12 Best Personal Development Courses to Step Up Your Game This Year

Are you ready to engage in learning and self-improvement? Here's a breakdown of the best personal development courses to level up your life in 2021.

12 Best Personal Development Courses to Step Up Your Game This Year

If there's one way I love to spend my free time, it's digging into a good personal development course.


It never ceases to amaze me that if there's any skill you want to learn - anything at all - there's an online course or program that you can enroll in right now to eventually become an expert in that area. 


You can find courses to help you learn the science of persuasion, how to play guitar, how to negotiate your salary, or how to manage stress more effectively. 


In fact, you can even find courses that teach you how to learn, so that your entire personal development journey becomes easier and more enjoyable. 


It took me a while to get around to doing it, but I'm delighted to finally share my top picks for the best personal development courses online. 


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.


What are the Best Personal Development Courses? 

1. Master Your People Skills (CreativeLive)


Let's face it. Knowing how to effectively navigate interpersonal relationships is a key part of personal development. 


We want to be charismatic, memorable, and authentic in the minds of the people we interact with on a daily basis. 


That's why Master Your People Skills by Vanessa Van Edwards is one of my favourite personal development courses. It's available on CreativeLive, which is the world's largest live streaming education company.


In this course, Vanessa will teach you the communication methods and relationship-building strategies that will transform your interactions. 


You will learn how to increase your likability, deal with difficult people, be a master conversationalist, and quickly identify personality types.


Some of my favourite lessons in the course include: 

  • Harness Charisma (Lesson 2)
  • How to Light Up a Room (Lesson 9)
  • The Wow Formula (Lesson 17)
  • The Psychology of Attraction (Lesson 18)
  • How to Get Along with Anyone (Lesson 25)

Key Course Features: 

  • 31 Video lessons in HD
  • 22h 55m of class content
  • Exclusive bonus content
  • Lifetime access, anywhere, anytime
  • Streaming and offline access on desktop and mobile
  • Offline sync with iPhone & iPad apps
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

By the way, this isn't a course where the instructor just talks at you - the format is slightly different and feels like you're in an engaging classroom setting with other students.


Moreover, there are many bonus materials and practical takeaways that will truly change the way you view every new person you meet. 


=> Enroll in the Master Your People Skills online course here.


2. The Science of Well-Being (Yale University)


This free personal development course by Yale University takes you through a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and help you build more productive habits.


As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. 


Course Syllabus: 

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Misconceptions about Happiness
  • Week 3: Why our Expectations are so Bad 
  • Week 4: How Can We Overcome Our Biases
  • Week 5: Stuff That Really Makes Us Happy 
  • Week 6: Putting Strategies into Practice 
  • Week 7: Start Your Final Rewirement Challenge
  • Weeks 8-9: Continue Your Rewirement Challenge
  • Week 10: Submit Your Final Assignment 

Key course features: 

Shareable Certificate

  • Earn a Certificate upon completion.

100% online

  • Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

  • Reset deadlines in accordance with your schedule.

Approx. 19 hours to complete

English

  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Persian, French.

=> Enroll in the Science of Wellbeing online course here


3. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills (University of Michigan)


Almost a million people have already enrolled in this popular negotiation course offered by the University of Michigan. 


Why study negotiaton? 


We all negotiate on a daily basis. On a personal level, we negotiate with friends, family, landlords, car sellers and employers, among others. Negotiation is also the key to business success. No business can survive without profitable contracts. Within a company, negotiation skills can lead to your career advancement. 


In this course, you’ll learn about and practice the elements of a successful negotiation.


Course Syllabus:

Week 1: Welcome to Successful Negotiation!

Week 2: Prepare: Plan Your Negotiation Strategy

Week 3: Negotiate: Use Key Tactics for Success

Week 4: Close: Create a Contract

Week 5: Perform and Evaluate: The End Game 

Week 6: Practice Your Negotiation Skills

Week 7: Final Examination 


Key course features: 

Shareable Certificate

  • Earn a Certificate upon completion.

100% online

  • Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

  • Reset deadlines in accordance with your schedule.

Approx. 16 hours to complete

English

  • Subtitles: Ukrainian, Portuguese (European), Chinese (Simplified), Portuguese (Brazilian), Vietnamese, Russian, English, Spanish.

