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Personal development

What is personal development?

Personal development is a term that refers to activities that are involved in the improvement of self-knowledge and identity. It also enables people to develop talents and potential, build human capital and employability and enhance quality of life. Additionally, partaking in personal development can boost your chances of realising dreams and aspirations. (Cambridge Dictionary, no date)

It is a lifelong process - early life development and early formative experiences at school, within the family, etc. can help to shape us as adults, but personal development should not stop there; it should carry on throughout one’s life.


A pyramid representing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Starting from the bottom: Physiological, safety, love/belonging,
esteem, self-actualization

Image source:

Verywell Mind (2021)

There are many ideas surrounding personal development, one of which is Abraham Maslow’s process of self-actualisation.

Maslow suggests that all individuals have an in-built need for personal development which occurs through a process called self-actualisation (SkillsYouNeed, no date).

When one level of need in the hierarchy is satisfied, it becomes possible for the next one up to be developed.

The hierarchy is as follows (from bottom to top):

  • Psychological needs
    The basic needs for survival (food, water, oxygen, shelter, etc.)

  • Safety and security needs
    Feeling safe from potentially dangerous physical and psychological situations. Also includes economic security (e.g. work, money, etc.)

  • Love and belonging
    Feeling part of a group (family, friends, work). Giving and receiving trust, affection and love.

  • Esteem needs
    Feeling competent. Having the respect of others.

  • Cognitive needs
    The desire to know and understand. The need for meaning and predictability.

  • Aesthetic needs
    The need for beauty and order; creativity, design and art.

  • Self-actualisation
    Reaching your full potential. Becoming everything one is capable of becoming.

(SkillsYouNeed, no date).


SkillsYouNeed, no date. What is Personal Development? [online] Available at: