We’ve all heard the sayings, “Nobody’s perfect” and “We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses”. Well personal development is about mastering life skills and transforming weaknesses into strengths. While I can’t promise it will make you perfect, it will certainly put you on the path to your best self.
It can be easy to put off personal growth and assume things can never change. But as an online personal development course will show you, this is far from the truth.
I’ve spent the last 2 weeks searching for the best personal development courses to help you understand yourself better, learn more efficiently and increase happiness and wellbeing.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What is the best personal development course?
- Lifebook Online (Mindvalley)
- Superbrain (Mindvalley)
- Time Management Mastery: Do More, Stress Less (Udemy)
- Professional Soft Skills Learning Pathway (LinkedIn Learning)
- Art Therapy: Personal Development and Self-Healing with Art (Udemy)
- Become a SuperLearner 2: Learn Speed Reading & Boost Memory (Udemy)
- The Ultimate Self-Care Playbook: Discover & Nurture Your Centered Self (Skillshare)
- Master your brain: Neuroscience for personal development (Udemy)
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects (Coursera)
- Lewis Hamilton Teaches a Winning Mindset (MasterClass)
- The Science of Happiness (EdX)
- Connected Leadership (Coursera)
- Notion Masterclass: Maximize Your Productivity & Organisation (Skillshare)
How I made my selection
I took my top pick, Lifebook Online, two years ago and am still benefiting from it. It’s a uniquely structured framework that you engage with over six weeks to achieve fulfilment in twelve areas of your life. Working on one area automatically triggers success in the others, thus compounding benefits. After completion, your unique visions will be enshrined in a keepsake book.
That said, it does require time, effort and commitment.
So, if you want to take a more tentative – but still effective – step into personal development consider Professional Soft Skills Pathway. Benefitting from the expertise of 11 instructors, you’ll learn desirable professional skills such as emotional intelligence, teamwork, effective listening, building resilience and coping with change. It's perfect for those starting out on their personal development journey as the range of topics will introduce you to the core skills in the field.
But if you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day then Time Management Mastery: Do More, Stress Less might be the course for you. Covering the personal development essentials of SMART goals, Pomodoro technique and to-do lists, this program will help you boost productivity by setting small daily tasks that will get you on track to achieve your long-term goals.
My favorite focused course is Anike’s Art Therapy: Personal Development and Self-Healing with Art. You’ll learn to self-reflect and express emotions in a healthy way through 30 art therapy exercises and to the backdrop of 10 mindfulness meditation audios. It’s relaxing but also has a unique take on SMART goals, utilizing vision boards to visualize goals and motivate you to tackle them. It would suit creatives but's also ideal for those feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Best free online personal development course
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects (Coursera)
- The Science of Happiness (EdX)
- Connected Leadership (Coursera)
Coursera courses and all their resources are free as long as you do not require a certificate. But, if you do, this usually costs around $49.
Similarly, edX allows you to audit courses for free. You must upgrade to the paid track to receive all the materials along with a certificate.
Best online personal development course reviews
Platform: Mindvalley | Teacher: Jon Butcher | Course length: 12 Category lessons totaling 6 weeks (about 4 hours per week)
The Lifebook system has been developed to provide a methodical scaffold that supports you in a deeply personal exploration of your own individual life. It is structured in a clever way that compounds benefits.
Learn how to
- Become a self directed person with a clear, coherent life vision
- Bring awareness to every aspect of your life
- Unravel what’s holding you back
- Embrace empowering beliefs
- Compound and stack the benefits of the program
- Set clear goals for every area of your life and lock them in
- Identify motivations that will fuel your ambition and keep you on track
- Develop plans for achieving what you want with stretch and challenge built in
- A holistic, overarching system that develops the whole person
- A structure that promotes ongoing progress
- Examples throughout make it easy to understand and to create your Lifebook
- Strong focus on results, effective and motivating delivery
- It works (for me at least). I noticed rapid benefits across all areas of my life
- Additional support through the Lifebook Community and coaching calls with the founders
- Not all the categories may apply to you depending on where you are in your life
- Won’t suit those who are not prepared to put the work in
- Would benefit from more stills and/or video footage so it is less of a ‘talking head’ course
Best for: Anyone prepared to dig deep and put in the necessary effort to achieve a rich and fulfilled life – whatever your starting point.
