Personal development and personality transformation: making the best of a bad situation

Life is very similar to the seasons of a year, changing and evolving into totally different phases. Many believe that personal development and personality transformation in life is unpredictable or even impossible. Yet, if you look closely, you’ll find a great deal of predictability as you travel along. We see how our decisions affect the way our lives play out. We can also predict the outcome of our future actions, which lead to personal development in the long term.

There are three universal time zones to life: the past, present, and the future. Each zone is different from the others. While we can do little or nothing about the past, we can decide to take charge of our present life, and thus lay the foundations for a solid and fulfilling future and take charge of our personality transformation.

Self-improvement is a conscious and deliberate decision to make yourself better in every area of life. In living your best present life, two key things must be at the forefront.

  1. Personal development
  2. Personality transformation

Meaning of Personal Development

At the very core of a life-long journey of self-improvement is personal development. Along life’s journey, each traveler has a different destination, and each chooses a different route to get there. Yet there is one thing most travelers have in common: a great deal of time and a significant portion of our lives are spent setting personal growth and development goals, meeting them, and transforming through life by the wisdom we glean along the way.

One thing is commonly found in great achievers: they place a very high premium on constant personal growth and continual development. Even though they are at the zenith of their careers, they consistently give time to deliberately advance themselves. They live life out of their comfort zone and seek to unleash all of their innate potentials.

Personal Development and Personality Transformation

What is personal development?

What does personal development mean? It is a continuum of endless possibilities. Personal development involves actively learning, and improving your responses, behavior, actions, and habits. This demands operating outside your comfort zone and doing thing things that may feel uncomfortable but will shape you into a better person. Personal development helps you define your life goals and upgrade your skills to fulfill your potentials.

This process starts very early in life and changes can be spotted in the developing person through childhood and adolescence. Most of these changes are influenced by caregivers, (parents and teachers), and the environment. Despite this, personal development is most effective when you are actively aware of the process and take conscious steps to become better.

A fundamental part of personal development is self-discovery. This continual process of introspection helps you define who you are: your potentials and reason for being. Self-discovery begins at the point of self-awareness and then sieves through personal interests, broadening into the hopes and plans you have for your future.

As you journey through life, you find out more and more that many things are happening around you that are out of your control: other people’s mindsets and choices, the past, and many more; are often more than you can handle. Self-mastery gives you the ability to control the one thing that is within your power at every point: yourself. Self-mastery involves being able to focus on yourself, recognizing and understanding your thoughts and emotions in every situation, and controlling and using to the best advantage, your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental self. As this continues in the developing person through the lifespan, a better perception of his/her self-image is formed.

Your self-image is the perception, or picture you have of yourself. It depicts the thoughts you have about yourself, how you view your strengths, weaknesses, and innate characteristics: smart, sloppy, talented, ugly, beautiful, and so on. Building a positive self-image is important because it helps you to embrace your potentials while improving on, your limitations.

Personal Transformation

What is personal transformation?

Personal transformation (life transformation or personal change) is a shift from where you presently are to where you become a better you, living to your full potentials.

Types of personal change

Personal change can either be external or internal.

  • External physical change

Personal change is said to be external when there is a transformation in the physical (or material) aspect of a person’s life. For example, completing a fitness program to attain your ideal weight, or saving up enough money for a new house or car are both visible to everyone around.

  • Internal physical change

An internal personal change is immaterial, and usually intangible. It occurs mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Acquiring a new skill or letting go of a toxic past. Even if people do not see it, you can confidently and truthfully say, ‘I feel like a completely different person.’

More often than not, you feel that your best life is somewhere out there. If only you could change this or that about yourself, you will attain unspeakable joy. There are scores of things each of us will like to change about ourselves because we feel that they will make us better.

To make more money, relate better with people, lose weight, become less engrossed with work, and spend more time with family and friends.

Examples of Personal Transformation

Personal or life transformation can be in any area of your life. Examples of transformation in life are not limited to your weight loss journey You could decide to upgrade your skillset for higher pay, better working conditions, or a different career. It could be a health transformation in form of a healthier diet, consistent exercise, or improved personal hygiene. It could be a spiritual transformation, where you become spiritually awakened and serious with your faith.

