Is having a successful and purposeful life for everyone or only for a chosen few?
I’d give you the answer right away. No, it’s not for a chosen few. Everyone including you can live the life of their dreams.
Use this list of 20 Personal Development Ideas and this FREE Personal Development Plan Template to get inspiration, keep your focus and accelerate your growth.
In this (lengthy) article we’ll discuss:
- What is personal development and why is it important
- How these personal development ideas can help
- Personal Goals
- Mental Goals
- Well-being – Physical and Emotional
- Relationship Goals
- Time Management and Productivity
The WHAT And The WHY
Maybe you are wondering, why should I spend my time reading through a list of personal development ideas. Well, I encourage my readers to stay curious and be intentional about the information they consume.
So, I will start by answering the question – What Exactly Is Personal Development, And Why Should I Invest My Time On It?
Simply put, Personal Development is consciously and intentionally forming new habits and engaging in activities to improve oneself. It is the careful and strategic actions taken to develop one’s skills and abilities, in order to achieve one’s dreams and have a better quality of life.
As you can see from that definition, it is a deliberate process and one that cannot be achieved without setting specific actionable goals and having a plan to achieve said goals.
Although it doesn’t come easy, there are enormous benefits in putting in the work required to pursue personal growth. To mention a few:
- It increases your potential to be successful
- It helps you to be prepared to take on opportunities that may come your way
- It increases your confidence and boldness to demand from life what you want, instead of waiting on the sidelines. This allows you to have a richer and more rewarding life
- It gives you a sense of direction, making good decisions becomes easier, and setting goals and achieving them becomes a natural way of life rather than another obligation you have to fulfill
How These Personal Development Ideas Can Help
Personal Development is a challenge. If it were a walk in the park, everyone would succeed at it. If you are like me, you would be happy to take all the help you can get on this journey of life. These ideas are meant to be a guideline as you brainstorm on the areas of your life that you need to work on.
To make it easier for you to act on these ideas here is a FREE Personal Development Plan Template from Brian Tracy that you can use.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s get right down to the reason why you are reading this.
I have broken down the 20 personal development ideas into 5 sections to cover 5 different areas of life that we need to develop.
1. Know Yourself, Know Where You Are, Know Where You Want To Be and Know Your Why
Okay, that was a long one, but I call it the ‘The 4Ks Introspective Evaluation’. Let’s take the Ks one at a time.
Know Yourself: There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to Personal Development. The principles remain the same but the approach varies. As a result, it is important to know yourself, know what motivates you, your personality, your learning approach, your values etc
You can only set meaningful goals with a higher chance of achieving them when they are based on you and your values and motivations.
Know Where You Are: You can only map out the path to get to where you want to be only after you’ve figured out where you are starting from.
When you plug in a destination address into your GPS, in order for it to give you an accurate direction, it needs to know where you are starting from.
In the same way, you need to be honest with your evaluation of where you are. Before figuring out how to change, you need to know first what needs to be changed. You need to know what habits or thinking patterns you currently have and if they are setting you up for success or not?
Know Where You Want To Be: This goes without saying. If you don’t know where you are headed, you can’t map out a path and even if you manage to somehow get there, how will know you are there?
It is crucial to have a specific endpoint in mind, and then you start your journey from where you are.
Know Your Why: Trust me on this, you cannot have a fulfilled life if you are living someone else’s dreams. In line with knowing yourself, you need to know why you want to achieve what you are aiming for. I find that it is easier to stick to a plan when you attach a strong emotional reason that is very personal to you.
THE WHAT BEFORE THE HOW:
You need to know WHAT needs to change before you can figure out HOW to change it
2. Be Proactive – Live a goal and growth-oriented life
You have within you the power to make life happen for you the way you want. Don’t just wait around for life to happen to you, instead develop and exercise your power.
You need to be intentional about life and about the results you want to get. One good way to remain goal and growth-oriented is by purposefully building better habits.
Great results are never achieved by accident. So if you want the life of your dreams, you have to be a goal-setter with a plan and an attitude that will allow you to get the goal accomplished.
You also have to be growth-oriented. One thing being growth-oriented does for you is allowing you to set high goals and not settle for status-quo. goals to status quo. Being growth-oriented means that you set goals that require you to change and grow in order to achieve them. In other words, you will develop what I call a winning ‘goal-growth’ cycle:
RELATED: Don’t Just Dream – Work
3. Be Present – Enjoy Life
Don’t miss your life. Learn to enjoy life it is a journey, and what fun will it be to miss out on the joys along the way. It may sound like an easy thing to do, but it’s not. It is far easier to get caught up with all the responsibilities and challenges of life that we lose sight of the simple everyday joys.
I have four young daughters, and most days I have to remind myself that they will not be little forever, and to enjoy my time with them. When I wake up in the morning, I tell myself that it will be the day I will refuse to sweat the small stuff, but most times it doesn’t happen the way I planned.
Now, I am more intentional about enjoying life’s every moment. I prioritize self-care, and time with family on my daily schedule.
