What is Personal Development?

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

Personal development is a powerful process that can enable deep positive and lasting change to how we see ourselves and see the world.

The benefits of investing in one’s personal development are many, the 3 core areas are:

  • Self-awareness. The first step of personal development is self-awareness. The journey of discovery to discover why we really are and to see the real potential within us.

  • Develops Direction. The process of becoming more enlightened on who we are, what we want and a new belief that we can achieve our goals,  and be willing to make decisions about our future.

  • Motivation & Action. Once a clear decision has been made, personal development material can help us to stay focused and motivated on the path to achieving our goals.

The purpose of Personal Development or Personal Growth is simple, to stop, think and decide to be more. The process of developing one’s self are many, from self-help books to training programmes, meditation, and personal journaling, poetry to painting.

One definition of Personal Development says:

Personal Development is the conscious pursuit of personal growth by expanding self-awareness and knowledge and improving personal skills.

Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.

Personal development is a lifelong process. It’s the keyway for people to stop and assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals in order to realise and maximise their potential.

The concept is not limited to self-help but includes formal and informal activities for developing others in roles such as teacher, guide, counselor, manager, life coach or mentor. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organisations.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Will Durant

At the level of the individual, personal development includes the following activities:

  • Improving self-awareness

  • Improving self-knowledge

  • Building or renewing identity/self-esteem

  • Developing strengths or talents

  • Improving wealth

  • Spiritual development

  • Identifying or improving potential

  • Building employability or human capital

  • Enhancing lifestyle or the quality of life

  • Improving health

  • Fulfilling aspirations

  • Initiating a life enterprise or personal autonomy

  • Defining and executing personal development plans

  • Improving social abilities

The concept covers a wider field than self-development or self-help: personal development also includes developing other people. This may take place through roles such as those of a teacher or mentor, either through a personal competency (such as the skill of certain managers in developing the potential of employees) or a professional service (such as providing training, assessment or coaching).

Beyond improving oneself and developing others, personal development is a field of practice and research. As a field of practice, it includes personal development methods, learning programs, assessment systems, tools, and techniques. As a field of research, personal development topics increasingly appear in scientific journals, higher education reviews, management journals, and business books.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

Any sort of development, whether economic, political, biological, organisational or personal, requires a framework if one wishes to know whether a change has actually occurred. In the case of personal development, an individual often functions as the primary judge of improvement, but a validation of objective improvement requires assessment using standard criteria.

Personal development frameworks may include goals or benchmarks that define the end-points, strategies or plans for reaching goals, measurement, and assessment of progress, levels or stages that define milestones along a development path, and a feedback system to provide information on changes.