Overall: Provides a clear, actionable framework that enables you to live a rich and fulfilling life. For maximum results you really need to ‘lean in' to the process, so it's less suited to people who are overly cynical.
Read my full Lifebook Online review here.
Platform: Mindvalley | Instructor: Jim Kwik, Length: 30 lessons totaling 8 hours and 46 minutes (designed to be sat over 5 weeks in 30 daily segments)
The Superbrain Quest is an accelerated learning curriculum designed to optimize your brain’s potential to remember, focus and learn. It’s led by Jim Kwik, an American brain coach and author with 25+ years’ experience teaching CEOs, celebrities and athletes to improve their brain performance. His clients include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Sylvester Stallone — to name a few!
Superbrain provides highly practical exercises throughout that help you think better, feel better and learn faster. And every lesson builds logically on the last making it easy to see and measure progress.
You will learn to:
- Ask better questions
- Turbo charge your memory and overcome forgetfulness
- Avoid “decision fatigue”
- Find a mindfulness routine
- Apply the ABRA technique
- Use neuroplasticity and neurogenesis
- Master public speaking
- Use the eight Rs
- Use the three keys to boosting memory
Best for: People who are serious about optimizing their mental performance and that want to be able to learn faster and retain more. Kwik really has catered to just about everyone here and his course would be perfect for students, CEOs, entrepreneurs as well as those who just want a better memory and fast brain.
Overall: An engaging and in-depth course that helps you to understand how your brain works and ways to improve your memory, methods to help you process information faster and so much more. I was really impressed by the exercises Kwik shows you and how effective they are.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Alexis Haselberger | Course length: 45 video lessons totaling 2 hours 5 minutes
In this course, broken down into bite-sized lectures under 6 minutes, you’ll learn to manage your workload efficiently by using a variety of techniques and prioritizing tasks effectively. You’re in good hands with Alexis, who has taught over 110,000 students and has an instructor rating of 4.5.
- How to minimize distractions
- Common productivity roadblocks
- The value of brain dumps and how to integrate them into your life
- How to prioritize your to-do list
- The Pomodoro technique
- How to set SMART goals
- 11 exercises to practice skills covered
- Concise explanations
- Subtitles available in 22 languages including English, French and Italian
- End of section quizzes
- Included in Udemy personal plan
- Would benefit from more text on screen
Who’s it for: If you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day or constantly have too much on your plate, this course is the one for you.
Overall: A short yet informative program that focuses on productivity, goal setting and beating procrastination. While the slides would benefit from more text, the explanations are concise so you can take your own notes easily. The practice exercises set this course apart from other time management courses and push you to practice the techniques covered in the lectures.
4. Professional Soft Skills Learning Pathway (LinkedIn Learning)
Platform: LinkedIn Learning | Teacher: Mixed | Course length: 200 video lessons totaling 9 hours 45 minutes
This pathway, provided by LinkedIn Learning, offers a chance to learn professional skills with a CEO, chartered psychologist, senior manager, college professor, author and behavioral scientist. You’re sure to get a variety of perspectives that will help you excel at work no matter the industry you work in.
- Emotional intelligence
- How to build resilience
- To cope with unexpected change
- How to listen effectively
- To improve team working skills
- The importance of trust
- 11 instructors with different skill sets
- Helps you audit your current skills, highlighting areas of improvement
- End of chapter quizzes
- Covers every aspect of Personal Development needed in the workplace, from team work to resilience
- Notebook feature in LinkedIn Learning allows you to take notes as you go along
- Certificate of completion which can be added to your LinkedIn profile
- Subtitles are only available in English
Who’s it for: All levels. Covering a range of skills that help you thrive in the workplace, there is something for everyone at any stage in their career.
