[Photo: Todd Quackenbush/Unsplash]

The 5 Key Steps to The Personal Development Process.

The Personal Development Process is a constant cycle designed to help you become a better version of you, in virtually every way every day.


Personal Development looms as this catchall phrase you’ll hear bantered about from teachers, counselors, and perhaps even from your parents. It can taunt many teens and young adults because the term “personal development” can appear as vague and elusive. But for the everyday teen and young adult, what is personal development? In essence, personal development is about reaching your full potential and achieving the utmost happiness and fulfillment to becoming a better version of you in virtually every way.

How? You might ask. The answer; through a process. More specifically, a Personal Development Process. A process, that involves a continuous cycle of awareness, acknowledgement, goal-setting, measurement, and results.

Your Secret Weapon

You might be able to wrap your head around your end goal, but the process of how you get there can seem hard to grasp or even understand.

You might watch your friends reach their goals and see them stay focused on their trajectory and it seems like they were given some step-by-step recipe for success.

Meanwhile, it seems, someone forgot to give you a copy but you nod and smile, trying not to attract too much attention as you fake your way through, hoping no one notices that you’re lost. Truth is, at times, we all get a little lost — and that’s okay.

What is this recipe for success? It’s the step-by-step personal development process. A constant life process which you can master if you understand some key and fundamental truths that apply to everyone.

Here we talk through the personal development process and how it can give you the roadmap to navigate your life and with this, a sense of direction and purpose.

That said let’s lift the hood, take a look at the engine, and walk you through how it all works.

The Engine Behind it All

As you can see, personal development is a process. An ongoing process that involves maturing and developing a sense of self-awareness that will help you to figure out who you are as a person, what your dreams and aspirations are, and ultimately what you are capable of. A process designed to help you become a better version of you in some small way every day.

The engine behind the Personal Development Process involves five key fundamental steps. Briefly, these are:

  1. Self-Awareness: Identifying areas where you need or want to improve upon personally
  2. Acknowledgement: recognizing where and what improvement is needed
  3. Goal-Setting: establishing clearly defined goals to know what it is that you’re aiming for and how to get there.
  4. Measurement: tracking and monitoring your development and progress as you action your plan and move towards your goals
  5. Results: Reviewing your results on a regular basis to ensure you’re moving in the right direction and making progress towards what it is that you’re aiming for while identifying other specific areas you need to improve or develop upon.

It’s a Long-Term Game

Committing to a life of personal development is a long-term game and with it, comes challenges. But, it’s part of the process. It’s there to help you grow and develop into the better version of you, you want to be.

Whoever it is you want to become, wherever it is you want to go, or whatever it is you want to do, know, it will take time and persistence to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience for self-development.

If, however, you are committed and have the persistence to stay on the path and keep to your personal development plan, the rewards will be invaluable.

Long-term, it’s a process that involves coming up with goals and pursuits based on your own individual abilities, skills, talents, potential, personality, character, and what’s important to you.

A process that enables you to have better control over certain aspects of your life, whether it be personal, social, mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical.

A process that enables you to take control of the future ahead of you by helping you to become more proactive rather than reactive about the events that occur in your life.

A process that can help you establish your independence, build great relationships, define who you are and what you’re about, set goals, and find balance, happiness, and fulfillment in your life.

At its heart, long-term, the personal development process enables you to assesses your talents, skills and dreams to get you kind of life that makes you happy and successful — whatever that might mean to you.

Are You Ready for Success?

Whether you’re a teen or a young adult trying to understand personal development for the first time, or you’ve pursued it for some time already, learning how you can use it to enrich your life and the others around you in an invaluable skill to have. A skill many people will never learn or ever know about.

Some people won’t ever learn or figure out how to do this allowing life to deal whatever it wants, letting life become a game of chance.

Unfortunately, for many people, when they leave life to chance, they generally don’t luck into a life they love. Instead, they end up settling for mediocre and ‘somewhat satisfied’. But not you. If you’re the kind of person who wants more in your life then decide now to commit to a life of personal development.

If becoming the best version of you is something you’re committed to pursuing you’re in the right place. So enough pep talk. If you’re still here, you clearly want to make some positive changes in your life and I want to help you do just that. Below we’ll dive deeper into the five key fundamental areas of the personal development process that is critical to your success as a teen or young adult.

