7 Fundamental Truths about Personal Development

personal development

Before we can really lock into meaningful personal development and create the life we truly desire, there are a number of basic concepts that must be accepted. In personal development, as in any other field, there are fundamental truths that exist. If we want to experience optimal results, we need to understand and fully embrace those truths.

While the existence of these personal development truths may be generally accepted on an intellectual level, more than acknowledgment is required. This seems to be one of the major differences between people who make things happen in life, and those who can’t figure out why things are the way they are.

“I know” doesn’t get it done!

If you have ever raised a teenager, you are probably familiar with the phrase “I know.” That’s what you hear when they neglected to do something. Obviously, knowing wasn’t enough. When it comes to our own personal growth, could we be doing the same thing?

Many people who know the following 7 personal development truths are not getting the results they would like for this very reason. To get past that tendency, I invite you to use this list for some honest self-evaluation. As you look at each item, you may think to yourself: “I already know that.” In that case, stop and ask yourself: “Am I doing something with that knowledge?” In other words, are you really following through?

7 basics personal development truths

1) Always take personal responsibility for your life. We must recognize that our life is our personal responsibility. This is the foundation of all personal development. We can either accept conditions as they are, or accept the responsibility for changing them. Whatever we choose to do, we must acknowledge that we are the only person responsible for our decisions and actions. Taking personal responsibility is the catalyst of all personal development. Do you honestly believe that?

2) Make a commitment to taking massive action. Planning and deciding are very important steps, but without the right actions they have almost no value. Likewise, halfhearted or limited actions are not going to get things done. If you want to change your life experience, be willing to keep taking targeted actions in the direction of your goals. Life is full of hills and valleys. It can be pretty challenging to keep taking the actions needed when things get rough. But all personal development requires some form of action. Are you taking the actions necessary to create the life you want?

3) Get emotionally involved in your life. Be passionate about what you are doing and know why you are doing it. Wrap yourself around your dreams and desires. Get excited about transforming your dreams into reality. Take time to experience the positive energy that comes from a passionate pursuit of your desires. This is your life we are talking about, it’s not a movie. To experience life to the full you must stay engaged. Are you truly involved in your life?

4) Set and pursue worthwhile goals that you truly believe in. Always have something positive ahead of you. Something you can look forward to, work toward, and hope for. Turn your dreams into goals and your goals into projects. Life is a personal development journey and the goals you set determine the direction of that journey. Make your journey a worthwhile one by pursuing the goals, and doing the things, that you really believe in. Does your life include these meaningful pursuits?

5) Believe in yourself and have confidence in your success. Your feelings, attitudes and behavior all grow from your beliefs. If you believe that you can, you probably can. Belief builds confidence and confidence leads to action. Don’t impose limits on your own abilities by holding limiting beliefs and making negative predictions. Deep down, you know you can do whatever you set your mind on, so hold onto that belief. Do your actions show that you truly believe in yourself?

6) Maintain a clear mental picture of your intended results. Focus is the power plant of achievement. Take time to visualize your desired outcome daily, see it as real and focus on what you see. Your brain will accept your vision as reality if you continue to maintain your focus. Once that happens, your life will literally rearrange itself around that perceived reality. Your focus defines the course of your personal development. Be sure you are focusing in the direction you want your life to go. Are you?

7) Give yourself unconditional approval for all of the above. The need for approval is at the very core of everything we do. Approval from outside sources is encouraging, but it is absolutely vital that you approve of yourself. Do not make this contingent on your accomplishments. You need to approve of yourself as a person aside from your accomplishments. Allow yourself to give unconditional approval to “you” as a worthwhile and valuable person. Approval is at the heart of personal development an a healthy sense of self-esteem. Have you given yourself the approval you deserve?

note: Keep in mind that we are all a work in progress. That means that there will always be room for improvement. That is why they call it personal development, because it’s a process of continual improvement. The important thing is to do the best we can so that we keep our life moving in the right direction.

Is there more?

Of course there is, but these 7 fundamental personal development truths will serve you well on your journey through life. They are the foundation of a meaningful and productive life experience. Practice these and I guarantee that you will always be way ahead of the curve.

How did your self-examination go?
Do you have something to add to the list?
The lines are open!

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  1. ZuzannaM May 19, 2010 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,

    Wonderful post, that inspires to write a thank you note to you. The points are a fundamental in ones life. When striving to do the best, one need to have this particular attributes lay out to be successful in life.

    Thank you,

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Zuzanna, so glad you liked it. And yes, these points are fundamental to a life that continues to improve. Thank you!