Overall: Benefitting from the experience of multiple highly qualified instructors, you’ll experience a range of perspectives and expertise. You’ll be tested throughout to ensure understanding and if you’re starting out in your career you’ll come away with the confidence to apply the skills covered in a range of scenarios. As a learning pathway you are free to skip segments if you excel in this area already.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Anike | Course length: 149 video lessons totaling 7 hours 16 minutes
Anike has a bachelor’s in Creative Art Therapy and is passionate about personal development. Split into 14 sections with short lectures under 8 minutes, this course will explain the benefits of art therapy, help you self-reflect, and make realistic and achievable goals. It will inspire you to give art therapy a try with 30 therapeutic exercises and 10 mindfulness audios.
- To express yourself through collages, mandala, self-portraits and drawings
- How to write a SWOT analysis for personal development
- To be more self-reflective
- The materials needed for art therapy and how to set up a creative workspace
- Color psychology
- How to set SMART goals using vision boards
- Includes 30 art therapy exercises
- Examples of famous artists (Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo) and the emotions in their work
- Concise explanations
- 10 mindfulness meditation audios
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Not included in Udemy personal plan
- Would benefit from more visual examples
Who’s it for: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or looking for a way to relieve stress then this is the course for you.
Overall: A calming and creative personal development class. There’s no need to be an artist, simply a desire to explore yourself and express emotions through art. With 30 therapy exercises and 10 meditation audios you’ll be set to continue using art therapy once the lectures are finished.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Mixed | Course length: 63 video lessons totaling 5 hours 6 minutes
Sometimes learning can seem intimidating, there’s so much to read to master a subject and on top of that it needs to be retained. This course, provided by the SuperHuman Academy will teach you how to read faster than the average college student and remember more and with greater accuracy using a variety of techniques including a memory palace.
- Memory techniques to recall information quickly and accurately
- How to speed read effectively
- The memory palace technique
- How to memorize numbers
- Why images are important to remembering
- How to chunk information
- 1.5 hours extra resources including TED talks and YouTube videos
- Covers memory techniques for learning languages and faces and names
- Practice exercises and diagnostic worksheets to assess strengths and weaknesses
- Self-reflective questions
- End of section quiz to consolidate understanding
- Lectures could be structured more logically
- Would benefit from a PDF content guide
Who’s it for: With a strong focus on memorisation this course is great for those learning a language, meeting new people regularly or giving presentations. It would also be well-suited to students
Overall: A comprehensive course that focuses on self-reflection and awareness to improve memorisation and reading efficiently. It continuously tests your knowledge with quizzes and practice exercises and the recommended TED talks and YouTube resources offer an opportunity to keep learning.
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: Jonathan Van Ness | Course length: 13 video lessons totaling 1 hours 21 minutes
Jonathon Van Ness is a best-selling author, podcaster and Emmy-nominated television personality passionate about all things self-care. In this short course he’ll teach you the importance of self-care and how to create a routine that improves your relationship with yourself but doesn’t feel like a chore.
- The importance of self-care
- How to release limiting beliefs
- Yoga for self-care
- Overcoming failure and forgiveness
- How to develop a self-care routine
- Course workbook with 5 exercises
- Examples and step-by-step demonstrations throughout
- High-quality visuals
- Relaxing and personal – instructor feels like a friend
- Short videos under 10 minutes
- Final assignment to create a self-care planner
- Would benefit from a more in-depth lecture on meditation
Who’s it for: Anyone who feels overwhelmed and anxious on the regular, or wanting to build habits to reduce burnout at work.
Overall: It’s an engaging and hands-on course that pushes you to explore yourself and what recharges you. By the end of the course, you will feel relaxed, and Jonathan will feel like a caring friend. As part of the final assessment, you’ll also come away with a personal self-care planner which is a lot of fun to make.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Gregory Caremans | Course length: 80 video lessons totaling 8 hours
Gregory Caremans is the founder of Brain Academy, having studied psychology before pursuing a master’s in communication. He specializes in the Neurocognitive and Behavioural Approach and was the Director of Neurocognitivism in Brussels. Having featured on TEDx twice and teaching over 400,000 students on Udemy, Gregory will help you level your life with the power of neuroscience.
