Summary – The 3 Elements of Personal Development

I’ve actually known someone who doesn’t believe in personal development. According to him, we should just live and enjoy our life as it is. I obviously don’t agree with him. If not, this blog will not even exist.

Personal development for me is one of the most important thing in life. If not, we might as well spend our days lying naked and crying all day long to be fed. However, I must admit that the word “personal development” itself is a heavy word. It is considered one of the many serious and difficult topics throughout literature.

Personal Development Is Actually Simple

The truth is, we are practising personal development almost every second of our life without even knowing it. Yes, it’s true. Take being thirsty for an example. We will immediately know that we need water. The whole process of recognizing the need of water, the walk to the fridge and the drinking is personal development. We are now no longer thirsty and that is the goal.

Just look around you. Everything you do will consist of the 3 elements of personal development. You identify what you want, you figure out how to get it and you go get it. Don’t you think the word “personal development” now feels a lot lighter a topic?

Just like a man lost in the jungle. He will be just fine if he has a destination in mind, a map to guide him and the will to walk. These are the 3 basic elements of personal development:

1) Goals – Know what you want to achieve.
2) Methodology – Know exactly how to achieve it.
3) Do it – The action without which everything else is just daydreaming.

Just memorize these 3 elements and nothing will be impossible to you. Listed below are the top 4 of my favorite techniques to help your personal development quest. Good luck!

1) Goals

  • Die next year – This is one of my favorite techniques when it comes to sorting out priorities. Just imagine that you will die next year. List down all the things you want to achieve. Now look over your list, and decide which items if achieved will make your life complete.
  • Other people’s success – Some will argue that this is a bad advice, but I truly think that other’s success in life can be a very good goal in our life. If you define success as having a million dollars, research your local millionaire and find out how exactly he succeeded.
  • 5 years plan – Just answer the following question as detailed as possible. What will you achieve in 5 years time? This is actually a cool tool since you will know whether you are on the right track towards your goals.
  • SMART Goals – SMART is an abbreviation of the key characteristics of a goal. A goal should always be:

    • “I want to be successful” – No
    • “I want to become a doctor” – Yes


    • “I want to be rich” – No
    • “I want to have a million dollars” – Yes


    • “I want to be forever young” – No
    • “I want to be healthy” – Yes


    • “I want to be a superman” – No
    • “I want to run a marathon” – Yes


    • “I want to save $10000” – No
    • “I want to save $10000 by the end of this year” – Yes

2) Methodology

  • Know your current status – Before you even start anything, you should really know where you are now in term of your goals. For example, if you want to run for marathon, you should check your current health first. You might not be healthy enough to pursue this goal.
  • Detail your steps – If you want to become a doctor, you must first enroll yourself in a medical school. It will be a step further from your goals if you enroll in an engineering school.
  • One habit at a time – This idea is made popular by a friend of mine, Leo Babauta of Just by sticking to one habit at a time, Leo had managed to quit smoking, ran for marathon, wrote a book, become a problogger etc. Truly inspirational.
  • Read – Unfortunately, there’s no other way to achieving your goals if not via knowledge. You will need to read a lot of books or personal development blogs to learn from the best. As a start, you can go through these 80 How-To Sites enlisted by Lifehack.

3) Do It

  • Motivation – Yes, my friend. This is where it need to start and usually where it will end. You will need motivation for you to do anything. You can read all the internet’s article on motivation but to tell you the truth, it really boils down to you. Find your own way to motivate yourself. That’s it.
  • X Mark – Create your own special calendar. It should be as big as possible. Everytime you miss working on your goals, mark the calendar with a big red X. Convince yourself that a big red X is something you don’t want to see on your beautiful calendar. Simple but it really works.
  • Report to a person – If you are a blogger, make the announcement in your blog. Tell your visitors what your next goal is. If you want to learn a new language, make a special post everyday about what you have learnt that day. When you feel obligated to report to someone, you will usually get the job done.
  • Carrot & Stick – This term is used to describe the process of rewarding and punishing yourself if you succeed or fail respectively. If you succeed, give yourself a mini rewards like buying a new camera. But if you fail your task, you should punish yourself like avoiding television for a week. It may sound harsh, but it will help you push through your quest.


These 3 elements are the basis of all personal development. As long as you incorporate this in your life, you will achieve anything you wish for. It’s just that easy.

– I Wonder –
Any other advices for a beginner in personal development?

————- Personal Note ————
There’s nothing wrong with waking up to a better you. It should be the only reason to wake up in the morning.

Photo Credit – Fdecomite

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This post has 18 comments.

