What is Personal Development?

by Jayne Kopp on October 7, 2011

personal development, what is personal development, personal development meaning

I have been asked in the past what exactly is a ” personal development ” blog , or what I found so appealing about personal development in the first place that prompted me to choose to build my business around it.

It’s a little tricky to answer this question to be honest… not because I don’t know the answer, but simply because it’s such a multi-sided topic… and that there are so many reasons and answers I could share.

To me, personal development is a number of things, but I do believe ultimately a large part is being the best we can be, achieving happiness and/or ultimate satisfaction and achievement through continual personal improvement and transformation.

Of course this means different things to each and every one of us… but I do believe at the end of the day, our feeling of purpose, how we view our experiences, our achievements, and having balanced perspective, all result in inner change, satisfaction and make personal development worth while… and even slightly addicting! ;-)

I know there are some people who tend to think that personal development /self growth and those of us who are so committed are slightly ‘LaLa’ (picture index finger twirling in circular motion beside temple). :-)

The truth is however, that you don’t have to be ‘out there’ or ‘off the wall’ to benefit from developing personally. We can all choose the parts of it that meet and fulfill our own needs even though we might feel stronger about some aspects than others.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter what appeals to you about this topic as long as whatever ‘it’ is has meaning to ‘you’ and lights your fire!

I mean, lets face it: personal development is….. well…. very “personal” … (that last quote from my friend ‘Marcus Baker’ during an email conversation we had a while back).

I feel personal development does so much for the mind, body and spirit.

It builds character by improving our personal awareness about our own state… or the human condition in general. (Both the good… as well as the (often many) areas that are opportunities for improvement).

In addition, to me, it’s all about being a better human, not only for the sake of others around me, but for my own conscience and attitude and self worth and the way I look at life.

Here are a few additional thoughts about what personal development means to me and is all about:

(note: Get Comfy, I’m about to warble for a while) :-)

Its about:

  • Identifying personal beliefs and values, and optimizing them to get the most out of life.
  • It’s about discovering your personal power (which we all have) and using it effectively to achieve desired transformation as well as reach goals.
  • Empowerment, motivation, striving, and growth,
  • Paying attention to our thoughts and realizing the impact they have on every outcome. In other words, healthy thoughts and mindset truly matter and result in our actions and achievements (or lack their of).
  • Personal development is about knowing we are all responsible for how we live life and how our thoughts and actions are at the crux of what we get out of it.
  • It’s about being adaptable to change, or even how we can create it in many instances. Some change we cannot control, but we can control how we react to it.

    …Other changes we have the power to create (for the better)… and need to stay focused and be aware of the fact that we can.

  • It’s about changing habits: either eradicating bad habits or forming new powerful & positive effective habits and ways of living.

    Again, this can also be closely related to change… and continuously making changes to improve for the better. (That’s a habit!)

  • Learning from past good or bad; or being grateful for past experiences; positive or negative… but in any event always finding the positive in every situation. (Past or present)
  • Taking responsibility for things we create, particularly situations we could have improved on.

    I.e.: learning from past mistakes and improving so as not to have a repeat! Also using past experiences to enhance the future and grow as a person.

  • Gratitude, contentment and seizing and living in the moment and being able to ‘enjoy it.
  • Setting priorities for what really matters.
  • Being the best we can be, inspiring others and setting examples.
  • Personal awareness and seeing life’s never ending opportunities and possibilities
  • It’s about striving and achieving, and breaking through barriers.
  • Satisfaction with life, self and others and just being comfortable in our own skin.
  • It can be challenging, yet rewarding; painful yet pleasing.
  • It builds and strengthens personal respect and respect towards others; helping yourself … and others, not to mention aids in developing an in-depth understanding of both yourself and others.
  • Acceptance of self, others and being open minded about life in general.

    Personal development is also about finding your own expression and position becoming empowered creators of your own life and destiny…taking life as it comes but knowing how to make this gift work in our favour… and leading by example so others may to do the same.

    It’s also about self growth, one step at a time while charging forward to achieve the success our hearts desire and being able to see the forest through the trees to know anything is possible.

    Phew… I almost need a shower after that… and I know I’ve probably missed some key pointers here.