=> Enroll in the Successful Negotiation online course here.


4. Stress is Optional (CreativeLive)


Panic, anxiety, and stress are paralyzing emotions that can stand in the way of the life you want.


Freeing yourself from the grip of these toxic thoughts and feelings will give you clarity you can use to make better business and life decisions. 


In this CreativeLive course, stress expert Dr. Cynthia Ackrill shares powerful tools to help you relieve stress and develop greater emotional resilience.


What you will learn: 

  • How to manage life’s ups and downs using insights from stress management research and positive psychology
  • How to develop a framework for evaluating your stress levels and your behavioral responses
  • How to identify cues you can use to get back on course whenever you feel overwhelmed

Key course features:

  • 32 Video lessons in HD
  • 15h 2m of class content
  • Exclusive bonus content
  • Lifetime access, anywhere, anytime
  • Streaming and offline access on desktop and mobile
  • Offline sync with iPhone & iPad apps
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

This personal development course will help gain a greater understanding of the physiological impact of stress, so you can minimize the disruption it has on your body and life.


=> Enroll in the Stress is Optional online course here. 


5. The Super Reading Program (Mindvalley)


Personal development often involves an emphasis on learning to work smarter instead of harder. Learning to speed is an excellent way to put this into practice.


The Super Reading Program is a highly optimized speed reading methodology by Jim Kwik, one of the world’s top experts in accelerated learning, memory, speed reading, and brain performance.


The goal of the program is to at least double your reading and learning speed in just 21 days. It follows a simple step-by-step process that anyone can follow in just a few minutes each day.


Course syllabus: 

  • Week 1: The Foundations of Speed Reading
  • Week 2: Scientific Techniques to Enhance Your Speed and Comprehension 
  • Week 3: Jim Kwik's Tricks for Advanced Comprehension and Focus 

This course will teach you how to: 


  • Harness science-backed neurostimulation techniques and speed reading tools to break through the limiting ‘inner voice’ reading method that has greatly diminished your natural reading speed.

  • Apply your accelerated reading and learning speed towards your personal and professional goals - so you can multiply your productivity and get more done in record time.

  • Implement simple yet effective memory retention techniques that ensure you can not only absorb information faster - but also retain and use it at a moment’s notice.


=> There's actually a free 60 Minute Masterclass by Jim Kwik that you can sign up for to experience a sample of the Super Reading program and learn a useful, science-backed 15 Minute speed reading technique.


6. Start Your Coding Journey (Treehouse)


Treehouse is a platform that enables you to learn the languages, frameworks, and principles required for the most in-demand careers in tech. 


The platform contains various "tracks" or mini-programs, each designed to teach you a particular set of skills. The Start Your Coding Journey track is ideal for someone who's ready to dive into coding, but isn't sure which language to choose.


You'll get a thorough introduction to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, PHP, React, and more. 


  • You'll start this Track with courses on Computer Basics, How the Internet Works, and How the Web Works. 
  • Next, you'll take courses in HTML and CSS basics, as well as dive into some intermediate CSS design layout concepts. 
  • To wrap up the design portion of the Track, you'll take an Introduction to Wireframing course, to get you ready to design a website.
  • Once you're familiar with JavaScript, you'll add React, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Swift Basics to your arsenal. 

Fun fact about this personal development course: An entry-level salary for the technologies covered in this course is about $60,000 / yr (USD) on average.


I personally love the sleek and intuitive layout of the Treehouse platform and their professional, expert-led video courses that enhance your learning experience.


Moreover, when you sign up with Treehouse, you gain access to the entire Treehouse course library, so you can go on to learn other tech skills too (e.g. UX design, Digital Literacy, Machine Learning, etc).



=> Sign up here and get access to 7 days of free learning on the Treehouse platform

7. Life Mastery - Happiness, Health & Success (Udemy)


Life Mastery is a practical program designed to help you rocket towards your personal and career goals to achieve total happiness. If you feel like things aren't turning out as you'd dreamed, you want to progress faster, or you're overwhelmed with stress and worry, this course will transform your approach to life. 


