Take something that saved me from the shadows, like personal development, and then something I’m crazy about, like planning, and you’ll end up with my ultimate holy grail: a personal development plan.
A personal development plan is perfect if you feel lost, stuck, unmotivated.
However, it also comes in handy if you want to readjust some things in life or if you feel ready to boost your growth and live your dream life.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about what this plan is and the step-by-step process to create your own, from start to finish.
When it comes to facing the scary question “How do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years?” some of us freak out.
And it’s understandable: we know our likes and dislikes change constantly, this question makes us look too far into the future and somehow, we’re supposed to know what’s going to happen in that long period of time???
I get it. Because I’ve been there.
My whole life I avoided this question like the plague and if someone dared to ask me, I would simply say I was ready to let life surprise me *facepalm*
Now I’m kind of regretting I didn’t face it sooner and I’m here to tell you why it’s important to ask yourself those questions, what happens when you don’t and how to answer them with a good degree of certainty.
This post will help you stop feeling afraid of the future and live a happier and more fulfilling life thanks to a personal development plan, which is exactly what you’ll end up with if you’re brave enough to overcome your fears, follow the steps below, and take control of your life as much as possible.
What is personal development?
Let’s start with the basics.
According to self-development author Brian Tracy, “personal development is the process of improving oneself through conscious habits and activities. It is the pursuit of personal growth to enhance the quality of life and to achieve one’s dreams and aspirations.“
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ―Ernest Hemingway15 Personal Development Quotes to Help You Invest in Yourself
What is a personal development plan?
Now, a personal development plan is a guide for different aspects of your life you don’t want to leave to chance. It’s a compass that allows you to visualize the life you desire and how to get there.
In the second place, keep in mind that a personal development guide like this one is not set in stone, so don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want today, no matter if you feel that could change along the way.
Besides, this isn’t a set-and-forget type of thing; your personal development plan is flexible and it includes constant revision so you can review and adapt to different factors whenever necessary.
Why you need a personal development plan
We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen around us tomorrow.
But having a guide helps you increase your chances of success (no matter what success means to you) as well as your chances of making the right decisions when life decides to surprise you.
Besides, once you have it ready and keep it somewhere close, you’ll remember what you want to accomplish, which will make you feel inspired and motivated constantly and, ultimately, will help you get closer to your goals.
Leaving these profound questions unanswered forever might be dangerous: If you don’t face then, you might never be able to uncover your true desires, your true purpose, and potential.
And that, to me, sounds like the perfect recipe for destruction.
That’s exactly how people get old without realizing they were living a life they hated. And how old people end up full of regret.
How to create a personal development plan
Now, the fun part!
Follow these steps consciously one by one and at the end, you’ll feel ready to kick some a**.
If you need some help, you can download aimlief’s workbook to reach your goals (FOR FREE) by joining my email list here:
#1 Analyze your current life
Let’s start analyzing your current life to know what your starting point is.
During this first step of the process, you’ll need to assess your life as a whole. What do you like about it? What do you wish was better?
Grab pen and paper and go deep into it by answering the following questions:
- From 1-10, how much do you like your life? If it’s not a perfect 10, why?
- Do you feel engaged at work?
- Do you maintain healthy relationships?
- From 1-10, how ideal is your average day? Why?
- Do you take care of your health?
- Is this the life you imagined 5 years ago you would be living now? Is it better than that? Is it worse?
Ask yourself all the questions that pop into your head and don’t miss any of them, no matter how difficult or scary the question sounds. Actually, answer it especially if it sounds difficult and scary to answer.
Reflect on the positive as well as the negative.
This first step could take you several days to complete. That’s ok!
When I’m doing this type of journaling exercise I generally allow myself to reflect on the questions for days while I’m doing other things. I believe this gives me a clearer picture of what I actually feel and think.
If you need a little help in assessing your current life, you can use the LifeScore Assessment by Michael Hyatt.
#2 Explain your vision
Now, explain what you want to achieve.
Picture your dream life in excruciating detail:
- What do you wear?
- What do you eat?
- Who do you surround yourself with?
- How do you spend your free time?
- Do you travel a lot?
- How does your home look like?
- Do you live in a big city?
- Can you see the ocean from your bedroom window?
How does your perfect day look like? Is it completely different from your average day now? How is it different?
Taking a look at what you wrote in the previous step, what would you like to change about your reality?
Which areas do you want to improve?
What do you want more of? Money, love, health?
What do you want less of? Stress, work, inconvenience?
If you’re having trouble uncovering all of this, I highly recommend you try aimlief’s 31-day self-discovery journaling challenge (quite a long name) On Pinterest.
This is something I came up with when I realized I didn’t really know what to do with my life and it’s helped so, so much.
- Read more: 5 Ted talks to watch if you have no idea what to do with your life
- Read more: 25 solid steps to find your passion
#3 Understand your motives and goals
After you’ve pictured your dream life in your head, ask yourself:
- Why do I want this?
- What makes this life perfect for me?
- What is the exact reason why I want more of some things and less of others?
Understanding the core reason behind your desires can motivate you and inspire you, but, most importantly, it allows you to distinguish between your real wishes and “shiny objects” (goals you may hold as important because they’re important for others, but deep down not for you.)
This step can take you several days to complete as well, but don’t worry, this is a process and it takes time.
