In this article, I will attempt to highlight the differences between personal development and personality development. Many people seem to think that they mean one and the same thing but this is not the case. They are two distinct aspects of development that take place in the lives of every individual.
Every individual is born into a family and is influenced by the genes, environment and several other factors. The personality of individuals evolves all through their life time and at various stages, some or all of these factors determine the type of behaviour that is exhibited. Some aspect of our personality is in-born, while what we experience, see and learn all play a role in who we eventually become. Some of the first influences that we received from our parents affect the way we behave and the type of personality we develop. Those who were shown adequate love and care by parents and guardians usually grow up to have a healthy character while those who lacked this develop certain dysfunctional character and behaviour. Most of those who did not have a healthy family upbringing often develop negative traits such as moodiness, anger, bitterness that affects them all through life except they make serious decisions to handle them. The environment at home influences our attitudes and behaviour while the school environment also helps to shape our thoughts and perceptions about issues and life in general. This also contributes in our
character is moulded. Another way our personalities are influenced is through our peers. All these affect the personality development of the individual.
Personal development occurs as a result of an individual's decision to make his life better. It requires personal effort and consistent planning for it to succeed. At every stage of our lives, there are things we should do that will help improve our position in life. It is a process that is targeted at improving our skills and abilities. What one individual determines as development in his life may differ from the other because our callings and purposes are different. An engineer has things that he must do to enhance his career in terms of training, education and professional experience/ exposure. The demands will not be the same with what a teacher is required to do before he becomes qualified. Their personal development process would not be the same. In the same way, a basketball professional's personal development goals would differ from that of a baseball player because they are in clearly different paths. For personal development to be effective there must be a goal and then it should be followed up with a plan that would make it work. Any personal development goal that is without a plan would not succeed eventually.
I shall discuss the above topics further and try to also present a clearer and correct analogy of their differences.
Personal Development vs. Personality DevelopmentUnderstanding Personal Development
Personal Development is usually described as what individuals do to make their lives better. It is something that goes on throughout the life of an individual because at every stage in our lives, there are things we look forward to becoming; goals we aspire to achieve and steps that need to be taken to make our lives better. Personal development involves assessing the skills and abilities you possess and determining the areas that need improvement. If there is a need for new skills to be learnt and developed, a plan is put in place to accomplish this. It also involves developing the goals and objectives that will bring about growth and progress in your life. These goals may be in the area of your career, relationship, business and politics. Personal development helps you strategize and plan for growth in any area you have chosen to pursue. It helps you have a fulfilled and balanced life. Every individual has a need for personal development and this continues almost through life.
One of the foremost theories on personal development was propounded by Abraham Maslow and it is called the process of self-actualization. This is the desire that exists in every individual to become all that they are capable of becoming. It is important to note here that self-actualization would be impossible without the individual understanding his feelings and focusing on the things he needs to do to make his life better. Maslow's theory stressed that personal development is dependent on certain needs being met and that these needs form a hierarchy. He also stated that through the course of life, the level of need that motivates the behaviour in an individual change over time. The various levels of needs are as follows: Self Actualization: Reaching your full potential, achieving all you want to achieve.
Aesthetic needs: Need for beauty and order, creativity.
Cognitive needs: The desire to know and understand. The need for meaning.
Esteem needs: Feeling of competence, self esteem self respect.
Love and Belongingness: Giving and receiving trust, acceptance, affection.
Safety needs: Feeling of safety from all dangerous and psychological situations, security of health.
Physiological needs: Basic needs of food, water, oxygen, shelter, sleep and relaxation.
Benefits of Personal Development
Personal Development provides great benefits to individuals but it is necessary that they clearly define their personal development goals. This will enable them know if they have been successful whenever they assess themselves later in the future. Some of its benefits include:
- It helps individuals become more aware of their potentials and abilities. As you embark on this journey of personal development, you become more aware of who you are, your goals, objectives, values, beliefs and purpose in life. It helps you identify the things that you need to do in order to make progress in life. At every stage of your life, there is always a better place and a better position to aspire to. Personal development enables you look forward to a better life no matter your level of achievement and attainment.
