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How to Master the Art of Personal Development

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.


In this article, we’ll address a few techniques to teach you how to master the art of personal development.

Self-improvement is a slow, iterative process.
Self-improvement is a slow, iterative process. | Source

Use the Wheel

If you need to know how to master the art of personal development, the first step is to realize that there are many areas you can work on. The best way to identify each area that can be targeted is to use the personal development wheel.

The personal development wheel has several spokes representing the categories that each person has to work on. The most common categories are health/well being, career/job, hobbies/creativity/fun, financial/money, relationships/family, knowledge/learning and personal development. Personal development can include reducing anxiety, improving self esteem, building communication skills, developing spirituality or tackling many areas that classically fall under “self help”.

In order to truly master personal development, you cannot simply focus on “personal development”. For example, perfecting personal emotional control is almost impossible if you are behind on your bills. A more mature spiritual outlook is a challenge to maintain if your marriage is falling apart or you routinely scream at your children. Building self esteem is difficult if you don’t maintain your physical health or stay in shape. You need to take steps in each of the categories in this life to truly develop personal mastery and improve your life.

Better and Better is Good Enough

There is no such thing as perfect. Your definition of perfect will change over time, and your definition will rarely match anyone else’s definition of perfect. In order to master the art of personal development, realize that simply aiming to be better and better is good enough. And shift from focus area to focus area so that you are better overall, instead of straining to be perfect in one particular area.

Before you strain to try to reach "perfection" in one particular area, work on another area of your life like health, career or relationships. Better and better in all areas yields more results than investing time with diminishing returns in the same area.

Not All At Once

When you are going back to finish a college degree or earn a professional certification, you don’t have as much time to invest in your partner or children. When you are working out to get back in shape, there is only so much you can do to simultaneously create quality time with the kids. Working overtime to increase pay will allow you to regain control in the near term as you catch up on bills and peace as you pay them down, but it gives you much less time for personal development and building on relationships.

Realize that you can work on all areas to varying degrees, but you can’t put all of your effort into all categories at the same time. Different areas of the wheel will dominate at different times. However, pouring all of your time and energy into personal development to the detriment of your family and finances is certainly contrary to a wholesome life and whole person. Don’t sacrifice your family time, friendships and finances to go on ever more expensive retreats and seminars – work on the other aspects of the wheel, too, to live a more complete life.

As more than one money guru admitted, you only have so much willpower, so either start the diet or start the budget on January first, but you’ll fail if you try to do both at once.

You’ll master the art of personal development when you target only one or two areas at a time. When that focus area has been improved, move on to other parts of the wheel.

It Isn’t All About You

When you are learning how to master the art of personal development, don’t forget that you are part of a network of relationships and community. One of the greatest failings of the self-help industry is the focus on self. Those who focus exclusively on personal development are prone to becoming self-centered.

Focusing on one particular spoke of the wheel creates imbalance in one’s life, and it centers people on that particular measure of success and accomplishment. In order to master the art of personal development, you need to take steps to avoid becoming self-centered.

One way to offset this trend is to take steps to make certain that it isn’t all about you. Give to charity anonymously. Participate in secret Santa. Take the kids to volunteer at a homeless shelter and talk to those who have less. Help a friend who is unemployed by mailing them an anonymous $100 grocery store gift card. Watch the children of someone who is desperately trying to balance kids and an erratic work schedule or otherwise unable to attend night classes. Include tasks in your to do list that are not just all about you.


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