Personal Development & Wellbeing

Whether it’s about advancing in your career, improving your interpersonal skills or working on your self-compassion, we’re all looking for ways to grow as a person. And that’s exactly what personal development is all about: the aims and objectives you set yourself to better your sense of self-fulfilment. But personal development isn’t just about the satisfaction of ticking off goals. It can also massively improve your wellbeing and foster positive mental health.

What is Wellbeing?

You might have a fair idea of what ‘wellbeing’ means to you, but giving it a concrete definition is a little trickier. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, wellbeing is “the state of being or doing well in life; happy, healthy, or prosperous condition.” Here at New Life Portugal, we see it as an amalgamation of all three.

When your wellbeing is optimised, you feel efficient, content and ready to take on whatever life has to throw at you but unfortunately, your wellbeing doesn’t have an on/off switch. Instead, it requires investment in all aspects of your holistic health, from physical fitness to nutrition, social satisfaction to supporting emotional, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing.

What is personal development?

To put it simply, personal development is the long term process of self-improvement. 

It involves setting yourself aims, goals and objectives across all areas of your life, as well as honing and nurturing the skills and qualities that are important or valuable to you. It’s about investing in yourself; rather than waiting for things to happen, it’s about being proactive in achieving your goals.

Continuous personal development isn’t solely about climbing the career ladder; it could involve working on your social skills, interpersonal and communication skills, creative skills or any other kind of skill you can imagine, all with the overarching aim of reaching personal satisfaction. But that’s not it’s only benefit. Personal development can also boost your self-awareness, raise your confidence, build your resilience, help you feel motivated, nurture more fulfilling relationships and give you a sense of purpose and direction. By identifying the goals that really matter to you, you’re able to concentrate on the most important things thus teaching you to ‘not sweat the small stuff’.

It’s vital to remember that personal development is a lifelong process involving multiple mini goals or stages. As values, ideas and outlooks change, your goal posts will likely move and that’s okay.

How is wellbeing connected to personal growth?

It’s no surprise to hear that you’re only ever at your most efficient when you feel content and nourished. Think of it like the foundational springboard for all other forms of personal development: when wellbeing is lacking, it can hold you back or limit your ability to focus on the goals that really matter to you. Good wellbeing, on the other hand, provides the ideal environment for personal growth to thrive.

Furthermore, the relationship is cyclical. While a balanced sense of wellbeing can provide the ideal environment for personal growth to happen, personal growth can also foster greater wellbeing.

5 ways to wellbeing

Anyone looking to improve their wellbeing would benefit from learning about The Five Ways to Wellbeing, a list of research-based mental wellbeing objectives developed by the New Economics Foundation. They include:

  • Connect. Feeling connected to and valued by others is a basic human need which does wonders for your overall wellbeing. This step is all about building real-world connections with others, seeking and being a supportive voice. 
  • Be Active. There’s no denying the importance of exercising when it comes to maintaining your overall health and it can positively impact your wellbeing too. NEF recommends regular physical activity, whether that’s participating in sports, working out or even just walking to work instead of driving.
  • Take Notice. This is about fostering not only self-awareness but an innate awareness of your surroundings and other people. It’s about savouring the moment, not always worrying about what’s coming next.
  • Learn. Learning keeps the mind active and stimulates your curiosity but it doesn’t have to mean going back to school. You could learn a new skill, take up a new hobby or even find more time to read.
  • Give. This is about participating in community life and feeling like you’re a part of something but also offering small acts of kindness as much as possible.

Self development for good mental health

As previously mentioned, self development isn’t solely about career goals. In fact, it’s extremely beneficial in helping you build emotional resilience, improve interpersonal skills and aid self-compassion, all crucial parts of maintaining positive mental health. 

As such, you may choose to set yourself solely based on emotional or personality development. These could include your capacity to listen, the way you cope with fear, your self-confidence and self-esteem, how you deal with stress or even your ability to let go of the things that no longer serve you.

Personal development plan

What is a personal development plan?

Think of your personal development plan like your long-term to do list. It’s a written document that outlines all of your personal or career goals, the stages it will take to reach each one, and also a written journal-style account of self-reflection. Often, personal development plans also help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and potential areas of improvement.

You might have kept a personal development plan before without even realising it, for instance, through a progress report written in collaboration with your employer or manager or perhaps a development log written at school alongside your tutor. 

As an adult, it’s more likely you’ll curate your own personal development plan, but that’s not to say you can’t utilise the help of professionals like life and career coaches.

It’s also worth noting that a personal development plan won’t automatically fix all of your problems. Instead, it’s a conduit to productivity, helping you feel motivated to take the steps towards achieving your goals. It definitely requires dedication!

What should it include?

Personal development plans are exactly that: personal, which means their contents will fully depend on the individual. However, a good place to start would be some self-reflection. 

A personal SWOT analysis will help you recognise your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which might highlight skills you wish to improve or areas of your life you wish to work on. 

Next, your personal development plan should list out your long term goals. These might be big things, like reaching a huge milestone in your career or they might feel vague, like improving your relationships with family members. Either way, these goals should be the things that matter most to you. Don’t forget to go easy on yourself: no one is perfect and if you try to work on everything, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Identify what matters most to you and then start there. 

With your macro goals in place, it’s a good idea to break them up into smaller goals. Consider these the small steps it will take to reach that end destination. Make these goals manageable, realistic, measurable and you can even set yourself a time frame in which to reach them.

Personal development plans should be working documents, so it’s fine to edit as you go along should your goals change.

Finally, your personal development plan should track your progress. You can tick off goals, add new ones and also include notes of self-reflection: what felt hard about reaching that milestone? What can that teach you about the rest of your personal development journey? Did achieving that goal leave you feeling as fulfilled as you had hoped?

How should you track it?

The way you choose to track your personal development plan is totally up to you. You might like to annotate and edit your plan as you go along, or you might like to set your plan up like a series of tick boxes that you can check off as you achieve each stage.

Personal development community at New Life Portugal

The wellness retreat here at New Life Portugal provides the perfect first step on any personal development journey. Our programs combine a wide range of therapeutic elements and wellbeing activities from meditation to yoga, life coaching to personal training, each working in tandem to help nourish your health and wellbeing and realign your focus.  

Rooted in practices of wellness and the ultimate holistic reset, our wellness pathway is for those looking to become more connected to their physical wellbeing through personal training, healthy habits and mindful movement. 

By replenishing your inner resources, you afford yourself the time and thinking space to recognise what is important to you in your life, and build the foundations of a lifestyle that will support you on your journey of personal development.

Better still, the supportive community here at our wellbeing centre can aid the process of self development. After helping you identify what your life is lacking or what it is you are longing for, our life coaches will help plot out the steps you can take to reach those goals. Our program offerings such as journaling, movement, mindfulness and quiet time help you slow down the pace of life and hold space for that all-important self reflection.

Personal Stories

Real experiences of hope and recovery from our community members.


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New Life Portugal

Caminho das Regadas
nº1 6290 – 081 Folgosinho
Gouveia, Portugal