What is a Personal Development Plan
Personal development is a process that you will work on for your entire life.
Creating your Personal Development Plan will help you assess your skills, qualities, and what you need to be doing so that you can ultimately build the life that you envision for yourself.
It is basically a road map of your life that has your goals and what you need to do in order to achieve them mapped out.
A personal development plan can help you with all aspects of your life. It can also help you become more self-aware.
To use an analogy – it’s like baking a cake – you want the finished cake but in order to get that you need to have a list of ingredients (good quality ones!); a method of combining the ingredients – and then the “time ” to bake it before you have the final product (a yummy cake!).
The Benefits of a Personal Development Plan
- Mental Health Benefits
- Improves Clarity and Focus
- Improved skills lead to Higher Productivity and Motivation
- Easier Decision-making capabilities and more adaptability skills
- A healthier and happier life including improved relationships
- Increased self-esteem and Resiliency
For a more comprehensive explanation read the Benefits of Personal Development.
The Purpose of a Personal Development Plan
With your own development plan, you are responsible for intentionally creating a plan for your life- as opposed to life just “happening”.
With your plan mapped out, it will help you focus on the right areas at the right times, and instead of constantly getting distracted by every shiny object out there you will have clarity around what it is you should be doing.
The plan first involves breaking the areas of your life up into categories such as health, finances, relationships, career, spiritual, recreation, environment, service, etc. The aim is then to assess where you are at the moment in each area you have identified and then to set goals (long-term and short-term ) for where you actually want to be in each of the same areas.
Once you have identified the major areas, perform the 7 following tasks:
1. Decide what you want
Look at each category mentioned above and decide what it is you want your life to look like in those areas. This is your time to dream big. Yes, you can have it all so write down everything you desire.
You can do this on paper, on an excel spreadsheet, or on one of the many apps and planners available online.
Next to each desire add some realism. Decide whether you could have or achieve the result within 0-3 months (short-term), 3 months -3 years (mid-term), or 3 years + (long-term). This will not only make your plan more achievable but also infuse some practicality into it.
Furthermore, decide whether each goal is a BE, DO, or HAVE Goal. There is no right or wrong here. The purpose of this is to help you identify what drives you and whether you are striving for balance in all areas.
2. Decide on your “whys”
Look at each goal and decide why it is you want it. This is an invaluable part of the process. Pull back the onion layer by layer until you can find the core reason for wanting, doing, or being something. These reasons serve as motivators in your life. Some examples of core reasons are love, respect, fear, security, independence, etc
These reasons will serve as motivators and reminders down the road. Often we get sidetracked or feel less than enthusiastic so remembering why we are pursuing a goal is sometimes the push we need to carry on.
3. Perform a SWOT on Your Life
A well-designed Personal Development Plan will address your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and roadblocks or threats in all areas of your life that you develop.
Your plan will identify your strengths so that you can improve them, your weaknesses so that you can make up for them, and new opportunities, so you know when a door is open, as well as noting any roadblocks or threats along the way.
This area will include all of your habits. Decide which habits are serving you well (like waking up early) and which habits you will need to let go of (partying every weekend) if you want to change your life for the positive.
4. Create Action Steps
You know why you want what you want but now you have to decide how you going to achieve it. Each goal is going to have actionable steps. List these all out and put them in your calendar. Some goals might have daily steps (exercising) some weekly (volunteering )and some monthly (saving).
This is the lifeblood of your plan. It’s the bricks that build your house. You cannot have the finished house without laying one brick at a time.
5. Work on Your Mindset
When you perform your SWOT in each area of your life, you will discover internal and external things that are blocking your success. Most people have internal limiting beliefs in all areas of life so this is a valuable exercise.
For example, you may hold the belief you’ll never have enough money to save for the future. Because of that, when you do get “extra” money, you tend to blow it right away on all the things you feel you missed out on before. This is a limiting belief about money that a lot of people have because most people think money is a finite resource when it’s not. It’s manmade. Therefore, we can make more.
Working on your limiting beliefs (in this case, around money) would then be an area you can strengthen.