  2. Steve May 19, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan, I am going through a business challenge this week, and your article came at a great time. Belief in myself (and others), holding a clear mental picture of the intended results, and unconditional approval of self and others are going to be my guiding principles for dealing with this challenge. Thanks for the tips :)

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve, I know that these are all things that you practice regularly. Still, I think we all benefit from reminders. It helps us to refocus, especially when we are making a push in some area of life.

  3. Stephen May 19, 2010 Reply

    Excellent thoughts Jonathan. I like your idea that the main difference between those who get results and those that don’t is because the former know and the latter do. I have to fight that tendency myself. Well done!

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Stephen, sometimes it’s important to “not do” also. I think you’ve got a pretty balanced view in this area. We can only do so much, so we choose where to invest our energy.

  4. Phil May 19, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan –

    This is just a top-notch post. I’ve echoed rule 1 here before, however rule 2 is so powerful – making that commitment to change to yourself. I think you have got a clear manifesto for personal change here. Great stuff.


    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Thanks Phil, I tried to boil it down to the basics. We can always add to it or elaborate, but these really are to fundamentals.

  5. Nea May 19, 2010 Reply

    I love #3 so much and I think that we often underestimate the importance of getting excited and passionate about what we’re doing. No matter how great the end result, it’s pretty damn hard to get there if you approach it with aloofness or dread.

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      So true Nea, if we can’t get excited about it, maybe we should consider a different course of action. Passion is where the power comes from.

  6. Parker Lee May 19, 2010 Reply

    Hey Jonathan,

    Great list of great truths, you’ve pretty much narrowed everything down to the nitty gritty with your list. The only thing I can add is that I enjoyed truth 7″) Give yourself unconditional approval for all of the above.”

    We are our own worst enemy, and I think this is something everyone can be reminded of all the time :)

    All the best,


    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Parker, sometimes we hold back on our approval of self and make it dependent on our success. That’s all backwards. We don’t want to make approval conditional.

  7. JM May 20, 2010 Reply

    Wonderful article, Jonathan. Our passions and inspirations are the main reason why we are motivated to do something. But in order to have an inspiration, it’s important to ask yourself: what are your underlying values? What are the experiences do you want to get out of something? Is it success, happiness, etc.? Identifying your underlying beliefs will help you find your source of inspiration to be able to move toward your goal.

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi JM and welcome to Advanced Life Skills. I agree 100%. The largest section in my book is dedicated to that exact subject. Glad to see we’re on the same page. Thanks for sharing your insight. Appreciated.

  8. Frank May 20, 2010 Reply

    Powerful stuff.
    When I learned to play any sport when I was a child, before any competitionon, any game, any test of skill, the coach made us practice the fundamentals. You have to master the basics first. Now I can use that same technique when it comes to personal development. #6 is my favorite.

    Your site is an excellent resource. Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  9. Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

    Hey Frank, with so many distractions and demands on our time, #6 can certainly be a challenge these days. It’s one of those areas where we need to keep checking so our vision doesn’t get obscured.

  10. rob white May 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    These principals are right on target. I especially love your one caveat; “I know.” I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me for coaching and sat with a blank stare thinking, “I already know that.” That is when we have to examine the individual stumbling block that is holding us back. All of your seven principals when taken seriously would guarantee success. Great stuff.

    • Jonathan May 20, 2010 Reply

      Hey Rob, welcome to Advanced Life Skills. I checked out your blog, really liked it. I especially like the little figures you use for illustrations. They add a nice “light” feeling. Glad we could connect.

  11. Julie May 24, 2010 Reply

    Jonathon, how you laid out these points is wonderful, concepts clearly stated and so encouragingly, too. I especially liked “knowing wasn’t enough.” “Understanding” is the next key ingredient, and we find it’s flavor through the steps you’ve outlined. Experiential learning leads to understanding, which is a whole new level above knowledge. Yet there’s more, and you’ve shown it here, without labeling it.

    Your explanations, with maybe the exception of #6, have a common thread: they each draw us into emotional connection with our desires With the addition of emotion, we wrap our dreams around us and live and breathe them. This elevates our longing to actually living—and it’s this “as if” that creates our ultimate reality. If, as you say, we maintain our focus. :)

    • Jonathan May 24, 2010 Reply

      Wow Julie, what a thought provoking comment. We seem to have a real wavelength connection going here. I love it when someone locks into the energy behind the words. You feel like someone whose primary teacher has been experience. And of course, that only happens for those who are actually paying attention along the way. Grateful for your awareness, thanks.

  12. Ryan Jenkins May 24, 2010 Reply

    Rock and roll Jonathan!!

