Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Alex Fayle of Someday Syndrome.
A quick Google search produces what feels like a million and one guides explaining what Twitter is and how to use it. Leo has several great guides himself here on Zen Habits. But like any community, as Twitter grows it will begin to split up into smaller communities – after all no matter how much we might want to participate in the full Twitter-stream, we can only handle a small portion of it.
Personal development has become a highly popular blog topic for bloggers and destination for readers. Twitter will likely soon follow, with segments already developing in the personal development arena.
So, if you’re a personal development blogger or reader, how can you use Twitter to enhance your journey? Here are nine ways that I use it.
1. Get your nose out of your belly button
Personal development requires a lot of inward gazing. Sometimes we take it too far and turn the exploration into navel-gazing. By reaching out to others on Twitter we get out of our heads. And by turning our gaze outward, we will improve our chances of actually moving forward (because walking with our noses in our belly buttons just begs for a nasty accident to happen).
2. Connect to others on the same path
It’s easy to feel alone on our personal journeys. Everyone interprets personal development in a different way, sometimes conflicting with our way of thinking. When we connect to a myriad of other people on their own personal development journeys we broaden our horizons and gain new perspectives. While it might produce tension occasionally, more often it will help our journey by providing new ways of thinking about things.
3. Develop focus
Twitter requires us to be brief and clear. In talking about personal development many of us are wordy and rarely get to the point. With Twitter’s 140 character limit we have to present our thoughts and ideas in a concise manner. We can’t ramble, which means before we start typing we have to be aware of what we think and really focused on the core thoughts, attitudes and actions that will move us forward.
4. Create accountability
I spend a lot of time alone in front of my computer. I therefore distract myself very easily (including using Twitter) and don’t get anything done. I’ve learned, though, how to use Twitter to get more, not less, done. The first time I posted here on Zen Habits, I talked about how I used Twitter to keep myself running. Now I use Twitter to talk about my writing goals, tweeting wordcounts and moments of epiphany. And people are hugely supportive. I follow through on my Twitter-promises because I’m human and I love that kind of recognition.
5. Share your insights
Tweeter @TheCharmQuark loves doing this. Although she has a blog that tracks the progress of her personal development journeys, Twitter allows her to have that immediate satisfaction of interacting with people after experiencing a mind-blowing moment of clarity. Others see the insights and share their own take on the newly gained wisdom or have their own mind-blowing moments. And so the epiphanies spread around the world.
6. Read tips from experts
Leo Tweets his blog posts and provides tips about living a Power of Less life. And he’s not the only one. You might not have time to read a whole lot of personal development blogs or books, but by dipping into the Twitter-stream with a personal development focus, you can still pick up a lot of the wisdom of the people working in personal development every day.
7. Hear about new resources
The Internet is a huge place and there is no way we can find everything that will help us on our journey. Fortunately there are others on the similar journeys looking for resources that will help them. Generally when people find something that works for them, they like to share the resource. If you’re following them, you’ll find out about the resource and maybe it will help you too.
8. Find answers to direct questions
One of the things I like most about Twitter is the direct help. It’s like a real-time customer support center without any of the sales and marketing. Since opening a Twitter account I’ve stopped using Google as much and started asking my followers questions. The answers I get are varied and generally well-informed. For example a reader at Someday Syndrome recently found a tick on her son and within minutes had a whole list of places to find help via her followers on Twitter.
9. Have lots of fun
And of course, the best part of Twitter is having fun. It’s a big party that you can slide in and out of all day long. Don’t stress about catching up on everyone and everything they say. Dip onto the stream, let it flow past you, then get back out and come back for a visit again later. The most popular people on Twitter don’t take it (or themselves) very seriously. The more fun you have the more fun others will have and the more they’ll want to connect with you.
I’m certain that this list by no means completely covers all the ways that people use Twitter to help with their personal development journeys. So tell me (either here in the comments or on Twitter) how do you use Twitter to advance your personal development goals?
For more from Alex Fayle, check out his blog, Someday Syndrome, subscribe to his feed or follow him on Twitter. Plus, if you leave a comment on this post, you could win one of three copies of his ebook Someday My Ship Will Come In: A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Dreams.
How to Change a Habit: My friend Scott Young, one of the best bloggers on changing habits, has released a new edition of his excellent ebook, How to Change a Habit. For the next 30 days, Scott is offering a special $5.00 discount for Zen Habits readers (making it an affordable $14.99 after the discount) — just go to the page to buy it and enter “zenhabits” (without the quotes) in the discount code box. This is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds, but I definitely recommend this ebook if you’re looking to change your habits. It’s a very effective method. – Leo