What Is Personal Development?

What is personal development and what does it mean to you?

It an attempt to put a framework in place for this website, I went looking for a definition of personal development. I was looking for a generally accepted understanding of what it means - a standard, one-size-fits-all description which I could just reference and use as a starting point for discussion.

But I was surprised at how difficult it was to find such a thing. While there are plenty of websites which have taken a stab at it, I couldn't find an authoritative source which I felt captured the essence of what personal growth and development is about. Even the ever-reliable Wikipedia didn't offer much help.

So then I thought - I'll just write my own definition. I figured I could do as good a job as anyone else. I've given the matter a great deal of thought over the years and indeed taken a number of steps to improve myself. I should be able to distill my thoughts and experiences in this area into a succinct and useful definition. But when I sat down to pen my definition, it hit me. Personal development is different for everybody.

Is this a cop-out? I'd like to think not. I know what personal development means to me, but I couldn't presume to put a label on it for everybody else. Broadly speaking, personal development is an activity undertaken by an individual in an attempt to improve one or more aspects of themselves or their lives. It might relate to such areas as health and fitness, personal productivity, relationships, personal finances, spirituality or just a general sense of self.

For me, this is the key. Everyone has different priorities - and people's priorities change over time as their circumstances change and as life experiences shape each individual's outlook. While career advancement or pursuit of their first million dollars may drive some people, for others losing weight or gaining self confidence might be more worthy goals.

What follows are some areas of personal development which I'd like to explore in more depth. I intend to do this in upcoming articles on this blog.

Health and Fitness:

Most of us would like to be healthier and fitter than we are currently. Your goal might be weight loss for the sake of your general health and wellbeing. You might want to give up smoking. Or maybe you aspire to running a marathon or achieving some other feat of physical and mental endurance. As with most areas of self improvement, priorities will vary greatly for each individual.

Personal Productivity and Organization:

Do you get as much done each day as you'd like to? Have you ever thought there must be a way to organize your time in such a way as to maximize the tasks you can complete each day. Many people (myself included) want to improve their time management and organization skills so they (and I) can get more done. I'm aware of a number of systems which can be adopted in an effort to maximize your personal productivity. I'll explore these in detail in the near future.

Wealth, Money and Personal Finances:

There's a lot more to life than money. I can't emphasize this point too much. However, the reality for most of us is that we will need to manage our limited financial resources (both money and our ability to earn money) to provide an adequate, if not comfortable, lifestyle for ourselves and our families. This is a very broad topic and covers everything from basic budgeting and day to day money management to wealth generation with a view to achieving financial freedom.

Motivation and Goal Setting for Success:

Getting started can be one of the hardest things about personal development. How do you motivate yourself to do more? What drives you to achieve your goals? Just as importantly, how do you set your goals? Do you have a structured approach? Are your goals (and the time-lines you've set yourself to achieve them) realistic? Do you have a plan - a clear idea of what you want to do and how you're going to do it? For me, motivation and goal setting are inter-related. I find the act of setting goals helps motivate me and achieving these goals spurs me on to do more.

Happiness and Self Esteem:

For me, this is ultimately what personal growth and development is all about. And that's why it's such a personal and individual thing. What makes you happy may not - in fact probably wont - make the next person happy. But there's more to it than that. Do you really know what will make you happy? What is happiness anyway? Is it something you can strive for and once achieved will be permanent? Or is it a temporary or even fleeting state?

These are some of the topics I'd like to explore - and anything else that takes my fancy. I think I've rambled more than I'd have liked. But to be honest, I don't think there is a simple answer to the question - What is personal development?


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