The course creator, Chris Croft, is an international speaker and widely published author who's been teaching happiness, time management and assertiveness to companies for over 20 years. 


While most courses cover either happiness in a vague way, or success from a purely money focused angle, this program combines both into one simple route to achieve all your goals as a fully rounded person.


The course overview includes:

  • Changing your self talk to create the person you want to be
  • Being assertive, not aggressive
  • Getting organised with time management
  • Getting promoted and networking like a pro
  • Choosing a career you love, for all the right reasons
  • Setting effective and exciting goals, and then achieving them consistently 

Key course features:

  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 9 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of completion

=> Enroll in the Life Mastery online course here


8. Dynamic Public Speaking (University of Washington)


If you are nervous about public speaking or simply looking to refine your skills in this area, this personal development course is for you. 


This four-course specialization on Coursera will provide you with the instruction, experience, and practice to develop and deliver compelling presentations.


Program Syllabus: 

  • Course 1: Introduction to Public Speaking
  • Course 2: Speaking to inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides
  • Course 3: Speaking to persuade: Motivating audiences with solid arguments and moving language
  • Course 4: Speaking to Inspire: Ceremonial and Motivational Speeches

Based on knowledge in communication, rhetoric and linguistics, the course slowly works up specific skills that you can practice multiple times before putting together a longer speech.


Key course features: 

Shareable Certificate

  • Earn a Certificate upon completion.

100% online

  • Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible Schedule

  • Set and maintain flexible deadlines.

Approx. 5 months to complete

  • Suggested 3 hours/week

English

  • Subtitles: English, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian).

=> Enroll in the Dynamic Public Speaking online course here


9. How to Make Money (CreativeLive)


Like his books, this popular CreativeLive course by Ramit Sethi is both immensely educational and entertaining. 


If you're not already familiar with him, Ramit Sethi is the bestselling author of the book "I Will Teach You to Be Rich", and an entrepreneur who has taught over a million students how to better manage their finances.


In How to Make Money, Ramit shares his proven techniques for transforming your financial outlook.


What you will learn in this course: 

  • How to reach your personal financial goals through learning how to spend, save, and invest your money
  • How to turn your passions into extra income on the side
  • How to find and land your dream job (or gig) and how to negotiate your salary once you do

Key course features: 

  • 40 Video lessons in HD
  • 17h 4m of class content
  • Exclusive bonus content
  • Lifetime access, anywhere, anytime
  • Streaming and offline access on desktop and mobile
  • Offline sync with our iPhone & iPad apps
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

Even if you feel pretty comfortable financially, I still recommend this course. It takes an usual approach to most money advice. In fact, as Ramit says in the course, it's actually a bit like a psychology course disguised as a personal finance course. 


=> Enroll in the How to Make Money online course here. 


10. Career Success Specialization (UCI)


This series of courses by the University of California (Irvine) will help you develop essential skills needed to improve your employability and advancement in today’s dynamic workforce.


The course concludes with a Capstone project that will give you the opportunity to apply the methods and techniques you learned in the series of courses to a personal experience, giving you a way to communicate your value to potential employers. 


You’ll focus your communication, management, negotiation, problem solving, business writing, time management, finance, entrepreneurship, and project management skills into a single project that demonstrates your career readiness.


Program Syllabus:

  • Course 1: Project Management: The Basics for Success
  • Course 2: Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity
  • Course 3: Finance for Non-Financial Professionals
  • Course 4: Communication in the 21st Century Workplace
  • Course 5: High-Impact Business Writing
  • Course 6: The Art of Negotiation
  • Course 7: Fundamentals of Management
  • Course 8: Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
  • Course 9: Essentials of Entrepreneurship: Thinking & Action
  • Course 10: Career Success Project

Key course features:

Shareable Certificate

  • Earn a Certificate upon completion.

100% online courses

  • Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible Schedule

  • Set and maintain flexible deadlines.

Beginner Level

  • No prior experience required.

Approx. 11 months to complete

  • Suggested 1 hour/week.

English

  • Subtitles: English, Arabic, Portuguese (Brazilian), Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, French, Ukrainian, Chinese (Simplified), Italian, Dutch, Bulgarian, German, Russian, Turkish, Hindi, and more...

