Build a Self-Development Day

main part of the mechanism

by Brad Isaac on May 20, 2009

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein

Do you ever feel like you need a kick in the seat-of-the-pants?  A push in the right direction?  Perhaps you need a boost in morale or need some attitude adjustment.  Try giving yourself a self-development day.

Benefits of a self-development day

  1. You almost program yourself for optimism

  2. You feel better, refreshed and ready to seize the rest of the week

  3. Side-advantage: You knock out some minor tasks you’ve been procrastinating

  4. You’ll be more organized for the days and weeks to come.

The way I’ve done this in the past is I’ve picked one or two self-development/motivational audio programs that I would listen to nonstop for a whole day.  I put on some headphones and do some long-delayed cleaning and filing.  At the end of a day like this, I am feeling much more positive, more organized and a lot more energized about how I am going to deal the rest of the week.

So why does this work so well?

The simple reason is constant exposure.  If you have ever attended an all-day program sponsored by Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy or similar speaker, you probably felt pretty good about yourself and your future after the day was complete.  Constant exposure to new motivational ideas prevent the little negative thoughts (gremlins) from taking hold so easily.  For lack of a better word, it’s healthy brainwashing.

Best of all, this method is simple to do.  Just pick a day, and choose a few self-development audio programs.  Prepare some repetitive or routine work and get to listening.  Don’t stop until the end of the day!

Here are 8 tips:

  1. Pick audio programs where you feel you’ll learn something or reinforce behaviors you want to preserve.

  2. Make sure the day you choose is one where you can either be alone or where you can listen without people interrupting.

  3. Choose titles that can get you moving in new and better directions.

  4. Mentally approach your self-development day listening time with a sense that you will learn something.

  5. Set aside a full day, where you can do stuff like clear your desk, your office closet, dust, file…choose simple tasks such as organizing so you can focus on the audio messages.

  6. Also, keep the computer and radio OFF.  This is self-development day, not surf day.

  7. It’s also not audio-book day, so don’t choose novels.

  8. If you find yourself bored with the message, keep the tapes or CDs rolling.  If your mind drifts, let it drift.  Just keep it rolling.  It’s likely the next chapter will snag you.  If not, you are still getting something.

Some ideas for what to do while you listen can include filing and tossing out old papers.  Remove all the books from your bookcase, dust them and put them back.  Clean and arrange your desk drawers.  If you typically take a break, this time take a break and go for a walk.

A self-development day is an Investment in you.

This is pure YOU time, this is for your health and mental well-being.  You will surely get many ideas during this day and will probably feel a great sense of motivation and drive when the day is over.

Need some suggestions?

Here are some titles I’ve enjoyed over the years:

  • The Psychology of Winning

  • Lead the Field

  • The Psychology of Achievement

  • Your Secret Wealth

  • The Art of Exceptional Living

  • Conversation Power

Updated: Originally published May 8, 2006

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May 9, 2006 at 5:06 am

Interestingly we have spent a few days recently trying to understand the motivation of Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four minute mile.
His achievement is greatly enhanced by his training methods, motivation and almost professional dedication to his goal. Something that in 1954 was quite different from the world around him.
Please have a glance at the relevant post on our blog for more information.

May 9, 2006 at 8:16 pm

If you sign up for the Nightingale-Conant email list they will periodically send you $20-off coupon codes in your email and lots of other discount offers as well. I tend to think that a lot of their offerings are a little too expensive at regular price, so the coupon codes really help.

Having said that, however, it usually comes down to asking myself, “How much more productive, or motivated, or creative, or organized, or … will I need to be in order for the CD series to ‘pay for itself’?” The answer is usually that if I can get one extra hour or two of productivity one time then I’ve earned my money back. If I can get one creative idea then I’ve multiplied my investment many times. Once I realize that it’s a no-brainer to make the purchase. Perhaps I should blog about this… :o )

Brad Isaac May 10, 2006 at 7:51 am


I’ve been buying the programs since the late 80s and if you do include the coupon, the price isn’t that much more than it was back then. I believe they ran $49 or so in 1988. So I guess they’ve almost doubled in price – but the coupons really help.

However, like you said, one idea or two can multiply your rewards above and beyond the price of the program it is a much easier investment to make.

May 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Great post, Brad. It’s a great idea.

I’m wrapping up a business trip. On my 5 1/2 hour drive down, I decided to set aside the podcasts I normally listen to for the “7 Habits” audiobook I keep on my iPhone. I might have to get some new audiobooks in that genre.

Eric S. Muellers last blog post..Water: A Simple Energy Pick-up

May 22, 2009 at 4:41 am

I have a self development day every other day. 40 minutes of biking followed by hard workout in the gym and then some books. Makes me feel amazing!

May 28, 2009 at 8:34 am

‘Do you ever feel like you need a kick in the seat-of-the-pants?’ I’ve never heard this saying before but nevertheless I agree with Ziema. I good hard work out in the gym followed by reading self development books is great for positivity

June 17, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Good blog! Thanks for posting. A lot of things to follow…

Chris July 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

Good advice. I first listened to ‘The Art of Exceptional Living’ the day after we moved house. I had it playing on my iPod whilst unpacking and it really is incredible how easy it is to absorb it when you are getting on with menial tasks.

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