Personal development? What exactly does that mean?

Are you confused about all of the self-development topics online?

Are you overwhelmed with all of the motivational speakers and gurus espousing: “Take this personal development course.” Or. “Do this personal development training or program’… without ever really knowing why?

Don’t even know how to get motivated, or which personal development ideas to follow?

Well. Stress no more!

In this personal development blog, we give you:

  • Some background to the topic of personal development
  • We help you set some personal development goals, as appropriate.
  • We show you the personal development skills you might want to concentrate on
  • We highlight some of the personal development activities you might consider undertaking. And.
  • In some of our articles and personal development topics we highlight personal growth leaders and influencers who have authoritative personal development books and blogs. 

All of these steps and ideas on motivational and self-development topics, are designed to help you step through this self-improvement mine field, with a clearer path. 

With that in mind….

Let’s get started.

About This Personal Development Blog: Wellness That Works

The objective of this personal development blog is to be your guide through the myriad of choices within this self-help arena, as personal development and personal improvement are sub-branches of the self-help movement. (Within this particular self-help niche there exist a variety of names, each describing the same concepts: personal growth, self-improvement, self-development, personal improvement, and personal development.)  So, to the average reader trying to “improve” their life in some way, we hope to make your path clearer.

Some background

As mentioned above, the personal improvement branch developed from the self-help movement, whereby certain motivational speakers and gurus set about educating interested persons to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and overall wellness. How they did that was teaching people about taking ownership for their own self-improvement, through self-guided steps, tools and techniques.(Click here for more information of other tips and techniques.)

The self-help movement sprang out of positive psychology. Self-help means that programs are “self-guided”, by you, the participant. In essence, they are about helping you recover from a situation or a dysfunction, and hopefully, move to a better place. A personal development example is: The Twelve Step Program for recovering alcoholics. Other examples might be courses on breathing, on increasing self-confidence, on building resilience and so on.

Positive psychology is the study of how to improve self or self-knowledge, so that the person comes to understand the possibility of achieving “the good life”. It developed as needs arose as people desired for greater self-knowledge and understanding so they could generally gain more control over their lives. At the basis of positive psychology is the idea of improving one’s self-esteem, which is an individual’s ‘subjective evaluation of their own worth.’

What that means is that the study or psychology of self is based around cognitive or conative notions. (Cognitive relates to the mental process of perception, memory and reasoning. Conative is innate and drives how we act on those thoughts and feelings. Behaviour. The goal is to change behaviour.)

Understanding of one’s true identity, particularly in relation to one’s life’s experiences. It is about unraveling these things that hinder progress. Mostly these hindrances are unknown to many individuals. 

This desire for understanding of self and self-knowledge sprang out of the idea that to truly progress in life you needed to have knowledge of self, who you are at a deeper level, what you innate skills and abilities are and what your personality profile was, so that you could be guided onto the direct path of your true purpose in life. Knowing self would help make that life purpose a clearer option. In essence, knowledge of your identity. Knowing this then helps people answer questions about the meaning of life and what purpose they might have within that framework. 

Hopefully, all of this increased self-knowledge leads to the realisation of one’s full potential, potentialities. In essence, self-actualisation. In order to achieve that state, many other layers have to be peeled back, understood and dealt with, generally through specific personal development courses or personal development training.   

However, the thing that hinders most people is their self-esteem. Self -esteem is at the basis, the very core of the positive psychology movement, and hence the personal improvement niche. 

If self-esteem is diminished, then people will have a low self-concept. And. Self-esteem derives from this self-concept which a person develops in early childhood development. 

Definition of Self-Concept – The Basis of Self-esteem

Definition of self concept – wellness that works

Smith and Mackie (2007) defined self-esteem as follows: 

“The self-concept is what we think about the self; self esteem is the positive or negative evaluations of the self as in how we feel about it.”

It is also a conglomeration of deeply held beliefs, emotions, feelings, thoughts, interpretations and experiences which initially commence in early childhood. (For a detailed explanation of this personal development topic on early childhood issues that impinge on self-esteem – see this article: Letting Go Guide here)

The most interesting factor that has become obvious from that definition is that, unfortunately, the majority of people view themselves as coming from a place of “lack”, of being less or feeling inadequate, and therefore, have a self-concept that is negative. And this leads of all kinds of issues.

