Earlier this month, I turned 27 years old. I am blessed to say that I feel healthier and more radiant than ever before. I like to think that each passing year has allowed me to step more fully into my highest potential. 

Each passing year has also demanded more of me-- more effort, more presence, and more service. While I love the constant challenge of personal development, the lack of explicit rewards can be demotivating. I have joked with my beloved mentors, "Why is there no personal development trophy?!"

And that's the thing about personal development. No one explicitly rewards you for your growth. The rewards of personal growth are, well, personal: your experiences, your deep maturity, and your love for yourself. 

Standing on the other side of a decade-long struggle with mental illness, eating disorders, and substance abuse, I can tell you that personal growth has made my life worth living. Personal development is arguably the most important work you can do to improve the quality of your life and increase your positive impact on those around you.

In the hopes of inspiring your own personal development journey, I'd like to share 7 bits of wisdom from my 27 years:

1) "Secure your own mask before helping others."

The airlines have it right-- you are of little use to others unless you take care of yourself. Self-care is some of the hardest work in the world, but can be the most rewarding. We each have a kingdom within us, yet so often we turn outward to seek what we need. 

2) Know your value.

You have to love yourself romantically and value yourself economically before you will ever find a decent partner or company willing to invest in you. If you're single, take yourself on dates. If you're jobless, make an informal resume of all the awesome little projects you've done; let it help you with interviews and remind you of what you're worth.

3)  If it challenges you, do it. Again and again.

If the practice is frustrating, then it has something to teach you :). 

4) You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Surround yourself with people you want to be like. Set an intention to seek out mentors and new friends who inspire you.

5) Share your story!

Storytelling is the oldest and most effective form of communication. Practice telling people who you are. If you master the art of storytelling, your work will reach more people and do more good in the world. 

6) Change your scenery to change your perspective.

Whether it's the nature preserve nearby, a weekend road trip, or an international sabbatical, we have to stay in the habit of shifting perspective. Travel and meeting new people, observing new cultures, and experiencing nature serves to take you out of your own universe and into the larger earth around you. 

7) "Everything will be ok, because it has to be.”

My sorority sister told me that nearly ten years ago, and I have finally come to trust it. So, believe. Have faith in the bigger picture. Trusting the universe has helped so much magic unfold in my life, and I want the same for you!