Take something that saved me from the shadows (personal development) and something I’m crazy about (planning), and you’ll get my ultimate holy grail: personal development plans.
A personal development plan is like a map of your ideal life.
It’s perfect if you feel lost, stuck, unmotivated.
Or if you want to readjust some things in life or 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 difficult question, “How do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years?” some of us freak out.
And it’s understandable.
We change frequently, and this question makes us look too far into the future, and somehow, we’re supposed to know what will happen in that long period.
It’s scary. I get it. I’ve been there.
I avoided this question like the plague my whole life, and if someone dared to ask me, I would say I was ready to let life surprise me *facepalm*
Now I regret I didn’t face it sooner, and I’m here to tell you why it’s essential to ask yourself those questions.
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.
Get ready 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 Hemingway
What is a personal development plan?
A personal development plan guides 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.
Before we move on, keep in mind that personal development plans aren’t in stone.
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 what’s going to happen in the future.
But having a guide helps you increase your chances of success (no matter what success means to you) and your chances of making the right choices.
Keep it somewhere close once you’re ready so you can remember what you want to accomplish.
This will make you feel inspired and continuously motivated, and it will help you get closer to your goals.
Leaving these profound questions unanswered forever might be dangerous.
If you don’t face them, you might never be able to uncover your true desires, your real purpose, and potential.
To me, that sounds like the perfect recipe for destruction.
That’s how people get old without realizing they were living a life they hated.
And how older 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**.
1. Analyze your current life
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 five years ago you would be living now? Or is it better (or worse) than that?
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.
Answer them, especially if they sound complicated 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 give myself time to reflect on the questions while doing other things, even if it takes days.
This gives me a clearer picture of what I feel and think.
If you need a little help in assessing your current life, you can use the LifeScore Assessment by Michael Hyatt.
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2. Explain your vision
What do you want to achieve?
Picture your perfect day and describe it 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? Or in a rural area?
- Can you see the ocean from your bedroom window? Or mountains? Or skyscrapers?
- How does your perfect day look like? Is it completely different from your average day now? How is it different?
Considering 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.
I came up with it when I realized I didn’t know what to do with my life, and it’s helped so, so much.
If you’re new to journaling, check out this helpful guide for total beginners.
3. Understand your motives and goals
After you’ve pictured your dream life, 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?
Dig deeper and deeper until you’re satisfied with your answers.
If you want a bigger house, for example, get to the core of it.
Do you want it to make your neighbors jealous?
To show your coworkers that you’re more successful than they are, to have as many pets as you want, or to be able to fit your whole family in it during the holidays?
Understanding the core reason behind your desires will motivate you and inspire you.
It allows you to distinguish between your real wishes and “shiny objects” (goals you set for yourself 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.
I’m a huge fan of journaling. Journaling is a form of therapy that helps you uncover your true feelings, wishes, fears, dreams, and more.
4. Set your goals
Once you’ve figured out where you’re standing compared to 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 aligned with your values, that is, goals that are meaningful to you, not other people, no matter how important they are in your life.
This is about you.
You must 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 $X more each month/year.”
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I know this can be overwhelming sometimes, but don’t worry, we’ll take it slow.
By now, you should have a clear idea of what matters to you the most.
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 and reflect on your reasons again.
For more guidance on how to plan and prioritize effectively, check out this guide about daily planning.
6. Identify your 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 the 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.
Their answers won’t necessarily be accurate to you, but they can guide you.
Then 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 fantastic.
If you need more help, check out this journaling workbook designed to help you identify your strengths.
7. Identify what you need
With your end goal and skills in mind, ask yourself:
- Which skills do I need to develop?
- How much time do I need to make this happen?
- Which people do I need to surround myself with?
- Which resources do I need?
Brainstorm everything that comes to your mind.
Don’t get stuck in the obvious like more money or more time.
If you think what you need is more money, what is it for?
What would you buy with that money that’d take you closer to your goal?
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 to match them with each corresponding goal.
For example, which course do you need to take to reach which goal?
9. Identify good and bad habits
Great habits are the foundation of a great life.
On the other hand, poor habits, sooner or later, lead to a not-so-great life.
In this step, you’ll need to identify which good habits are taking you closer to your goals and which bad habits keep you from living the life you want.
Good habits: activities you perform consistently that help you build a better, healthier, happier life.
Bad habits: activities you perform continuously that are detrimental to your health, relationships, success, and life in general.
Check out the Routines & Habits Workbook to become your best self one day at a time and have fun while at it.
This workbook will help you:
- ditch your bad habits
- identify which areas of your life you need to work on first
- build a realistic routine you love
- understand how to make habits stick
- and more!
10. Break your goals into tiny steps
Think about your goals and all the steps you need to take to get there.
Then turn those steps into the tiniest steps you can.
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.
And 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,
Breaking goals into small steps is vital to make that goal tangible, achievable, and possible for you.
Once you realize that significant changes or big improvements consist of tiny, constant steps you’ll realize they’re not impossible.
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 you wrote earlier and set a date for the first step.
And keep this in mind: Life is short.
Five years from now, you’ll wish 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 push forward consistently.
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 don’t keep the promises you made to yourself, the only person who will 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 regularly, reflect on it and adapt it whenever necessary.
Even though some people recommend doing quarterly revisions of your plan, I prefer to check my list of goals daily or at least weekly.
Taking a look at the rest of the things on the plan weekly or monthly is also 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 and more self-confident.
The Bottom Line
A personal development plan is a fantastic 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 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.