The other concept to consider is the development of emotional intelligence. Emotions are the language your inner self, or soul, to the body, to indicate how you feel and what action needs to be taken. If you are happy, fine. If you are not, then you need to take action of some kind to get back in balance. 

So, part of self-growth is to develop emotional intelligence, which is the capacity of individuals to, not only recognize their own emotions and what they are trying to tell you, the body/mind, but also, to recognize the emotions of others, interpret them meaningfully and then use them as a guide to either, changing your thinking or behavior, or to understand the actions of others. Understanding emotions help you to adapt to an environment to be able to achieve your own goals. 

As mentioned above, the personal improvement branch developed from the self-help movement, whereby certain motivational speakers and gurus set about educating interested persons to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and overall wellness. How they did that was teaching people about taking ownership for their own self-improvement, through self-guided steps, tools and techniques.

However, developing self requires work: focus, dedication, motivation, personal development planning, self-growth, and so on. It can be hard because you have to let go of “stuff” that is holding you back.

This self-growth expands into overall personal growth through awareness of body, mind and soul. By becoming more self-aware and being able to able to listen to the messages the soul transpires through feelings, the language of the body, your emotional intelligence can then increase. 

It also takes personal development planning and goals to reach the optimal as we know it: self-actualisation

Self-actualisation is a destination, a place we strive for. It is a place where we have overcome various challenges in life and have our basic needs met: food, shelter, survival, security, our need for love and recognition, until we feel satisfied and capable of giving back to the community. This is the place where we desire to make our contribution back to society and hopefully, leave our legacy. 

This is the pinnacle of the personal development movement: self-actualization. Moving out of low self-esteem, having more control over our lives, on every level, and moving to operate at our full potential.

The purpose behind our personal development blog

Our purpose in developing this personal development blog is two-fold:

  1. To help increase your self-awareness and self-knowledge, because, without understanding some of those two aspects of self, you may get caught up in a whirlpool of not knowing exactly what to do to achieve your goals. And. You might also wonder why you are not improving and not truly understanding the “why” of your lack of results. At the basis of gaining an understanding of self, our objective is to help individuals increase their self-esteem. This is the first, and most basic key element, to moving towards a more optimal life. Without this nothing will work effectively. Nor will it stick permanently.

    So, having the necessary skills to improve self-awareness and self-knowledge and increase self-esteem are the main keys to the approach in this personal development blog. And, secondly, how you do that is …

  2. Personal development is also about letting go and moving on and many people do not know how to let go at all. Or indeed, to let go of “what”. It is about letting go of “stuff” that is holding you back on many levels, sometimes of which you are unaware. How to let go and move on involves adopting simple techniques natural methods, strategies and using products and services, that have been proven to work. That is my approach. Natural remedies I hate pain. I personally like ‘easy’. I hope you do too.

How we get the message across to our readers:

is by offering you a wide selection of personal development topics and articles to read on all levels of self-improvement: for the mind, for the body, about your emotions, and for the spirit.

These articles cover topics that will increase and enhance: your lifestyle, your quality of life, will help improve your health and wellbeing, your work-life balance, your potential, and your overall human capability.

In essence, it is about helping you clarify your true identity and increasing your self-esteem.

When you understand your inner identity and are able to express who you are fully, you will come to know “self”. When you do this, you will become more present. Being more present is the key to developing your powerful self. (Click here to read more about this.)

When you do this you will move towards self-actualization.

In Summary:

That is what ALL personal improvement is about – reducing whatever stress to is holding you back, letting go of those issues, and helping you increase your energy, your positive vibration, so you can attract the things you desire, more easily. 

So, these two factors: reducing stress and boosting energy, are the keys to help you know how to let go and improve. (Click here for information on these topics).

It brings happiness. It brings growth and improvement and, to my mind, the most important factor, it brings contentment with self and life. 

To achieve personal development you need a plan, a wellness plan that will help you increase your self-esteem. How you do that is by reducing stress (on all levels) and by boosting your energy.

(When we talk about energy was are talking about not only physical energy but your vibration. This means helping you move out of a negative approach to life, and move you to a more positive approach to life.)

That is what ALL personal improvement is about – reducing whatever stress to is holding you back, letting go of those issues, and helping you increase your energy, your positive vibration, so you can attract the things you desire, more easily. 

So, these two factors: reducing stress and boosting energy, are the keys to help you know how to let go and improve. 

