It’s pretty clear that instructions and maps are useful, whether you’re building a piece of furniture, making a recipe, or looking for the right exit to take during a road trip. Everything’s fine and dandy when instructions are included or you can easily find them, but what are you supposed to do when you need a guide for something a little more abstract, such as your own personal development plan?
Knowing how to start is the hardest step, but with a little critical thinking and a great outline, you can create your own road map to future success. The personal development plan template below won’t just help you figure out where you’re going, but how to get there as well. Take some time to read over the template and process the information, then go back and, with a notebook, fill the whole thing out and answer every question. When you’re done, you’ll be left with a tangible outline that’ll guide your life in a new direction.
Where Am I Now?
Begin filling out your template by answering a few questions about your current life. This will help you get a baseline for the things you want to change. Try to list at least five answers to the following questions:
- What am I good at? List the positive qualities you see in yourself.
- What do I need to work on? List personality elements, such as self-confidence.
- Do I need help changing anything? List what you might not anticipate being able to do alone.
- Is there anything that might stop me from reaching my goals? List any life situations that might get in your way.
- What are the common positive and negative feedback elements I receive from colleagues, family members, and friends? List what you remember these people typically commenting on.
- What are my focus areas? Prioritize the things you need to work on based on what you want to change most. Start with one, three, or whatever feels the most reasonable to you.
Where Do I Want to Be?
Once you’ve established what you and your life currently look like, it’s time to decide the things you want to focus on and change.
- What do I want to achieve? Using your list of priorities/focus areas, determine how you want those elements to change. Ideally, how do they manifest?
- Why do I want to achieve those things? List what you’ll get from changing.
- What are my short-term goals? Identify simple, straightforward goals you can achieve within a month or two.
- What are my long-term goals? Identify goals that will take more work, help, and time to achieve.
How Do I Get There?
This is where the personal development aspect really starts to come into play. In this section, you’ll begin formulating specific steps you need to take to start meeting your short- and long-term goals.
- What do I need to do to improve my focus areas? List specific things to read, practice, or do.
- What resources do I have that can help me? List any books, courses, or people that you plan to use for assistance.
- By when do I need to improve my focus areas? Choose specific end dates for meeting these goals.
- What is my schedule for applying improvement steps? List specific time blocks during the week when you’ll be reading, practicing, or doing.
When you’ve answered each of these questions, give yourself some time to process all the information and let it marinate in your mind for a while. Then, go back once more and refine any answers or timelines or make goals more specific if you see a spot where that’s needed. Now that you have definite goals and their timelines in mind, this gives you a more finalized template and concrete, precise instructions for getting there.
Your goals don’t need to end a month or even a year from now. You can also create a handy, at-a-glance table that reminds you where you want to be in a year, five years, or even ten years. This helps you keep your overall life changes and goals in different areas at the forefront of your mind in a concise way. Draw and fill in a similar table:
|One Year||Three Years||Five Years||Ten Years|
Once you’ve filled out your template, keep in mind that personal development is a long-term process. It’s something you’ll always be striving for, and when you meet your goals, you can begin again with a new template to take your development even further. Remember too that, even with a great development plan in place, life can change at the drop of a hat, so it’s okay to incorporate change into your current template and modify anything you see fit. Be flexible and focused, and you can achieve anything.