A few years ago, I started on my own personal development journey, and man, oh man has it been an incredible journey.
Once you commit to always working on becoming the best version of yourself, the possibilities are endless.
I want to help guide you through your personal development journey too. And the best way to do that is by making a personal development plan.
Making a personal growth and development plan will give you a clear overview of where you want to go and who you want to become. You’ll be able to make decisions easier because you already know what path you want to be on.
So if you’re ready to start improving your life, keep reading, because I’m gonna help you create your own personal development plan.
What is Personal Development?
Before we start planning your personal development journey, let’s talk about what it is exactly.
Personal development, aka personal growth or self-development, is essentially the ongoing act of assessing your life goals and values. There is no set end or technical completion of “personal development”. Rather it’s an ongoing lifelong process.
You are never done learning because there is always more to learn. Humans are lifelong learners.
Also, as you go through life, your personal development goals will change to reflect who you are becoming.
Throughout your life, you’re building the skills and qualities to reach your max potential in certain areas of your life.
The skills you learn can contribute to your maturity, success, and satisfaction. You can develop these skills through education, advice from a mentor, personal development books, and more.
Want to learn more about personal growth? Check out this ebook The Ultimate Personal Growth Guide. You’ll learn 10 different strategies for working on yourself and start taking steps towards becoming the best version of yourself!
Why You Should Have a Personal Development Plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de-Saint Exupery
Did you know personal development is essential if you want to reach your goals and create the life of your dreams?
You can’t just say “I’m gonna run a half marathon next summer” with no plan on how you are going to train.
Having a concrete and clearly defined personal development plan will help you to actually accomplish the goals you set for yourself, rather than putting them on the back burner every single day and only pulling them out when you “feel” like it.
It’s like making your own road map to a dream life.
Without a plan, you won’t get the results you really want.
Create Your Personal Development Plan
Alright now that you know exactly what personal development is and the benefits, let’s create your personal development plan.
But where do we begin? Well, that will depend on what your goals are now.
So, the first step is to determine your goals.
1. What are your Personal Development Goals?
Before we turn our dreams into reality, we must first determine what exactly those dreams are.
If you don’t quite know, think about what’s important to you. NOT what everyone else says should be important to you.
Society has always told us that money, good looks, and fame are what define success. But you don’t have to be like that. Determine what success means to you.
What’s your definition of success? What’s most important to you? What does your ideal life look like?
If you don’t quite know the answers to those questions, take some time to get to know yourself a bit better.
My favorite way to do this is to journal with the above questions in mind.
You could also use some other personal growth journal prompts like:
- What activities bring me the most joy?
- What stresses me out the most?
- Am I happy with my current lifestyle? If not, what would I like to change?
Grab the FREE Journal Prompts below and start journaling every day. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about yourself by just having a conversation with yourself on paper every day.
Level 10 Life
To help determine the areas of your life you’d like to improve I like to use a system called the Level 10 Life. This method, created by Hal Elrod, helps you get a better understanding of how you feel about your current state of life.
Essentially you want to reach level 10 in each area of your life.
You can be flexible with what categories you choose to focus on but the basic categories are:
- Health and Fitness
- Physical Environment
- Giving and/or Contribution
- Fun and Recreation
- Marriage or Relationship
- Family and Friends
I use this method to help me come up with goals in each of the categories.
Choosing a goal for each category can be overwhelming at first so try starting with just your top 3 areas you want to focus on and go from there.
Now that you have the 3 main areas of your life you want to focus on, come up with a goal for each area.
For a more in-depth explanation of the Level 10 Life, check out this blog post.
Examples of Personal Development Goals
Here are some examples of goals for each category to help you out:
Health and Fitness
- Workout 3-5 times a week
- Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Drink half your body weight in oz of water each day
- Do a 15-minute clean up every day before bed
- Develop a cleaning schedule
- Renovate your office
Giving and/or Contribution
- Donate a percentage of your income to a charity
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter
- Donate food to your local food bank
Fun and Recreation
- Get out and go hiking once a week
- Read 1 book a month
- Learn to play an instrument
Marriage and Relationships
- Go on a date every Friday
- Improve your listening/communication skills
- Tell your spouse how much you love them every day
- Enroll in relevant training/school
- Get promoted
- Start a new career
- Have an emergency fund
- Open a retirement account
- Pay off debt
- Spread unconditional love
- Participate in a bible devotional group
- Meditate every day
Family and Friends
- Plan an outing with friends/family once a month
- Have a family reunion every summer
- Go on vacation with your best friend
Make sure you write down your top 3 goals somewhere and then we’ll continue on to step #2.
2. How Are You Going to Reach Your Personal Development Goals?
Now that you have your goals, let’s make a plan for how you’re going to achieve them.
As I mentioned earlier, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
And you want your wishes to come true, right? So let’s make changes happen in your life.
We’re gonna set up a whole plan of attack to reach your goals.
In order to do that we are going to turn our goals into SMART goals.
What are SMART goals, you may ask?