You also need a framework, some goals and some proven strategies.

The approach in this personal development blog is that you simply cannot achieve overall human development or personal growth, unless you are well. (When we talk about wellness, it means on every level: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.)

The approach in this personal development blog: Wellness That Works, is an holistic approach to wellness and personal development, purposefully, because you are the combination of all of the different parts. That is why the articles cover ALL aspects of wellbeing.

On a personal note, Celine approaches wellness from this perspective: repair your physiology first. When you feel better physically, you will be more able to, and hence more likely to, want to improve other areas I your life.

You can see from the Wellness That Works logo that our motto is: choose, move and improve. 

Let’s now look at the types of personal development goals you might like to set and achieve, as we have broken them down under these three headings.

How can I Improve? Set Personal Development Goals

Set personal development goals – wellness that works

Personal development and improvement, is all about setting goals in life, to give yourself a path or a direction to follow. It forms a map. This map is to augment your personal growth journey, out of a negative space and into a happier, more positive and more confident person.

Remember the underlying issue which is at the heart of all positive psychology and personal development, is to overcome the issue of self-esteem, part of one’s self-concept. If this is low or lacking, then you need to do something about this to improve or have a better life.

So, have a look at these personal development examples:

  • If you wanted to lose weight and are finding it difficult to start or to maintain, then you need to look at the underlying causes. And, mostly, this would be about low self-esteem or self-concept.
  • You might want to improve your relationships, or attract a romantic relationship into your life, a person who is more appropriate. If this is not happening, or you keep attracting people who treat you badly, it means your vibration, the energy you send out, is one of attracting someone who will treat you badly. The underlying issue is one of low self-esteem or self-concept. 
  • You might want to gain a promotion or you want to attract more money into your life. However, it is just not happening. You keep getting overlooked for promotion and money continues to be scarce. What this means, is that, at it’s most basic, you do not really feel you deserve these things, or are not good enough to receive those things.  What does that tell you? Your self-esteem or self-concept is low.

So, you can see that before you do any personal development course, or personal development training, start a diet, or take the relationship course, you need to deal with the underlying issues which keep you from achieving your goals. Many people do not know this, or do not truly understand what is happening behind the scenes. 

What is stopping you from achieving your goals are the underlying issues of lack of or low self-esteem or self-concept.
(Please note that underlying issues may be defined differently, or in different words, however, they ALL boil down to that one major underlying issue: self-esteem and self-concept.

Personal development is not a one-off adventure. It is a life-long process. What happens is that as you go along, you achieve some success. Then you gain more control over your life. Then other “stuff” comes up which you need to deal with. This is simply what happens. However, that gives you an opportunity to celebrate these little wins along the way.

Remember the overall goal of personal development is to increase awareness so you can reach self-actualization. Self-actualization is that place where you are present when you are present you have greater control over your thoughts and feelings. When this happens, you become more powerful. When you are more powerful everything seems to be in flow or syn. Desires will come to you easily and effortlessly. 

So, that is the ultimate goal of all personal development and improvement.  However, as I said, you will need to overcome the self-esteem and self-concept issue along the way.

Setting personal development goals is like laying out a plan:

  • You assess your current situation, your skills, qualities, values, behaviors, and beliefs
  • You consider your aim – what you want to resolve first, make a decision, a choice
  • Then set some realistic body/mind goals that will help you improve your skills-set or your current position. (See this article on Goal Setting for a new approach.) 

This is about making relevant choices which require some degree of clarity. It is about making positive and very effective life choices. It is about making choices and decisions about your future and how to enable your personal empowerment. 

So, part of personal development is that it becomes an attitude. A way of life. It is also about increasing your awareness of what is impinging on the life you want to live. 

Within the process of setting personal development goals, you will need to know:

  • How to ask for the achievement for goals to manifest in your life indeed you are asking the Universe to provide, after you have taken all of the necessary actions.
  • You will need to master different skills, and
  • You will need to develop new habits, because success requires repetition.

Because personal development and improvement are lifelong pursuits, everything you do in this arena will be an investment in your life, the future you desire.

The Motto Behind The Original Logo Of This Personal Development Blog – Wellness That Works is: choose, move and improve.

These words form the basis of all personal development goals that you might desire to achieve. 

