What Exactly Do We Mean By Self-Development?

When I went to look up what self-development was, I found a bunch of dictionary descriptions but no real-person view. What exactly do we mean by self-development?

What is Self-Development?

Self-Development is the process you take to change what you are to what you aspire to be through introspection, habits, skills, coaching, education, and other methods. Areas you might try to develop include:

  • Purpose
  • Health
  • Achievement
  • Personal Relations
  • Inclusion
  • Education/skills
  • Home
  • Joy

Here is what I found, Self-development happens when you realize you are not living to your potential and work hard to get there. We seek change because it’s within us to evolve. Everyone at one point or another will attempt to develop in small spurs or fast. Let me describe the areas we seek to grow. 


Purpose drives us to search what we came here to do. It challenges us to find our calling to this life. When life is happy, purpose is a secondary thought. When we are unhappy, purpose helps us to go on to the next moment. It’s a survival mode that drives us forward. 

Unsplash image by Michael Heuser


Health improvement can be motivated by how we feel when others look at us. But it can take center stage when we don’t feel our best. Once again, this is an area that we seek to change when we need to impress. Or when we don’t feel right (like after the holidays). However, the warding of sickness should be our primary reason for making healthier choices.


Achievements make us feel great and reinforce our purpose. When we create goals and achieve them, it can drive more self-development. If we make goals and never meet them, we crash into failure. There are a few people who can motivate themselves after many failures. Most move on to try for another achievement.

Personal Relations

Family is one of those things that motivates us into self-development. We want to keep our legacy alive, that motivation forces us to seek relationships that last and are secure. 


I placed inclusion separately from personal relations. It’s still a need for connectedness. But not about legacy building more about self-preservation. We need human interaction because it helps lift our mood and makes us feel needed. When we feel like we belong, we are more satisfied with life.


Changing your circumstances almost always requires you to change your job or educational goals. Because of outgrowing an area of expertise or the opposite, no growth happens. We will either request to move up or leave for better offers. When no growth happens, most of us feel trapped. Entrapment causes fear and thus fight or flight. Looking for achievement in education or personal hobbies is a natural outlet for that fear.


Changing our environment is another need that we humans find ourselves in often. Either by choice or by some unforeseen circumstances. If by force, we switch to survival mode and stop most of our self-development to focus on that need.


I didn’t want to place joy at the top of my list because it’s not something most people seek to evolve or practice because they feel like circumstances can shift that joy. They think that if they change those circumstances, then that joy will arrive and become permanent. But I want to include this in this list because it’s something you should seek to develop with no attachment to other things or people.

Our Needs Motivate Us

A cornerstone of psychology is Maslows’ Hierarchy of Human Needs, a representation on the order of our needs well known but not at all what humans do. (Image below from Hubpages Education)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Humans jump from one need to another in no particular order depending on circumstances. For example, if we meet the requirement for food, the next need for self-actualization might arise in some individuals. While in others, it might be self-acceptance. Some essentials that spur on self-improvement are not necessarily long-lasting. 

For example, if one of your self-development growth focus was a new job. You can find yourself in a unique position with hard work and perseverance. But let’s say you lose the sense of the joy of being there you might subconsciously do crappy in it and get fired. Nothing is permanent, not even self-actualization. Without keeping a healthy self-awareness, it can all go back to what it was.

The methods to get self-development going are many. It’s up to you to jump right in and focus on what bothers you the most. I mean seriously, you can jump right into any problems that make your life hell and work from there. Practice it and do it. Any small change you make to improve your current life situation is self-development. Here are a few methods to increase self-development.

Methods For Self-Development


The ability to look inward and understand your actions and reactions is powerful. It can help you focus on areas that are causing issues in self-growth. Introspection can be done by meditation or finding quiet moments to listen to your feelings and evaluate what they are telling you.


Habits are repetitions that, over time, can positively or negatively affect your life situation or self. Check out my 5 Steps That Improve Your Habits. Habits are rewiring your brain to either do something new and beneficial or to get rid of self-sabotaging behavior.


Formed through learning and repetitive work to master a task or job. Skills are generally associated with jobs, but every area of life has them. Moms or Dads acquire better parenting skills with time and repetition. And Toddlers can get better at talking with practice.


Pairing with an individual who portrays the qualities you desire to have is a great way to learn. It offers one on one that you can’t find in books or Ted-Talks.


Taking in any information regarding self-development through books, audios, courses, or seminars.


Self-development transforms every person for the better. Every new skill or piece of knowledge we gain is permanent, and even if you have set-backs, the set-back are always forward slightly more than before. 

No skill or new change can take effect without repetition. Never assume that doing something once or for a week will create permanent change. Change happens with self-awareness from one movement to the next. 

There are a few implementations you can use to make the changes you make take effect quicker (see my posts below to get started). But the need for change has to be from you and you alone. Any other way will create more delays.

Please check out my site and see more posts on methods to stay motivated or things that make self-development easier to achieve.

Check Out A Few Other Posts…

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A former nurse and life long self-help learner, I have a passion for teaching the fundamentals of life. I never stop learning, but most of all I never stop being okay with being taught. I am a mom, a wife, and an awakened soul. Welcome! You are never lost, you are just on a quest.

Lucia Stakkestad

A former nurse and life long self-help learner, I have a passion for teaching the fundamentals of life. I never stop learning, but most of all I never stop being okay with being taught. I am a mom, a wife, and an awakened soul. Welcome! You are never lost, you are just on a quest.

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