In our last article, we highlighted top workplace skills for 2020. This week, we are focusing on top personal development skills.

Personal development skills are a hot topic in general right now. A new decade has begun and so potential learners will be thinking about what personal goals and characteristics they want to achieve in 2020 and beyond.

They’ll be asking themselves what new skills and topics they want to develop and learn.  They might wonder what personal development skills they need to thrive in this new decade where uncertainty, information overload, fast-paced decisions and new evolving jobs skills are the norm.

It’s natural at a time like this for all of us to consider how we can grow and develop as a person. As an online course instructor, it’s important to pay attention to these trends and capitalize on the renewed demand for personal development.

This article presents some new course ideas for personal development skills, based on recent research, for the kinds of skills and content you might consider addressing with a new course or by incorporating into your existing courses, whatever they may be. We hope you find it useful!

1. Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is just what it sounds like.  Why is it more important than ever?  Basically the world is changing so quickly that we all need to be able to do mental gymnastics and apply them to a variety of unpredictable, diverse and changing situations whether at work or otherwise. Cognitive flexibility draws on cognitive and social psychology and behavioral economics.

Courses that teach cognitive flexibility might teach new ways of thinking, how to improve memory, how to think on your feet and speak and act in an impromptu manner with confidence, and how to take communication skills to a higher level among other topics. Other options for topic content could be how to embrace diversity of thinking, transfer skills to new areas and take risks.

A course in this area might for example teach learners how to improvise in presentations and job interviews and how to overcome fear and dread during other high-pressure activities.   Study the diagram below and you are sure to come up with a few course ideas!

Personal Development Skills
Cognitive flexibility involves a number of personal development skill areas

2. Negotiation and Influencing

Robots might be replacing a lot of the transactional nature of our lives, but they will never be able to negotiate difficult situations and engage in persuasion and influence.  And in this age of “Influencers” everyone is wondering what magic those people have that they don’t.

Personal development skills
Influencing skills are making everyday people a lot of money

With all of the information “noise” out there, negotiation and the ability to influence outcomes are personal skills that people think will be useful and in demand.  In the business world, negotiation and influence is critical in many areas – with suppliers, customers, co-workers, employees, etc.

In the personal world, whether you are a parent raising adolescents or a college student trying to get your first internship, negotiation and influence skills are invaluable and timeless in many situations. 

As a course instructor you might think, how do these skills apply to the field I am teaching? We bet you’ll find a way to incorporate them. Even data science, one of the most popular course topics on Udemy can benefit from a lesson or two on negotiating with business managers and influencing business leaders with data.

3. Personal Leadership Skills

In our last article, we discussed the importance of leadership skills in the workplace. Leadership also applies to personal development and non-workplace situations.

At it’s core personal leadership is about taking responsibility for being the best you can be and living the best life you can. It’s also about being a role model and leading others to do the same.  For example, a mother running a parent-teacher association needs to be able to lead by example. A father coaching a Little League team will need leadership skills to manage all those squawking competitive parents.

Examples of course topics that cover personal leadership skills development would be developing habits that inspire purpose or confidence, how to push yourself beyond your limits, how to learn from famous leader’s leadership styles, leadership mindset, how to exude energy and anything related to achieving peak performance.

4. Organization

Because the world has become so fast-paced and chaotic, we are seeing an epidemic of ADD-like behavior, extreme stress and burnout.  Many people are simply not equipped with personal skills to handle this kind of dynamic in their lives. Developing sound organizational skills can help.

Personal development skills
Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” organisational method is all the rave

Popular topics these days involve “habits” and “time management” with respect to getting organized. Just look at the huge success of Marie Kondo (household organization) or FitBit (Nutrition and fitness tracking/goal setting)! 

People are craving order, so give them tools and personal development skills to achieve it in the form of a genuinely helpful course.

You could develop your own system and set of organizational skills as it applies to a particular situation. You could teach lessons on productivity and goal setting.  The key here is to be specific, find an “organisation” niche that is authenticly useful to people.

You could also include in your existing course tips on more efficient ways to organize time, tasks, distractions, creating deadlines and many more to improve your students’ efficiency in learning and execution.

5. Job Hunting

The workplace is changing rapidly as is the many ways to find and apply for jobs.  It can be hard in this age of LinkedIn,, online skill assessments and the gig economy to get a real sense for the best way to go about searching for job and standing out from the rest.  Moreover, many people are having to figure out how to transfer their skills to be applicable to new STEM and data-oriented roles. 