Here’s what SMART stands for:
- Specific – your goals need to be clear, detailed, and specific
- Measurable – Your goals need to be measurable so you can track your progress and know exactly when you’ve achieved them.
- Achievable – Make sure your goals are realistic (some goals are just not achievable – but then again with the right mindset you can do anything, right? – though seriously be smart when creating your goals, for example, while losing 30 pounds in a week sounds awesome, that can be very unhealthy)
- Relevant – Are your goals relevant to your life purpose? Make sure that your goals are truly driven by your personal growth. Go back to those journaling prompts above if you aren’t sure.
- Time-bound – Set a time limit for when you want to try and achieve the goals. Remember you can always change it later if needed.
Still don’t completely understand SMART goals?
Here’s an example.
One of my goals is to run a marathon by the end of 2022 so turning that goal into a SMART goal would look like this:
Specific – I want to run a marathon (specifically marathon, not half marathon, not an ultra, a marathon)
Measurable – Marathon is already measurable so I will know when I reach this goal because I will have run a full 26.2 miles.
Achievable – I know this is achievable because I have run long distances before and I am already in a healthy state. Notice how my goal is not to run a marathon by next week, that would be crazy since I’ve never run even a half marathon before.
Relevant – One of my lifelong goals is to live well into my 90s and still be able to move around and play with my grandkids (maybe even great-grandkids). So wanting to train for a marathon and having a love of running is something that contributes to that lifelong health and fitness goal.
Time-bound – I want to run a marathon by the end of 2022. Picking a date of December 31st, 2021 makes my goal time-specific. I could go deeper into how fast I want to run this marathon, but my main goal is to simply finish my first marathon.
I hope that helps you understand how to make sure your goal is a SMART goal.
For more help, check out this blog post: How to Set SMART Goals
3. Personal Development Planning 101
Now that you know your top 3 goals and made them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, it’s time to start planning.
Write it down
Your chances of reaching any goal increase if you write it down.
I know it sounds like a small step, but writing it down can be the most important thing. It can be the difference between reaching your goal and falling short.
So write your goal down on a piece of paper and don’t lose that paper, we aren’t done with it yet.
Have your goal written everywhere
This sounds strange but I want you to write down your goal on several sticky notes and put them all over the house.
Put one on the bathroom mirror, in your daily journal, in your lunch box, on the fridge, on your computer, etc.
Putting it everywhere will keep your goals in mind all the time, hence you’ll always be motivated to work towards them.
Plus, it gives you extra accountability because you probably share the bathroom and fridge with someone else, so if you see it every day so will your roommates or significant other and they’ll keep asking you how’s that goal coming along so you can take down that sticky note ?
Break down your goals
It’s really cool to see a big goal at first, but then it can become overwhelming.
If you don’t break down your big goal into smaller goals you may never even want to start working on your goal because it seems so daunting.
So let’s break down your big goal into smaller actionable steps, or “mini-goals”.
Taking my ‘run a marathon by the end of 2022’ example:
Running a marathon by the end of 2022, which is 10 months from now, can become: run a half marathon by the end of July.
Which then becomes: run a 10k by the end of April.
Then break it down for how much to run every week, like run X distance 3-4 times a week (I have a pretty specific weekly running plan but I won’t bore you with it)
As you achieve each of these “mini-goals” you’ll already be working towards your big goal with what will seem like half the work, which is exactly the point.
No matter your goal, keep breaking it down until they are so small they sound super easy.
Make time to reach your goals.
We all struggle with not having enough time in the day.
This is why we broke down our goals into super small bit size goals that can be completed in just a few minutes each day.
If your personal development goal is super important to you, you will want to work on it anyway. Setting aside time each day to work on your goals should be something you look forward to.
So again taking my marathon training example, I have implemented running for a set time and distance every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Running has become a part of my morning routine that I never miss because I enjoy it and want to succeed.
I recommend making 1-3 of your “mini-goals” into habits you do every day. Working on them every day will help you get closer and closer to achieving your goal.
Track Your Progress and Celebrate Every Win
Last but certainly not least, the most important step: Track your progress and celebrate every win along the way to your big goal.
Our energy levels, motivation, mood, etc. vary from day to day. Some days it will be easier to want to work on your goals than others.
The best way to keep yourself motivated is to track your progress. Watching a progress bar get closer and closer to the end is motivating, which is why we created the small goals to help you visualize it.
Yes, you should keep the end goal in mind, but focusing on the smaller goal can be easier to track and keep you motivated.
And finally, reward yourself. Celebrate every time you reach one of your “mini-goals”. Plan your reward in advance so you have something to look forward to.
Always take some time to realize how far you have come to keep you motivated to keep moving forward.
I hope this helped you to start planning your personal development goals. Every time you reach one of your goals, make sure to celebrate. It is a big deal to reach something you’ve been working on for months or even years.
And after you complete one goal, reflect on it, journal about it, and then pick a new big personal development goal and make a new plan, because it is never too late to start building the life of your dreams.
Are you ready to start your personal growth journey but don’t know where to start? This guide is for you: The Ultimate Personal Growth Guide. Learn the strategies you need to work on self-improvement and become the best version of yourself!
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