What are the aspects of personal development?

Personal development covers every area of your life. It includes:

  • Career
  • Finance
  • Spiritual
  • Social/relationships
  • Health/fitness

Irrespective of the area of our life you want to transform, two things are required:

  1. A strong decision to change
  2. Foresight of what/ where your transformation will result.

The Importance of Personal Development

Why is personal development important? Can’t we just live our lives without the stress of becoming better?

Many people have the wrong notion that personal development is for those who are yet to be successful and need to focus in their goals. This is not the case. Successful people are constantly improving themselves. Personal development is not triggered by success level. It is essential for brain function.

Any person can set goals for personal growth and development, and there are many areas for goal setting. If people want to be better in their spiritual lives, they set goals to help them ascend spiritually. If people want to get their ideal bodies, they set weight loss goals. The list goes on. But then, what are the common development goals of a person? This depends on the area of life you want to improve (mental, social, spiritual, emotional, physical). Here are some personal development ideas:

  1. Become better at time management
  2. Form a reading habit
  3. Listen deeply and actively
  4. Cultivate a growth mindset
  5. Become emotionally intelligent

How do I go about personal development?

Although the goal is to becomes better version of yourself, your self transformation techniques will be different from those of the next person. These steps are general to everyone on a personal development journey.

  • Prioritize your personal development
  • Get smart with your goal-setting.
  • Make a plan that suits you as an individual
  • Travel at your pace
  • Do not stop when you fail. Learn and move on
  • Keep a winner’s mindset
  • Celebrate each achievement


Personal Development Plan (PDP)

You may be wondering, ‘what is a personal development plan.’

In the simplest terms, a personal development plan (or an individual development plan) is an extremely important tool that is written with the aim to progress in various aspects of your life. It often doubles as your action plan to achieve your life goals.

A personal development plan safeguards your entire learning process from crumbling. Therefore it must be developed meticulously.

Here are five crucial concepts of a personal development plan:

  • Set goals
  • Remember you’re an individual. Tailor your goals for you.
  • Let your goals reach every part of your life
  • Prioritize your goals
  • Be time-conscious
  • Set realistic goal timelines
  • Identify hindrances and helpers
  • Be conscious of those things that will stop you from achieving your goals, and nip them as early as possible
  • Identify things that will propel you toward your goals and embrace them.
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Find at least one person who would hold you accountable and ensure that you keep pushing till you reach your goals.
  • Measure and celebrate your progress
  • Have proper matrices for measuring your progression.
  • Celebrate every win. It will encourage you to do more.

Helpful Resources for personal transformation

  1. Personal development journal

Writing is a great way to interact with your inner self as well as with all that is going on in your life. Keeping a personal development journal is a sure way to achieve your goals. This journal will contain your goals and action plans and can be used to track your progress. A personal development journal can be your source of motivation.

  1. Books on personal transformation

Reading about a subject doesn’t just leave you well-versed. It enlightens you, brews motivation and gives you ideas and direction to change that really leads to personal transformation. Here’s a list of our top ten personal transformation books (in no particular order)

  1. Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)
  2. The four agreements (D. M. Ruiz)
  • Deep work (Cal Newport)
  1. The drama-free way(Jennifer Kern Collins)
  2. Notes to myself (High Pranter)
  3. The untethered soul (M. A. Singer)
  • The gifts of imperfection (Brene Brown)
  • The relationship cure (John M. Gottman)
  1. Self-compassion (Kristen Neff)
  2. The happiness track (Emma Seppala)
  3. Personal development coach

Sometimes they are called life coaches. Getting a coach will help you move faster. A coach will walk through your goals with you, giving more clarity to the process and ensuring you are realistic in your pursuits. Your  personal development coach will also hold you accountable and keep you in check till your goals are reached.

Interpersonal Skills

I’m sure you know someone from school or work who is smooth and likable in his/her interactions. You find something about him/her very attractive and you wish to relate more with them. What they possess are great interpersonal skills.

First of all, what are interpersonal skills? What is this secret that makes that colleague so amiable?