Courses that teach people an approach to finding a job in today’s world, interview prep skills, how to sell yourself, salary/benefit negotiation skills, resume creation and so forth are useful. In addition, the numerous tools out there being used in the job hunting and interview process  present options for numerous course topics.

6. Emotional Intelligence

This buzzword is not going away.  So it makes sense to consider this as a topic. Emotional intelligence has proven to be in high demand in the workplace.  Courses on emotional intelligence can help outside of the workplace as well, whether focused on helping develop better friendships and other personal relationships or just being a more sensitive person in today’s diverse world.

Personal development skills
Some areas you might address with emotional intelligence courses

You might consider tackling subjects such as how to read others’ thoughts and emotions, how to adapt behavior to different situations and how to regulate internal feelings.  Emotional intelligence is all-pervasive so you can pretty much find any situation and create a course on emotional intelligence around it. 

Certainly, if you are creating a course on leadership, people management or interpersonal skills you will want to touch on this topic.

7. Creativity

Creativity is not just about learning art or music.  It’s a way of thinking and a companion to critical thinking (also an extremely in-demand skill!).

Creative thinking helps people to look at problems and situations from different perspectives. It encourages people to develop new, unorthodox solutions to everyday challenges. Creative thinking is becoming more and more important as a skill to learn in college to prepare for “the real world”.

There are endless ways to teach creativity.  Trendy ones include using gamification, mind mapping, journaling, confronting negative thoughts, letting thoughts wander, encouraging people to sit down and create a body of work in 1 go, and teaching ways to improve memory.

You get the picture. The important thing for courses on creativity is to be able to demonstrate clear concrete results and apply them to real-world scenarios.

8. Theory of Knowledge

Theory of knowledge
Framework for Theory of Knowledge

Pssst.  There are no courses on Udemy in this area.  Why? Because it’s a topic that is taught to school children. Theory of knowledge is a core course taught worldwide in the International Baccalaureate program.  But it has applications for adults in today’s world. Ever here of fake news?

The idea of the course is to reflect on the nature of the knowledge we have and how we can claim to know what we know. It looks at how different cultures acquire knowledge. Most relevant for adults and kids alike is that it promotes an attitude of behaving responsibly in an increasingly interconnected world. It involves thoughtful inquiry and focuses on asking questions, the most important of which is “How do we know?”

The idea behind Theory of Knowledge is to teach people to challenge assumptions and judgments, to think beyond what is, to question.  These are all very relevant personal development skills for the next decade as we continue to be bombarded with yes, fake news, the polarization of all kinds of beliefs, influencers of all walks of life and too much information.  It could be a useful tool for parents to educate their kids, journalists of course, anyone who needs credibility and a way to encourage new ways of thinking in everyday situations.

You heard it here on Teachinguide first!

9. Anti-aging Techniques

The Bulletproof founder has just published a book about how to age backwards. Good idea for a course!

People are living longer. Baby Boomers are busier than ever. Many “boomers” and Gen Xers know that they have to live longer to support kids in ever expensive colleges, take care of grandkids while mom and dad work and to take care of aged parents living longer.

Thus, there’s a focus on slowing down the aging process in any way possible. Just look at the success of the Bulletproof franchise.  We’re not suggesting you concoct some kind of fad diet or scheme to sell anti-aging techniques. But aging touches many many aspects of life  – nutrition, the mind, energy, career, physical activity, attitude, performance, happiness skincare, eyesight and much more. 

Surely there’s a course that can help someone in that list!

 10. Mastering Happiness and Success

These two topics have been written about for decades.  But there’s always room for more ideas in the never-ending pursuit of happiness and success in life. Now more than ever.

In this age of social media where everyone, successful or not, is portraying a fabulous life of happiness and success for the world to see, it’s hard for people not to think about how to have these in their own life.

Once again, we’re not suggesting that you concoct a phony self-help 10 step promise of success just to sell courses. But certainly if you have experienced your own successes and failures, happiness and lows that  people can learn from, why not create a course about it?

Some examples of related course topics would include concrete ways to change certain aspects of life, such as core values and friends.  Courses that help people focus and get clarity about goals. Courses that provide a roadmap to creating meaning in life. How to have a meaningful career. You get the picture.

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