7 Highly Effective Personal Development Activities

Loyd Mears

There are dozens of personal development activities you can engage in to grow intellectually, physically, and emotionally in your personal life and career.  

The activities in this article are the seven most effective dynamite personal growth activities you can do.

I’ve also included detailed results about how to optimize your personal development and how to overcome roadblocks.

“Every moment of one’s existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less.”

Norman Mailer

7 Highly Effective Personal Development Activities

Adopt these personal development activities and improve your results immensely. These activities are some of the most powerful keys to succeeding in your personal and professional life.

1. Planning Incremental Improvement in Your Goal Actions

One key to all successful personal development is consistently getting better bit by bit over a long period. Incremental improvement happens when you plan for it by setting slightly higher targets and measuring yourself to see that you reached them.


  • If you’re in sales, plan to increase the volume of calls or presentations slightly each month. Also, find ways to be more efficient and effective doing so.
  • If you’re a writer, plan to slowly increase the time you write or the number of words you produce every day. Additionally, find ways to be more efficient and effective at that.
  • If you’re getting fit, plan to incrementally increase resistance and repetitions and slowly increase the time you spend exercising.
  • In marketing, plan to increase ad spending and improve your cost per acquisition bit by bit.

Be sure to write down your plans and evaluate yourself, which leads to the next effective personal development activity.

2. Regular Self-evaluation and Reflection

Most effective personal development requires that you judge your progress and make adjustments. It’s best to hold yourself to a standard and evaluate your progress honestly.

For performance-related personal development, compare your progress to your goals regularly and make adjustments.

Personal Development Activities

For emotional-related reflection, hold yourself to a routine of reflection. A great way to reflect is by keeping a journal. Some journal techniques only take a few minutes a day and produce good results.

Research shows that subjects keeping a reflective journal significantly outperformed control subjects who didn’t keep a journal in science classes.

Related Article: How to Write a Reflective Journal

3. Learning and Practicing Problem Solving Techniques

Problem-solving skill is crucial for everyone because every endeavor has problems to solve. You can develop better problem-solving abilities through practice and by using specific techniques.

The basic problem-solving process is:

  • Identify and define your problem clearly. If it’s something you don’t control, you need to respond with a positive mindset and think about making the best of it.
  • Find out what caused the problem. Then brainstorm as many workable solutions as you can.
  • Choose the most suitable solution for now and act on it immediately—do the best you can for the present circumstances.
  • Monitor your solution to see if it helps. Try another solution if it doesn’t help.

Related: Best Problem-Solving Techniques for Difficult Problems

4. Continuous Learning

Today more than ever, the world, technology, and our knowledge are changing and growing rapidly. Whatever your personal development goals, you’ll need to stay abreast of the most up-to-date knowledge in your field.


Fortunately, there are also more and more inexpensive resources to learn almost anything. My favorite learning resources are Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, Amazon Books, and Skillshare. 

5. Setting Aside Personal and Family Time

Personal growth includes emotional development as well as intellectual and physical. Your emotional well being is better if your relationships are healthy. Plan to spend time with family and friends so you can nurture your emotional condition. 

Also, set aside time for yourself. Some people become overwhelmed with their business and social obligations, leaving no time for personal interests. That results in stress and hinders your overall development.

6. Completing Challenges

Slow and steady wins the race is a famous adage. I interpret that saying as “persistence wins the race.” Mixed in with your dedicated efforts, sprinkle in some challenges to push yourself to a higher level.

Thirty-day challenges are popular. But you can choose a period to suit your style. A ten-day challenge, one-week challenge, or two-week challenge may be effective for boosting your progress to another level.

Use a challenge to focus on a specific area of development you want to elevate. Make the challenge more about things you control and keep outcomes as a secondary goal.

For example, if you want to achieve a higher sales goal, make the challenge activity to complete more sales calls or presentations than usual during the challenge period.

7. Regular Exercise

Exercise is a keystone habit that bleeds over into creating other good habits and greater self-discipline. Plus, you have to be in good health and have the energy to develop your business and personal life. That makes exercise most effective for personal development. 

Here are some exercise tips:

Consistency: Exercise is useless unless you do it consistently. Irregular exercise is not good enough to benefit from it. Commit to exercising at least 30 minutes, five times a week. And don’t quit.

Opportunistic Exercise: You can increase your exercise by incorporating more physical activity into every part of your life. Use your creative mind and find ways to move around more.

  • Regularly use the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator. You don’t have to walk the whole way up on the stairs. Go to the second or third floor and then take the elevator if your destination is too far up.
  • Get up and walk around when you take a break. 
  • Instead of driving to the corner store for milk, walk if it’s near enough and safe.
  • Think of other ideas in your unique situation to be more active.

