Inner Development Goals: Cultivating Skills and Qualities for Personal Growth

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires more than just surface-level changes; it necessitates a deep transformation in human behavior. The SDGs address complex global challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation. To make significant progress in these areas, it is crucial to shift our behaviors, mindsets, and societal norms.

A. Cláudia Gonçalves

5/26/20233 min read

In our fast-paced and complex world, it is becoming increasingly important to prioritize our inner development alongside our external achievements. The concept of inner development encompasses the cultivation of skills and qualities that enhance our relationship with ourselves, our thinking processes, our connections with others, our collaborative abilities, and our capacity to create positive change. This holistic approach to personal growth recognizes that true transformation begins from within.

The Inner Development Goals (IDG) framework provides a comprehensive roadmap for individuals seeking to embark on this journey of self-discovery and inner growth. Developed through extensive research and analysis, the IDG framework identifies five key dimensions, each comprising a set of skills and qualities that are crucial for inner development.

  1. Being — Relationship to Self:
    The first dimension, "Being," emphasizes the importance of developing a deep and meaningful relationship with ourselves. It involves nurturing our inner life and cultivating qualities that allow us to be present, intentional, and non-reactive when faced with complexity. The skills and qualities within this dimension include:

  • Inner Compass: Cultivating a profound sense of responsibility and commitment to values and purposes that contribute to the greater good.

  • Integrity and Authenticity: Acting with sincerity, honesty, and integrity in all aspects of life.

  • Openness and Learning Mindset: Embracing curiosity, vulnerability, and change as opportunities for growth.

  • Self-awareness: Reflectively engaging with our thoughts, feelings, and desires, fostering a realistic self-image and the ability to self-regulate.

  • Presence: Cultivating the ability to be fully present in the here and now, free from judgment and open to the unfolding experience.

  1. Thinking — Cognitive Skills:
    The "Thinking" dimension focuses on developing cognitive skills that enable us to navigate the complexities of the world and make wise decisions. These skills include:

  • Critical Thinking: Assessing the validity of views, evidence, and plans through a discerning and analytical mindset.

  • Complexity Awareness: Understanding and working with complex and systemic conditions and causal relationships.

  • Perspective Skills: Seeking, understanding, and integrating insights from diverse perspectives.

  • Sense-making: Recognizing patterns, structuring the unknown, and consciously creating narratives.

  • Long-term Orientation and Visioning: Developing a forward-looking perspective and sustaining commitment to visions that align with broader contexts.

  1. Relating — Caring for Others and the World:
    The "Relating" dimension emphasizes the importance of cultivating empathy, compassion, and a sense of interconnectedness with others and the world around us. Key skills and qualities within this dimension include:

  • Appreciation: Relating to others and the world with a sense of gratitude, appreciation, and joy.

  • Connectedness: Recognizing and fostering a deep sense of connection with communities, humanity, and the global ecosystem.

  • Humility: Acting selflessly and according to the needs of the situation, setting aside personal importance.

  • Empathy and Compassion: Developing the ability to relate to others, oneself, and nature with kindness, empathy, and compassion, addressing the related suffering.

  1. Collaborating — Social Skills:
    Collaboration and effective communication are essential for creating positive change in the world. The "Collaborating" dimension focuses on developing the skills necessary for engaging with diverse stakeholders and working collectively towards shared goals. Key skills within this dimension include:

  • Communication Skills: Actively listening, fostering dialogue, advocating one's views, managing conflicts constructively, and adapting communication to diverse groups.

  • Co-creation Skills: Building and facilitating collaborative relationships characterized by psychological safety and genuine co-creation.

  • Inclusive Mindset and Intercultural Competence: Embracing diversity and including people with different backgrounds and perspectives.

  • Trust: Establishing and maintaining trust in relationships and teams.

  • Mobilization Skills: Inspiring and mobilizing others to engage in shared purposes and collective action.

  1. Acting — Enabling Change:
    The "Acting" dimension focuses on qualities that empower individuals to effect meaningful change in their lives and the world. These qualities include:

  • Courage: Standing up for values, making decisions, taking decisive action, and challenging existing structures and views when necessary.

  • Creativity: Generating and developing original ideas, innovating, and being willing to disrupt conventional patterns.

  • Optimism: Sustaining a sense of hope, positive attitude, and confidence in the possibility of meaningful change.

  • Perseverance: Maintaining engagement, determination, and patience, even in the face of prolonged challenges and setbacks.

Embarking on the journey of inner development requires commitment, self-reflection, and a willingness to embrace growth. The IDG framework provides a structured approach to guide individuals in their pursuit of personal growth and transformation. By focusing on these five dimensions and developing the associated skills and qualities, individuals can cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves, enhance their cognitive abilities, foster meaningful connections, collaborate effectively, and create positive change in the world.

To learn more about the Inner Development Goals framework and delve into the details of each dimension and its associated skills and qualities, refer to the full report "Inner Development Goals: Background, method and the IDG framework". Embark on this transformative journey, and unlock your inner potential for a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.