Creating a Personal Development Plan
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies Coaching
We have all heard the saying, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Even understanding that sentiment, however, we tend to forget to use it in our personal lives. Most of the time, we apply that thinking to our professional lives. We forget that planning our personal development is also essential to achieving success.
That includes all our big, audacious goals and dreams that pop into our heads minutes before falling asleep each night that are gone by the time we wake up the next day. When we wake up, life intrudes and diverts our attention to other things.
By creating a personal development plan, we devise a plan that enables us to avoid distractions and instead act each day with intention, knowing it will lead us to the future we want. When you create a personal development plan, you're primarily asking yourself to identify where and how you will focus your attention and your actions that will ultimately lead you to succeed in reaching your goals allowing you to live a life with purpose.
Benefits of Creating & Implementing a Personal Development Plan
There are numerous benefits to creating and implementing a personal development plan. It doesn't matter who you are or how old you may be. Look at some of these benefits. Remember that you may experience more positivity due to implementing these practices into your life.
· Discover Your Purpose – If you're not sure precisely what you are supposed to do with your life, seeking help by working on your personal development is a surefire way to find your purpose. You cannot find it by doing the same old thing every day. You may not have even tried what you're meant to do.
· More Self-Awareness – When you have more self-awareness, it merely means being honest about who you are. You know your strengths and weaknesses, you're sure of your ideas, beliefs, and emotions, and you know what motivates you and why.
· Better Sense of Direction – Nothing ensures you get where you want to go than knowing the path it takes to get there. This is the main reason for having a plan. You cannot reach goals intentionally without a plan.
· Improved Effectiveness – When you plan things out so that you've thought of potential roadblocks, problems, and risks before you embark on the journey, you are more likely to be successful in your endeavors.
· Better Focus – It's easier to stay focused when you have experienced some success. When you realize that following a plan ensures your experience more success, it's easier to focus on that because you know it works.
· More Motivation –You will be more motivated to succeed after those experiences. When you set a plan in motion and start experiencing success, you'll be even more motivated to act than if you did not have a plan.
· Greater Resilience – When you are sure of yourself, setbacks don't set you back as far as they would if you did not have a plan. You can look at your plan and adjust in a way that doesn't cause you to stop moving forward.
· Stronger Relationships – When you understand yourself, it's much easier to understand and relate to others. It's easier to put yourself in their shoes, explain how you feel about things, and be more proactive in keeping relationships healthy.
· Greater Success – The fact of the matter is simple when you create a plan and follow it, you will be more successful. It's just true. Take one small thing, such as learning a new language. If you learn one new word each day by the end of a year, you'll have at least 365 new words.
· Higher Sense of Confidence – Success breeds confidence. Because you are doing your plan, you are experiencing more success. You become more confident in your decision-making abilities when you experience more success.
· Enhanced Goal Setting – Just creating a personal development plan means you must understand how to set the right goals. Usually, the right intentions are SMART goals, meaning they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
· Overall Happier Life – When you plan for happiness, you will achieve it. You cannot help it because living a life of purpose and direction is much easier than leading a volatile life where you hang on for the ride and have no idea what you'll do next.
It will be different for every person who creates a personal development plan. The benefits you experience are going to be personalized to you. For example, if, during the development of this plan, you determine you want to live a completely different life than you thought, you can now do that.
You don't have to accept life as it is. You have the power to change yourself, your actions, and your feelings. Taking control is exciting and can be scary until you get accustomed to being in charge. But, once you realize you have it, nothing is impossible.
Why Do Many Personal Development Plans Fail?
Before you create your development plan, you must understand that most people fail at personal development. They fail for a variety of entirely preventable reasons. For that reason, you need to know these roadblocks but only so that you can put something in place to ensure that you don't make these mistakes.
· Limiting Beliefs – If you have ideas and beliefs that are incompatible with success, it's essential to rid yourself of them. If you don't believe you can lose weight, become a bodybuilder, write the next great American novel, or whatever your goal is, you can't. Limiting beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
· The illusion of Action – Sometimes it happens. Something goes wrong, and you want to fix it. So, you try to do something, anything! You do everything you know to do to try to stop it. However, you are doing it without a plan, and it's not working. If you feel busy but don't see results from all your work, it's likely due to the illusion of action. One more swipe with the brush on your hair, one more font change on that page, or one more report pass-through. However, if your "one more" try doesn't produce the desired results, you need to do something differently. In short, you need to make the right move, not just the illusion of action.
· Negative Mindset – If you have the mindset that no matter what good is happening around you, you can always find the negative, then you have a negative mindset. This can kill the hope of improving your situation. However, it's not hopeless. You can change it. To let go of negative thoughts, keep a gratitude journal every night.
· Unrealistic Expectations – This is where goal setting comes in again. If you have unrealistic expectations, it's because you have set unattainable goals. There is no point in setting goals out of your reach. Even if someone else can reach that shot, why set yourself up for failure?