    It’s just that when trying to pin point everything that personal development stands for …. My mind feels like a slot machine or that ‘tag cloud’ on the side… ;-) => =>

    What I find humorous though is that I was never a huge fan of personal development to be honest. Well… perhaps I should rephrase that and say instead …that I never really gave it too much thought.

    I will also be the first to admit that if you’d have told me 8 years ago I’d be writing this post, I would have probably called for the men in the white jackets to come and haul me away to the rubber room.

    Back then, my only exposure to anything even remotely “personally development-y” was that I used to work for a large company back in the early ‘80’s and every few months, they would bring in a motivational speaker.

    Admittedly, by the time I’d finished listening, I would be pumped to the max and almost bouncing off the walls…

    Sadly the effects often wore off… not saying I didn’t appreciate the opportunity to have participated, and I’m not saying that I ‘forgot’ the message.

    It’s just that personal development is an ongoing ‘practice’….which means we never actually get it all licked once and for all.

    Rather we continue to “practice” personal development for life. Hence we will continue to improve, grow and transform while developing many areas of life for the better, such as health, happiness, productivity, attitude, relationships, etc… just to scratch the surface!

    When you are committed and see the value in personal development / self growth you realize the importance and necessity of the required daily dose.

    Again, it’s all about ‘practice’ ….

    Losing sight of the benefits and values of personal development/improvement leaves the mind wide open to bad habits from the past when we should be continually moving forward and creating our future.

    I’m so grateful that we live in a time where it is so widely recognized. It’s awesome that we funny little humans are ‘ok’ with admitting we all have room for improvement and that we are less than perfect and can always use some re-shaping.

    Its also great that so many of us know we can take control and improve and be the best we can be!!

    At the end of the day I feel it makes for a better and more aware society which equates to a happier, accepting and race of humans!

    What does personal development mean to you? Please add to the list by commenting below and feel free to spread the word through sharing this as you see fit.

  • { 30 comments… read them below or add one }

    Angela Kelly March 15, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Hello Jayne,

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the read. I certainly agree that personal development can be personal. It really is what that person is ready and willing to take into their Life and consciousness.

    And yes! I agree too, personal development is a daily habit. It can be very easy and comfortable to revert back to old habits. My favorite saying on that is: “Feeding your mind with good positive material is like bathing…you have to do it everyday for it to work. ~Zig Ziglar” : )


    Paul Blackburn March 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Personal development can help you clarify personal goals and create pathways to move towards these goals with a spirit of enthusiasm and determination.


    Yorinda November 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Jayne,

    very interesting article and suggestions.

    For me personal development is the most important thing we can do.
    As we become more aligned with who we truly are, we are more able to truly give to others and humanity.
    Before we can ‘clean up the world’ we need to sweep our own backyard first.

    Thank you for your inspiring post.
    Love and Light


    Alan Cheng October 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    For me personal development is about reaching ones potential and not letting it go to waste.

    It’s also acts as a reminder of what we should do and think in times when we’re depressed and everything’s not going right.

    Thanks Jayne.


    Tisha October 23, 2011 at 8:20 am

    As long as we are human we will always need some kind of personal development. During the course of our life we develop personality flaws, some of us acknowledge that we have them. Then we correct them and develop news ones along the way. The is why personal development will always be apart of our lives.


    Radu October 21, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Hi Jayne,
    There will always be room for personal development in our lives because we are beings created for evolution. Thus we always will have problems, challenges and improvements to make.
    In my opinion personal development starts with being totally responsible for your life.
    Ok, if my life is a mess, I’m creating it so I can do it better.
    It’s not a magic bullet but it definitely helps you to leverage the fantastic potential you have within.
    It’s all about taking action in every area of life, step by step and adjusting it until you achieve the desired result.

    Since we all are different the process is different for everybody :)

    Thanks for sharing your post with us. I appreciate it.


    Jayne Kopp October 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Radu, you said it, personal development really does mean taking responsibility… or at least as a student, it means we have!

    I also agree that we need to be open minded as far as making adjustments… and that part is where most people have difficulty.

    Being creatures of habit, it can be particularly difficult to get our heads around ‘change’ especially if it means ‘changing US’ :-)

    Lovely to see you as usual.

    Thanks for adding to this conversation!



