20 Project Ideas for Self-Improvement

Updated June 24, 2022

The most successful people do not focus on work alone. Often, successful people focus on side projects in their free time to develop new skills and ideas. Side projects can be a fantastic way to explore new ideas and ultimately lead to meeting career or life goals. In this article, we share 20 great project ideas to help you improve your working and personal life.

Why are projects important?

Projects allow people to pursue interests and ideas outside of the scope of their work. Building new neural connections in the brain can keep you creative and your mind strong. Many jobs rely on a person's focus and expertise in a niche area. People who work in this sort of career will benefit from the freedom of a side project, which may lead to career development.

Example side project ideas

Here are 20 project ideas to keep your creativity flowing and increase your career potential:

1. Play the stock market

Investing in the stock market can be a great way to increase financial knowledge as well as grow your net worth. There are articles, videos and short courses on the basics of investing to help you get started.

2. Volunteer in your community

Volunteering is a good way to learn hard skills. Volunteer organizations that build homes for those in need can develop your carpentry skills. Preparing and serving food for those in need can improve your communication skills and help you develop empathy. Above all, volunteering should improve your outlook and help you foster a connection to your community.

3. Identify long-term goals and make a plan

Setting long-term goals can be a great way to ensure you are living an intentional life. Think about what you want to accomplish throughout your life and make a specific, manageable plan to reach those goals. Monitor your progress regularly and adjust your plans as needed.

4. Build an app

App design is a marketable skill that has grown in popularity. Many videos, articles and online courses will teach you how to build your own app and even sell it to the public. App design is a skill that can lead to new job opportunities or even self-employment.

5. Join community theater or a speech club

Public speaking is an important skill that can be intimidating to develop. Many communities offer the opportunity to improve public speaking through avenues like community theater or speech-presenting clubs. Community theater helps improve public speaking for those artistically minded, while speech-presenting clubs allow people to both write and speak.

6. Start a journal

Journaling is an excellent way to set and monitor goals. There are many different styles of journaling. Some people write down their daily activities, while others make a list of things they're grateful for each day. Use an annual calendar-style journal to set goals and track progress.

7. Design a website

Creating a website develops several skills: computer programming, writing and general knowledge. Choose a topic that interests you, and create a website with information about that topic. Web design companies can guide you through the process of creating and maintaining your website, or you can learn how to build one entirely on your own.

8. Meditate

Meditation has been proven to increase happiness and provide practitioners with mental clarity. If you suffer from stress, meditation may help you safely cope with stress-related challenges. Several apps and books can help you begin your meditation journey.

9. Take a continuing education course

You may not work in a field that requires continuing education, but you can keep adding to your knowledge base by taking a class or course that's relevant to a personal interest or your career field. Your community may offer classes open to the general public that you can take at libraries or local schools. College coursework has the additional benefit of building up credit hours that can be applied to earning a degree. There are also free online options to audit courses at major colleges and universities.

10. Listen to podcasts

Podcasts are audio shows that many people listen to on their phones. There are podcasts on every topic you can imagine. Choose a few podcasts that interest you and listen to them regularly. If you are already familiar with podcasts and have a great idea for one, begin your own podcast and share it online for others to hear to develop writing, editing and audio production skills.

11. Read books

Reading is the quintessential way to learn. Set a reading goal for yourself and make a book list that includes different genres. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill or about a person you admire. Find the type of book that fits well into your lifestyle, whether a physical printed book, an e-book or an audio book.

12. Exercise regularly

Creating an exercise regimen can help with physical and mental fitness. Many people report a calmer mind and better sleep when they regularly exercise. Make time in your day to work out and see how it impacts your work life.

13. Use your mornings

Many of the most successful businesspeople are early risers. Try getting up an hour before you normally do and use that time to do the things you tend to put off, like exercising, writing or studying. Create a morning routine that you can implement consistently.

14. Learn to cook

Develop the skill of cooking, whether for yourself or others. Everyone eats, so cooking is a strength that will serve you indefinitely. Additionally, if you work with computers or phones all day, cooking can be a great way to step away from screens and rest your eyes.

15. Write every day

Writing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stretch your mind. There are many different types of writing, like creative short stories or analytical essays. Determine what you want to get out of writing. Are you interested in improving your language skills? Do you want to develop your creativity? Figure out what style of writing will help you reach your goals and then set aside a bit of time each day to practice.

16. Take a walk

Walks are valuable for both mental and physical fitness. Make a brisk walk part of your daily routine. Leave your phone out of sight and take time to mull over ideas while getting some fresh air and moving your muscles.

17. Make a garden

Gardening is a practical and meditative practice. Design a garden with plants, flowers or foods that appeal to you. Plant and tend to them regularly. Experienced gardeners can create complex landscaping after researching plant interactions. Those new to gardening can start with a simple, small herb garden.

18. Start a collection

Collect something that interests you. This practice develops research skills as you learn about the best places to find your object or how to identify objects of value. Additionally, you will become part of a like-minded community and meet other people with similar interests.

19. Build your brand

You may not realize it, but you are your own brand. You can build on it by doing something that attracts an audience such as blogging on topics close to your heart, or creating videos of your favorite hobby or activity. Be consistent with your content to attract viewers and keep them coming back for more.

20. Make a bucket list

The bucket list is a list of things to do and places to see in your lifetime. It's something that helps you figure out what experiences are important for you to achieve. Anything can go on the list, even ideas that may seem out of reach at the time you're writing them. You might get the opportunity to cross that item off the list at some point in your life.

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