Awareness: The First Step Towards Continuous Growth

The first step of the personal development process is awareness, the ability to sense what’s going on. In the article Awareness provides the key to personal growth, published by Psychology Today, Andy Puddicombe states;

“Awareness is about addressing, approaching or accessing the broader, innate essence of mind”

This might sound trickier than it is, but really it’s quite simple. Awareness might start with a simple rational analysis of your life or it might start with an epiphany — a ‘light bulb’ or an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

While epiphanies are great, they aren’t something you can plan simply because they just happen. So waiting for inspiration to strike isn’t the best way to achieve awareness. Instead, run the exercise of self-evaluation and ask yourself, “what do I want to be, do, or have in my life?” Then, ask yourself “what areas of my life do I need to consciously improve on to help get me there?”

You might need to talk to a counselor or therapist. You might simply need to work through your thoughts on paper or through meditation. What’s key is that you take the time to thoughtfully consider where you are, what you’re doing, and what your long-term dreams are.

Acknowledgement: Recognizing Change is Needed

In order to develop fully, your journey needs to include more than simple thought. It’s one thing to say, “I’m not happy” it’s another to say “I’m not happy, something needs to change”.

To make things happen and start changing in positive ways, you have to take the next step that asks, “why am I not happy?” From that question, with absolute honesty and self-awareness, you should be able to come up with a list of reasons why you’re not happy which should give you reason to change things in a positive way.

Of course, happiness is a very large, overall feeling that’s hard to break down. Let’s say that your first step of awareness led you to the conclusion that your grades needed to be higher. Your next step would be putting in the necessary time and effort towards improving those grades.

Or, you might feel upset that you can’t afford to go to the movies or lunch with your friends. Acknowledging these pain points are powerful motivators you can use to recognize change is needed.

As with any situation you find yourself in, acknowledgement is to look truthfully at the actions you’re taking and to seriously determine whether they are helping improve your situation or not.

Goal-Setting: Planning Your Path to Success

Setting personal goals is a crucial part of achievement. Think about your favorite celebrity. It might seem like they became famous overnight, that one day they were granted fame, fortune, and exceptional talent. But the truth is, for many of these successful people, it took them years to become an “overnight” success.

In most cases, there was a great deal of work involved before they achieved anything. There may have been years of mistakes and learning before they got to where they are now.

For many of those people, they had a goal — a vision well before they achieved success and fame. They likely had many goals that they reached before moving on to higher goals. That’s how successful personal development works. You set a goal which may take a lot of hard work and commitment, but one you can realistically achieve in a certain period of time.

Using the earlier example of wanting better grades. Your goal, for example, could be to improve your grades in the classes you find most difficult by one letter. To reach that goal, you devise a plan to study that subject for an extra amount of time each day or, get a tutor or friend to help you get there.

Measurement: Monitoring Your Progress

Setting your goal is a great first step, but it’s no good if you’re not keeping to it and checking in on a regular basis.

Bari Walsh, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recommends, in the article Regulating the Teenage Mind, planning and monitoring progress to help with periodically monitoring progress and behaviour in addition to keeping track on whether or not your plans are working.

The act of writing down what you want, or focusing on ways to reach your goal won’t get you there. It’s important that you put in the work needed to move you toward that final goal and along the way measure your results.

For example, if your goal was to improve your grades and you added 20 minutes of study time per day, you need to see if that action is enough. Have your grades gone up on tests? Are you understanding the lessons better?

If the answers to those questions aren’t positive, you need to add to your efforts to reach your goal. So, for example, with the 20 minutes of study time, you might add an extra tutoring session.

Results: Reaching Your Goals and Beyond

With the right combination of determination and work, you’ve reached your goal. Provided your goal was a realistic one and you measured your progress along the way, it’s pretty much inevitable you’ll reach it. Now, isn’t that worth celebrating?

People worry so much about failure but the truth is, as long as you’re setting actionable goals for yourself, forward movement is largely guaranteed. Just know that failure is part of the process.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or who you associate with failure and setbacks are bound to happen. With a personal development process in place however, (like the one here maybe?) you can be equipped to overcome most curve balls life throws your way.

Celebrate Success

Once you’ve reached your goal, take the time to celebrate your achievement. Whether that means a party to celebrate your graduation or a cupcake to reward yourself for an “A” for that assignment, acknowledge your own hard work then, set a new goal.

Life is about moving forward and it’s no fun when you don’t have something to look forward to in the future. Your real self-awareness comes when you realize that life is a journey. You should never stop learning and never stop reaching for a new dream because it’s those things that make life interesting.