6. Keep Track
Have systems in place that allow you to keep track of your progress towards your goals. Some goals such as savings or weight will be easier to measure than others (like relationships) but this step is important for two reasons:
1) Your Personal Development Plan will show you what is not working and therefore give you clues as to how to alter your course of action or rethink a goal completely.
2) Your Personal Development Plan will motivate you to keep going when you see how well you are progressing.
7. Keep Going
There is such a tremendous sense of accomplishment a person feels when they reach a goal. Not only is it tremendously prideful but also propels you into wanting to accomplish more.
Working on goals or personal development is a lifelong commitment. Whilst some goals are more tangible than others, the ability to strive to be a better version of yourself is a natural part of evolution. With this in mind, setting and working towards goals should be something you enjoy. Always.
Whatever area of your personal development you want to improve can be done using a personal development plan.
Whether you want to lose weight, start a business, change jobs, or go back to school – the goal doesn’t matter as much as developing the plan that you need to get where you want to go. Your plan will not be the same as anyone else’s because you are different. That’s why it’s so consequential and unique because it’s just for you.
Best Practices for Your Personal Plan
When you first start your personal development journey, it can be tempting to take shortcuts. You think that you already know who you are, what you want, what you stand for, and how to exemplify that.
However, that’s not how the human mind works. Often, we hide truths from ourselves and are not honest with ourselves about these issues.
For this reason, follow these 8 best practices for starting your personal development journey so that you will succeed:
1. Don’t Skip the SWOT
It’s imperative that you perform an analysis on yourself in every aspect of your life to find out what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you face for any of the target issues you want to address. For example, if you perform a SWOT and realize that you’re not very good at something, you then have a choice. You can find someone who is to do it for you, or you can find training to learn to do it.
2. Nurture Your Strengths
When you perform the SWOT for any sector of your life, you’ll also identify your strengths. The best thing to do in life is to choose to lead with your strengths. You want to keep doing the things you’re strong at and learn to do them even better since you’re obviously interested in those things and those goals will be easier to accomplish.
3. Improve Your Weaknesses
When you find out that you are weak in some areas, you’ll need to determine whether you should improve it yourself or improve it by outsourcing it. To determine which is better, ask yourself whether it really matters who does it or just that it is done.
4. Understand The 3 Components of Personal Development
They are, physical, cognitive, and social-emotional. Together, these domains cover all aspects of your life, including health, work, personal growth, spiritual life, and so forth. Working on all aspects of your life usually is much better than focusing only on one as they are sometimes indistinguishable.
For example, wanting to lose weight is as much of a “mental” issue as it is a “food or eating” issue. In some cases, it might even be a social issue (a family that values traditional food over healthy food).
5. Plan for Action
As you work through crafting your plan, nothing is done until you’ve set up action-packed steps and put them in your calendar scheduled for you to implement them. Writing down goals and visualization are techniques you can use to assist you but you also have to be doing the action steps.
6. Focus on The Right Target Issue First
One reason it’s helpful to go through every single domain and issue you have before setting up a plan is that it helps you to know which issue to focus on first. For example, you cannot write a novel until you can read, and you can’t learn to write until you can read. First things first.
7. Be Persistent
Once you have your action plan, which is developed based on reality and not on how you wish it to be, you only now need to be persistent and take the steps to success. It truly is that easy.
Once you have the steps scheduled in your calendar and you start implementing them, your life will begin to change.
8. Get a Coach
If you understand everything but your implementation skills leave something more to be desired, you may want to employ a life coach to help you.
No matter what area of your life you working on I highly recommend doing a mindset coaching program – this will help you in any area you want to improve on.
Last thoughts on creating a Personal Development Plan
One thing to remember about personal development is that it’s an ongoing process.
You’re never done with it.
There is no real finish line.
For this reason, it’s best to develop tenacity and persistence as you follow the path you’ve created for yourself, adjusting as you go based on facts, and learning about what is really and truly important to you deep in your subconscious.
It’s all about knowing who you are and living a life that illustrates who you are but the benefits are invaluable.
What is a Personal Development Plan?