Interpersonal skills: meaning

These are inherent tools and skills that enhance expression and communication. When you regard someone as being “good with people”, what you mean is that they have good interpersonal skills.

These skills can be learned, cultivated, and improved; and are required to communicate effectively with individuals and groups.

Interpersonal skills: examples

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Communication skills
  • Relationship management
  1. Problem-solving skills (critical thinking)
  2. Stress management (especially under pressure)
  3. Time consciousness and management
  • Effective non-verbal communication (body language)
  • Team playing skills
  1. Receptivity/openness to feedback
  2. Positive attitude

Personality and behavioral patterns

Personality is what distinguishes a person from another. It refers to the traits and patterns that make people think, feel, or behave in certain ways. It is the mark of individuality in each person. Each one of us has enduring behavioral patterns and manners of interactions with the world around us. Usually, personalities are long-term and are not easily changed.

The word personality springs from ‘persona‘. It refers to the mask worn by performers to either conceal their identity or to represent the different personalities of a character. Our personality tends to shape our exercise habits, attitude towards socialization, response to stress, and a lot about us.

Theories of personality

Personality is a major subject of study among psychologists. Although there are numerous theories of personality, most of these theories can be placed into one of four major viewpoints (or perspectives). These perspectives describe patterns in personalities as well as their formation and how they make unique individuals.

  1. The psychoanalytic perspective

This perspective was pioneered by Sigmund Freud and concentrates on the importance of experiences from childhood, and the unconscious. It posits that the unconscious influences the human personality.

  1. The trait perspective

This school identifies and measures the different traits that form the human personality. Colleagues Robert McCrae and Paul Costa suggested the Big Five Theory, which identifies five fundamental dimensions of personality.

  1. The social-cognitive perspective

This perspective focuses on the importance of cognitive processes, observational learning, and self-efficacy.

  1. The humanistic perspective

This perspective concentrates on the good in human behavior and focuses on empathy.


The Trait Theory of Personality

This theory approaches personality with a focus on individual differences. Trait theorists tend to believe that each individual is unique from the next because of the various ways in which their characteristic traits combine and interact in forming their personalities.

Over decades trait theorists have tried to delineate the exact number of existing personality traits. Gordon Allport had an elongated list of 4,000, Raymond Cattell had 16 and Hans Eysenck came up with the three-factor theory.

With time, Cattell’s theory was considered too complex and Eysenck’s too restrictive. As a result, another theory was postulated. The five-factor theory uses five essential (or central) traits as the core for describing personality.

What five central traits can be used to define personality?

These traits can also be called the big-five dimensions of personality

What are the 5 dimensions?

  • Openness

Openness covers areas of imagination and insight. Creativity, love of adventure, curiosity, and a broad range of interests are found in people who are high in openness. People with low openness are more comfortable in the familiar. They dislike and can resist change.

  • Conscientiousness

This trait features thoughtfulness, drive, and impulse control. People high in conscientiousness are very organized and detailed. They are great planners, have great problem-solving skills, and are very time-conscious. Procrastination, tardiness, and carelessness tend to characterize people low in conscientiousness.

  • Extraversion

This expressive trait is characterized by lots of excitement, talkativeness, bubbly social skills, and assertiveness. People with high extraversion draw strength from being around people. They are outgoing and always excited. People who are introverted (or low in extraversion) tend to love their solitude. They are refueled just by being by themselves. A person who is uncomfortable with small talk, dislikes attention, and has a consistent tendency to be shy is described as introverted.

  • Agreeableness

This trait projects attributes such as kindness, affection, cooperation, and altruism. When given an agreeableness test, it is seen that people high in agreeableness are more compassionate, have great interpersonal skills, and are cooperative. Those with low agreeableness tend to be competitive and, sometimes, manipulative.

  • Neuroticism

Neuroticism is a trait marked by emotional instability and unpleasant emotions. Mood swings, irritability, sadness, and anger a seen in individuals who are high in neuroticism. People with low neuroticism are usually emotionally stable, rarely stressed or depressed, and resilient.