- Different types of stress and how to recognise them
- The role of the Neo-Limbic Brain
- The primary personalities and 8 personality types
- How to spot obsessions
- The difference between the automatic mode and adaptive mode
- The flight, fight and freeze response
- Content is updated with new scientific research and studies
- Actional advice
- Thought provoking questions as homework
- Bonus live sessions
- Passionate and knowledgeable instructor
- Science heavy
- Slides would benefit from more written information
Who’s it for: Beginners and intermediates with an interest in human behavior. Don’t worry if you weren’t a science wizz at school, Gregory will guide you step-by-step through the concepts covered.
Overall: Our brain guides our day-to-day life in ways that are rarely taught. This course will help you understand your personality, overcome loss of motivation, and tackle common yet daunting tasks including giving presentations and falling in love. While focused on personal development, the concepts can be applied to others in a way to enhance interpersonal relationships
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrance Sejnowski | Course length: 56 video lessons totaling 7 hours 16 minutes
Dr. Senjnowski is Professor of Biology at the University of California, San Diego and graduated from Harvard with a degree in Neurobiology. Barbara Oakley is passionate about the relationship between neuroscience and social behavior, so rest assured they have both studied extensively. In this course you’ll learn how to learn better, to beat procrastination and engage your long-term memory.
- How to use chunking to improve creativity and memory
- The importance of sleep to learning
- Tools to tackle procrastination
- How to engage your long-term memory
- The memory palace technique
- Why teamwork is important
- Optional interviews with experts in the field of personal development
- Quizzes and practice questions
- Final project to consolidate your knowledge
- Glossary of key terms
- List of recommended readings and further learning resources such as a discussion forum and study groups
- Can be completed for free without certificate
- Final project is peer marked
Who’s it for: With a strong focus on learning and memorisation this course is ideal for students or those learning a language.
Overall: A comprehensive program that will upgrade the way you learn. The optional interviews are enjoyable and offer a variety of perspectives. It’s also hands on, with plenty of quizzes and a final project to consolidate knowledge.
10. Lewis Hamilton Teaches a Winning Mindset (MasterClass)
Platform: MasterClass | Teacher: Lewis Hamilton | Course length: 12 video lessons totaling 2 hours 12 minutes
Lewis Hamilton is a sporting legend – holding the record for the most F1 wins, podium finishes and World Drivers’ Championship titles. While he’s now an activist, supporting movements such as black lives matter and promoting equality, he grew up experiencing bullying and racial abuse. In this short course you’ll be inspired and learn to be resilient and exercise self-discipline in the face of challenges.
- To maintain self-discipline
- How to turn negatives into positives
- To work and grow as a team
- How exercise can increase focus
- To manage time and prioritize what is important to you
- How to deal with failure
- 3 thought-provoking assignments
- Inspiring and motivational
- Personal teaching style
- 38-page PDF class guide to keep you on track
- High-quality video lectures
- Some lectures focus more on Lewis Hamilton than exclusively personal development
- Only available with MasterClass subscription (though there are other personal development courses on the platform)
Who’s it for: Beginner and intermediate athletes wanting to take their sport to the next level. It would also be of interest to Lewis Hamilton fans or anyone in a competitive industry such as business or finance.
Overall: A motivational and thought-provoking class from a top athlete who has experienced multiple challenges. As is standard with MasterClass courses, it’s shot in cinematic quality and has a handy PDF guide so you can practice skills covered along the way.
11. The Science of Happiness (EdX)
Platform: EdX | Teacher: Dr. Dacher Keltner and Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas | Course length: 50 video lessons totaling 6 hours
This course, provided by UC Berekely’s Greater Good Science Center, will teach you how to practice gratitude, form meaningful social ties and live a more fulfilling life. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, who is a neuroscientist and graduated from UC Berekely, is an experienced teacher and has taught lessons on prosocial behavior to a global audience, including the Dalai Lama.
