Why Personal Development Is The Best Project You Can Ever Invest In
Can we agree that this life thing is about as predictable as IKEA furniture? The display rooms are so well-thought-out and color-coordinated and everything is picture perfect, like your social media feed maybe? But chile, the instructions. Are they supposed to be that confusing or is it just me? What if we use the comparison of life being that cute wall shelf you had your eye on? When God packaged your shelf, he created each step to play a critical role in the final piece. If you skim read, you miss the italicized note in fine print, that read, "Extra screw in tiny pouch. Do not throw out," right after you threw all that extra sh*t in the trash. It's okay, you didn't know what you don't know.
Self-development is the fine print at the bottom, covering your behind and making sense of the extra screws. In order for you to develop self, you must first get better acquainted with her. We already know there is no manual, just adults that spoonfed us whatever was taught to them. And then boom, you're an adult and you have very clear stances on everything, have zero baggage at all and understand why you have such an interesting taste in men. No?! I really wish that the process involved a lot less work, but you can't afford to skip steps on the most important project you'll ever complete. You just have to do the work, darling.
Understanding self leads to healthier and stronger relationships.
Instead of pointing fingers and distributing blame, you look to introspection when dealing with a rift or disagreement. When you're completely aware of the environments that trigger you and/or why, you can begin to curate your life to reflect this. Instead of having a screaming match with a sibling because they press your buttons like no other, you can retreat for a bit and assess the situation. Now you're no longer resorting to your default setting of raging lunatic and also possess the knowledge and the tools to 'rewire' your mind to react appropriately. Now, when you and your beloved sibling sit down you will also have the words to accurately verbalize what you're feeling.
Whether the other person is open to hearing you out and taking your feelings into consideration is outside your control. But at least you've gained an arsenal of techniques to help you decompress next time around.
You learn to love all the kinks and quirks about yourself that you’ve grown to love in others. Self-love is just directing that energy inward.
If you can think back to the last unbalanced relationship you had, there may have been something the other person had that you felt you didn't. Or they may have been able to make you feel a way that no one else could. Loved. Whole. Happy. Your perception tricked you into believing that you would only feel loved, whole and happy while in their company. Your lack of self-knowledge hid your own vault of good energy from you because you were too busy to take inventory of it.
You were drawn to these qualities because you possess them as well. They just had to be developed for you to notice. Now you can rid yourself of codependency and stop acting like the world is going to end when your best friend goes out with her other best friend. Solitude is never a bad thing when you love the company you're in.
You learn what you’re made of and how to self-motivate.
I hate the gym. That's my confession and an area that I'm striving to do better in, so I'm in the ring with you. Last winter however, I went on vacation and was really unhappy with the way I looked in my photos. I got to work in the gym as soon as I got back. I knew that I would cheat after a long day at work so I went first thing in the morning. I know that I'm more prone to keep my promises to myself if I share the goal, so I told my friend to hold me accountable. I also know that music is the absolute easiest way to shift our moods, so I had a playlist with every twerkable song on it, from dancehall to trap. I fool-proofed the goal because I knew what my weaknesses were. I hit my goal, lost my love handles and finally fit into my clothes again. So now that it's a year later and I've fallen off my game, I know exactly how to pick myself up AND that I'm capable. I start over this time with that peace of mind.
You never get to a point of perfection, that's the joy of being human. It's the ability and the know-how to change your circumstance that holds power.
I could write about this topic for days because I truly believe it's the ultimate life hack. How do you improve your life? Study it. Note strengths and weaknesses. Regroup. Repeat. As you begin to grow mentally and spiritually, you'll notice the ripple effect as it spreads into other areas of your life. You'll notice more opportunities that are in alignment with who you are at your core, simply because you're now able to identify them. You'll be able to articulate your needs and wants and get more out of life as you gain clarity and strength in your voice. Most importantly, you'll find an inner peace that surpasses understanding. You'll remain unmoved in the midst of chaos because you've learned how to tame the storm within. The woman who knows who she is, who she isn't and everything she's capable of has a different kind of sashay when she enters a room. She knows her worth.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
How The Rise Of Perfectionism Is Stunting Your Growth
What To Do When You're Changing But The People Around You Aren't
The 19 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read
Self-Improvement Was My Addiction
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Danielle Smith is a Toronto-based Personal Development Junkie on the gram @youbettaglowgirl. She keeps her hands full as a Writer, Speaker, Stylist & Non-Profit Founder, all while doing her most important job as a full-time mama of one. Marching to the beat of her own drum and a playlist of her favourite 90s R&B, she's blazed a path of her own.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Get That Dream Internship: Let Natalia Bryant's Beyoncé Tour Experience Inspire You
Natalia Bryant, the daughter of Vanessa and Kobe Bryant, made news recently when her name was spotted among the credits for Beyoncé's Renaissance World tour. She's reportedly serving as an intern for Parkwood Entertainment, a management, production, entertainment company, and record label founded by Beyonce in 2010.
Bryant is a film student at the University of Southern California, so it's no surprise that she'd take on the gig since we've all seen the fabulous and innovative TV and film projects Beyoncé and the fam have blessed the world with. Parkwood's body of work (think Lemonade, Cadillac Records, and Homecoming) speaks to the power of owning your narrative as a Black creative while offering an authentic and unique voice in telling other stories of Black culture as well.
