Personal development is essential. But just like everything else, it is also a process. It is a continuous progression that involves the creation of an action plan to change yourself or an element of your life. Whether it is for your career, relationship, education, or overall self-improvement, it serves as your guide towards achieving your goals in a concrete way you can easily follow. It takes into account your strengths, education, and training, along with the stages and the necessary steps that you have to undertake in order for your plan to be fully realized and succeed. Are you a student who wants to set goals, or are you currently a professional who wants to move ahead in your career? Do you want to grow as a person and learn more about yourself? Having a personal development plan and executing it can help you achieve your goals.
What Is It?
This is a process in which you assess yourself and set goals, and then you create actionable steps to meet each one. It’s sort of a road map for your growth as a person. For one, it is a method through which you can reflect on your achievements and determine how you can use them to attain a certain goal. In this process, you also get the chance to identify your strengths. What are the things you’re really skilled at? How about your weaknesses? What would you like to improve upon? With personal development planning, you identify the areas that you want to change, and this can be just about anything. Think about what you really want to get from life, what kind of person you want to become, and whether or not you feel like you’ve really taken control of your life. This is also where you start setting your goals. What it is you want to achieve? Where do you want to be at the end of the process? The very purpose and essence of personal development planning is for you to get to know more about yourself. It helps you plan for the future so you know what to do to achieve your goals, whether they are short-term or long-term objectives.
What Are the Benefits?
Your personal development plan can give you different kinds of benefits. For one, it can be used to keep you motivated. Oftentimes, it is difficult to find the means and ways to motivate yourself, especially when you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses. But as you go along through this process, you get to find out who you really are, and you can capitalize on your strengths. Another great benefit of a personal development plan is that it enables you to be more self-aware. Considering that this plan is all about you, there are so many things that you can learn about yourself. When you know what you can offer and you know the areas you have to work on, you can easily realize your own potential. You get to know more about yourself, what you can do, and which areas you want to develop.
How to Create a Personal Development Plan
Development is a continuous process wherein you have to improve and gain more knowledge and skills so that you can move ahead in your career or gain expertise in your field or even in other life areas outside of your work. Depending on the person, there are various reasons why there is a need for a personal development plan. Before you can create a personal development plan, there are important things that you have to take into consideration.
First, you have to set and to define what it is you want to achieve. Without any goal, it is hard for you to come up with actions that you have to take because you lack direction. Setting your goals is definitely important, as your steps and actions are based on these goals. Most likely, no two goals will ever have the same exact steps.
Second, you can start planning the actions that you have to take in order to achieve the goal. The very purpose of having a personal development plan is that it serves as an outline or a “user’s manual” with specific steps to undertake to realize your goals.
Once you finish the steps, the last component is that you evaluate your development and see if there is a need to take any further action.
Importance of Setting Your Goals
One of the most crucial steps is for you to set your goals. Setting your goal is essential, as this will give you direction. You simply can’t write a development plan without a concrete goal. And, you don’t want to set an abstract goal, either. It needs to be concrete and measurable so you can actually see if the steps got you there. Instead of making a goal like “I want to get better at baseball,” your objective should be something like “I want to raise my batting average 50 points.” And in setting goals, there are many things that you have to consider. Before you set your goals, spend some time to reflect and answer some questions. For instance, which specific areas do you want to work on or to develop? What is that thing that you really want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve it, and why is it important to you? When you have a goal, it is easier for you to motivate yourself if you keep the desired result in mind, as it gives you direction. When you are certain of your goals, you have more control. It gives you the choice to take the necessary course of action in order to succeed.
So, how do you set goals? This varies from one person to another, but goals should be direct and straightforward. They should be SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, let’s say you’re a secretary. You can say that your goal is to learn how to use all functions in advanced MS Excel (circular references, index matching, and array formulas) in one month. It’s specific because it names the actual formulas. It’s measurable because you’ll either have them memorized or you won’t. It’s attainable because you already have some experience using Excel and can practice on your home computer. It’s relevant because the goal helps you be more productive at work. And it’s time-bound because you gave yourself a month to complete the goal. Make sure that you give ample time so that you know what you want to achieve and what it takes for you to identify your top-priority goals.
Before creating your goals, you should ask yourself a few more questions. What do you want to achieve? How important is it? What are the different factors that can help you achieve it? Who can help you? What are the factors that may stop you from succeeding? Asking yourself of these questions makes it easier for you to create and establish the right goals.
Using the SWOT Analysis
The SWOT Analysis is highly useful, not just in business, but even for your personal use. You can actually use SWOT analysis when you’re thinking of your goals. SWOT is comprised of the following: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For your strengths, you have to identify the things you’re good at. Aside from your strengths, you also have to factor in your weaknesses. What areas do you need to work on or to improve? Have your received certain feedback so you can improve on these areas?
Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, you should now go with the opportunities. Are there opportunities that you can use to your advantages, such as an Excel class at the local community center (to use the previous example)? How about the threats, such as your home computer being in the repair shop and giving you less time to practice? Strengths and weaknesses come from within you, while opportunities and threats are based on outside factors that don’t depend on you as a person.
Develop an Action Plan
Once you’ve written out your SMART goals and SWOT analysis, which can work just as well for large-scale goals as they can for small-scale goals, it’s time to write out an actual list of steps. Set mini-goals so you can review your progress each week or each month, and write each list point as a concrete action you can take. List events, books, and any supporting people you plan to enlist along the way. And remember to make your actions a priority. Take an active role in measuring your progress, and keep your goal in mind every day.
Evaluating Your Success
With your personal development plan, you set your goal and do what needs to be done. At the end of it, you definitely want to have success. But how do you measure or evaluate success?
The learning process is a cyclical one, and to succeed you need to monitor and evaluate your progress. Why is this important? Taking the time to evaluate allows you to be flexible in terms of making any changes to your plan. Your development might not always go as planned, and that’s perfectly fine. There are many factors that come into play. As such, you have to adapt with these changes so that you can achieve your goals. When you are evaluating your progress, answer a few final questions. What else do I have to do to achieve my goals? Am I on track or am I too slow? Do I need help? What is slowing me down, and how can I amend this? Is there a need to change my plan? When you’re able to answer these questions, it is now much easier for you to see if you’re on the right path. When you’re on the right track and are flexible in your goals, you can guarantee success and become the person you want to be.Find out how you too can become a winner!