- Mindfulness practices
- How to improve self-understanding
- How to foster happiness in yourself and other
- The fundamentals of compassion and kindness
- Why social connections are important
- Week by week guide (PDF)
- Wider readings and recommended films
- Guest lecture videos
- Weekly happiness practices
- Additional resources: gratitude journal, self-compassionate letter template and gratitude letter template
- Videos can be downloaded to watch offline
- Free version only allows 10 weeks of access to material
Who’s it for: Those wanting to improve well-being and social skills. Social skills don’t come naturally to everyone, and compassion and kindness can go a long way at work and at home.
Overall: A positive and engaging course, with a PDF guide to keep you on track throughout the classes. With extensive wider resources including films and journal articles you are free to continue growing once the lectures are over. There is also an online Facebook community where you can connect with others so you may even make some new friends along the way.
12. Connected Leadership (Coursera)
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Peter Boyd | Course length: 42 video lessons totaling 3 hours 32 minutes
Peter Boyd is a lecturer at the Yale School of Environment and resident fellow at the Yale Center for Business. During his time as CEO of Time4Good he had extensive experience working in a team and is passionate about personal development. In this course, provided by Yale University, he will share his top strategies for collaboration, goal setting and organization.
- How to define your priorities
- The fundamentals of system thinking
- To apply systems thinking to plan for change
- How to track progress
- To improve self-awareness for better teamwork
- PDF workbook to follow alongside the course
- 42 wider readings to further your knowledge
- Included in Coursera Plus subscription
- 2 practice exercise to consolidate skills learnt
- 24 quizzes to test understanding at each step
- Flexible deadlines
- Considerable self-study
- Shareable certificate of completion is only for paid access $40
Who’s it for: While this program is suited to personal goal setting, it is ideal for those working in teams. It’s less suited to those who prefer a lecture-based course as much of the course relies on suggested readings
Overall: Whether you are a manager or are used to working on your own, this course will help you collaborate better to achieve shared goals as well as your own. It can be completed for free without a certificate of completion and includes substantial but enjoyable high-quality reading materials
13. Notion Masterclass: Maximize Your Productivity & Organisation (Skillshare)
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: Ali Abdaal | Course length: 24 video lessons totaling 1 hours 45 minutes
Ali graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in medicine and is now a Youtuber and Entrepreneur, so he knows a thing or two about coping with a hectic schedule. Having used Notion, one of the most popular productivity and organization apps since college, he dives deep into getting started with Notion and how to level up your dashboard for greater productivity.
- To navigate Notion’s interface
- How to use Widgets in Notion
- To input a database such as an address book
- How to work in a team using Notion
- How to create a website with Notion
- Beginner friendly – starts with navigation in the app
- On screen demonstrations throughout
- Engaging and concise instructor
- End of course project to design your own LifeOS dashboard
- Discussion forum
- Too basic if you are an experienced Notion user
- Niche focus
Who’s it for: Whether you are yet to download Notion or are looking to upgrade your set up this course is ideal for beginners and intermediates
Overall: If you struggle with a traditional diary or to-do list then Notion is a fantastic and free app. This is a concise deep dive into creating a personal productivity system with the app that walks you through step-by-step using comprehensive on-screen demonstrations
What are the advantages of taking an online personal development course?
- Gain self-confidence – personal development begins with an understanding of what you’re great at and what needs to be worked on. Acknowledging your weaknesses gives you an opportunity to better them and many of these programs will test you along the way. Seeing those scores go up and up can boost your confidence and if the skill was easy to begin with, help you feel confident with the skills you’re already bringing to the table
- Improve self-understanding – during these courses you’ll be encouraged to evaluate yourself thoroughly. You’ll learn what adds value to life, what’s holding you back and where you want to be in the future. This is crucial to making decisions that align with your goals and values
- Make your life easier – it can be frustrating to be confronted with the same problems regularly – always feeling short of time, struggling to retain information or feeling overwhelmed. An online personal development course can show you the ‘why’ of these problems so you can start solving them and develop strategies to reduce the ones that can’t be avoided
Buyer’s guide: what to look out for?
