L&D Tools Skills

How To Create A Better Personal Development Plan

You want to be the best version of yourself. You want to continuously develop and grow to reach your full potential. 

Making time for your personal development is key to becoming the best version of you (man that feels cheesy writing those words!).

It’s easy to say “I’ll get around to it later” or “I’m too busy right now” but those excuses don’t help you grow.

The truth is that if you want to develop yourself, you have to put in the time and effort.

People hate when I say this, but it’s a fact!

You can’t expect things to magically fall into place after a few days of reading about them online or asking someone else how they did it.

You have to take action and ensure that what you’re doing will actually help you achieve whatever it is you want.

Your time is a resource—and your best asset, but it doesn’t always feel like one.

You feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day or weeks in the year to devote to yourself and your personal development. And because of that… you don’t!

So, first off, here are 4 small steps you can take to reframe your mind:

1/ Start with small goals: instead of saying “I want more money,” try something like “I want £100 extra each month.” This way, even if there are setbacks along the way, at least it was achievable!

2/ Make sure that what you’re doing is something that matters: focus on projects that will impact people in real life or provide an opportunity for growth outside of work (like volunteering).

3/ Set aside time regularly: use 20 minutes daily to consume value-add content. Emphasis on the value-add and not doom scrolling through a social feed.

4) Take advantage of any opportunities you have to learn from others, whether in person or through the digital world. 

The difference between a career development plan and a personal development plan

The main difference here is the area in which you are focusing to make an improvement.

This is something I cover extensively in the How to win in the Careerverse playbook.

Since we’re talking about personal development, we can take this as things that we look to outside of our careers. Yet, that doesn’t mean these goals (and career goals vice versa) don’t cross over. And, in fact, the two can complement each other nicely.

The aim for both is to improve you as a human.

You’ll notice that I reference similar framewowrks for both career and personal development in my work. That’s because they work in both outcomes with a few tweaks.

You might have some goals that help improve both your career and personal life.

For example, becoming a better negotiator to navigate situations at work is also incredibly helpful when trying to find diplomatic solutions between your warring children.

And the other hand, a weight loss goal won’t have much impact on your career. That is unless you’re deciding to leave the desk job and become an athlete.

I imagine most of us are happy just to be able to climb the stairs to the office (or second bedroom) these days without feeling like your heart will implode.

Bottom line, both are good, serve different purposes for different areas of life and will help you become a better version of yourself (I know, sounds cheesier everytime I type it).

6 steps to creating a Personal Development Plan

Now, let’s take this one step further and focus on how we can create a structured personal development plan to help you make your aspirations a reality.

Open a Google doc or grab a notebook and prepare to build out the framework for your plan:

Step 1: Define Your Goal

The first step in creating a personal development plan is to define your goal. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to get promoted at work? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to find a new job? 

Your goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, “I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 months” is a SMART goal. “I want to be happy” is not. 

Step 2: Reflect on Your Current Situation

Once you’ve defined your goal, it’s time to take a step back and reflect on your current situation. Where are you now? What’s been holding you back from achieving your goal? What resources do you have at your disposal? 

This step is important because it will help you identify any roadblocks that might be standing in your way. It will also help you come up with a plan for overcoming those roadblocks. 

Life throws different challenges at us all and we must recognise that. Nothing is impossible but it will be challenging. This reflection time is essential in facing your reality and aligning with all the priorities you have.

Credit: Hygger

Step 3: Set Achievable Goals

Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

In other words, they should answer the questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. 

An example of a goal would be “I will work out three times a week for thirty minutes each time.” 

Step 4: Set Milestones 

The next step is to set milestones. 

Milestones are smaller goals that will help you track your progress and stay motivated as you work towards your ultimate goal. 

For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 6 months, some possible milestones could be losing 5 pounds in 1 month, 10 pounds in 3 months, and 15 pounds in 5 months (I use weight loss examples as it’s a pretty broad and generic topic shared by all humans. Damn those cookies!).

Remember, to set a deadline for all your goals too.

A goal without a deadline is just a dream. Commit to a date when you want to achieve your goal.

Sometimes you won’t complete your goal and that’s fine. A deadline is a mode of clarity and accountability (more on that later) to keep you focused and seeing results.

Not seeing results is the biggest killer for goals.

That’s why having a deadline and tracking those milestones is so important for our mental state.

Step 5: Have a Plan

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and make a plan of action. This is where you’ll decide what steps you need to take in order to move closer towards your goal. 

For example, if your goal is to get promoted at work, some possible action items could be taking on additional projects, networking with influential people in your industry, or completing specialised training courses. 

If your goal is weight loss, some possible action items could be exercising for 30 minutes every day, eating 3 healthy meals per day, or drinking 8 glasses of water per day. 

Choose action items that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

And don’t forget—you can always adjust your plan as needed! Just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing; it just means that maybe something else would work better. 

It’s ok to flex when you have new data.

Step 6: Hold Yourself Accountable 

The final step is probably the most important—you must hold yourself accountable. 

If no one is there checking in on whether or not you’re doing what you said you would do, it’ll be all too easy to let things slide. That’s why accountability is key!

Here’s a few ideas to help with that:

Find an accountability partner

This could be a friend, family member, or even someone from an online forum who has similar goals. Check in with each other regularly about how things are going and offer support and encouragement.

Join or create a support group

This could be an online group or even an in-person meetup group. The important thing here is connecting with others who understand what you’re going through and can provide words of wisdom or simply listen when needed.

Put yo money where your mouth is

There’s no greater motivator than losing money.

To keep themselves accountable, many people have used losing money as an incentivise to achieve their goals.

As an example, you could say if you don’t hit a weight loss goal by a certain date, then you’ll donate $500 dollars to a charity, or to make it even spicier, to a friend or family member.

Research has shown that the motivator of losing money is much greater than winning the same amount.

Don’t forget to celebrate those big and small wins along the way!

Just do it

Taking the time to focus on your Personal development is vital for success in any area of life, whether it be professional or personal growth. 

Luckily, creating a personal development plan is not as daunting as it may seem at first glance. 

Follow the steps above and stay motivated and on track with the help of a supportive community and watch as you reach new levels of success both in your personal and professional life!

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

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2 replies on “How To Create A Better Personal Development Plan”

Knowing where we stand is important. Many people jump into a self development journey without any clue of where they are. Good post!

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