How to Start Your Personal Development Journey


in personal development, Self-improvement

2006 changed my life.

It all started at 48 Wall St to the shock of making cold calls all day from sun up till sun down.  There were days I made over 300 cold calls.

No!  Not Interested!  Don’t waste my time.  How did you get my number?    Have you seen the movie Pursuit of Happyness?  That was me!

So much for the glamour of working on Wall Street.

Facing rejection nearly all day every day was the job I signed up for and finding clients to invest in the commodity markets with me was taking a toll on me mentally and physically.   I wasn’t sure how long I could continue this as my psyche was pretty badly bruised.

With my back against the wall and funds running low, I stumbled upon a journey that would change my life forever.

I got in the business of working on myself and improving my attitude every single day.

Finally someone said yes and I found my first client.  And then another, and then another.  And from then on, I experienced more professional success over the next two years than at any time in my life.  But it was the work I was doing outside of work that changed my business and my life.

Working on myself to become more comfortable in my skin, more positive about life, constant learning and improvement, becoming more conscious of the people I surround myself with and finding a way to look for the good in every situation is the best investment I’ve ever made.

It’s been 7+ years and I’ve still got quotes around the house, a personal development cd in my car, a gratitude journal I write in (almost) every night and I expose myself to as much quality content as possible both online (TED talks, webinars, blogs…etc) and offline (seminars, events, family time, volunteering…etc) as well as constantly seeking out quality people and surrounding myself with those who do the same.

Once you find an accountability partner or others on the journey, it gets easier as they will be sending you links, books, inviting you to seminars and get togethers.  The relationships built along the way have exceeded all my expectations.

The industry gets poo poo’d by some as “self-help.”  The irony is the “self-help” industry was started to help the below average half raise their performance, but it was the high-achievers who flocked to the “self-help” material.  Don’t believe me?  Who is the most successful person you know well?  Go ask them what they think about personal development and you will have your answer.

I was recently asked the question, “How do I get started in personal development?”  For me in 2006, it was reading a personal development book.  To this day I’ve read over 300 of them and I still continue to read books and blogs, and surround myself with people and environments that foster self-improvement.

With technology, it’s easier now that ever.  Join or start a Facebook page (this is the link to my FB page, please post something if you visit it) with other like minded people.  Skype once a week with someone you know is working on themselves and into personal development (I may soon be offering calls for anyone who might be interested – if you would be interested please leave a comment below).  Start a mastermind group – a gathering of like-minded people that meet on a regular and set schedule to discuss ideas and help one another achieve goals.  It can be as simple as grabbing coffee once a week or more structured, whatever works best for you.

One of the biggest things I will say is you have to be willing to commit to daily disciplines because personal development is not a wonder drug, it’s not a magic pill, IT’S A LOT OF WORK!   It will likely take weeks, months or maybe even a year depending on how deeply your negative habits are rooted.

Should you do it?  That’s entirely up to you.  After all, it is a lot of work.

But it’s fun and it will improve every facet of your life if you commit to it and push through the courage points and naysayers along the way.


YES I guarantee some people will shoot down your ideas for personal growth (these are the turkeys in your life), but if you commit to it you WILL see positive results in your life and meet new wonderful people along the way.   If you’re into it, I am here to help you and support you every step of the way.  Subscribing to this blog is a simple easy way to improve your life.  But don’t take my word for it.

I have shoeboxes full of emails I’ve printed out and handwritten thank you notes from people who have started this journey and the underlying message from all of them is it has positively changed their lives.  And I did very little.  All I did was expose them to the ideas that have been shared with me.  I’ve held up a mirror for them to see in themselves what I already see in them.   The ability to live the life they’ve dreamed of and pursue their most important goals.  But this isn’t about making promises about what I can do for you, it’s about what you’re willing to do for yourself.

The first step is something you can do at no cost, in a matter of moments.  It’s really quite simple.

Decide you’re willing to go for it!

It took me nearly 6 months of daily affirmation and exposure to positive words both orally and written before the light went on and stayed on.  There were flickers of light and hope mixed with tons of doubt those first 6 months but I can assure you if you stick with it it works.  It’s easy, but the discipline to do it every day is the difficult part.

journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-tzu


If you would like details on furthering your personal development journey, stay tuned and be sure to put your email in the box in the upper right and “join the VIP club” of people committed to improving their lives!!

Take the time to work on yourself – develop your talents, increase your self-esteem, improve the lives of others and take at least a few moments of gratitude every single day.


PS.  As a bonus, here is my favorite scene and quote from Pursuit of Happyness

And for those of you who really need a pick me up right now, here are the 12 things you can do to be happier right now

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  • thejoesweeney

    testing one, two, three (uno, dos, tres) [Echad, shtayim, shalosh]

  • Ray Kluender

    Awesome post Joe! It’s always really useful to hear more about the discipline side and to be reminded it’s sincerely hard work to improve yourself. Would love to hear more about that first tough six months, that’s the kind of resource I think people can go back to (myself included) and ask themselves, “did Joe give up when he had a bad day? How did he handle the initial doubt and skepticism and complacency and self-judgment?” Having answers to those questions can really help with resolve.

    Keep them coming! Eager to hear your thoughts on the book I sent you.

    • thejoesweeney

      Sounds good Ray! I will look to touch on those first six months and the struggles more in upcoming content.