    Maja October 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Personal development is complete science that is related to character building.It is often said that the main aim of education is to built character.It is wise saying
    Education is not information but formation.
    Formation enters in life when one have positive way of thinking.
    Personal development progress at exponential rate when one cure its past mistakes.


    Jayne Kopp October 22, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Maja, wonderful way of sharing your thoughts! I loved the ‘formation’ explanation! :-)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!



    Peter Fuller MBA October 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Hey Jayne

    For me personal development is about becoming a better person.

    We can all improve ourselves we just need to start by recognizing that we can.



    Jayne Kopp October 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

    HI Peter, I agree we all have room for improvement … in many different ways as you may have picked up from my ramblings.

    The first step is recognizing it and being big enough to admit it in the first place.

    Thanks for stopping by!



    Jayne Kopp October 19, 2011 at 9:12 am

    HI Peter, I agree we all have room for improvement … in many different ways as you may have picked up from my ramblings.

    The first step is recognizing it and being big enough to admit it in the first place.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Marcus Baker October 17, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Hi Jayne,

    So here I am writing the comment I thought I had written…. no could have sworn I had written…. Maybe I did it in my dreams??

    So thank you for the mention here. I remember the email exchange well and as you will know from a recent blog post that I wrote on the same topic, my view is unchanged. We need to stop being so concerned about what others think we need and just follow our hearts and the development will find us.

    I loved how you “warbled on” ( love a good warble) about what personal development means to you.

    As you will know from my similar type post…. for me it is all about connection with who we are and the development is getting us closer and close to that mark. It never ends…it’s an ongoing journey and one I love very dearly.

    Thank you for inviting me to have my say here too Jayne! :)



    Jayne Kopp October 19, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Hello Marcus, thanks for coming back to leave the comment in person that you thought you left in your dreams! :-)

    It’s funny how developing personally has a way of making you fall in love with improving.

    It’s a never ending journey but it also has never ending rewards and perhaps that is why we both enjoy it so much!



    Ted October 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    To me. personal development means improving your life on all levels or any level that you are interested in. It doesn’t necessarily refer to the spiritual side of things as some PD people focus on.

    I have been fascinated with it since I was a teenager twenty some years ago. I wish I had applied more of the principles to my life over that time frame. God knows I read enough books on the topic that I could easily write one.


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    HI Ted, so lovely to meet you.

    You are one hundred percent correct! It really does all boil down to the ‘part’ of personal development that you are interested in.

    sure there are spiritual sides of it as well, but to me it means a variety of things (as you noticed in my ramblings) and it is absolutely PERSONAL.

    I too have read dozens of personal development books and sometimes I don’t resonate with all parts of them … more often than not however, there’s usually one of two things that I come away with.

    Perhaps you should write one!? We all have something to share with someone as you likely already know!

    Lovely to meet you Ted – I look forward to getting to know you and checking out your blog.




    Melody | Deliberate Receiving October 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Hiya Jane,

    For me, personal development is all about realizing our potential, whatever that means for each individual person.
    When you go to a seminar and get all pumped up, it’s because the speaker has given you a glimpse of what you’re capable of. He’s brought you (albeit briefly) to a higher vibration. But if there’s no integration afterwards, if no actual changes or shift were made, that’s all that happened. And when you get back home, you fall right back into your old vibration. Only now, you can either use that glimpse as a sign post to return to or you can beat up on yourself for not being able to hold onto it. What do we have to do to feel that way again? That’s right. Drugs. Just kidding. Personal development. :)



    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Melody my dearly missed friend! I see you are back in Spain are you? How was your visit to the US?

    Listening to speakers is a great way to see what you are capable of.

    these days instead of falling back into old vibes, I do my best to get my daily dose of personal development. It doesn’t even matter if I am making breakfast for the kids, I always have my laptop near by or my iPhone with a podcast blasting something positive.

    I avoid old vibes like the plague. We are inundated with negativity around every corner if we allow ourselves to be exposed, so I find keeping the balance boils down to what I allow ‘in’ these days.

    I suppose a quick fix might be drugs! HAHA… wouldn’t know to be honest. I kinds enjoy my routine the way it is! Thanks for the suggestion though! (kidding)



    Joanne Cipressi October 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Great post. It was nice to read your view of personal development. I do agree that it makes us better people for ourselves and those around us. To me, personal development is simply being the best you that you can be in any given moment (even though this is not always simple to do). If we are all the best that we can be, the world would be a more peaceful place as we would all be more content with ourselves. There so many tools, avenues and opportunities for personal development that make it such an exciting experience.


