A personal development plan is the creation of an action plan for self-improvement, whether is it in a personal or professional context. It is often centered around goal-setting and ambitions based on values and ideals.
As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish, so it’s important to set a pathway towards whatever it is you would like to achieve. Setting up a personal development plan is a simple but effective way to start your journey to the next level, whatever that may be.
Here are some of the best ways to create an effective personal development plan:
1. Set your goals and intentions.
Seems obvious, right? But if you don’t know what you’re working towards, you’re likely to fail. The purpose of setting goals is to take control of the direction that you want your life to head in – creating a vision of what you want to achieve and how you want to get there in the most efficient way possible.
Be honest with yourself in the goals that you set – are they really what you WANT to achieve or do you feel like they are something you SHOULD work towards? Consider the time needed to really work towards your goals and if you are committed to putting the time in, and whether you will actually be in control of how you work towards them.
2. Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals
If you consistently have trouble making things happen in your life, maybe you don’t know how to set goals properly. This video will help you set SMART goals.
3. Be realistic
Shooting for the moon is one thing, but setting goals you have no chance of reaching will inevitably lead to failure. Running a marathon is a great goal to have, but if you haven’t exercised properly in years then it would be more realistic to set a goal to complete a 5K instead and work from there.
4. Brainstorm ideas and write them down
The act of writing them down, whether it is in a journal, diary or on a calendar will make them seem real. Plus allow you to separate the goals you really want to reach for from the ones that are just whims at a particular time or place. Like sailing around the world after having gone on a cruise around the lake. lol
5. Prioritize your goals
Perhaps there are several things you want to work towards. Sort them in order of importance, and then start to design your plans accordingly. Some goals are just naturally more important and should be focused on first.
6. Set deadlines
A deadline is always helpful as it creates a sense of urgency and helps you to stay motivated. Even if you miss them, having a deadline is a concrete finish line to work towards, and will add structure to your plan. It may be useful to create a timeline or mark your deadlines in a journal or calendar.
7. Recognize threats and opportunities
Consider what could create barriers that will prevent you from reaching your goals and slow you down. For example, if cutting down on unhealthy snacks is part of your overall goal to lose weight, remove any temptation from your home. Planning ahead means you’ll be able to sidestep pitfalls and grasp opportunities when they arise.
8. Keep track
Measure each success you achieve as you work towards your goal. There are endless ways to monitor your progress as you work towards your goals. Trackers in a bullet journal, writing targets and deadlines on a wall calendar and crossing off the days as you go along or even creating a dedicated tracker on a piece of paper that is stuck on the wall are all great visual ways to record your progress and keep you motivated.
9. Avoid giving up if you miss a deadline or don’t make quick progress
Overindulging during one meal in a day doesn’t mean that you have to give up for the rest of the day. If you make a mistake or miss a deadline, pick yourself up, tell yourself that it is okay and carry on. It also may be helpful to journal why you think you missed that deadline so that you can identify if you are self-sabotaging your success subconsciously.
10. Lean on others
Having a solid support network, whether a mentor, a like-minded community or friends and family to lend a hand will carry you forward across the finish line. Tell the people in your life what you are working towards so they are clear of your goals and can offer support when you need them.
Having a goal to work towards can be both exciting and daunting. Putting a personal development plan in place will help you to remain focused, following clear steps towards your destination while drawing on your available resources. So get planning, and turn those goals from wishes to reality!