A Beginner’s Guide To Personal Development

Want to start your own personal development journey? In this blog post I'm sharing everything a beginner needs to know about personal development!

I have to admit that over the last six months, I was more focused on meeting my own arbitrary deadlines than I was on actually being as helpful as I could possibly be. The posts I’ve been publishing on Smart Twenties haven’t been lighting me up nor are they as detailed as I want them to be – so that’s all about to change!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks scribbling down idea after idea in my journal and figuring out how to create content that not only inspires you but helps you apply it in real life, and I think I’ve found the answer…

While many in the blogging world are making their content shorter to cater to our allegedly waning attention spans, I’m over here craving in-depth content that transports me to another world, inspires me to be a better person and then damn well tells me how to actually do it. And like many times before, I’m deciding to trust that there are other people out there who are just like me.

So this is the first of what will be many in-depth exploration into how to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Each week there will be a blog post, workbook, podcast episode and YouTube video all relating to a different aspect of the same topic as well as the opportunity to ask any questions and share your thoughts on that topic in the Smart Twenties Community facebook group. It will all go live simultaneously on a Monday morning (so you’ll have a full week to sink your teeth into each topic!) and I’m starting with a beginner’s guide to personal development!

In this blog post, I’m going to be sharing everything I would tell you about starting your own personal development journey. And I mean everything. This is designed to be all encompassing. Let’s get into it!


Since this is a beginner’s guide to personal development, I feel like the best place to start is by sharing what personal development is and more importantly, what it isn’t.

Personal development is one of those things that’s pretty self-explanatory – it’s an umbrella term that includes any activity that will help you become the best version of yourself that you can be.

In my opinion, the biggest misconception around personal development is that it’s for broken people. Though many people (like myself) start exploring the world of personal development because they don’t feel like they’re good enough, personal development isn’t about going from broken to normal – it’s about going from normal to extraordinary. You do not need to be broken to be able to dramatically improve your experience of life (plus I don’t think anyone’s ‘broken’ anyway, but I’ll save that for another blog post) and being interested in personal development doesn’t mean you’re broken either.

Another thing you need to know about personal development is that it’s not about beating yourself up or shaming yourself over how you’ve acted in the past. Personal development requires self-awareness, but this self-awareness needs to be non-judgemental for it to be useful. If you’ve been avoiding personal development because you don’t want to feel bad about your past then I have some good news for you – it’s not about that at all!

There’s something else too – over the last few years I’ve come across all different kinds of approaches to personal development and self-awareness, which I like to think of as being on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum there is ‘science’ or those things that even the most skeptical people believe. At the other end there are more spiritual things like energy work, crystals, essential oils, goddesses, animal spirits and tarot cards – basically, things that most people are more skeptical about. Throughout your journey you’ll find where on the spectrum you feel most comfortable, I recommend having an open mind to it all but don’t be worried that you’re going to have to do anything that doesn’t feel right to you!


When I first started out on my personal development journey (which I talk about in more detail in the podcast episode for this topic) I felt pretty embarrassed to tell people that I was into this kind of stuff. I used to hide the books I was reading and conceal the videos I was watching because I didn’t want anyone to think that there was something wrong with me. Or that I was weird.

If you’ve been hiding your interest in personal development stuff, you’re not alone! As I mentioned before, it’s NOT for broken people. But that doesn’t stop a lot of us from fearing what other people will think. So this is official permission for you to learn about this stuff in secret, if that’s what you need. Though I have to say – I’ve created some incredible friendships because I shared my interest in this stuff. So I do encourage you to mention it to people when you can muster up the courage – there are a surprisingly large number of people out there who love this stuff too!


There are SO many ways to do personal development (which is why I created a video on how to create a personal development plan – more on that in a minute) so I thought I’d share a few different entry points to the personal development world.

The first entry point, because it’s my favourite, is listening to podcasts. If you’re not already an avid podcast listener, you need to become one asap! By listening to podcasts you can learn from the very best in the world while you’re multitasking and doing life admin or putting away laundry or doing meal prep or working out or driving or walking your dog. It’s the BEST. There are so many amazing podcasts you can choose from and I share some of my very favourites in this blog post. And I have a podcast too!

Another entry point to the personal development world is journaling. I’ve found journaling to be an incredible tool to increase my self-awareness and see solutions to problems I hadn’t been able to think through (there are A LOT of those). There’s just something about putting pen to paper that gets the best ideas out of my mind and I’m not the only one who finds that! Because I love journaling so much, and you can do it anywhere, I’ve created a free workbook that will help you get started with it. Click here to download your copy!

If you’re a book lover, reading is an incredible way to begin to learn more about yourself and become the best version of yourself that you can be. I wrote this blog post on the personal development books that will get you off to a great start, but you have to make sure you actually apply what you learn from books once you’ve finished reading them! I wrote this blog post on the system I use to apply what I learn from books to my life – make sure you check it out if you want to get into personal development through reading.

Another way to dive head first into personal development is to attend in person or online seminars, workshops and conferences. There are a squillion of these in most cities and another squillion that take place online – google is a great way to find them or just ask the people in your life what they’ve attended. I have a mini course called Get Out Of Your Own Way that’s a perfect starting point – you can find out more about it here!

Watching YouTube videos is also a really easy way to get into personal development. You can either watch my YouTube channel or a YouTube channel like Lavendaire, Kalyn Nicholson, Muchelleb, Evan Carmichael, Tom Bilyeu or Actualized.org to get into things. But like with reading books, make sure you don’t just endlessly consume! Make sure you make the time to apply what you learn to your life.

