What The Hell Does Personal Development Even Mean?

What The Hell Does Personal Development Even Mean

Personal development (PD) seems to be rolling off everyone’s tongues these days. For those of us who don’t self-identify as being in touch with ourselves, this term may sound touchy-feely — a hippie sentiment. But honestly, when you learn what personal development actually means, you just might want to jump on board, because PD is where it’s at!

Quick Read:
Thinking positive will only get you so far. In order to achieve real balance, there are several steps and areas of focus in personal development that will both help you get to know yourself better, and help you  reach your goals. We’ll go over the focus of this hot trend so you can see how easy it is to implement into your life.

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Living Unconsciously

Daily choices lead to the state of our minds and bodies. Most of us go through our lives focused not on what we are doing at the time, but on our schedules and to-do lists. This can lead to half-hearted unhappiness and a sense of never-quite-having-enough-time or energy for the things we have to do.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we most often are not interested in what wonders the universe holds for us — we just want to get through the day. This is where personal development can change us the most. PD changes the way we look at our tasks, our people and the environment we live in by challenging us to make changes.

Learning to live consciously is a skill and the biggest challenge of personal development, but one which can only benefit us.

Personal Development vs. Positive Thinking

There are people who assume that personal development centers around thinking positive, loving yourself and hoping for the best. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Personal development leads us to work toward goals and make things happen, rather than just assuming that it’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to.

This is where some say it gets touchy-feely. When we drift off into la-la land hoping for the best. But that’s not what personal development is really about.

PD is more than just being hopeful. It takes work and dedication to yourself. By practicing PD, you will learn to be your best friend and greatest champion.

Hierarchy of Needs

The basic premise of personal development is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. If you are unfamiliar with Maslow, his idea was that all individuals have an in-built need for personal development which he called self-actualization. (Maslow 1970). His theory states that only when one level of need is satisfied, can a person achieve the next level and that true personal happiness and fulfillment can only be fully achieved when we’ve met our needs at every level.

  • 1st Level: Physiological Needs such as food, drink and sleep. The basics a person needs to survive.
  • 2nd Level: Safety Needs addresses what individuals need to feel safe and secure both physically and financially.
  • 3rd Level: Love and Belonging addresses individuals’ needs in relationships, family, work and other groups.
  • 4th Level: Esteem Needs helps people achieve a feeling of being competent and respected.
  • 5th Level: Cognitive Needs are what a person desires in the area of knowledge and understanding, wanting meaning and predictability.
  • 6th Level: Aesthetic Needs include the need for beauty, order and creativity.
  • 7th Level: Self Actualization means becoming everything you are capable of becoming.

Know Yourself to Spur Growth

In order to begin the steps of personal development, we all need to first get to know ourselves.

We can start with a self-evaluation. Making note of our strengths and our positive mental and physical characteristics. Then we can really examine the areas where we fall short in a non-judgmental way.

Make a list of the things you need to do about the things you see as negative on your list. This could mean looking at a situation a different way to approach it more positively, making diet changes to improve your health or seeing a counselor to get a handle on some self-judgment.

Set a list of goals and break them down into steps, then begin moving toward them. Step by step, and day by day you can, over time, become more invested in your personal development than the unconscious people around you.

Being aware of your behavior, your thoughts, and how each thing you do fits into your development will help you hone your skills and expand your thinking to take greater control of your life.

Charles F. Glassman said, “Before you find your soulmate, you must first discover your soul.” Address your current needs, start with the basics, and work your way up. Personal development can lead you to great discoveries and even greater happiness. You can start right now!