Choose means: make a decision first. Without it, nothing happens. This is where a lot of people get stuck. They are fearful of making any decision, fear of the unknown. And. They are fearful of making the wrong decision. However, the lack of choice will keep them forever stuck.

Move means: you have to take action. You cannot simply think about it. It is about behaviour and making new habits. 

Improve means: once you make a decision and take action things will start to happen for you. You will start to feel better. Once that increase in positivity happens, your thoughts will change as well.

So, putting this into action here are some of the personal development goals you might decide upon under those three categories.

Personal development goals – choose to increase

Choose good food – wellness that works
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your work-life balance
  • Your health 
  • What you eat
  • You might start adopting some self-help programs such as: Twelve Steps – this can be used for many types of addictions.
  • Choosing to forgive yourself and others. The program for this is to do the Ho’oponopono Prayer (See this article for more information on this prayer)
  • You could do meditation
  • You could get some energy healing
  • You might choose to be more positive. The best program to do that is by correct breathing. Sounds strange, but it is true. 

Personal development goals – move to increase

Move to increase wellbeing – wellness that works
  • Your physical fitness
  • Engage in a sport
  • Take a dance class
  • Do some Tai’chi
  • Do some mindfulness exercises
  • engage in emotional intelligence activities

You see, movement is key. From a physical level, we like to choose to increase in actual physical movement. Mental movement can come later. When we talk about movement, we are basically taking about increasing your walking steps, rather than formal exercise at a gym. Movement helps release “stuck stuff”. 

So, when you have set some goals at the first two levels you will then be on the road to set:

Personal development goals that will lead to: improve

Improve by thinking positively – wellness that works

(this is about thoughts, feelings, behaviours, habits, beliefs and so on)

  • your health and wellbeing
  • your wealth
  • your spirituality
  • your physical and mental states
  • your job prospects
  • your value in human capital to your employer or new employer

So, having looked at the personal development goals you might set, let’s look at some specific things that will fast track your success. This is based on my observation and personal experience.

Personal development activities to consider

Personal development activities – wellness that works

Remember earlier where I indicated my basic philosophy: repair your physiology first, so that you feel better. When you feel better physically, you will be more able to take the next step. I also indicated that I hate pain and like things to be simple and easy. So, that is what this section is about.

  1. So, the first most basic activity to do, that will give you the best results, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally, is to learn how to breathe correctly. Yes. That’s correct. Breath correctly. Her is the link to a personal development course that will help you with that, and will give you the most benefit, in the quickest time possible. (See my DIY Course here)
  2. The next step you might want to take is to choose better, healthier food to eat. This is not about a diet. It is about a better way of living. 
  3. The next step is to drink more water. The value of water cannot be underestimated as it increases your metabolism, cleans out your digestive system, improves the look and feel of your skin, and generally hydrates you so you minimise the look and feel of wrinkles. 
  4. The next thing you might consider doing is to increase your daily steps taken. You need to move more and the easiest way to do that is by walking – and it’s free. The objective is to get to 10,000 steps per day. You will need a pedometer for this.

This is my recommendation for commencing your personal development activities. They are easy to do. The only one you need to put effort into is, to learn how to breathe correctly, until it becomes a habit.

Summary of simple, first step, personal development activities:

  • Learn to breathe better
  • Chose healthier food options
  • Drink more water
  • Move more, increase steps close to 10,000 per day – walk more

So now that I have given you an easy personal development plan to implement, let’s looks at some of the personal development skills you might consider working on when you feel better.

Personal Development Skills: Wellness That Works

Personal development training skills – wellness that works

As I mentioned earlier, personal development is a life long process. You work out what you want to work on first. In the section on personal development activities above, I set out suggested first steps/a possible path, by outlining very simple personal development activities you might undertake

These are simple and easy to do, things that I continue to do myself, daily. These four steps will give you the greatest benefits in the shortest amount of time to help you feel better. Once you feel better you might then want to work on developing different skills.(Click here for more options to feel better)

So, part of what you might want to develop are the skills underlying your values. Make a list of your top ten values. Examine whether you are living those values. Decide which ones you need to improve on. 

Here is an example of a list of values:

  • Health
  • Love
  • Family
  • Career
  • Learning
  • Peace
  • Motivation
  • Inspiration
  • Spirituality
  • Community

Try to identify those skills which lie at the heart of really living those values.