Another personal favourite is reading personal development blogs! You can either read a blog like mine or have a look at this list of blogs to see who you relate to the most! In the early days of my personal development journey I was obsessed with StevePavlina.com, Zen Habits and Marc and Angel. These are still great resources too!


Most people will do a combination of all the things I’ve mentioned above, but it can be a little overwhelming and hard to know what you’re actually meant to do. I filmed a YouTube video on the process I personally use to figure out what personal development stuff to do and how I make sure I don’t get overwhelmed. I also talk about how much time you should spend on personal development, how to work it into your daily routine and heaps of other stuff to help you actually get started.

If you want to start your own personal development journey, make sure you watch the video below. And if you find it helpful, subscribe to my channel to see my new videos when they come out!


As I mentioned earlier, I’ve created a free workbook to help you learn more about yourself so you can get started on your personal development journey.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the different ways to do personal development (there are A LOT, I know) or you’re not sure where you should be putting your energy, this is for you! It includes 20 journaling prompts that will help you learn things about yourself that you’ve never seen before and start coming up with solutions to the struggles you’ve been having. Just click the button to get a copy sent straight to your inbox!


When you start your personal development journey, I think it’s important that you don’t expect instant results. In all honesty, when I’m in the day-to-day of life I don’t really feel like I’m making progress at all. Between one day and the next, I can’t really tell that my self-awareness is increasing and I’m gaining more control over my thoughts and I’m becoming a better version of myself. It’s only when I look back on the last year, or the last 5 years, or the last 10 years, that I can really see the changes.

So I just want to let you know that if you start your own personal development journey and you don’t feel profoundly different, you’re right on track! It’s one of those things you need to do with the faith that you are making progress – because you won’t be able to feel it. But that isn’t a reason not to do it! The changes you can make in your life will be mind blowing, they’re just hard to catch in the present moment (but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist).


In the personal development world, people have ‘breakthroughs’. And this is what makes it all so addictive! A breakthrough is when you make a dramatic discovery about yourself or your life – usually something that has been in a blindspot until that moment. These breakthroughs allow you to have complete shifts in perspective and change the way you behave at a fundamental level (no willpower involved), which is why they’re so amazing!

Over the course of my personal development journey, I’ve had some HUUUGE breakthroughs about both myself and my life which have finally put a stop (for the most part!) to all the self-doubt I experienced in my teenage years and my early twenties. As I mentioned earlier, what lead me to personal development was a feeling of deep inadequacy. No matter what I achieved or how many people were encouraging me, I never used to feel as though anything I did was good enough.

Personal development has not only helped me see myself as the intelligent, beautiful, capable person that I am but has allowed me to become so much more aware of myself, get (more) control over my emotions, stick to healthy habits, get out of my own way and experience life in a completely new and empowering way.

I really want to share how I had that breakthrough with you (since when I’ve shared bits and pieces of it on my YouTube channel and in my mini course Get Out Of Your Own Way it’s helped other people have breakthroughs) but it’s just too hard to type out. So I decided to record a podcast episode about it!

If you haven’t listened to my podcast yet, it’s called The Smart Twenties Podcast and you can find it anywhere you love listening to podcasts. In the episode I go into the nitty gritty detail of all the breakthroughs I’ve had around things like losing my mum when I was young, why I felt I wasn’t good enough, the reason I keep myself distant from others and heaps more! You can click here to listen to the episode online or just search for The Smart Twenties Podcast – it’s episode 22!


It’s one thing read a blog post like this and feel all inspired to change your life, but it’s another thing to actually change it. If you haven’t already, make sure you listen to the podcast episode, watch the YouTube video and download the workbook because they will help you put everything you’ve learned into action!

Want to start your own personal development journey? In this blog post I'm sharing everything a beginner needs to know about personal development!


This week in the Smart Twenties Community facebook group we’ll be chatting about all things personal development and I’ll be available to answer any questions you have about personal development and how to get started. You’ll also be able to hear what others are doing and read my answers to questions you didn’t even know you had! Make sure you join the STC to join in on the discussion.

So there you go – a beginner’s guide to personal development. I hope you found it helpful! 

Sam xx






Author: Sam Brown

  • Thank you for this Article, inspired me to share it with my audience here in europe.
    I practice Mindfulness meditation while i am doing Personal development. It is fun it is free, easy to do, and the only effort it requires is
    sitting still for at least 10-30 minutes every day. 🙂
    Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can practice mindfulness to support PerDev, with your tipps and that´s great.
    I want to pass to you this mindfulness meditation Style guide http://bit.ly/2Jxrs4k ,
    we’re going to show you everything you need to know about the Flow State to mindfulness meditation.

  • Thank you for this great post and the YT video – it was so helpful, especially your tip on having one teacher to follow. And also having time to apply – I have on many occasions found myself spending hours consuming and learning without actually applying any of it – just feeling good about it for a day then later feeling bad that I haven’t actually done anything. Going forward I will aim to do 50-50 on learning and applying.

  • I totally agree! I was the same too as well, kind of hiding my love for personal development because I thought it was for “broken people.” Thanks for sharing and love the podcast episode for this!

  • Hi Sam, thank you so much for your wonderful advice and insights! 🙂 I’ve been listening to your podcast for about a week now and I’m just always very inspired! Now I will also follow your blog and your youtube channel. Thank you so much for all your work!

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