    Action action action! I’m with you on the action part – thoughts and good intentions are worthless unless you put some action behind them.
    Well done!

    In your opinion, what are the top 3 personal development books?

    • Jonathan May 24, 2010 Reply

      Hey Ryan, welcome! There are some great books out there, that’s for sure. I cut my teeth on the fathers of personal development like Earl Nightingale and Jim Rohn. There have been so many over the years and each one speaks to us in a different way. When I was 18, Tony Robbins was only 9, so I’ve been around for awhile. I am pleased to say that my book gets some great feedback. Interestingly, even with a 60 day money back guarantee, no one has ever asked for a refund.

  13. Dan July 27, 2011 Reply

    I really like the one that says Get emotionally involved in your life. I think I might print out this page and post it somewhere where I can see it and use as a reminder to myself. I think getting emotionality involved and being passionate is really what life is all about. Humans have feeling. As a result , the ability to feel great about what we are doing throughout our days and life will make life worth living. I think one of the thing that is very essential is to give ourselves approval first. Approval is what we seek for in our life. Instead of waiting for others to grant us approval, why don’t we give it to ourselves.

  14. Denny January 5, 2012 Reply

    “Have you given yourself the approval you deserve?” No I don’t think I have :(, but now I will. Overall a great list, all the thing are so true. ~Denny

  15. Henri July 11, 2012 Reply


    Points 3 and 7 sound so true and relevant. I used to caught myself (I still do from time to time) looking for some kind of approval from my surroundings, be it family or friends to start doing the things I like.
    Validation, strangely as it may sound plays such an important role into motivation. And more than motivation is the awareness of that need. When you realize how much you are looking for approval, you made the first step into emancipation from the tyranny of self-destruction.

  16. maria September 8, 2012 Reply

    Wandering through the internet I found this site. Wonderful, simple, wise. Seems to be tailored for me. So happy to have found it. So grateful that you share all your experience, your wisdom and your love with everyone willing to learn and become a better one.

  17. Sean November 7, 2013 Reply

    Two years ago a close friend of mine committed suicide and I wish she had turned “I know” into “I did” before she made her decision.

    The reason I thought of her was at the beginning of your post you mentioned “I know doesn’t get it done” she used to always say she knew what to do and how to feel better.

    However she never acted on what she knew.

    After four years of doing and not just knowing I have reaped great rewards.I am no longer an emotional wreck.

    I hope this post reaches out to someone else who is in pain like I used to be and gets them to act!


  18. SJ Scott November 8, 2013 Reply


    Your principles really make a lot of sense! I particularly like #6. When you are able to keep a clear mental picture of your goal in mind, I feel it is a constant spur to get it done. It continually gives motivation and inspiration to reach your goals.

  19. Marc Allred November 18, 2013 Reply

    Great tips. I think you nailed it at the beginning, am I doing anything with this.

    I’ve found I know a lot of details, but so many of them I haven’t actually had the opportunity to implement! I get caught up a lot in the knowing and not so much in the doing. I think you can focus too much on the gaining of the knowledge and not actually putting it to use.

    Good ideas.
    -Marc @ marcallred.com

  20. Silvia Rivera January 11, 2014 Reply

    I came across this by looking at personal development I’m a wife of a police officer and with that carries huge sacrifices and support , I had to quit my job 4 years ago to watch my kids so I can be there to take them and pick upi from school , I have always worked so when forced to quit my job , I felt like something was taken a part of me ,I love my children my family but I need interaction with the human world , I love taking care of my family but lately I just want to break free from my trapped self , I want to go back to school and have my career since I have stayed home little things get me more now than ever before even my husband saying hes going to a football game makes me snap , I totally agree he needs to get out just like everyone , I must say I have no problems with my husband, but like I said I want something to show for other than a stay at home mom and I see road blocks with his schedule that changes every six months , I need to take care of myself mentally and get back to my education and job , I thank you for putting this out here for me to read , as I read some of these stories my eyes blurred up with tears , I’m super thankful for this website

  21. Kyle B April 2, 2014 Reply

    I really liked #2. It reminded me of one of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes. “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

    Thanks for sharing these great truths Jonathan!

  22. santos April 5, 2014 Reply

    Interesting thoughts Jonathan and I can definitely relate! Some time back I began to apply biblical principles and some material from Anthony Robbins to my thinking apparatus. I have to pinch myself today, I am living my dream! Facing fears, emotionally excited and looking forward to sharing with others. Thank you kindly for the article. I try to make everyday a super fantastic, terrific, over-the-top day. Santos

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