"Personal development" is a term used in psychology and in business to refer to the development of self-awareness, talents, and identity, often for the purpose of progressing toward some overall life goal. The importance of personal development varies from person to person based on an individual's goals. A successful, ambitious businessman may attempt to develop himself further in order to advance some of his business goals while a student may work to build greater self-awareness so as to better define his goals. In a broad sense, the importance of personal development rests simply on the fact that people are capable of more when they improve themselves. Greater personal health, stability, and ability can lead to better professional opportunities and to an increased state of happiness and satisfaction with life.
In many instances, the importance of personal development is linked to professional advancement and is primarily based on the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Taking night classes, for instance, is a common way to gain additional skills and knowledge. In some cases, the importance of personal development for professional purposes is not even rooted in the actual skills and knowledge obtained, but is entirely based in the professional advancement offered. Many businesses, for example, have educational requirements that employees must meet in order to advance, whether or not they already have the required knowledge.
Many people attempt to improve themselves for personal reasons as well. Such reasons might involve the correction of some personal flaw or a simple desire to be a better person in some way. For many, the importance of personal development is that it offers an opportunity to overcome issues such as anger or low self-confidence. One may, for instance, start taking an exercise or martial arts class in an attempt to find a healthy outlet for stress and anger. Someone with an addiction problem might attend an addiction-related support group as an attempt at personal development.
For many, the importance of personal development has nothing to do with overcoming some particular fault. Many people only feel satisfied with life if they are constantly developing themselves. Such personal development can be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or professional, based on one's individual aims. It can often be difficult to identify the importance of personal development of this form until some time later when the efforts one has taken to improve oneself pay off in some tangible manner. Personal development is, however, generally quite satisfying in and of itself, even when no particularly tangible results are evident.