- Personal development gives individuals a clear sense of purpose and direction. It helps you to identify and pursue your goals in life. It helps you make wise and right decisions. In pursuing your personal development plans, you will need to also remove anything and anyone that may be a source of distraction to you.
- It also makes you become more focused and effective in all that you do as your purpose in life becomes clearer. Personal development helps you to focus on the things which will assist you pursue and achieve your main purpose in life. It enables you to conserve more energy and strength than in a situation when you are involved with so many things at a time. This also makes the accomplishment of your goals and objectives easier and
this will ultimately increase your level of productivity.
- Your personal development goals enable you to become motivated and give you a reason to live each day. Without the right motivation, you will not be able to find a reason to keep moving on in the pursuit of your dreams. It helps you to keep moving in the face of tough challenges and resistance. It also enables you build resilience to face up to situations. Through the process, all the skills and experiences help you become confident and strong to cope with any challenge.
- It helps you sift through your relationships to identify the ones that add to you and discard the ones that are not good for you. The relationships you keep determine to a large extent how far you will go in the achievement of your goals.
On the other hand, Personality Development describes the development of an organized way of behaviour and lifestyle that distinguishes one individual from another. It is developed through the interaction of certain factors such as your temperament, character and environment. It is your personality that makes you different from others even though you may look the same or live in the same household; each person is unique and so also are their reactions to situations. Even relations that are brought up in the same household develop their own unique way of handling issues or responding to the challenges they face. Personality speaks about what makes you different and it can be seen in a child immediately he or she is born into the world. The personality of the child is made up of various components. These are the temperament, environment and character.
When we talk of the temperament, these are genetically determined traits that a child comes with into the world. They influence the behaviour of the child greatly and influence the child's approach to the world and even the way he or she learns in the process. It is said that there are no particular genes which control personality traits, but it is agreed that genes control the nervous system development and this also controls behaviour. From childhood, parents would notice the behaviours of their children at their early stage. Some of them may exhibit stubborn, happy and grumpy behaviour. Most of the emotional responses that children exhibit at this stage tend to continue through their development.
The EAS model was developed using three dimensions: emotionality, sociability and activity. This was to help determine how many temperaments exist. Emotionality refers to a child's emotional reaction to external stimuli. It postulated for example, that a highly emotional child may cry easily, get excited easily or be more fearful while a child with low emotions may be more relaxed. For adults, it stated that high emotionality may be related to artistic endeavours and relationships.
Sociability talks about an individual's ability to interact with others. Those that are high in this tend to prefer team sports and interact comfortably in social settings while those who are low on this prefer activities that they can do alone. They are usually uncomfortable with strangers or new situations. Our level of sociability affects how we make friends and our career choices.
The other one is Activity. This talk about the level of energy a child has. Those high on this prefer physical activity and are less likely to settle down.
The environment influences how a child grows up and the type of personality he possesses. It is advised that parents should ensure that they provide quality care which would help their children develop properly.
The personality development of every individual continues throughout their lifetime and is determined majorly by both internal and external influences that surround them. These include the traits with which they were born and all the experiences acquired at various stages of their existence.
Personality Development Stages
Personality Development in individuals move from one stage to the other and it is important to stress that no stage is more important than the other. From the time of birth into adulthood, individuals are continuously developing their personality. The first stage is the stage of infancy up to age 2. This is the period when infants are exposed to situations where they learn how to trust or not to trust. Those who are catered for properly, naturally develop a good and healthy personality and have a clear sense of direction and purpose in life. Whereas, those who are not taken care of properly develop abnormally and never seem to find a sense of purpose. The next stage is the toddler stage which starts from about 18 months until 4 years. Children at this stage start developing their will power and start to assert themselves in various situations. There is also the school age stage when children begin to get excited and desire to explore more. They start to develop a lot of confidence, develop a sense of humour and also begin to understand that their actions have consequences. Children also start to show a spirit of competitiveness when playing with peers. Physical manifestations also include the appearance of permanent teeth. The other stage is the Adolescence. This is described as the years from puberty to adulthood. It is usually divided into early, middle and late adolescence and is marked by biological changes, intellectual and emotional development in the individual.
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