What does personal development include?

Personal development may encompass many activities that result in improvements in mental, physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities.

Some examples of personal development include:

Personal Development
  • Improving your self-knowledge.
  • Improving your skills and learning new ones.
  • Enhancing your identity or self-esteem.
  • Developing your strengths or talents.
  • Improving your career prospects.
  • Identifying or improving your potential.
  • Enhancing your quality of life.
  • Improving your health.
  • Improving your wealth or social status.
  • Improving your social skills, relationships, or emotional intelligence.
  • Identifying and developing your spiritual identity.
  • Fulfilling your aspirations.

Personal development may also include improving other people’s skills and personality. This happens through positions like coaches, teachers, and mentors. 

How can I optimize my personal development?

Here are some general personal development tips:

  • Read about what you want to improve: There are many very well written books that you can read to develop every area you want.
  • Find a mentor: A mentor can be anyone who knows something you don’t. You can always find someone who has accomplished whatever you want to do.
  • Reflect at the end of each day or week: If you take self-development seriously, you need to be continually aware of how you can grow. And the best way to keep improving is to ask yourself where and how you still need improvement regularly.
  • Create a steady practice regimen:  Your habits create the results, not the other way around. You have to implement the daily habits that will create the change you want.
  • Join others to push you: You don’t have to pursue self-development alone. The best self-development for many is done with others. Join other people or groups who are working on similar things as you. Working together motivates everyone to have greater success.
  • Create a punishment and reward system: This is necessary for people who need to tame bad habits. I know a billionaire who motivated himself in sales by taking the weekend off whenever he met his sales goals for the week. If he didn’t meet his goals, he had to work on Saturday.
  • Be honest with yourself: Are you doing the things you need to do to grow? Reading helps you find what to do but will not make you develop without taking specific actions to improve yourself.
  • Find role models: In today’s connected world, it’s easy to find someone who has the attributes you want to develop. Search a bit and find someone you can emulate.
  • Track and record your progress: You need to have measurable personal development goals to track for progress. Be more fit isn’t measurable, but losing 10 pounds is. Ensure your goals are measurable so you can observe your progress and make adjustments when you fall short.
  • Persistence and consistency are the keys: Growth happens slowly and deliberately over a long period. Keep working, especially when you don’t feel like it, and be consistent. Exercise five times a week every week. Reflect on your progress every week. Set aside special family time every month. 

Overcoming Roadblocks to Personal Development

Overcoming Roadblocks

The path to success is never easy. Here are some of the common challenges and their workable solutions:

Lacking confidence.

You may have pictured yourself as being nobody special, and now you want to change your self-image. You may want to start believing you can accomplish a lot more. That isn’t easy to achieve overnight, but you only need to give it some time. As you learn more and practice, your skill will increase, and you’ll feel more confident. Most confidence comes from having knowledge, practice, and skill.

You’re becoming hesitant or reluctant.

Your courage may abandon you, and you may consider giving up the journey of becoming your best self. Pushing outside of your comfort zone is most likely the cause of your feelings. Identify what different thing makes you feel like giving up and devise a plan of performing better at it. 

Feeling fear.

Fear is an enemy you must embrace and overcome. Fear is often the result of imagining outcomes that will most likely never happen. There are steps you can take to defeat fear.

  • Create a worst-case scenario and act as if it has already happened. Consider how you will respond and imagine you overcome the situation. Make a list of everything you could do to respond positively and make the most of the problems.
  • Create a Plan “B” contingency for what to do if Plan “A” fails. Be careful not to use Plan “B” as an excuse to quit before exhausting all possibilities for Plan “A.”
  • Analyze all likely outcomes – People often experience fear of failure because they fear the unknown. You can lessen that fear by listing all of the possible outcomes of your actions. 
  • Ask yourself powerful questions to direct your mental focus the way winners do. 
  • What can I learn from this situation? 
  • What opportunity could come from this? 
  • What can I do better or differently from now on?

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually, the confidence will follow.

– Carrie Fisher

The Final Word on Personal Development Activities

Personal development is a lifelong process that every highly successful person does. My last tips to help you succeed are:

  • Don’t try to put too much on your plate at once.
  • Continually evaluate your results and adapt your actions.
  • Never, ever quit.

Good luck! I hope you have great success and happiness!



Al-Rawahi, N.M. & Al-Balushi, Sulaiman. (2015). The effect of reflective science journal writing on students’ self-regulated learning strategies. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education. 10. 367-379. 10.12973/ijese.2015.250a. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282304007_The_effect_of_reflective_science_journal_writing_on_students’_self-regulated_learning_strategies

Quote by Carrie Fisher: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway …. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7929705-stay-afraid-but-do-it-anyway-what-s-important-is-the