We all have different approaches to life, but I will encourage you to find something that works for you as a strong reminder to stop, breathe, and enjoy life.
RELATED: Don’t Wait For Life To Start
4. Dream Big
You have to see it in your mind to achieve it. Sit down think deep on what you want. Visualize what that life looks like. Don’t get bogged down by the details of how your dreams will be realized.
A lot of people get so caught up in day-to-day life that they don’t have time to dream, or even if they do they end up forgetting their dreams, or shrink them to something much smaller to match up with their beliefs.
If you don’t dream it, you can’t have it. Allow yourself to be confident in your abilities and your contribution to the world. You have a lot to offer, and it’s better to dream big and stretch yourself to fulfill your dreams than to cower in fear and insecurities unable to live the life you desire.
I like this excerpt from this article
“A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. A dream worth pursuing is a picture and blueprint of a person’s purpose and potential. Or as my friend Sharon Hull says, “A dream is the seed of possibility planted in the soul of a human being, which calls him to pursue a unique path to the realization of his purpose.”
So if for no other reason, dream big, so that you are forced to grow as a person in the process. Instead of shrinking your dreams because of your perceived shortcomings, allow your big dreams to push you towards addressing those shortcomings
5. Live without regrets
Ah the big R monster, Regret!!!
When I talk about regrets, I don’t mean just being sorry for a decision we made or something we did that we shouldn’t have.
When I say regrets, I mean the constant rehashing of unfavourable past decisions, actions or events in a way that prevents you from moving forward.
Life’s too short to waste any second of it on regrets. You should learn from your mistakes, grow from the experience without allowing the decapacitating negative emotions to take over.
I like this quote on regrets:
“Never regret your past. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.”Robin S. Sharma
6. Build Your Confidence
Confidence in yourself and your capabilities is the main ingredient for your success. Your level of confidence determines what you are willing to try, and what you don’t try, you can’t achieve.
Lack of confidence puts a limit on your achievement because it first limits your dreams and your actions.
One sure way to boost your confidence is by taking action even if you are scared
“Just because you feel fear doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Do it afraid.Joyce Meyer
Brian Tracy has a helpful program called The Science of Self-Confidence, that you can check out.
Mental Goals – Skill, Education, Career/Business
7. Commit to a life of continuous improvement
An integral part of life is growth. The whole point of personal development is to grow, become better, more skilled, and increase your capacity to produce and deliver value to the world.
You have something unique to contribute, and you will be doing the world a disservice if you do not develop yourself enough to be able to share your value with the world.
Reading is a key part of living a life of continuous improvement. Develop a reading habit, and do not read only books that are familiar or easy for you to understand and accept. Read a wide variety of topics, even those that may seem challenging. That way you are stretching your mental capacity and allowing it to produce more for you.
One way to do this is by having a balanced personal development library. Your library should have books and materials on different topics from history to science to biographies.
Here are 4 of my favourite books
8. Go above and beyond – get rid of the bare minimum mindset
The goal is to always seek out opportunities to stretch yourself, grow and become better. If what you are engaged in is not challenging you to improve your skills, then it’s not serving you well. You may like it because it’s easy, but it’s doing nothing for you in terms of growing.
Going above and beyond is more for you than for the recipient of your service. While they will benefit from your work, you will benefit even more. You will not only stand out from others, but you will grow and become better.
Set a standard for yourself in every area of your life that allows for continuous growth, and work to meet that standard or beyond.
If you do the bare minimum, expect bare minimum results. You want to be great, work to be great. Nothing just happens.— J. J. Watt
The bare minimum will get you a bare minimum life. Going above and beyond will launch you above and beyondBryant H. McGill
Well-Being – Physical and Emotional
Health is wealth. You cannot accomplish much if you are unhealthy physically or emotionally. You need to form good self-care habits so that you can have the strength and energy to do what you need to do and what you desire to do.
9. Exercise and Eat Healthy
The first thing you’d probably associate with exercising is physical fitness and weight loss. While those are great benefits to exercising, there are other benefits related to mental health that makes adding exercise to your personal development plan a must.
Here’s a list of 5 benefits related to mental wellbeing (Source: 5 Mental Benefits of Exercise)
1. Help for depression and anxiety
2. Decreased stress
3. Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
4. Better Sleep
5. Brain Boost
Eating healthy also goes hand in hand with exercising in the overall effect it has on your body and well being.
10. Sleep Well and Manage Stress Effectively
Sleep and Rest are things that often get pushed to the back of the line when setting our priorities. But it should be a top priority in your life because, in addition to sleep being critical to our survival and helpful in managing stress, it has other benefits and importance that you need to consider. Such as:
- Improves your memory
- Stimulates creativity
- Improves concentration and productivity
I put sleep and managing stress together because when you’re sleeping well, you are much more resilient and able to manage stress more effectively.
I like this article on the Benefits and the Importance of Rest and Sleep, and you can check it out.
11. Be Happy – Don’t Worry
One of my favourite songs is Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy. I remember walking in to write an exam in University, and the professor had the song playing before the exam started. I must was unexpected, but it definitely put me in a better frame of mind for the exam.