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Hello Joanne, lovely to meet you. Sorry for being SO behind in my replies – I know you left your comment days ago. I have been upto my armpits in new projects… unfortunately something had to give.

    I agree that personal development is such a broad topic… as you could tell by my ‘ramblings’…. I could have gone on for longer but thought I’d shelter everyone from that! :-)

    What makes it so exciting though is the choice and the way it resonates with each of us differently.

    I love working online because personal development is so well accepted, albeit in so many different ways. At least online few of us thinks the other is crackers!

    great to meet you. I look forward to checking you out.




    Adrienne October 11, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Hi Jayne,

    I openly admit that when I first hear the term “personal development” I instantly thought “out there”. First reaction not knowing a thing about what it was or what it meant. I seriously did not have a clue.

    I really wasn’t introduced to it until the very end of 2006. The more I heard, the more I understood. I was also that person who has always been very happy and positive so I didn’t think that was something I needed to look into. But then again, the more I heard the more I knew I still had a LOT of room to grow as a person.

    I believe that if every single person were to sit down and seriously evaluate their lives and where they are in their minds and their hearts, they will all agree there is room for improvement. Whether they do anything about it is another matter but I bet everyone would agree.

    All I can say is that I’m so glad I opened my mind to the possibility that I still had a lot of growing to do and boy have I done a lot of that over the last four years. I can see why people like yourself would want to dive into this arena. I know that some people are able to teach this so that we can easily understand the entire process. I have no doubt you are one of them just from your posts.

    Great explanation of what personal development is Jayne and I’ll be sure to pass this message along to my friends and followers. Great job with this my friend.



    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Hello Adrienne, wonderful to see you lovely smile today. Sorry once again I am a bit behind. Going through some ‘growth spurts’ and unfortunately my poor little blog has had it’s nose pushed out.

    I think that many of us start out by not realizing we need to grow but I feel if we are open to change, sooner or later we do realize we need some aspect of personal development. Even if we don’t call it that.

    some call it ‘changing’… but it can mean the same thing as naturally all of us want to improve for the better.

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I do feel over the course of the last few years I have learned enough to share with hundreds of people from the things I’ve had to endure. Thankfully I look at them as an opportunity for improvement!!

    Thanks so much for adding to this conversation and for sharing! I appreciate you.



    Clommot October 11, 2011 at 4:30 am

    I read and read your page till i pass three times Kopp, then i got your idea “Personal development is to keep on growing.” by the way I like the quote from Thomas Edison “Success Is personal so take it personally.”


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Clommot, thanks for coming over and adding to the convo. I am glad you read it three times. There are a lot of thoughts I had you consider! :-)

    I love the quote you shared. Thanks so much. It’s similar to saying “personal development is PERSONAL ” ;-)

    Please come again!



    karen October 11, 2011 at 12:20 am

    This is really a great and useful article thanks a lot for sharing it!


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm



    Fred Tracy October 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Great article Jane!

    Personal development is definitely an ongoing practice, as you mentioned. We’re never quite “done” with it. You have to keep doing it to keep growing. The few that actually end up choosing personal development as a lifestyle often become great. Those little bonuses and tweaks add up over time for sure.

    I had a professor once who is like a motivational speaker. His class left me feeling super energized and incredibly good. I kind of want to start attending conferences just to get that little boost again. It was definitely fun.

    Take care. :-)


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Hello Fred, as long as we continue to grow, we are going to need personal development of one sort or another.

    I think attending conferences is a great way to stay motivated and inspired. I listen to something every day either on my laptop or interviews and seminars on my iPhone. Even if I am getting the kids ready for school, I choose to listen to something inspiring… even if I have heard it before. Its a great way to start the day.


    Kristal Jhonna October 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Personal development is the study and practice of improving aspects of one’s life, including one’s career, education, relationships and health.


    Jayne Kopp October 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Krystal, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes that is a great way of saying what personal development means… although there are so many aspects and it means something(s) different to each individual. As I said… it’s ‘personal’ :-)

    Thanks for stopping by.



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