Remember, to keep in mind the ultimate goal of personal development and improvement is: self-actualisation. This is that place where you have overcome many issues and are at a place where you want to give back to the community, your workplace or the planet.

It is a place where you have increased your self-awareness and can be present. Most of the time. We are not striving for perfection here. To do that you will have shifted out of a negative default position, and moved to a more positive position. In effect, resetting your default position. 

How you have achieved that is that you have dealt with the underlying issues that lead to lack of, or low, self-esteem or self-concept. 

So, let’s now look at the personal development skills you might consider developing.

Whatever your values list shows, work out which ones are your top three and concentrate on developing skills within that arena first.

Here is a list for different people, one of these may be appropriate for you:

  • Personal development skills for leaders and professionals
  • For personal growth in general
  • For work-life balance
  • To be successful – you will need to clarify what that means for you
  • Personal development skills to increase self-confidence
  • Emotional intelligence development
  • To develop leadership qualities
  • For problem-solving
  • To be more organised
  • Goal setting
  • To declutter your life
  • To improve your management skills
  • To increase positive energy

In the workplace, the most desirable skills for increasing personal development include:

  • Communication skills – which includes active-listening – this is the number one skill all personal development programs in the workplace are based on/ it forms the platform for everything else.
  • To increase your personal effectiveness 
  • To increase assertiveness
  • To develop relationship and managerial skills
  • To improve your organisational skills
  • Your teamwork skills
  • Your time management skills

So, you can see there are lots of possible personal development training options available to choose from. It just depends on how well you are, and, whether you are ready to receive the benefits of one of these courses. The first recommendation is to take action to feel better, to feel well, first.

What are the benefits of improving personal development skills?

Benefits of improving personal development skills – wellness that works

The benefits can be wide and varying. You will always learn something. However, you need to be open to learning first, and allow for the possibility that you might actually benefit from some aspect of every course undertaken. 

Just to give you a personal example. I was doing a course which was designed around developing pitches to large corporations, for speaking gigs and to large publications, for guest posts. 

The highlight of the course, from the presenters’ point of view, was to spend most of the year travelling all over the world. Flying business class. Staying in nice hotels, but, living out of a suitcase, most of this time. Not to forget the financial benefits. 

Having done the whole course and done the work and having learned lots, the most important thing that came out of that process was that I didn’t really want to travel the world for most of the year. Nor did I want to stay at hotels and live out of a suitcase. I discovered that I was, primarily, a home-body. I prefer to write at home, develop courses and give the occasional speech or talk.

So, that was an interesting lesson I learnt about myself. The skills I learnt were invaluable. I gained increased awareness of self and my wants and desires and needs. This was a bonus that I had not expected.

So, that might happen to you too. You may gain other un-intended benefits from trying to improve your personal development skills.

This then comes to the end of this expose in this personal development blog, Wellness That Works. I hope you have learned a little.

In summary:

In this personal development blog, Wellness That Works, we looked at the history of the development of this topic, via the positive psychology movement. We outlined our purpose in developing this blog and tried to explain a bit about the fact that we have a wide-ranging list of content.

The overall goal is to help you increase your awareness so you can have greater control over your body/mind, our thoughts and feeling. In this way you can reach self-actualisation, your full potential. Once you have arrived at this place you will then be able to make your contribution back to the planet.

How you do that is by dealing with the underlying issues to overcome low self-esteem or self-concept.

Personal development is a life-long process. It requires ongoing personal development trainings, and learning from various courses to increase your skill-set. It will require change. It will require letting go of “stuff” that you no longer need. It takes courage and brave decisions to start.

What Aspect of Personal Improvement Will You Choose First?

It seems daunting, doesn’t it?

However, the objective of this personal development blog- Wellness That Works, is to help you clarify what this personal development “stuff” is all about and how to navigate through all of the noise. 

When you can take out the confusion, the path will become clearer. 

My challenge to you is to start. Just start. Small. There are some personal development books and blogs you can start with here.

That is why I have outlined above, those simple four personal development activities you can start with immediately. Or read a book or another personal growth blog. 

And. Most importantly, let me know when you start so I can champion your success.  

If there are particular personal development articles or topics that are not covered, please drop me a line so it can be included for you.

If you have enjoyed this article, by all means share it. And. Then leave a comment in the section below. 

Most of all – health and wellbeing to you all.


For further references on Positive Psychology see The American Institute of Stress and The Australian Psychological Society