What Does Personal Development Really Mean?


What Does Personal Development Really Mean?

Personal development is a term often talked about but rarely really explained. It really is about investing in yourself so that you can manage yourself effectively, regardless of what life brings your way.

Personal development prepares you and allows you to be proactive. So that rather than waiting for good things to happen, you can make good things happen. Even though you may not always achieve what you were working towards, you will experience a richer and more rewarding life when you commit to pursuing your own goals.
Making a commitment to personal development really is the first step on the path to personal fulfilment.

Benefits to Personal Development

There are many benefits of personal development.

Self Awareness

Personal development really begins with self-awareness. You get to know who you really are, what your personal values and beliefs are and what your purpose is. True fulfilment can never come from chasing other people’s dreams. If you really want to create happiness for yourself, you need to create your life based on what it is that you want, not based on other people’s dreams and goals. The truth is there is as much pleasure in the journey as there is in actually reaching the destination, in this case, your goal. Self-awareness is really the first step in the personal development process and it is necessary as everything else builds upon it.

If you aren’t in tune with your emotions and feelings, or you create the habit of ignoring them, you are essentially turning off communication with yourself. Not being in tune with your emotions and thoughts, you lose the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Not having this self-awareness often creates feelings of frustration, and feeling stuck or unsure of what you really want. Paying attention to what makes you feel good or bad, or what lights you up, what makes time stand still for you, is important. There is crucial information there to help you discover yourself and your life’s purpose.

Ways in which you can begin to identify your emotions, including asking yourself questions such as “If this is not how I like it, then how would I like it to be?”

“If this is not what I want, what do I really want?” “If this situation was exactly the way I wanted it to be, how would it look, sound, feel, and be?” “If I could change this situation and make it be exactly what I wanted or needed, what changes would I make?”

By asking yourself these types of questions, you get more clear on what you really want from life. And how you feel about the things that are happening or not happening in your life. When you really know what you want from life, you can then create goals, and actually start working to achieve them.

When you are not committed to your own personal development and you lack self-awareness, this can create a sense of helplessness or hopelessness. But when you are aware, then you can determine areas for personal growth which will then help you not only to feel in control but also will help improve the quality of all areas of life.

Sense of Direction

Once you have worked at increasing your self-awareness, you may then become more clear on the things you wish to achieve in your life. This then helps make decision making easier. You can also become more efficient with your time because you will have more clarity on the things that move you closer to your life goals, and those that don’t move you closer.

So many people struggle with goals because they view them as extra work. Goals are often viewed as something that actually adds to the workload now, in order to decrease the workload later. The truth is when goals are set properly, they are actually meant to reduce your workload and improve the quality of everything that you do. Personal development and goals don’t just tell you what you need to do (to achieve your goals) but they also tell you what you don’t need to do! This helps you to avoid doing things or spending time on things that don’t get you closer to achieving your goals, such as things we do out of boredom, habit or even out of a sense of obligation. Personal development isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing less, by being more efficient and concise with what you are spending your time doing as well as ultimately doing it better.

When you have a clear sense of direction, you can more easily focus on the things that take you in the direction of accomplishing your goals. Personal development and a sense of direction allow you to shift your focus from quantity to quality. Rather than spreading yourself too thin, and trying to do everything, you then understand the importance of doing more of the things that matter. You then understand the importance of doing the things that actually take you closer to achieving your goal and can then not only give 100% of your energy to those things but then also have more time to actually do them better.

Improved Focus & Effectiveness

Personal development helps create clarity. Even with setting goals and a greater sense of direction, it is still easy to get bogged down with multiple tasks that need your direction. However with personal development, prioritization becomes easier, you become more clear on the objectives and can then more easily identify which tasks will give you the greatest results, therefore also which tasks should take priority over others.

One of the biggest challenges that many people face are distractions. Distractions happen when we can not clearly see the benefit from the task at hand in comparison to the distraction itself. This is often why people tend to work better when there is a deadline to meet. When there is a deadline, the benefit of completing a task becomes more clear as do the problems that are caused by giving in to the distraction, making it easier to ignore distractions.


When you are clear on what your end goal is, and can identify each smaller step that gets you closer to achieving it, it becomes easier to see the benefits of taking action on each smaller step. So even when the task at hand is not exactly enjoyable, if you can see a clear benefit to doing it, you will be more motivated to take the necessary action. As you become more clear about what you truly want, you start to see how achieving your goal will improve your life and you can more easily visualize the benefits you will experience. This is what builds the will to accomplish the goal and where your most powerful motivation comes from. This is where the old adage “Where there is a will, there is a way” rings true.

Sometimes the size of the actual goal creates an obstacle. Breaking the goal into bite-size pieces makes this easier to manage. A common phrase for completing small tasks that eventually lead to one larger task is “how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time”

Ultimately achieving a goal is really just an accumulation of achieving many smaller tasks. The result is that this overall process helps us to focus on smaller more achievable tasks, so we really don’t need to motivate ourselves to achieve large goals, we only need to find the motivation to move to the next small task in the process. And truly the real goal is just completing the smaller more achievable tasks daily, that eventually add up to a much greater result. When you realize that it is the little actions that actually matter, then it also becomes very clear how important these little steps along the way really are. Not only do our goals depend on achieving the small tasks, but the quality of our life ultimately is the sum of all of the little things. When we take joy and pride in the small daily tasks, we take pride in our life, one task, one day at a time.

Greater Resilience

The truth is there are always going to be tough times throughout our lives. Bad things happen, whether they happen because we screwed up, we are human after all, or whether they are happening as a result of things beyond our control, it’s not the situation that matters most, but how we react to it. Personal development doesn’t ensure that only good things happen in your life, that’s impossible, but personal development does help you to have more resilience, confidence and interpersonal skills to manage whatever is happening, and to effectively cope with the effects of whatever the situation may be.

Being able to change our attitude to a negative situation makes it less unpleasant, gives us hope for resolution and also helps us to see that in every situation, even negative ones, or ones we didn’t want or expect, there can be good that comes from it. If nothing else there are always life lessons within life’s challenges. When we start to ask ourselves, “what is the lesson in this”, versus “why is this happening to me”, it allows us to stay calm, composed and in control when crisis strikes. Ultimately it then allows you to determine the best course of action to take and allows you to minimize the damage caused by the negative experience.

More Fulfilling Relationships

The truth is relationships either lift us up or drag us down. When we practice personal development, it helps us to see which relationships we want to cultivate and nourish and which relationships are no longer serving us. This allows us to invest more time and emotion into the relationships that have the most positive impact on your life.

When you don’t practice personal development, and self-awareness you also then don’t give much thought to the value of your relationships. Instead of developing friendships with people where there is mutual respect and growth and spending time with those people cultivating that mutually positive relationship, you end up spending time and energy on the wrong people.

When you practice personal development, you are typically drawn to other people who also practice personal development. Your friendships become mutually beneficial, where both people are helping the other to be the best version of themselves. The quote “you are the sum of the 5 people you surround yourself with” is an important one. It really does hold true and helps you to give more time to people who make you better and less time to people who bring you down. Every area of your life benefits when you surround yourself with people who help you to be a better version of yourself.

You are not only your own greatest resource, but you are also a gift to the world, and serving your life’s purpose is the best way to help create a happier life for you and everyone whose life you touch. The world is not served by you playing small. It’s time to truly focus on personal fulfilment and on creating the life of your dreams and it all starts with personal development and self-awareness.

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