#4 Set your goals
Once you’ve figured out where you’re standing in comparison with where you want to be, what your dreams are and what drives you, it’s time to bring those desires into real life!
Start with the end in mind.
Visualize that dream life again and set 5-10 goals that are aligned with your values, that is, goals that MEAN TO YOU. Not other people, no matter how important they are in your life. This is about you.
Besides, it’s vital, important, crucial, critical that you write them down on a piece of paper. Write the whole thing.
For example, instead of jotting vague ideas like “more money”, you need to write down “I want to make more money“.
By now, you should have a clear idea of what matters to you the most, right?
Out of those goals you just listed, which ones are the most important and urgent?
Which ones are actionable now? Which ones need time?
Arrange them from most important to least important (remember that doesn’t mean the last one is dumb or anything) and reflect on your reasons again.
#6 Identify strengths
Every single person in the world has strengths.
For some of us, they may be hard to identify.
We’re so used to them we probably won’t see them at first.
However, it’s vital to identify what you’re good at. Some goals that seem to be too far away, might be closer than you’ve realized thanks to skills and abilities you already have!
Reflect on your skills and write them down.
If you find this step too hard to complete, ask people you trust. The answers they give you don’t have to be true to you, but they can guide you.
Now, ask yourself if any of those strengths can help you achieve the goals you described earlier.
If you want to change careers, can you identify transferable skills?
Take your time and don’t be shy to admit you’re awesome.
#7 Identify needs
With your end goal and skills in mind, ask yourself:
- Which skills do I need to develop?
- Which people do I need to surround myself with?
- Which resources do I need?
- How much time do I need to make this happen?
List them and we’ll tackle them in a second.
#8 Make a list of resources
Make a list of all the courses you need to take, books you need to read, people you need to meet.
Categorize them according to the corresponding goals and arrange them whenever you prefer; it can be according to price, popularity, urgency.
Just don’t let them disorganized. It can become a real mess.
#9 Identify good and bad habits
Don’t even get me started on this topic. I could go on and on and on about habits and how they shape your reality.
The thing is, great habits are the foundation of a great life. On the other hand, poor habits, sooner or later, lead to a crappy life.
In this step, you’ll need to identify which good habits (beneficial things you do on a regular basis) are taking you closer to your goals and which bad habits (harmful things you do on a regular basis) are keeping you from living the life you want.
- Read more: 75 bad habits that are screwing your life up
#10 Break your goals into small steps
Think about those wishes in terms of small goals:
- If you want to live by the beach, but still don’t have enough money nor a job that can pay for that dream house, your goal should be to find a better job.
- If you want a better job but still aren’t qualified for it, then your small goals for this should be things like learning new skills, improving skills you already have, meeting people in the industry you want to work in, etc.
Breaking goals into small steps is key to make that goal tangible, achievable and possible for you.
Once you realize that big changes or big improvements are made out of tiny, constant steps you’ll realize they’re not impossible, they only take time and work.
#11 Set steps and organize them
These “small goals” are just steps you need to take to get where you want to be.
Once you’ve identified them, arrange them as a list of steps. Write them down.
Use your best judgment to place one before or after the other, but keep in mind this list can be flexible and you can realize later on that you need them to change places.
#12 Set a date
This is the part where you face reality: you’re doing this.
Take that list of steps we wrote earlier and set a date for the first step.
And keep this in mind: Life is short.
Five years from now, you’ll fish you’d started sooner. Trust me.
So… When are you going to start?
#13 Set a daily and weekly action plan
If you want to see progress and want to start living your dream life soon, you better develop a system that allows you to move forward weekly, if not daily.
For example, let’s say one of the first steps is to purchase and take a course.
First, you’ll need to commit to making time, at least half an hour, to watch the course.
Then, establish the exact time of day when you’re going to block that half an hour to watch a lesson.
#14 Take action
This one’s a no brainer, right?
All that planning and thinking and reflecting… for nothing?
If you followed my steps and took all the necessary notes, you’ll have your personal development plan on your hands already.
Stick to it.
And remember you can’t cheat here. If you skip a class (or several), skip reading that book, skip going to that meeting… the only person who’s going to regret it is you.
#15 Review and adapt
This is in no way a set-and-forget type of thing. It’s not set in stone either.
As author Jenny Blake says: Change is the only constant.
So, you’ll need to check it constantly, reflect on it (yes, there’s a lot of reflecting going on here) and adapt it whenever necessary.
Even though some people recommend doing quarterly revisions of your plan, for me it works to check my list of goals daily or at least weekly.
Taking a look at the rest of the things on the plan on a weekly or monthly basis is also very, very helpful.
Doing this will help you stay on track and keep you focused, with your eyes on the prize.
Plus, you’ll realize how much you’ve grown and that’ll make you feel super proud, thus increasing your self-confidence.
A personal development plan is an amazing tool to become who you want to be.
One of the things I love the most about life is that there’s always room for growth. There are always things to improve and new things to learn. As well as new useful or fun skills to develop.
As a life-long learner, this gives me so much life.
With this in mind, schedule a self-care day to start creating your very own personal development plan and make sure you keep it somewhere you can see it every day.
In one year, you’ll be able to look at it and feel so proud of all the things you’ve accomplished and you’ll be ready to keep conquering life!