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  1. 08 Feb 09 10:52 am

    if you have a goal and then you let people know about are putting that pressure of ‘getting it done’…so it keeps you moving forward…that is a good motivation technique.

    Personal development is an ongoing lesson..

    great post!:)

  2. 08 Feb 09 11:02 am

    I use mandalas as ways to think about a goal and its challenges and to create a path which i can access when stressed. subconsciously it keeps me on track to. a photocopies and smaller version goes in my wallet for when i have trouble visualizing (b/c really stressed 🙂

  3. 08 Feb 09 3:25 pm

    owh..thats you keep it everywhere you go..good idea.

  4. 08 Feb 09 6:29 pm

    TipsGoda – I like this sentence “Personal development is an ongoing lesson”. Once we realized this, we will be able to cope with disappointment of not achieving our goal.

    Let say we want to be an expert in martial art, all the failure will serve as a reminder that there is a lot of work still need to be done. Hence, there’s no time to be disappointed.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Char – I never heard of mandalas before, so I googled them up. I must say that it is an interesting method to keep your focus. For those in the dark about mandalas, it is basically a drawing which pattern will enhance your concentration.

    Thank you Char.

  5. 09 Feb 09 10:04 am

    Liked the post and was wondering which part do you think Visualization might play into achieving your dreams and goals for a year?

  6. 09 Feb 09 6:54 pm

    Alpesh – Thank you Alpesh for the additional thoughts. Visualization is actually one of the best methods in all three. In goal formation, by visualizing exactly what your goals are will create that extra reality factor. Some people can call it daydreaming, but personally, daydreaming is only when you are not doing anything to achieve what you want.

    It also plays a major role as a motivator during the methodology and the action elements.

    I watched Discovery channel the other day and there is a documentary on how processing what we see can take up to 75% of our brain power, that itself shows how powerful visualization can be.

  7. 10 Feb 09 2:43 pm facts there..i guess the brain works really hard proccessing what we see…now i know that..

  8. K
    04 Mar 09 1:22 pm

    Thank you for your sharing.

    I’d always love to engage myself in personal development with specific goals, but just couldn’t keep it for long in most of the time. For example, I started writing a journal regularly reviewing my own life but didn’t continue. Well, I have thought of having a pal in the internet who can share all of my these thoughts and act as a companion. However, I can’t find any related websites.

    Pls share with me if you know any or any other alternatives. Thanks.

  9. banji
    13 Mar 09 7:09 am

    TipsGoda – If you are interested to watch the documentary, it’s on Discovery Channel entitled Human Body – Pushing The Limit (Sense).

    K – Currently there are quite a few very inspiring personal development blogs. A personal inspiration for me is ZenHabits. Just click on the link and you will be redirected to its forum. Just browse around, I think you will like it 🙂

  10. osman
    05 Jun 09 12:06 pm


    i am osman , really i am a new visitor of this wibsite and, and actualy i got interesting that’s why i did this comment

    in deed , i am not only new in this web, also i am new student of this subject personal devolopment, at ucti university in malesia

    can eny one help me, how i can i score agood marks in this subject’s assigment which is needed to bring recently

    thnx alot for eny volounteer of help

  11. 05 Jun 09 1:25 pm

    Osman~ your lecturer will let you know the theories and models that are used, as well as what is interesting about them

    the better you understand the material the easier it is to gain points (marks) in test scenarios

  12. 16 Jul 09 6:21 pm

    I think it is really important for people to start small, but to make a commitment to themselves to actually and honestly make the changes they need to. Most people change because the need to, not nessacarily out of choice.

    It is at this “decision point” and when we are truely honest with ourselves that we can truely let go, and move on. Being the change we want to see.

  13. 26 Jul 09 11:47 pm

    Osman – I guess Char had said it all. To get good marks in any assignment is never an easy job. To provide tips in a few paragraph is even harder.

    However, you can start by actually figuring out how to better understand the subject easier. For some, they might not be interested with the subject, for another, they may just lazy to do the revision.

    Once you have identified where you can improve, it will be clear how to do it 🙂

    All the best!

    Char – Thank you Char for helping out. 🙂

    PAW – To change just because we have to can have a very pessimistic effect to the overall personal development. Personally, I think that if people decide to change, the overall journey will become easier

  14. mel
    26 Aug 09 3:43 am

    Thanks you for this great post, highly motivating, thanks from a french “in dev” woman 🙂

  15. banji
    01 Sep 09 12:20 am

    Mel – Thank you mel for reading. Hope you can benefit from it 🙂

  16. Anonymous
    23 Nov 09 12:32 am

    great but missing something

  17. 19 Apr 10 5:17 am

    I like this. Very useful. You have made it very simple and is broken down very well.

    Thanks for sharing.

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