So what is a personal development plan, and why do you need one?
If you have been in a place before where you asked yourself questions like; “What happened? How did I end up here?” Maybe because you were living a life with no plans to aim for in your life, and then you realize, mmh…something is not right with me and my life. How come everyone I know is looking like heading somewhere? They have things to show off as their accomplishments. They are of the same age as me, we used to be close friends, we went to same schools, but they have achieved all these things, and are very far ahead of me. They are married, have children, big houses, big careers, big businesses, they are healthy and physically fit, and on top of that they look like they are happily living, and enjoying life.
Not long ago I also had that reality-check-call; and I realized my life is a mess. What happened to me? How did I get here? What have I done with my time all this time? I have got years with no big accomplishments to show off. So I surrendered to God and asked God to take over my life. There are lots of things God has been dealing with me since then when I surrendered and asked for His help. He has been fixing my life, and there are lots need to be fixed, and honestly it feels like I still have a long way to go. I am at the point where even when someone asks me for a date, I usually tell them that I’m single, but not available right now. I have a few reasons why. I have got issues that I need God to help me fix. I don’t want to enter in a relationship and drain my boyfriend or husband with things only God can help me with and fulfill in me. Until God confirms to me it’s time, I will continue to be on and off, happily single..hahaha.
One of the things that I have learned and came across in my process of personal development is that it’s important to discover your purpose in life, but also it’s important to have a plan for your life, a personal development plan. This plan will be part of guideline for your life to remind yourself where you want to go and be in one, three, five, ten, twenty, thirty, even fifty years if you can make a really good foresight for your future. It’s like when we want to go somewhere, let’s say for vacation (there you go again, Jim Rohn said it, hahaha…); we will prepare ahead of time and have the destination in mind and how to get there. It’s the same thing with personal development plan; it helps us plan ahead the things we want to do, and ideas of where we want to go. It can start as thoughts and ideas in our minds or desires in our hearts, but when we write down and create a realistic strategy and plan in more details that we can follow through, it can become our personal development plan.
Personal development plan is a process consisting of defining what is important to you, what you want to achieve, and assessing the strengths you already have that can help you achieve your goals and dreams, but also what you need to improve and develop with time.
There are many things to consider when creating a personal development plan. I have come up with seven key ingredients and sections to guide you.
- Find out what you really want
Have a vision and personal mission for your life. Give yourself permission to dream. It has to be in perfect harmony with the core of your being, but helps you grow, and give you a personal fulfillment. It needs to connect you to your true desires and a sense of God-given purpose. When what you want is in line with what God wants or His will for your life it will give you that perfect harmony you need, and a big picture or vision that you need for your life. If you are not sure you can pray about it and ask God to reveal His plans for you in His time while you continue with the dreams and goals you have at the moment as you wait for God to confirm His will for your life. For example, there was a period of time I used to think I was going to marry a Pastor and going to be a Pastor’s wife. It was not until I realized sometimes God can have other plans for you, but still continue to do all things for the glory of God.
- Assess your current state
You have got to know where you are before you plan where you want to go. Your personal development must be based in your own version of your values, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. If you are not sure, you can ask your family members, friends, and colleagues, or just observe what people tell you as compliments, feedbacks, or even complaints. By knowing them, it will help us find out which of these strengths, skills, or interests for instance will help us achieve our goals and dreams.
>>List at least top five values most important to you. For example; Godliness, trust, love, faith, family, happiness, health, integrity, excellence, wealth, success, freedom, power, creativity, adventure, feeling what you do is important, and so on.
>>List at least top five strengths that you currently possess or have. For instance; Self-confidence, Focused, hardworking, action-oriented, analytical, good listener, good communicator, business-oriented, family-oriented, people-oriented, energetic, patient, persistent, intelligent, fast-learner, open-minded, brave, outgoing, well-organized, empathy, loving, caring person, or kind-hearted, and et cetera.
>>List at least top five skills and things that you do well. For example; Knowledge in accounting, writing, sales and marketing, leadership, public speaking, teaching, organization, finance, talented actor or actress, singer, artist, good parenting, etc.
>>List at least top five weaknesses. They could be; lack of self-discipline, lack of enthusiasm, impatience, laziness, dis-organized, selfishness, worrying about things, and many more.
>>List at least top five interests, hobbies, or things you want to learn and get involved more. Let’s say may be social media, cooking, reading, listening to teaching podcasts and videos, fitness and wellness, dancing, swimming, learning a foreign language, playing golf, and et cetera.
- Identify the life areas you want to work on
A good personal development plan should cover almost all areas of your life to create a balance in your life. So take a broad perspective and look at all areas of your life that you want to work on.
