Personal Development on a Budget

Adrian S. Potter
Jun 6 · 4 min read

Investing in Yourself Without Breaking the Bank with Denis Waitley (The Secondhand Inspiration Project)

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.” ―Denis Waitley


Personal development is obviously important. It can be a catalyst to help us stand out from the masses and a map to navigate us towards larger goals.

Nowadays people spend a lot of time and money investing in things that essentially numb us to reality — scrolling the internet, binge-watching Netflix, playing video games, and thumbing through social media. Entertainment is fun, but its benefits are limited. It’s like scarfing down a sugary donut for breakfast; it may taste wonderful, but those empty calories will eventually leave you starving for something with more substance.

Technology doesn’t help. Modern devices are amazing, but they’ve just made it easier to slack off and indulge in unproductive behavior. We don’t need to stand up and walk down the hall to badmouth coworkers; we can use e-mails and instant messages to dish out juicy gossip from our desks. The lure of distraction from games and Facebook is right at our fingers via our smartphones. With so many opportunities to take the easy way out, it’s not surprising that we don’t focus nearly enough on developing ourselves.

How much time and money do we save for ourselves to evolve? How often do we set aside resources for personal growth, where we are pushing our boundaries in a manner that can redefine our existence?

To become well rounded, we must decide to invest in ourselves. But that investment doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, practical changes that build toward the establishment of new positive habits can be more effective than making a huge splash. Many of these practices will are free — they only cost a bit of time and a willingness to venture outside of your comfort zone.


A few years ago, when my finances weren’t at their best, I pulled together a list of ten subtle techniques I could use to maintain my personal growth, despite the lingering constraints on my money and free time. I wrote these ideas down as personal challenges to keep evolving, even during hard times. Here’s the list, paraphrased as action items that you can use for yourself.

1. Talk to those people who you admire. Ask them for advice on whatever qualities they have that you want more of. People are vain — it’s not hard to get them to talk about themselves. Use this to your advantage and listen to the secrets they’re willing to divulge.

2. Spend time creating healthy, positive habits. These habits will be the foundation for your success.

3. Strengthen your mind and improve your analytic skills. Do word problems, try a new recipe, solve puzzles, or play strategy games that require higher-level thought.

4. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals as you. Or different goals. The point is to be around positive individuals who are trying to achieve something.

5. Tap into new wisdom every day. Read a book or an article. Listen to a motivating audio recording or podcast. Watch an informational video.

6. To get another perspective, ask for feedback from (trusted) friends and family.

7. When you find yourself losing focus, ask yourself “why?” Once you know, you can improve your strategy.

8. Write to yourself to help overcome any lingering doubts or issues you’re still holding on to.

9. You cannot fully avoid difficult people, but you can learn to deal with them. Take some people management training if necessary, especially if it’s offered by your employer.

10. Your environment impacts your mood. Set up an inspirational area at home or in your office where you can spend time visualizing and creating.


When thinking about personal development, we often believe forking out big bucks or putting in a ton of extra time is the only way to make an impact. And yes — upper-echelon classes do cost money and improving a weaker skill does require a time commitment. But anyone can still make progress towards improvement without having to dig too deep into their pockets.

My simple list worked for me, but it might not be a perfect fit for somebody else’s abilities, goals, and motivations. The challenge is for each us to sit down and pull together our own unique list of personal development techniques we can employ, regardless of whether we currently have a lot of resources or not.

Excuses are not valid. Taking steps toward becoming the people we want to become doesn’t have to be costly, but we will surely pay a price if we remain static. The choice is ours.

Data Driven Investor

from confusion to clarity, not insanity

Adrian S. Potter

Written by

Writer & Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Ardent Self-Help Enthusiast · Writing about improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com

Data Driven Investor

from confusion to clarity, not insanity