The premise of the song is worrying does not fix the problems and challenges of life instead, it makes it seem bigger than it actually is.
When you choose happiness, you put yourself in a better frame of mind to be energized and come up with solutions. It is easier to work and produce the result you want from a place of joy and happiness.
12. Practice Gratitude
I included gratitude on this list of personal development ideas because it’s easy to get caught up in life, caught up in pursuing your dreams that you neglect to enjoy and being grateful for the day to day joys.
Gratitude opens you up to receive more of what you are grateful for, because it keeps your focus on what is good in your life and not on what you don’t want. Your life moves more in the direction of your most dominant thoughts, and what you focus on, you manifest.
So if you want to manifest more of the good, then focus on the good and practicing gratitude is a sure way to do that.
We are social beings. The quality of your relationships has a huge impact on your overall well being and ultimately the quality of your life. Make it a priority to take care of your relationships, especially with those closest to you.
How you communicate affects your relationships. So it’s important to develop good and effective communication skills.
13. Invest Quality Time
I guess this goes without saying. It takes time to nurture your relationships and cultivate deeper connections. You need to be intentional about it and make it a top priority.
I use the word invest instead of spend because I believe that quality time with family and friends is an investment that yields great returns. Don’t lose sight of what’s important.
You can’t move forward in life if you are bound to the past. This could have also been under the self-care / well being section of this list of personal development ideas, because learning to forgive puts you in a healthier mental state than holding on to offences.
Forgiving yourself for past mistakes and forgiving others is a crucial step in letting go of the past, and enjoying the present while moving forward.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are letting them off the hook, it simply means you are letting go of all negative emotions and bitterness that you feel towards them. It is more for you than it is for them. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same and because you forgive someone does not mean you have to be in any type of relationship with them.
There are other factors that will determine the relationship you have with them moving forward.
In the same vein, you have to learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Learn the lessons and become better. Remember that we all make mistakes and also acknowledge the progress that you have made and celebrate how different you are now.
15. Be a good spouse, friend, parent etc
Just as you are in a relationship with others, they are in a relationship with you. Part of personal development is developing the characteristics that make you a great person to have in other people’s lives.
Be someone that you will like to be around
Time Management and Productivity
This list of personal development ideas would not be complete without a section on time management. This is crucial because your life is made up of time. Manage your time, manage your life. Remember every moment counts because seconds turn into minutes, minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days. days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, the years that make up your life.
16. Plan Your Day – Have a Daily Schedule
This cannot be over-emphasized. You need to be intentional in planning your day. There’s a saying that if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. This is so true because success does not happen out of the blues, you don’t stumble into it. You may stumble into opportunities, but what you do with those opportunities is what determines your success.
Planning your day well helps you prepare for those unexpected or expected moments of opportunity.
It is recommended to plan your day ahead the evening or night before and write it down. Doing this allows you to sleep more soundly making you more productive the next day because planning ahead and having it written down frees your mind from trying to keep track and remember what needs to be done the next day.
17. Delegate tasks
This is one area I am working on. I am getting better but still have some ways to go. It is impossible to do everything by yourself. You have to recognize your strengths, and tasks that need your direct input. Everything else can be delegated accordingly. This prevents you from spreading yourself too thin.
Here’s a good article I like on the Art Of Delegation.
18. Avoid procrastination
Procrastination is one thing a lot of people struggle with, yours truly included. Over the years, I have found out that I procrastinated when I felt overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do.
One way I tackled this was learning to prioritize, delegate, and schedule. Prioritizing helps you streamline the things you need to get done and those that can either wait or not necessary at all. It also helps you decide what can be delegated and then ultimately what should go on your schedule.
having a streamlined scheduled prevents you from feeling overwhelmed which is one of the main reasons people procrastinate.
I like Brian Tracy’s best-selling book ‘Eat That Frog’ on this topic and you can get the audio transcription free below
19. Sharpen Your Organizational Skills
This is another area that is crucial in improving the way you function as a person, and it helps you save time and achieve more. Organize your living and work area and reduce clutter. Staying organized helps save time that would be otherwise wasted if you had to sift through any clutter from time to time.
20. Know Your Prime Time and Leverage It To Increase Your Productivity
Know your personal biological prime time, and take advantage of it to get the most important tasks on your list done at that time. However, you also have to work with whatever your current life situation is.
For instance, I am a night person, my brain comes alive later in the day. However over the past couple of years raising little ones I have had to adjust. I realized staying up late wasn’t serving me anymore because I had to wake up earlier thank I normally would because my daughters wake up pretty early.
So you have to assess your situation and figure out the best times that you are most alert to get those tasks done.
Conclusion On Theses Personal Development Ideas
These personal development ideas are meant to be a guide. You have to decide which ones you need to work on, and include them on your personal plan with a strategy to incorporate them into your daily life.
Your life only gets better, when you get better.Brian Tracy
Leave a comment below and let’s know which of these personal development ideas you are going to add to your plan. Don’t forget to grab your FREE Personal Development Plan Template.