Check out <<< Seven Areas of Life to Work On>>>
>> Spiritual health: including a personal relationship with God, praying, meditating, spiritual growth and awareness, and so on.
>> Mental health: including reading, emotional well-being, learning, thinking, etc.
>> Physical health: including exercising, fitness, wellness, beauty, sport, outlook, etc.
>> Relational matters: including spouse, children, family, boy or girlfriend, friends, colleagues, and all other relationships with other people.
>> Financial matters: including earnings, savings, investing, budgeting, financial planning, belongings and things we own.
>> Professional status: including all work and contribution we find meaningful to society and to personal fulfillment. You education, your job development, all go here.
>> Fun or Recreational: including vacation, travelling, celebrating, etc.
- Personal goal setting process
Goal setting is the most important part of personal development plan. So define your goals and develop your action plan.
>> Define your goals
Create your goals on things that are really important to you. It can be something related to your career, but also maybe something that will improve your health like losing weight, learning a new language, or acquire some new skills. Think about what do you want and important to you. Do you have any unfulfilled dreams and desires you would like to accomplish? Do you want to move ahead to the next stage of your career? Do you want to start your own family?
Based on previous section, you can start by writing down at least your top five goals in life areas you would like to work on, achieve, and improve about your life this year.
>> Be clear and specific
Make sure to phrase your goals in a positive way in the way that will inspire you. Your goals should be clear, specific, and in a present tense. For example: I weigh 110 pounds by ….If you want to be a millionaire someday, your first step can be to make a plan first for yourself of how you can double your income you have right now this quarter, this year, and then go on your way up. Remember; what can be measured can be managed.
>> Set a deadline
How long it will take you to achieve your goals? Estimate the time is going to take to accomplish each of your goals. If you don’t set a deadline or time frame for you to achieve your goal, or goals, you may delay them or never take action on them. Usually big projects and goals require a longer time frame and small projects or goals can be done in short period of time.
>> Create an action plan to take action for each goal.
You need to breakdown your goals into smaller achievable steps that you can tackle on daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Write down the small steps you can take for you to reach your goals, achieve your dreams. You have got to take action because it is a foundation to all success. By planning and doing these daily actions, you can make genuine progress towards your goals. And soon enough you will find yourself accomplishing them. Be serious and committed to take action. Usually we have got to do our own pushups. Some of these actions you need to take you have got to be ambitious and determined enough in order to see them happening and accomplished.
- Get support
List anyone you know who can help you achieve your goals. List resources that you may need to accomplish your goals. For instance; if you need to create a financial planning for yourself, you need to seek a financial advisor. If you want to lose weight, and you don’t know where to start, then you will need to find a fitness and wellness couch or personal trainer. If you don’t know what career to take or pursue, or you want to change it, you can find a career advisor who can advise you. If you want to get married, let’s you are a born-again Christian, you can ask a Pastor for an advice. If you need to attend training, or conference, then list it down.
- Measure progress
You need to keep track of your progress, even if it’s a little progress. Better to make little progress than none at all. Your current behaviors and habits may either be supporting or not supporting you to achieve your goals. So if you know something is not doing so well, then in order to get better results next time, you need to improve or change something, maybe your strategy and approach, or your habit. And if something is doing well, it means keep doing it. You probably want to create a list where you can track things that you need to stop doing, and things you need to start doing. The stop doing can be for instance, the habits or actions that are threats to your goal achievement. The start doing can be the skills and habits that need to acquire or develop that may be helpful for your personal growth. To achieve something you have never achieved before, you need to develop new skills and habits and attain knowledge that you never had before. Write down the things that are not going so well and what can you do differently.
- Reward yourself for reaching milestones and making progress
Define how you will reward yourself. Personal development or self-improvement is a life-long journey; you might as well enjoy the process as well. Some of these goals you will need to stick to them for years until you can say you have achieved them, so it’s only wise if you reward yourself for reaching certain milestones as you continue to making progress. There will be moments that things will get harder, so you will need to find ways to stay motivated and keep going. Instead of focusing on those hardships, think about how it would feel when you have accomplished your goals. So as soon as you have done something wonderful, of sense of achievement, reward yourself. Tell yourself you did great today or this quarter. You will make your personal development journey and process fun and enjoyable, but at the same time productive.
Those are the seven key ingredients and sections to guide you in your personal development plan. You can create a template or worksheet of your preferences and type in the information. You can also write down on your notebook, and call it ‘my personal development plan notebook.’ Whatever works for you will be fine.
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To your success,