And I'm sure the opportunity to network, work with, and learn from the best of the best in entertainment aren't bad perks, either.
When it comes to landing a dream internship that will indeed set your career on the right path, there are a few important things to remember:
1. Make the most of your current network and the networks of those who love you when pursuing a top internship (or any job opportunity.)
You could be reading this article and thinking, "Well, it is Natalia Bryant. She has privilege and her mom has access to the who's who of sports and entertainment." Well, maybe.
But, that's not the point.
When it comes to the family we are born into, the place where we live, or other major aspects of our lives, we must think about our resources and how we can tap in. We all have the play the hell out of the cards we have in our hands in that regard.
Whether it's your parents' colleagues, your school's alumni, or your close vicinity to a company's headquarters, use every advantage you have, speak up, and pitch yourself for the internship (or other job opportunities) of your dreams. Be sure you're professional, you know your stuff, and you're able to humbly follow the application process without the expectation of a "hook up" or "special treatment." You must indeed be an asset.
Even if you're not just starting out but want to break into a different aspect of your industry, make a career pivot, or change careers altogether, it might be a good idea to apply for an internship, externship, or fellowship as a side hustle to get the experience, gain the contacts, learn the lessons, and get your foot in the door.
Michelle Pevide/Getty Images
2. Be an open-minded, deliberate, and creative thinker when applying for the chance to hone your craft via an internship.
As public spectators of this recent news, we can't be sure of Bryant's exact career goals related to filmmaking, but with an internship that involves working in any capacity on a major global tour, there are so many facets of creative direction, project management, communications, and other vital skills she might learn in the process.
That being said, don't limit yourself when it comes to a certain company or title when pursuing an internship. Sometimes going for a spot at a small business doing big things is better than competing with thousands of others for those same few spots at the Fortune 500s. Sometimes finding other ways to get in the door is better than going the traditional or popular route for an internship.
At 19, I applied to a program facilitated by a prestigious organization that my dream magazine was a member of, not directly to that magazine's HR. I knew that going through that organization would hold a lot more weight, I'd get prime placement, I'd get to network with other young journalism students who were chosen out of hundreds of applications, and I'd be offered certain perks that came with being part of their program.
Once in the office, several of the interns who applied directly to the magazine expressed to me, at the time, that they were getting coffee most days and doing "grunt work." I, on the other hand, worked closely with award-winning seasoned writers, got a cubicle of my own, and was mentored by an independent publisher within the company (who, by the way, honored me with an editorial assistant credit on a special book project I helped edit and assisted in producing).
I also got a published clip, something, by the end of that summer, was elusive to other interns there. I indeed had to work hard and prove myself---and the experience didn't come without tears, a bit of gaslighting, and early Devil Wears Prada-type lessons about the magazine industry---but being strategic and open-minded proved smart for me.
After the internship was over, I applied for---and was offered---a job with the publishing organization, as I saw that as a power move, but my path would lead me to continue to be a writer and editor. As the cliche goes, the rest is history.
(And to clarify: There's nothing necessarily wrong with getting coffee or making copies as an intern if that's something you can leverage, if you're forward-thinking when interacting with those you're doing those tasks for, and if you're not being taken advantage of via a waste of your talent and time capital.)
3. Find a way to stand out as an applicant in the most unique, authentic way possible.
Once you have the basics down---a well-crafted resume, a professional communication style, creative ideas, and a work ethic that speaks for itself---find something about yourself that stands out and work the hell out of that. If you're always in the know about the interesting or behind-the-scenes aspects of an industry, trade, or craft, be able to illustrate that when interviewed. If you're an innovator who does things in a different way, has a unique approach to processes, or can do something quicker and more efficiently than others, use that.
If you're a savvy speaker with a gift of gab or you're simply fabulous and know how to work a room, use it, sis. If you're the most emotionally intelligent, solid person who's relied upon during times of crisis and calm, talk about applicable situations in which that has been beneficial.
Luiz Alvarez/Getty Images
Back when I was a student, I was always one to speak my mind--especially in class discussions or when asked my opinion on something. I attended an HBCU, so I was super-confident in taking up space and using my voice. I was also very well-trained in giving something 150% of effort---you know, that whole good-better-best, early-is-on-time type of college upbringing.
I'd always look at issues in a totally different light or add my own spin to approaching a story. This served me well when applying for top internships, as well as after landing them.
I once felt so intimidated by my peers during my time at a summer institute hosted by one of the top global newspapers that I totally flopped my first news assignment. To be honest with you, it was focused on a coverage area that I just wasn't particularly interested in, and I wasn't being true to myself.
For the next assignment, while others were writing about gruesome crimes in the community or some other elaborate exposé in an effort to impress, I chose to write what I knew: Black culture and its societal impact. The story ended up being a big hit and won over the editors of that newspaper. (I'd later work for the host newspaper and become an instructor at the institute.)
I tell that story to say, find what makes you unique and run with it. Internships are where you can shine while failing forward, but remember that being you is super-valuable as well.
If anything, allow the news of Bryant's internship to inspire you to go for your dreams today, get more deliberate about placing yourself in direct alignment to collide with success, and be super-unapologetic about it.
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