Factors that Influence Personality

What is your persona? What is my persona? Even for twins, their personalities would not be entirely identical.

A person’s personality is generally influenced by two major factors. They can be said to be external and internal, or alterable and unalterable. While one factor can be modified, the other is unchangeable.

What two general factors combine to influence your personality?

  • Nature

This refers to your heredity ( all you inherited from your parents)

  • Nurture

This refers to the external surrounding influences you had from childhood (culture, religion, household style, social relationships, and so on.)

Throughout life, these two factors fuel the expression of your personality traits.

Personality Development

Because personality is not entirely genetic, we know that we can refine and develop our personality in ways that were previously thought impossible.

How to develop your personality

People in the past did not believe that it was possible to transform your personality. In the late 1800s, William James’ ‘The Principles of Psychology’ was published. He wrote that personality was formed from childhood and by early adulthood, it was set, having no possibility of modification.

With time, it has become clear that personality is alterable. You can transition into who you want to be. Here are some tips on how to transform your personality.

Personality Development Tips

  1. Become aware of yourself

Once again, self-awareness is your first step. Before you develop or improve anything, you need to get to know it. Substantial knowledge of yourself is important. Sincerely analyze yourself. Know yourself (strengths and weaknesses alike.)

  1. Keep on the bright side of life

A positive outlook makes an attractive personality. Always stay on the bright side of life. There’s always some good in people and situations. Find it. This will lift a lot of burdens off your shoulders.

  1. Be outgoing and receptive of other people

One of the fastest ways to expand your horizon and gain more exposure is meeting people from different cultures, and with different lifestyles. It is a healthy way to develop personality.

  1. Read more

Reading broadens your mind and, the more interests you have, the more interesting life becomes for you. You have more to share and a not boring to yourself and the people you meet.

  1. Listen more

Listening is a trait that makes you amiable, more approachable, and friendly. When conversing with someone or in a group, do not be too hasty to chip in your opinion. Instead, listen with great interest, maintain eye contact, not to show that you are following, and stay off your phone or any other distraction. Listening attentively will help you know and understand people better, and help you build stronger relationships.

  1. Loosen up (a lot)

Being light and humorous every once in a while makes you a charming personality. Sobriety and seriousness should not be your constant adornment. They have their place, but sometimes, a little laughter can ease the tension in situations and help you reach the heart of others.

P.S: Laughter is good medicine.

  1. Practice courtesy

Courtesy never gets old, and it never goes unappreciated. If you are humble, supportive, and helpful, you will strike others as a pleasant person. Courtesy boots your confidence anywhere, any day.

  1. Work on your non-verbal communication

In developing your personality, the style of your non-verbal communication (body language) is as important as your verbal communication. Every action, from sitting to walking, talking, gestures, and even eating, comes together to define your style and personality. So have a pleasant and admirable body language.

  1. Dress well

Although clothing is external, it is a defining factor for your personality. When you are neat and presentable, your confidence is amplified. Wear comfy clothes that suit your stature and the surrounding. You can find out how to develop personal style from a local designer or a friend with a good eye for fashion. But don’t try to overdo it.

  1. Stay true to yourself

It’s okay to draw inspiration from others but it is not okay to copy them. In your endeavors to become a better you, hold fast to your individuality. Your skillset is unique to you, and so are your flaws. Copying others will only lead to a tragic end. Embrace your authenticity and stand out, always.

  1. Be confident

Confidence is the glue that holds it all together. It puts sense into all the efforts you’ve made. If you do not doubt yourself, others will not doubt you too. A healthy self-esteem is attractive and winsome. With a beautiful interior and a confident exterior, you are good to go.


Life, and all its roller-coaster rides, can be quite a challenge. When you look at where you have been and think of where you want to get to, moving on may feel impossible. Yet, the least you can do is give your best. Figuring out how to develop personality and spending your time to improve yourself is a precious gift you alone can give yourself. It is worth every single moment.

So go all out. Using all you’ve gleaned here, set out on that rewarding journey of living your best present life. Work each day to become better. Reach for more. Do not give up when the road appears wearisome. Give yourself the best. Your future self will thank you for it.