This course is one of the best personal development courses you'll find that specifically focuses on career and professional development. 


=> Enroll in the Career Success Specialization course online here


11. Coach Training Accelerator (Coach Training Alliance)


Have you ever thought of sharing your passion for personal development with others? This popular life coaching certification course can help you do so. 


Coach Training Alliance (CTA) is a global coaching organization that has trained and certified over 10,000 coaches from 45 countries. 


Their Coach Training Accelerator is an online self-study program that provides you with the training and tools you need to establish a solid, sustainable coaching practice.


This course will teach you how to:

  • Learn from the mistakes and successes of others
  • Discover shortcuts that take years off your learning curve
  • Accelerate your career in coaching and your ability to earn a significant income
  • Experience several insights about your own personal growth that will enhance your abilities as coach
  • Develop a niche and learn how to showcase your skills and services

Key course features: 

  • 20 Lesson Online Graduate Level Program
  • 5 Multimedia Training Modules
  • 3 Bonus Self-Paced Interactive Courses 
  • Become a Coach in 20 Weeks

=> Learn more about the Coach Training Accelerator course here


12. Foundations of Positive Psychology (University of Pennsylvania)


This program by the University of Pennsylvania provides you with the key theories and research in the field of positive psychology as well as opportunities for application.


As a student in this program, you will learn to design and justify small-scale positive interventions to enhance specific aspects of your personal wellbeing.


You will learn to: 

  • Understand the scientific foundations of Positive Psychology
  • Master strategies and tools that enable individuals and organizations to thrive
  • Discover key theories and research in the field of Positive Psychology
  • Apply key concepts from Positive Psychology to your personal and professional life

Program Syllabus: 

  • Course 1: Positive Psychology: Martin E. P. Seligman’s Visionary Science
  • Course 2: Positive Psychology: Applications and Interventions
  • Course 3: Positive Psychology: Character, Grit and Research Methods
  • Course 4: Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills
  • Course 5: Positive Psychology Specialization Project: Design Your Life for Well-being

Key course features:

Shareable Certificate

  • Earn a Certificate upon completion.

100% online courses

  • Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible Schedule

  • Set and maintain flexible deadlines.

Beginner Level

  • This course is appropriate for all learners.

Approx. 5 months to complete

  • Suggested 4 hours/week.

English

  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Japanese.


=> Enroll in the Foundations of Positive Psychology online course here

Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Development Courses 

Questions about Personal Development Courses. E.g. What course should I take first?

What is Personal Development?


Personal development refers to a broad category of activities that improve awareness and identity, develop your talents and employability, aid in the realization of your dreams, and ultimately improve the quality of your life. 


People who actively seek to improve themselves often find that they are able to successfully push past limiting beliefs and reach difficult goals.


Rather than waiting for life to hand you knowledge, opportunity and success on a silver platter (which it won’t), you can take control of your life through personal development. 


You can read my full post on the definition of personal development here.


How Can Personal Development Courses Help Me Reach My Goals?


Personal development courses can help you reach your goals by guiding you through a step-by-step program, taught by experts in your desired subject area. 


In life, you can learn from your own mistakes (which often takes longer), or you can follow the trusted advice of qualified individuals and people who've already done what you're trying to do (much quicker!).


The best personal development training courses will shorten your learning curve and give you an opportunity to put what you learn into practice. 


Additionally, the flexibility of online learning is particularly well-suited to building personal development skills, since you can select individual courses that match your goals, instead of pursuing a full degree program. 


Which Personal Development Course Should I Take First?


The course(s) you choose to take first will completely depend on learning goals and personal situation. Many people choose to take courses that align with their ideal career path or personal interests. 


For beginners, the 3 personal development courses I recommend taking first are


These courses will give you a great start and set a strong foundation for whatever areas you decide to pursue next. 


Final Thoughts


Thanks for reading this article on the best personal development courses to enroll in online this year. Special congratulations for making it this far, since it was quite a long post!


I hope the above courses will help give you some direction on areas you can focus on to experience greater success in your life over the next few months. 


Personal development is a lifelong journey and an exciting one. As you build on the knowledge and skills provided in these courses, you'll likely look back at where you started and be amazed at how far you've come!


All the best,

Roli

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