“To love oneself is the start of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde’s famous quote can often be taken out of context. But the fundamental meaning still holds true. If you’re good to yourself, you’ll feel better for it. And that’s what personal development is all about.

That said, it’s something we easily (and often) forget as we entangle ourselves in the hustle and bustle of work. Not just that, but so many people out there also have out of work commitments which are even more demanding. Like a family, or a side hustle.

How showing yourself some love = personal development

So this Valentines, don’t send any cards. Don’t take anyone out to dinner at a cheesy or expensive restaurant. And under no circumstances buy anyone flowers. Except maybe your Mum. That’s allowed.

Personal development means more “me” time

No. In this week of commercialized sappiness, show yourself some love. By investing some quality time for work goals, hobby goals and life goals in general. I’m talking personal development.

Irrespective of whether you risk the wrath of a spouse or loved one for “forgetting”, just say that this year you’re being your own Valentine. Don’t forget to say something like “I love you all year round,” though. This part is particularly important if you want to avoid a potential argument.

Anyway, let’s get back to the point here. “Me” time. We all have a need for this. Some days more than others. The thing is we usually put it off, or think there’s not enough time to do the things that we want to do which make us happier. Both in and out of work.

How can you love yourself then?

So what can you do apart from looking in the mirror and chanting something like “You are amazing!”? Try these personal development hacks for size:

1. Adjust your morning routine.

That’s right, don’t hit snooze and have “five more minutes”. This is not keeping the dream alive (pun intended). Try something different. For example, don’t check your phone until after breakfast. And when you first wake up, take five minutes of contemplation time just staring at the ceiling, mindfully emptying your mind. This is easy for me as there’s not much in there to start with at that time of day. Then, if you have access to a veranda, porch or balcony, get out there. Listen to the birds, or to the trees. Or traffic if that’s all you’ve got. Tune in to mother earth while the coffee is brewing.

2. Get some [proper] sleep.

There’s a load of advice from various super successful entrepreneurs on this, and there’s a good reason. It works. Trying getting yourself tucked up in bed earlier, let’s say around 11pm at the latest. Yes, binge watching Netflix is appealing (I should know), but your body and mind will thank you if you don’t do it. So will your personal development prospects.

3. Unplug, and reduce your screen time.

Computer screen all day at work. Laptop screen at home, as well as TV. Then there’s the in between time where you’re checking your cell phone. It never ends. Unless of course you apply the brakes. Even a small change like reading an actual book made from paper before you sleep instead of your cell phone is a good start.

4. Drink less alcohol.

I don’t need to be a medical expert to tell you that drinking can be bad for you if not done in moderation. A “liquid lunch”, or that whisky or nightcap you have before bedtime. Just no. The quality of sleep you get is abysmal compared to without. And drinking heavily on a mid-week night? A big no-no. Try reducing your intake for a month and you’ll see the difference it makes to your energy levels.

5. Do what you love.

Whether its taking a bath listening to Bob Marley, midnight yoga or going surfing at 6 am, make a point to do that thing you love at least once a week.

6. Just Say No.

Learn how to say no to people, even those that you love. If you agree to do something that you don’t want to do in the first place just to make someone else happy, nobody wins. Instead, find something you can do with or for someone that makes you both happy. And this includes your boss. Just don’t accompany the “no” with a show of the middle finger. You need a more diplomatic approach.

7. Filter out the negative.

You decide how and who affects your energy when your day kicks off. Keep negativity well away from yourself. No, you don’t want to hear a colleague’s story of complaining about his work or family problem. And you do’t want to hear the latest hateful piece of office (or otherwise) gossip. Oh yes, and make an effort to go through your social media friends and delete those negative people you have wanted to for a while.

8. Pat yourself on the back.

A personal favorite this one. Who doesn’t like a bit of self-indulgence? Reward yourself for a tough project you complete, or for a good deed you have done. It’s easy. Go on, buy yourself those new kicks, or take a day off and go to the local Turkish bath. Your gift depends entirely on you and the stuff you like. The things that make you happy. Whether that’s a new book (or three), a night out, or even a holiday. It’s another small piece of your personal development jigsaw.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.