· Not Developing Habits – Just as you can develop a bad habit in your life, you can cultivate good habits that pay off. For example, drinking a glass of lemon water each morning will help you stay hydrated and make your skin look fabulous. To stick to your newly forming habit, you need to turn it into a ritual until it becomes second nature. Then, one day you'll be excited about your new routine.
· Forgetting Systems & Routines – One way to develop habits is to create systems and routines. For example, if you want to train yourself to toss the unneeded clutter, you'll need to place trashcans where you usually leave items lying around. Likewise, if you start getting up early, set your alarm and put it on the other side of the room or far enough away that you can't hit snooze. These little changes in a system or routine help a lot.
· Lack of Self-Discipline – No plan will succeed if you don't implement the plan. If you lack discipline, that is one of the first things you must work on. If you cannot stick to something for the duration of the time it takes to experience success, you will not succeed.
· Not Focusing Enough – One of the signs of adulthood is the ability to wait for gratification. It's imperative that you can laser focus on a task or a plan for the time required to experience success. If you notice super successful people, they develop tunnel vision for what they want.
· Not Setting Goals Correctly – This can range from not bothering to set goals to be vague about your goals. Goals must be concrete to be useful. For example, instead of saying, "I want to learn a new language." Instead, you will state your goals: "I want to learn Spanish. To accomplish this, I will learn one new Spanish word daily using the language app for the next year." Writing down goals correctly will help you develop more clarity in your direction.
· Forgetting o Create a Backup Plan – When creating your development plan, one of the processes is to figure out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) for any area you want to improve upon. When you accomplish this, you can create "what if" scenarios so that you're ready for the backup if you need it.
· Poor Time Management Skills – The great equalizer in life is time. Everyone gets the same number of hours in their day and year. What you do with it is what matters. You cannot change time, but you can try to organize and manage it better. Be realistic about how much time you spend on any task to plan your days better.
Keep these roadblocks in mind as you craft your development plan. You can avoid these by knowing they exist and developing a plan to prevent these blocks while creating the best plan for your life.
Areas of Life That You Can Improve with A Personal Development Plan
A personal development plan can enhance your life in every single way. It doesn't matter if it's your love life or your professional life you want to improve. Crafting a plan will help with all aspects of your life. So let's explore how you can improve your life with a personal development plan.
· Career – When you construct a plan for your working life, it'll help you become more aware of your skills, including identifying skill gaps. You can then focus on areas to study and help you locate sources of information that you will use to move forward in your career.
· Love/Marital – One of the most important aspects of any human being's life is their relationship with their spouse or a life partner. Embarking on personal development can help you improve your experiences by focusing on yourself and how you can change and react rather than on others.
· Intellectual – Most people who use any personal development have a love for lifelong learning. Even if you don't right now, as you work on yourself, you'll be able to identify ways you can boost your intellectual abilities by going back to school, reading more books, listening to podcasts, and so forth, but with a plan, so you learn the things that help you more.
· Emotional – As emotional creatures, emotions play a big part in our lives, with little thought. Learning how you use them can help you become more thoughtful about your actions. You'll learn how to take time to consider your actions before acting emotionally. Even if you have severe issues like high anxiety, professional development plans can help you deal with them if you are honest from the start.
· Physical – If you want to improve almost anything about your physical appearance, such as by losing weight, gaining muscle, or taking steps to look and feel younger, a personal development plan can identify to you want is possible.
· Family – If you want to experience more satisfying family life, there are ways to ensure that you do. You need to know what you want and how to ensure you have it by modifying your behavior when you need to.
· Social – If you want to learn how to become better at networking, making friends, and being there for your friends in social settings, personal development can do that for you too. Again, it's all about knowing what you want, figuring out the steps to achieve it, and then implementing the plan.
· Financial – Your financial life is a big deal and one that many people aren't managing very well. Stagnant wages, the high cost of necessities, and a poor understanding of money and credit can damage anyone. However, if you prioritize learning what you can and then develop and implement a plan for yourself, you will experience much more success.
You can improve anything you want in your life with a well-thought-out crafted personal development plan. It's a good practice to tackle one thing at a time to perfect your implementation chops before you tackle the next item on the list. Let's look at this process so that you can get started crafting your development plan.
Conducting a SWOT Analysis of Each Area
One of the first things you need to do when you want to craft a well-thought-out personal development plan is to choose from the areas above to study more in-depth. You can do all of them at once or concentrate on one at a time.
Regardless, you'll want to make a list for each SWOT analysis area.
First, for each area of your life, you may want to work on your goals for that area. You can have more than one goal for any area. When setting the goal, look at your life in two years or five to ten years to see where you want to be at that time.
Once you have written out the goals individually, you can conduct the SWOT analysis.
· Career: Within the next two years, I want to earn $100,000 a month in revenue by selling at least 36 units of our youth skin lotion per day through our retail website and boosting targeted traffic using social media ads. (Note: Assuming a 2 percent response rate, you must send at least 1800 people to the landing page daily.)
Notice that the goal is a SMART goal. It's specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You'll need to work on writing down your goal for each area of your life that you want to work on improving with a personal development plan. You can have multiple goals for each area of life.
