGHT THIS MINUTE!”  books. I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but I do know that I really like looking. I’m both pessimistic and optimistic when I crack open the binding, or track down an author on the Internet.

I am not one to believe everything I see or read—I’m just not wired that way. But I do like knowing that with some time, energy, and positive thinking changes for the better in all aspects of life are possible.

One of my favorite authors, Brian Tracy, taught me at the impressionable age of 21 that personal development simply means to never stop learning. I like that definition. I also like the idea that it’s okay to want to be better. There is no shame in wanting to be a better person, parent, athlete, employee, business owner, or humanitarian. Striving to be better does not mean that you are dissatisfied with your life. Instead it means that you are interested in becoming even better—-a valuable lesson to teach and model to children.

I am not interested in being the best of the best at anything—-it seems like just too much work, and I’m an awfully lazy person. But I do like to ask questions, and then follow up with research. One of my favorite things about the Internet is that I can ask good ol’ google a question, and get lots of answers. Who knows if the answer I come across is truly valid, but I can keep looking until I find the answer that best fits me and my mindset at the present moment. I also like reading about real people and learning what worked and what didn’t for them.

Sometimes being A Mom makes you (me) forget that there is a PERSON behind the mom. I get wrapped up in the day to day meal prep, potty helping, and board book reading part of my day and forget to do something (ANYTHING!) for myself. And so I need to remember The Womom.

The WoMom is the woman behind the mom. The WoMom needs to be nurtured, whether that is by reading REAL and not picture books, getting some exercise, or by taking a nap. Do whatever it takes to remember who you were as a person before having children.

Were you interested in learning a new language? Get some immersion tapes from the library and pop them in while you fold laundry or chop vegetables. Always wanted to play the guitar? Look through the brochure from the rec dept and find an inexpensive class. Life moves so very quickly, and I would hate for you (or me!) to have a longer list of “shouldas” than “dids.” One good thing about getting older, is that you have more self-esteem. What would have freaked you out at 18 or 19 no longer does. Take the swing class. You can do it.

I want to learn as much as I can about as many things as I can. I want to garden. I want to travel. I want to do the things that I always wanted to do —- and I don’t want to do them when it’s too late.

Does this make me a tiny bit selfish? Yes. maybe. But I don’t want my kids to suck away (literally, ha!) all of my brain cells and identity. I am naturally a pretty curious person and when I don’t follow through on this curiosity is when I get cranky and begin to feel resentful. And that’s not good for the kids. A Happy Mom = Happy Kids.

This is it. This is the only today.

Make it count.

other stuff:

Going on a vision quest

How to stay balanced when looking for balance

how to work from home with small kids in the house

10 really good books that you should read; regardless of what you “do for a living”

Post a comment · 9 Comments »


9 Responses to “What on Earth IS Personal Development?”

  1. Heather on March 6th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Thanks so much for this article! Like you, I really enjoy the personal development genre and have built a decent library (2-3 shelves). Its really unfortunately there is such shame and stigma against it in our society- I even generally go to the bookstore alone if I know I’m going to spend time in the self help or diet and nutrition sections.

    A man I recently dated was REALLY bothered by my library and said it was a sign that I was not a happy, successful person and implied I was inferior to “need” these books! As if there is automatically something wrong with the millions of us who want to learn more about health, relationships and career skills??? Uhuh… if you say so.

    He told me to get rid of my library because its embarrassing to him. I told him that I am always interested in learning new things and don’t have his “excess of hubris” (and probably his level of buried insecurity) to think I cannot or should not strive to improve my already pretty fabulous self.

    It took me some time, but eventually I kept the books and got rid of the man!!!

    Thanks for the article- it helps to be reminded that there are so many other people out there like me!

    • Susan on March 20th, 2010 7:57 pm

      Good choice, Heather, that you got rid of the man. Let no man (or anyone, for that matter) try to make you feel inferior. Good thing that you were still in the dating stage. Could you imagine being married to such a man?

  2. Jenn on March 7th, 2009 5:18 pm

    I find reading books and websites like yours helps me to remember that there are more things out there than my little world that I experience. You don’t have to incorporate every last thing that you read into your life, but it is fun sometimes just to see how other people do it.

    I also find myself in the position of hoping that if I read enough organizational get-your-stuff-together books that it will work magically, kind of like osmosis, but no such luck so far. It gives me hope, though, and ideas, and a little bit of motivation as well. And I can say with confidence that I am farther ahead of the game today than I was last week, so that has to be something!

    Reading your posts about everything under the sun are a BLAST!

  3. Mara on March 29th, 2009 11:38 pm

    I too love Brian Tracy his books are great. I loved “Eat that Frog” I am a procrastinator and look forward to getting your book once it is out. I am also grateful for all the Crockpot meals because it make for quick easy no thinking meals for our Gluten Free family.
    Thanks again for giving of yourself to improve others lives.

  4. Noah Gray on October 26th, 2010 2:44 am

    I love reading every article you write, Steph. Thanks for sharing.

    • Stephanie on October 26th, 2010 8:56 am

      oh, what a nice thing to say! thank you.

  5. Stephanie on March 6th, 2009 3:45 pm

    woah. what an interesting guy, Heather. 😉
    it’d be fun to do a case study on that…
    xoxo steph

  6. Stephanie on March 30th, 2009 9:04 am

    I really liked Eat That Frog, too. I just got the cds from the library to have a listen again. I like having what my kids refer to as the “talking guy” on in the background while I fold laundry, fiddle in the kitchen, etc.
    I’m so happy that the crockpot meals have been helpful to your family, Mara. xoxo steph

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