      Looking forward to devouring the book, seems right up my alley and thank you again for sending it – it was a very kind gesture.

  • Raelene Redman

    Hi Joe! I think this is GREAT! Just the boost I needed and I’m looking forward to being a VIP in this awesome club!

    • thejoesweeney

      Thanks Raelene, stay tuned for more details on being a VIP :)

  • Ben Keleny

    Great email as usual. Always a great way to start the day with some positive thought and encouragement. Thanks and keep it up!

    • thejoesweeney

      Thank you Ben, I agree, make today a good one!

  • Michael Gardon

    Got the post in my email. For some reason I usually get two. Anyway, great post, and great story.

    • thejoesweeney

      Thanks MG! I’ve got a tech guy working on this now, sorry for bombarding you with two emails instead of one and good luck with the upcoming move to Madison!

  • James Gledhill

    I would be interested in a phone call. I feel I have been saved and given another chance. I worked hard to do a lot of changed but couldn’t understand until I red your website why things had gone sour. The reason being I stopped and didn’t continue going forward with my disciplines. I thought once I was there I would be ok but I slipped back into some bad habits, you do not realise they are there until you feel crappy again. This time I will not make the same mistakes, will try hard. Thank you Joe

    • thejoesweeney

      James! Good to hear from you! Stick with the journey, it’s not always easy and then all of a sudden “AHA” it clicks. This is not the time to say, I get it time to move on. This is the time to keep practicing – try and make it part of what you do every day and I promise you, you will see results. I cannot say how long it will take as it’s different for everyone but science tells us it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Keep in mind that’s assuming we do it 21 days in a row. If we miss days it will take longer, sometimes much longer. Stick with it, you can do it. And, stay tuned for more information on the calls!

  • Donna R

    Great blog topic Joe. I’ve found all of what you say to be true. It is a LOT of hard work, that is very true. I have not been able to keep the discipline for an extended period of time BUT I still have noticed a great improvement in my happiness and how I react to things in my life. I’m a work in progress and am still doing baby steps on my personal development journey. I find myself doing really good for awhile and then get busy and l lose my discipline, then I get it back and start again. I know I need to be more consistent to really reap the benefits. I also look forward to being a VIP – I need the constant reminders to help me stay on track. Keep doing what you do Joe!

    P.S. – I don’t see the VIP box to sign up?

    • thejoesweeney

      THANK YOU Donna!

      For starters, yes we had to take the VIP sign up down as we were having some back end problems with the site and the VIP list.

      Stay tuned as we hope to have the VIP signup fixed and available soon!!

      I appreciate your openness, honesty and communication about your journey. It’s been fun following your journey of personal growth through this blog and emails! Please continue to keep me posted and let me know when and how I can help!

      Always keep in mind, we’re all a work in progress, myself DEFINITELY included!!! LOVE hearing examples of people implementing these strategies into their lives as you are inspiring others who are on the journey or those afraid to take the leap and start the journey. You’re absolutely right, it’s not a light switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ but it feels good to notice we are improving.

      Discipline is doing what we should do, even when we don’t want to. Like anything else – as you have learned first hand – this stuff takes practice. But remember, perfection is not attainable, my best suggestion is strive to keep improving.

  • Zach

    You always manage to inspire me with the tales of your journey. I’ve known you pretty much throughout this period of your life and the cool part is that I’ve always seen you as the same Joe. I don’t see you as a “changed person” or a “weirdo on a positivity kick”. You’ve internalized and incorporated these lessons into you, rather than you changing to be a certain way. I think some people (myself included) are a bit afraid of personal development because we think it might change who we are. But in reality it just helps make it easier for us to be better versions of ourselves.

    • thejoesweeney

      THIS is SO true! You have been instrumental for me along my journey and I thank you for that! Thank you Zach. I am grateful for you.


    Oh I am in! I am SOOO IN! I’d love to be involved in any call you have, and will make myself 100% available. Thanks so much for the ever lasting encouragement. I’ve learned as much from you as Dale Carnegie and Jeffrey Gitomer combined. You’ve got the gift Joe. Keep spreading it! Kathleen

    • thejoesweeney


      Wow *blushing* Honored to be mentioned in the same breath and Gitomer and Carnegie, those guys are personal development legends! You’re welcome you’re welcome you’re welcome. Messages and feedback like yours is WHY I blog so THANK YOU for the positive feedback. Please stay tuned for more info on the calls and ways to get more involved moving forward!! Looking forward to connecting more soon!!



    • thejoesweeney

      Wow, I am humbled and honored by your comment. Thank you Kathleen. Your unfiltered expression is amazing and inspires me to work harder than ever to create quality content knowing it is having that much positive IMPACT! Stay tuned for more info on getting more involved! Best wishes – live inspired! -Joe

  • Michelle Grigsby

    I stumbled on your blog and LOVE IT! I have made the decision to start on my personal development journey a few short months ago and my husband tells me I’m a different person…..I’m ALWAYS happy around the kids, too….because I made the DECISION to be. It’s really that simple. A positive thought is 100 x’s more positive than a negative. I started my own FB Page a couple months ago focusing on inspirational stories and my personal journey. I love it. Have you seen the movie, THE SECRET? That has changed my life.

    • thejoesweeney

      thanks for the comment Michelle and good luck! let me know if I can be a resource in any way.

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