· Strengths – This will include what you're good at, what helps you move forward, and all your qualifications, resources, and positives going into this category for the area of life you're working on.
Fantastic product, cosmetology expert, large personal Instagram following, private YouTube channel is growing, and $2500 to devote to ads.
· Weaknesses – This part is critical; you will build on your strengths, but you want to identify the gap so you can improve. You can improve it by learning about it or outsourcing (or delegating) that to someone else. What do you still need to know, what do you want to be better at, and don't forget to identify anything you dislike doing in that category.
Need more content, no brand name recognition, fierce competition on Amazon FBA, and don't know how to run ads yet.
· Opportunities – Depending on the area of life you're working through right now, you may want to note anything you see as a future opportunity. For example, if you are working on career development and have identified the potential for internships or certifications, that will help note them.
FBA, influencers, social media advertising experts, SEO, PLR, and content marketing.
· Threats – Anything you have identified that is a stopper or roadblock to you archiving the goal that you have specified in that area of your life should be listed here. Whether it's a killer app changing everything, a person you have no control over, or something else, it's important to note them.
Tariffs, quality control, credit cards, Amazon, not focused, not in belief.
This exercise aims to get to the root of any roadblocks. Finding out what is causing the weakness to start with and then working toward fixing that problem is the answer.
5 Steps to Creating Your Personal Development Plan
When you create a personal development plan, follow this guideline to help you get it right, so you end up with actionable steps when you're finished crafting the plan. Ultimately, these steps and details are most important because you cannot succeed at anything without implementation.
1. Chose Your Focus Area
2. Start at The End and Work Backward
3. Opportunities Resulting from Reaching This Goal
4. Threats Standing in Your Way
5. Knock Out the Details
It's just like math. When you get the order of operations right, you won't fail. So let's get into depth about what to do in each step of creating your development plan.
Step #1 – Choose Your Focus Area
Go through each area of your life to determine which change will make the most impact. For example, if lack of income affects your life more than your lack of a diet and exercise plan, focus first. The main goal here is, to begin with, the thing that affects multiple areas of your life and aligns with your vision and values.
Step #2 – Start at The End
Start with the end in mind. The "end" is the result or goal of whatever it is that you're doing. Work your way back to today when you start with the end as if it's just how you imagine it. It's going to be much easier to schedule the proper tasks in your calendar that you need to do to reach this goal. Try this: Close your eyes and focus on the result you want from any goal. Be very specific when you think about it. Then open your eyes and write down the goal in the SMART way. Remember that the goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Step #3 – Opportunities Resulting from Achieving this Goal
One thing you want to do when you write down your goals is to think beyond reaching the goal itself. What is life going to look like when you achieve this goal? For example, what changes if you lose that 100 pounds like you want? If you get a certificate in SEO, what happens now? What new opportunities may come your way if you choose based on the steps required for reaching that goal? Opportunity recognition is one of the enormous benefits of personal development.
Step #4 – Threats Standing in Your Way
Whatever goal you're working on while also addressing the steps and tasks you need to do to meet your goal and what threats or roadblocks might get in your way. It may be something about you, your resources, your knowledge, etc. It might be competition or even bad weather. It might be the fact you have no money, but you need to create a great, effective landing page. Whatever it is, make a note of it and plan for it.
Step #5 – Knock Out the Details
This is where you need to put it all in writing. Schedule it into your task calendar, with all the details for each thing you need to do. Break down the big goal into minor results so you can achieve success along the way to the big goal. This also makes the process more manageable when you create your step-by-step task list. That will then be put into your calendar. Include the resources, support, and steps you will take to reach your goal.
Once you have this plan in motion, remember that it is ever-changing. Of course, it depends on what you are working on for yourself, but most of the time, you'll want to periodically measure your progress and adjust and adapt as needed to ensure your success.
Tools & Strategies to Maximize Your Potential
Now that you have the idea of why and how to create your personal development plan let's talk about some tools and strategies that you can use to maximize your potential, save time, and reach your goals.
· Save Time – If you want to save time and reach your goals faster, you may need to address ways this can happen. You may want to hire help, recruit friends, or get your kids to volunteer. It depends on what the goal is. However, there is always a way to do things faster and easier if you explore options. For your own sake, be realistic about your time. If you need more time, consider hiring someone to do something like clean, cook, or do something for your business.
· Make Change Stick – One thing that happens with some people is that they use personal development to make a considerable change, eventually falling off the wagon. All you must do to reset is return to your calendar or planner. Ensure you include everything you need to do, and then ensure you do the things as scheduled. Once a habit is created, the change will stick.
· Helpful Tools – The type of tools you use to help you craft and implement your development plan will vary, depending on your personality and learning style. However, tools like personal development books, helpful TED talk videos, and online courses about personal development that tackle one aspect of your development can go far in helping you get it done.
One thing that you can count on for sure is that creating and implementing a personal development plan will change your life. You'll learn more about yourself. You'll become more aware of your actions and how your action choices affect your success. These will give you a new appreciation for where you are now, at this point, and how far you can go in the future. Implementing your plan will change things even more. What are you waiting for