Like many people, I am constantly reflecting on my skills, my mood and my wellbeing, usually coming to the conclusion there’s always room for improvement. What I’m really good at: starting something that I believe in, immediately. What sucks: my discipline and motivation to keep going with many things I started in the long run. Being aware of your weaknesses is the first step to overcome them. So I started looking for tools that keep me motivated. The apps and websites I have found use the simple techniques of gamification, checklists and self-assessment. I don’t know a lot about psychology, but from my personal experience apparently sometimes it is as easy as ticking off an accomplishment that keeps you going. With the tools I am using now I haven’t only found this, but also a vast source of inspiration for new things I can actually do for my personal development on the levels of mind, body and soul. Sometimes the amount of inspiration can be tricky. But more about that later.
Mind: Back to University with Coursera
Coursera is an educational technology company offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). They work with universities to make some of their courses available online, and offer courses in engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and other areas. When I signed up recently, I was a bit skeptical. How can university-style education be transformed into a completely digital experience? Are those on average 6-week courses supposed to actually deliver some serious, useful knowledge? The first course I joined, Competetive Strategy by LMU Munich, just commenced. The first class completely changed my mind. Not only was the course amazingly well designed. It also managed to keep me focused on the topic for about 2 hours (that’s about as much time you have to invest per week, at least, into each class) by dividing the material into small sections, each finishing with a little test. Individual forums help you to connect with other participants and to solve problems together.
My tip: Don’t only focus on developing your existing field of expertise, but follow your curiosity and look for diversity. Personally, I can’t wait till my next courses in data science and songwriting commence.
Body: Lift Digitalizes the 30-Day Challenge
Lift has a great source of pre-designed challenges that you tick off on a daily basis. Their projects focus a lot on fitness and health, but also include meditation, productivity, learning, mindfulness and communication. After I came back from Cape Town, where I enjoyed quite a lazy time, I wanted to get back in shape a bit and also introduce a short morning workout routine to get my system going. I had a look at their featured lists and quickly found something like the 30-day plank challenge and other routines that are easy to implement into my schedule. You can also design your own tracks and even use it for promotion, if you’re a professional life or fitness coach.
My tip: Activate the regular reminders via mail and the mobile app, with statistics on your personal performance. They will make you feel quite guilty when you think about skipping a day or two.
Soul: Create a More Positive You with Happify
Happify has been created by scientists and game developers to master the five essential happiness skills: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize. Their tracks and tasks rely on the assumption that happiness, like a physical skill, can be trained. I’m not saying that I’m not happy. But what speaks against becoming even happier? Once you have chosen your goal you get a sequence of tracks, each consisting of self-reflecting tasks you can follow throughout the week as well as little positivity games and meditation practices. To give you an example from my track: One task focused on writing down personal memories of situations where you felt playful, free and like a child. For me that was jumping into a swimming pool, getting tickled and so on. In a following task you then get reminded to activate those memories when you are in a stressful situation and later to pursue those activities more, because apparently those are the things that make you happy. It seems quite simple. And it is. But a tool like this helps you to focus on these things more often, because your everyday routine doesn’t always work like this.
My tip: For beginners in meditation include a session of their “Serenity Scene” activities. It only takes three minutes to come back to yourself, if the world, especially business, is turning into maze.
All three tools are also available as mobile apps. The tricky part: When I started out with these tools, I found so much inspiration in the form of recommended activities that I ended up committing myself to too many things at the same time. Change and personal development need time and patience. So stay focused on one step at a time.
header image source: Daniel Kulinski