- The topics covered – personal development is a broad field and there are several approaches and strategies that can be used. It’s worth checking the syllabus before you dive in so you’re certain that the skills you need are covered, and this is especially important if you are considering taking multiple courses
- The wider resources available – personal development is a continuous journey and wider resources ensure you have something to refer to after the course and retain what’s been covered. Some courses also offer forums, which is a nice way to meet people in the same boat and motivate each other along the way
- The instructor qualifications – depending on your personal development needs, certain qualifications should be considered. If you’re focused on productivity or resilience then entrepreneurs, sports stars and business professionals will have plenty of pointers. Whereas if you are looking for a wellness-based course, a psychologist or counselor may be more desirable.
How much does it cost?
Several courses included on this list are free of charge (without a certificate). And many can be accessed using a subscription or completed within the timeframe of a free trial. Paid courses range from $59.99 to $69 (with the exception of Lifebook which is $399.99).
Mindvalley is a platform devoted entirely to personal development. The Lifebook Online quest is purchased individually. However, a $499 annual subscription will give you access to 60+ other self improvement quests.
Udemy offers a personal plan for $30/month. This gives you access to 3 of the courses on this list for less than the price of buying 1. They offer a 1-month free trial and there are over 8,000 other courses included as well.
Skillshare offers a subscription starting from $32/month. It includes 2 classes on this list, with nearly 30,000 additional courses and can be trialed free for one month.
MasterClass subscriptions start from $180/year. Lewis Hamilton’s class is one of many personal development-based courses. The subscription includes access to 180+ high quality courses with global leaders and icons such as Hilary Clinton, George W. Bush and Wayne Gretzky.
LinkedIn Learning subscriptions start from $24.99 and would give you access to one of my top 3 picks on this list. You’ll receive a certificate of completion that can be conveniently added to your LinkedIn profile and access to over 5,000 courses. They also offer a 1-month free trial.
How long does it take to master personal development?
The courses on this list range from 1.5 to 10 hours. Most focused courses are between 1 and 5 hours, while more comprehensive programs are between 5 and 24 hours.
Personal development is a continuous journey so I would recommend taking different focused courses after you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to mention that the advantage of taking an online course is you can work at your own pace. If you are interested in a specific skill this can be achieved in less time by choosing a focused course or skimming through more comprehensive courses, which will drastically reduce the time needed to complete the class.
Whether you’re looking to gain self-confidence or find a way to simplify your life, the courses recommended above give you an introduction and a range of topics to choose from.
Lifebook Online offers a powerful approach to self improvement which is coherent and interconnected in a way that locks in progress in every area of your life, not just one. The structure of the course really helps guide you through the process and get results.
Time Management Mastery: Do More, Stress Less covers the personal development essentials of SMART goals, the Pomodoro technique and to-do lists. It’s hands on with 11 exercises and additional end of chapter quizzes, making it ideal for helping you boost productivity and get on track to achieve your long-term goals.
Personal development isn’t all about productivity. Anike’s Art Therapy: Personal Development and Self-Healing with Art will help you learn to self-reflect and express emotions in a healthy way through 30 art therapy exercises and a range of mindfulness audios. It’s relaxing and uses vision boards to motivate you to tackle your goals.
Personal Development – Frequently asked questions
My top pick is Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online
Several courses included on this list are free of charge without a certificate. Many can be accessed using a subscription ranging from $24.99-$180 or completed within a free trial time frame. Paid courses range from $59.99 to $399.99.
The courses on this list range from 1.5 to 24 hours. More focused courses are between 1 and 5 hours, while more comprehensive are between 5 and 24 hours
Holly is a student reading geography at King’s College London. In her free time she enjoys cooking, travelling and photography. She loves to learn new things particularly in the mental health and medicine field.